Posted in Final Fantasy

In which I gripe about FFXIV’s MSQ delivery system for a bit

Have you ever experienced that feeling when you’re not THAT into the whole experience of something — a book, game, movie, etc. — but you press on because you want to see how it all turns out? That’s kind of me and FFXIV these days. That’s me and FFXIV most days, to be honest.

I know everyone and their game-playing grandma praises the Shadowbringers expansion as, like, the Best Final Fantasy Story Ever, but boy am I getting so tired of how honestly lame the MSQ is. I’m not feeling that charitable toward it, right now. Oh, the story is fine. Sometimes the story is very, very good. But how it’s told has me waving my arms and shouting, “This? This is what you all have been praising as the best narrative delivery system ever? I don’t get it. I don’t think I ever will!”

I guess I’m tired of the slow-as-molasses pacing, the Scions who are by and large nice, bland people without much in the way of depth, the fact that my character always comes off as a clueless Straight-A student being dragged around by this cast’s C-students, absolutely no real agency in dialogue choices, vile heroes that reveal tragic backstories and now we’re supposed to root for them, and the lack of explanation about how Lord Hien has TWO sets of X scars.

Again, it’s not all bad. But it’s not, say, SWTOR or Secret World by any stretch of the imagination. What probably bugs me the most is how little you actually *do* in any of the MSQ. I’m too lazy to make a pie chart to represent this, but about 40% of your average MSQ is “go to this place,” 35% is “watch this cutscene where your character does nothing other than nod,” 15% is “find the one glowy thing on the landscape to click on,” and 10% is battling a couple of landscape mobs, doing a duty, or running a dungeon.

That’s it. Rinse and repeat for hundreds of hours.

Yet I do want to see Shadowbringers. There are characters, just a few of them, I honestly like a whole lot. But I don’t have a lot of hope that the MSQ is going to become any more interesting in how it functions.

4 thoughts on “In which I gripe about FFXIV’s MSQ delivery system for a bit

  1. I had a conversation about this in a comment thread a while back. The entire FFXIV MSQ, all expansions, is up on YouTube, neatly edited into (very long) movies. That seems like a far better way to find out how the story ends than playing through it as you describe.

    That said, if you’re going to watch the equivalent of half a dozen movies, there are better ones you could spend time with, I’m sure.

  2. I’ve said this about SWTOR, but I think it also applies to FFXIV — those who think these stories are great aren’t people who routinely read for pleasure. Ask me about great stories and I’ll refer to books I’ve read, never to any video game story.

    This isn’t to say these stories are bad — they’re perfectly serviceable and serve as a decent hook to keep one moving through the game. They just really aren’t anything “special” as far as I’m concerned. Which is probably why I tend to get “stuck” in the MSQ when it’s time to do a required trial — I realllllllly don’t like trials. Dunno why, I just don’t. And the promise of “more of the story” after doing the trial just isn’t enough to hook me, so I tend to stop playing for months at a time or doing alternate things instead of “moving the story forward” becuz I just. don’t. care. Ysayle’s sacrifice and Harchefaunt’s death in Heavensward had zero effect on me. Oddly, I’m more moved by watching streamers react to those scenes than I am to the scenes themselves. I suppose you could argue that I’m never truly “immersed” in the game or something.

    I can only think of 1 time in my 30+ years of playing video games where I kept questing becuz I wanted to see where the story went, and that was in 1 zone of ESO. Thing is, though…. I can’t remember which zone or even the plot points anymore, just that it did actually happen to me that evening. I wanna say it was running through the Aldemi faction and in the.. 3rd or 4th zone perhaps. I wanna say zone name started with “Green” but… eh. Even when I found a story engaging in a game, it still wasn’t so much so that I care to retain it. It’s a video game, it’s entertainment, it doesn’t need to be remembered, IMO.

    If FFXIV is still a slog for you, it really seems like it’s just not the right game for you. I’m glad to see you’re giving it the old college try and all, but if you’re really not enjoying it, perhaps you should bounce off like you have before? Life is to be enjoyed, after all.

  3. Agreed.

    I like what they trying to do, but I generally find with stories in video games that, for me at least, it goes in one ear and out the other. This is particularly true for MMOs, as side quests (and often parts of the MSQ) simply don’t matter.

    Where I think that FFXIV does well (especially for an MMO) is in making so many memorable and distinct characters. I do find the good guys to be unbearably good and wholesome at times – more flawed heroes would be nice – but I guess I prefer this familiar group to the shallow and indistinguishable bunch of cookie-cutter people you get in so many games.

    The FFXIV experience can be pretty mindless at times – but often, it’s the perfect gaming experience when you’re low on energy and motivation. 🙂

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