50 MMOs in 50 Days #18: Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

Last played: 2013
Experience: Minimal

I’ve got a theory about “WoW clone” games. When they launch, they’ve obviously got a built-in fan base because it’s just like that thing people have been playing forever (but a little different/prettier). They stay strong for six to 12 months, until people get to max level and start doing the endgame raiding gear grind, and then… people start realizing that it’s just the same thing they’ve been playing forever (but a little different/prettier) and they go back to their more established game, which their friends have probably already done.

That’s been my limited observation, at least, with recent high-profile games like Rift, Star Wars: The Old Republic, and, yes, Final Fantasy XIV. Sure, all MMOs start out big and then slowly decline, especially in their first few months, but I’m repeatedly baffled by folks, mostly long-time WoW players, who think they’re going to find a new MMO “home” about once a year only to leave that new home and go back to the thing that has more content and that they’re much more invested in/familiar with. At some point, I have to ask: “What were you expecting?”

ffxiv_20130713_152247As I said a couple days ago, I tend to have a decent grasp of what an MMO is going to offer before I spend time on it. As FFXIV certainly seemed to be “that kind of game,” I didn’t spend that much time with the beta. I was pleasantly surprised at how well it ran on my old computer, enough to get a very big dose of pretty. Mechanically, it does do some nice things with aggro management (the lines that connect NPCs with the PCs they’re aggroed on), and while I didn’t dive too far into the intricacies of the class system, it seemed pretty cool. And once I got past the initial slew of “walk here, talk to this person and then kill 10 rats” quests, the FATEs and guildhests provided some much-needed variety.

I don’t have anything against this kind of game, and I don’t have a problem with anyone who likes it. Heck, sometimes I can go for a relatively simple game that follows old conventions. Whether I want to pay a subscription for such a game is another matter entirely…

But if you don’t, be honest with yourself and try to figure out why. Don’t try to paint it as something it isn’t just because you’re trying to convince yourself that you’ll like it better that way. If you’ve quit WoW, it’s just as likely that you’ve grown tired with Blizzard’s game specifically as you have with the entire leveling-dungeons-raid-gear grind system found in most MMOs. A prettier skin won’t change that. Try something different and don’t be put off by the fact that it won’t be “just like WoW,” or that you’ll struggle to learn it at first. Then you might actually find your new “home.”

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