It's not complete. There are tons of threads hanging,
What you're talking about is overarching narrative, which is different than what Hyrist and I are referring to.
And you're right... FFXI really didn't have much of an overarching narrative. The game kind of started off with the Crystal War looming, and you eventually resolve that by beating the Shadowlord. Then RoZ came along and added a new layer... and eventually resolved it. Then CoP... then ToAU...etc.
Actually, Vanilla + RoTZ+CoP are all neatly tied together, because they were part of the original plan (5 years MMO). And what I'm interested is the quality of the script. The delivery method is irrelevant for me. In XI's favor, the time limit they set helped creating a somewhat coherent narrative till CoP. In XIV, I suppose they have a rough idea how the story should end, but no idea when, and so there's a ton of padding.
FFXIV has an overarching narrative, kind of like Star Wars had an overarching narrative. However, like Star Wars, each FFXIV expansion (and the base ARR game) has its own self-contained storyline, which is what Hyrist and I are referring to.
Except the unanswered questions keep piling up, the narrative keeps opening threads and doesn't close them often, to the point certain plot points are closed in the most infuriating method possible, see for example Ul'dah's turmoil in 2.55 (as stupid as it started), which was "solved" within one cutscene with a character saying he'll fix it because it's EEEVILLL but also a SMARRT politician...but the player sees (and the character doesn't react at all) nothing of this. I really wish the script would stop trying to insult the player intelligence. After three years the motivations of the Ascians remains as unclear as ever, and only with a semi-talking head cutscene you get a glimpse of what they're trying to do. That's poor storytelling.
And as much as I liked the (original, no prequel, no Force Awakens) Star Wars...that's not really a good point to make.
You could buy Heavensward and only play what was available when the expansion launched, and you'd finish with a complete storyline.
Absolutely not. By the end of HW's "vanilla" the only feeling I got was "That's it? They haven't solved anything. What was the point of the entire story?". Also, the "clear end" was abruptly retconned in the first patch saying there was "unrest"...that was neither hinted nor shown till that part. And showing a character then completely forgetting about it for months isn't sign of an "overarching narrative".
What we're ripping on re: FFXI isn't the quality of the script, nor are we trying to argue XIV's storyline is better -- all of that is opinion and completely irrelevant.
Except you can argue with it. XI has padding (CoP's "Three Paths", WoTG's penultimate mission), XIV has padding (most 2.0 missions, several HW's missions) in the story. That's a fact, not an opinion. Just to make an example.
A reason I stopped playing XIV (not only for that one though) is that I felt the story was going nowhere, and to see those little bits of nothing I had to sit through horrible dungeons just to get enough ilevel to do them.
As Thayos said, however, you would have to wait months, years even in certain cases, for the entirety of CoP, ToAU, WoTG, and even SoA. If you were subscribed during that period, you got left to rot.
And? As I said, both methods of narrative are fine. My playtime was extremely limited back then and even now (till I unsubbed, that is). What I'd like is a coherent script. Not something that tries to go for shock every now and then and in which the player character continues to act like an idiot, and yet people praise him/her. Edited, Sep 21st 2016 7:21pm by xizro