I only played FF XI for the first year and a half after its release and was pleased with the game as far as its content and ability to become a great game... at first. But as i got further along I realized that even with all the good FF XI had there was too many major flaws, all of which many of you have posted as your reasons for leaving (severely limited solo play, extreme time investments, too much of a "grind" factor and "repetitive" factor, etc... etc... ect...). Then again so more die hard fans of the game had a different experience, though they didn't mind these factors as much as the people who jumped ship however early or late in the game they made it. So instead of just listing what everyone else has said I'll just put in my two cents of how i felt about the game as in relation to itself and to other MMOs and how I feel and hope FF XIV will be in regards to its predecessor and other MMOs. (As a side note sorry for any spelling or grammatical errors you may run across half asleep but don't want to sleep just yet :P)
I only made it to LV 45 on my pld/war so I wont have much to say about end game content, that being said on with the show. FF XI for lack of a better phrase was the game that could have been, and for many it was at least for a while, but in the over all reality it just didn't cut it. The game had massive potential as far as the expansiveness and detail of the world an job/sub job systems are concerned as they were unique in their own ways branching off from the past of EQ (Everquest) and UO (Ultima Online) and creating a more open feel to it, i.e no need for many characters and the world was so large it literally took hours to travel from location to location if you didn't take the airship. For its time the graphics were excellent and the content vast and with square-enix at its front you were sure they could muster up even more grandeur in the games story line than any other MMOs, but this was all just face value. The expansiveness of the world was let down with the inability not only to access it in a more timely matter but to explore it to its full potential without having to find groups or risk death and exp penalties and sure it might have been fun for some to venture off and lose exp but not all were so avid of explorers. This though its not that bad and can easily be remedied with a better travel system and more soloablity (but not to an extreme).
The Job / sub job and the ability to switch them and level them separately was a great idea but left no room for character personalization and inevitably lead to the same problem WoW ended up having which is set "roles" and set "ideas" of how to play and if you weren't in these roles you didn't get a group or had a hard time doing so unless you had a good LS or friends. Yes customization will make it harder for the not so idea minded person but it leave more room for diversity and more room for players to maximize their potential without just having to grind gear, and you could still have your ranger/thief build if you wanted or you could tweak it up some and make it something new experiment, have fun. That being said even without such extreme customization FF XI took a large leap in the right direction with the job/ sub job system, sadly though the combat system was lacking.
At first the combat system of FF XI was new and fresh not like any MMO I ever played so i embraced it but came to realize that it was very very very linear, strait forward, and repetitive, and only required minimal user ability just good timing, as one mentioned before besides the skill chains there was not much to it and all you really needed for SCs were a few good macros and there nothing in fact a few macros and you could do everything from healing to tanking to dpsing and all it was was a long slow macro grind till the target was dead and if you didn't have macros the only difference was having to time your skills. Don't get me wrong a lot of MMOs have a very drull system after a while,for example WoW's is fast paced and gives you more you have to react to but in the end its all just a matter of knowing a "rotation", again advanced character customization will remedy this at least somewhat as you will be able to continually redevelop strategies and integrate your personal play style into it where as no two players will have the same strategy (ideally, but there will be copy cats) and every role you try will have its only unique way of play making it even less repetitive and giving it more of a learning curve. Besides the battles being mundane they were slow and not just slow but sloooowwww. FF XI was unique but it drug on and on as far as combat went, i would like to see a bit faster passed system that involves more reflexive actions then practicing a certain timing, not quite as fast paced as WoWs but faster paced none the less. Which brings me to getting a group for this combat some had an easier time than others for various reasons but either way over all this was a problem.
Groups in FF XI simply had the potential to take many hours to form even if you were making it yourself even in the earlier days, some days sure you could get a group quick others you might as well go to the store and take a lunch and pray you had a group when you got back,but this is not entirely SE's fault, it had a lot to do with the online community which not to offend anyone become really elitist really quickly and if you weren't that job/subjob combo or didnt have gear you were SOL, this though was SE's fault, and i don't blame them for trying to make a challenging in-depth game, but they took it from challenging ones skill to challenging ones ability to endure long and tedious "work"
and i don't mean work as in you have to put in effort or "work" on your skills kind of work, i mean work like its a job work, though some didn't mind putting in that time and "effort" other simply did not have the time nor would they ever have the time, and you could argue they should play something else but why cant FF be the game we all can play and enjoy whether we have massive amounts of free time or an hour here or there (I know this statement alone can be drug into a long fist to cuff fight but iam leaving it as is simply a matter of trying to find a balance in the MMO world).That being said I would like to see a more Solo friendly environment in FF XIV without the loss of the great group qualities of FF XI yes a hard balance to find but it can be done, should you be able to solo to end game sure, should it take significantly longer than grouping, id say it should take more skill and effort to do it solo but not be impossible and not impose on the fun level, and hands down at least 90% of end game has to be group oriented period with a slight solo aspect, such as end game missions, pvp, quests, and maybe small player instances where the rewards can only be used to help obtain the ability to do end game story but should not just be a simple hand out. I still want the game to maintain the challenges of FFXI but to have them avalible to a wider base including the solo crowd. Of course it would be more complicated than i describe but is plausible. Now on to the grind.
FFXI like many MMOs is at fault for being a grind game, which to many extents is unavoidable but can be offset with more fun and clever ways to deal with "the grind" and ways to portion out "the grind" to be less tedious. Much of this though will require an active online community willing to help its peers and help the developers. Player oriented crafting is one idea, where players are given the tools but can path their crafting how they want, a bit of a jump but its just an idea (of course this will all be within reason and have restraints as not be be exploited". Additionally the community will have to do its part to minimize gil selling to avoid heavy economic inflation, don't buy gil and discourage your LS and friends from doing so and support SE in all their attempts to desist such behavior. Make the grind a little easier but don't give stuff away, for example create more ways to earn mats/ gear besides gold/ mat farming off mobs and nodes, add quests or events that can help you work toward those things but not just give them out, more variety will make the grind less repetitive etc.. these are just simple suggestions and I am sure many of you have better and if we all work as a community FF XIV will be great.
FF XI is a good game with some bad problems depending on who you ask but even so if we take all these opinions I am sure we can find a happy median and end up having a great game. If FF XI wasn't such the grind I go bad but sadly thats not the case so I hope the future holds a brighter game and more vibrant community.
PS. Sorry if this post was just seemingly a ramble of a bored man, it is not my intention to defame or slander SE or anyone who played this great game only simply to express myself. Also iam sorry if some of it was unclear kinda just jotted it down as it came to me and as the memories came back. Thanks for reading my more than likely dull post and best of luck to all of you in your future gaming.