One of my fondest memories of FFXI when it was released *Sparkly new* was that I never felt like I was in a race. I was never in a hurry to be the biggest, baddest, high-level out there. My first day of FFXI I went out to kill crawlers for a bit, came back in town and did auctions for a bit, sat and chatted with people outside the mog house till we had a big circle of random people (who eventually became friends). It was nice. I was never in a hurry to get *insert goal* before the next person did. For me, the path towards 75 (for the first time anyway) WAS the game. It was about the journey, not actually getting there. Being excited and a bit scared at every new turn, and not rushing past it resulted in more fond nostalgia, and built more memories for me than any game since has been able to. I was a tortoise who knew that the hare was just going to be smushed flat asking for a raise as I walked by on the way to the finish line.
I missed that greatly when WOW was released. Yes the game was fun in its own way, but nothing truly felt rewarding. No accomplishment felt like it was earned in the same way. Each zone felt like it was whisked away as fast as it approached, leveling went so fast. Combat dialog tended to fly by at such a rate that I was never even positive of the outcome unless I went back after each battle to read it again. Everything was just a rush to get to the end-game. Never once did I feel like my character was in any danger, or that any of the monsters were authentically scary. Death was just an annoyance, and if you were determined enough, you could just lunge at anything throwing caution to the wind. Rewards fell off of monsters like candy, and somewhere in the back of my mind I felt a bit of loathing to be wearing such powerful equipment without working hard to truly earn it.
This is my hope for FFXIV, that in a world where everyone is rushing to be bigger and better than everyone else, that FF14 won't have us flying past zones/areas without hardly experiencing them, that quests/missions will be memorable and monsters still scary. That combat and its log/text will still be at a pace that you can read and know whats going on. And yes, I actually hope that death has serious consequences. Cheating death, should always be part of the game. What's the point of risk-taking when there is little risk?
I hope FF14 can be "casual friendly" for people with limited time/attention span, but with a deeper rabbit hole for those of us wanting a more meaningful richer experience. Some things should take effort. Some things should take time. Rewards that are harder to obtain are far more shiny and bright.