Warning: Long post
So we've officially been teased, with very little (or none, for the most part) detailed information regarding what FFXIV is going to offer the FFXI community and MMO community in general. With so many aspects to MMO's, I though I would put a consolidated outline together of some of my own thoughts, and things I've discussed with RL friends that are fans of FF content & former players of FFXI.
With knowing "nothing", we can logically make a primary comparison to the only other FF-based MMO, FFXI. Likewise, I'll add additional thoughts regarding other "various" MMO's (that's right, no WoW vs. FF primary comparisons here). So to start:
So we know the "world" is Haiderin. We know Eorzea is a "region" of the world. In FFXI, we have Vana'diel which carries the characters of a "world" (ie. multiple continents). So by sheer scale, let's assume that either:
A) Eorzea is going to be a very small sub-region of the overall world, and the world is simply prepped for expansion throughout the games life-cycle deliberately from the start. This would leave the game open to major expansion.
B) Eorzea is going to be a very large sub-region of the overall world, and the world is simply prepped for
expansion throughout the games primary end-game content from the start. This would leave the game open to
minor expansion & content progression.
I'm hoping for "A" here, as I'd like to see SE prepare for a long life-cycle with FFXIV. The main reason I'm thinking Eorzea would be a smaller region in comparison to a vast world is the way it's already been described. In FFXI, Vana'diel was the world, and it was spoken and described as such. But the "sub" regions that made up the world were never really given individual acknowledgement other than through a means of geoographical assignment. Right out of the gate, Eorzea, as region of the world is made clear to not "be" the world, but just a part of the world.
Other games have followed similar paths, forcing world-changing events or otherly dimensions to play a role in creating expansion content along with FFXI. FFXI saw visiting of past (WoG) and alternate area's (CoP) to aggressively tackle expansions. This would probably be one of the "first" times a largely fantasy-based MMO would develop with a large portion of the "world" hidden at the start of the game.
Or, my assumptions could fall flat and Eorzea is just the first region SE decided to state existed, and they could release information about the rest of them before the game even goes to Beta. However, I'd like to think my assumptions are on track, because I think it would make the game very "exciting" in terms of opening new unexplored and even "unknown" areas of the world for future content.
The Story and how it's told
Let's face it. We know nothing at this point. Any guess or assumption would be foolish (and most likely wrong until they release at least "some" information). However, how they tell the story is something that can be discussed. FFXI was very unique in how it told it's stories and quests. There were no giant exclaimation points over the NPC's, no clues or tips other than dialogue from a former quest or discussion with an in-game NPC (or your Moogle). Quests are not mindless objectives for "gil" or exp. They were story, told for a purpose, to expand on a game-long story that made sense and had backstory. No intruding dialogue windows...instead we were treated to cutscenes that made us feel emotionally attached to the world and our characters.
If FFXIV does not retain this and goes the route of an intrusive in-game "Quest Log", it will be a true shame. Every MMO suffers the "Quest Log"...the little leather-bound "book" in which your NPC dialogue is contained, along with your objectives, what you need, and where to go. A road map for the quest. Yay...
What this leads to is mindlessly pummeling through the content. No concern to "think" about the story, the events leading to this point, and to think about the objectives as you've interpreted them. No, it's just "Go get X and bring it to Y for Z". Now don't get me wrong, every online MMO suffers the usual repetative "I don't want to do this again, where's the skip button" issue. But at least the initial exposure is there. The awe of seeing your first cutscene, finishing your first string of quests that completes a well told story.
So here's hoping (and speculating) that the FFXIV team sticks true to how FF content is told...through meaningful stories and immaginative cutscenes that build emotion and attachment to the world you spend your time in. No exclaimation points, please!
I believe FFXI got most of the combat thing right the first time around. The only thing that was lacking was "speed" and the ability to tackle the world while waiting in between groups to level your character (which is another section all together).
As far as speed goes, a minor "pick-me-up" in the way of combat speed is I think all that's needed. These other games with their "Real-Time" cooldown-tracking spammy-as-all-heck combat systems remind me of playing Mortal Kombat when it first came out. The person that could mash as many buttons in the shortest time period won. It wasn't like Street Fighter and using the joystick & button combo's to perform Ryu's Hydoken...it was just a mish-mosh slam fest of ability after ability. Blah...
Don't misunderstand. I like visceral, speedy combat engagements. I just prefer there be a skill & purpose behind the actions other than using your strongest abilities over and over until things are dead. So a little more speed over FFXI in terms of combat with the same winning formula of logical decision-making when acting in combat I think will be great, however...
The one thing (especially in early FFXI) that was always a bummer for me was if I wasn't a job with the ability to solo, I could barely go out and beat up EP mobs. This made farming an exercise in visiting much lower-level area's. This also made HELM frustrating when you're in an area that "isn't" easy to deal with and you cannot even defend yourself to make an escape or fend off attacks. Lets face it, you don't always want to get into a group...or have the time. Or sometimes you just mean to farm. But you don't necessarily want the game to be so solo-friendly that content can be completed this way (Oh noez! That's right, I used the "Solo" word!!!!), right?
This all leads to the next part of my thoughts regarding classes & leveling...
(...to be continued)