Wow are you guys serious? Go out of your way to find out what??? Their is no story in FFXI...its such a joke. "The Shadow Lord" , I mean seriously? A shadow lord? Wha? But wait theirs a twist, theres also the Zilart an ancient civilization, and oh theirs some Gods Promathia and Atlanta and a bunch of other cliche boring, uneventful characters. I mean really no one stands out in 11. Its just not the standard other FF games had. FF11 plot is not coherenet at all just a bunch of random cliche ideas thrown together...
but really, Im hoping FF14 will have a plot with memorable characters that stand out...
Yup, I'm serious, and what you've described is exactly the problem with FFXI, the story does not come out strongly unless you actively seek it out.
Is the story cliche? It could be called that, but it strives to be the archetypical Fantasy adventure. The Dark Lord returns at the head of beastman hordes, the mysterious ruins of a fallen civilization lay scattered across the lands, the prophesied heroes of legend will rise to meet the challenge. I feel FFXI executed the story well with its own Squaresoft flare. It doesn't have to be different for the sake of being different, it just needs to be able to stand up on its own legs, which I feel FFXI accomplished.
Now, this is different from most FF games because of the nature of being an MMO. FF7 you are Cloud, the story revolves around Cloud, his past, his associations. FF6, Terra is a magitek soldier, Locke is a treasure hunter searching for a cure, Cyan is the last of his kingdom, etc. etc. etc. But in an MMO, since your character is a blank slate, you can't really get personal involvement or past events to surface when they don't exist; so you can't have a quest that goes "Find the elixer to save your lover!" when you don't have one, or avenge a kingdom that you aren't a survivor of.
What FFXI focuses on is world building. Instead of "I hate orcs 'cause they killed my father" it's "here's Bastok raiding the Quadav nests, they are fighting because of ore disputes and territory...etc"
I enjoyed learning about Vanadiel. Those ruins outside of Jeuno are from the War between Elvaan and Tarutaru (Tarutaru mages cursed the chocobos into madness, crippling Elvaan cavalry as Windurst attacked). In the past, the Elvaan tribes allied with the Quadav to repel the orcs.
The Yagudo know ninjutsu and use katanas because they are allied with the Far Eastern kingdom (the one at war with Aht Urgan). They have this relationship because 100's of years ago, when the East sent a delegation to Windurst, they were rejected by the Star Sybil for being heathens. Instead, the Yagudo welcomed them.
FF7 never explains "why, in this Random Encounter, am I fighting a goblin". What place do goblins have in the world of FF4? This is not important because the focus is on Cecil's quest of redemption. FFXI answers that question, as FFXI is about building a world and learning its history. Edited, Sep 27th 2009 1:37pm by ogrebattle