What makes you think going back to an almost entirely Open-world is going to provide a solution to population control now, when it failed to do so a decade ago? How is it going to advance?
The solution, which WoW nailed and FFXI didn't, is to provide multiple comparable options. If you're 40-45 in WoW, you can go to Tanaris, Ferelas, Stranglethorn, Blasted Lands, Badlands, Swamp of Sorrows... I'm probably forgetting a few, but all of these zones are used, and whether one is better or worse is debatable. You aren't going to go to Ferelas and find it barren because 90% of the 40-45 crowd is in Tanaris. Ignoring Level Sync, compare to FFXI at the same range of 40-45: CN and QC are the big two. Other options (according to campsitarus) are Onzozo, Meriphataud S, Misareaux, Sauromugue S, Onzozo, Bostanieux. I'll give you your choice of gold or gil if you can confince 5 other people in the 40-45 range to try any of them.
FFXIV needs to provide multiple zones that provide comparable leveling alternatives. The reason for the Crab/Beetle/Bird ***** that FFXI players lean toward is that they're the easiest mobs, and the game can (and will) "punish you" for fighting harder options. Beastmen are typically avoided, as are mobs that have omgwtfrape attacks like Spiders, Scorpions, Tonberries, etc. People don't all gravitate to Scorpions and Humanoids in Tanaris because the Yetis and Ogres in Ferelas will hit you for 3/4 of your HP in one hit. FFXI had a small group of overcrowded zones and a plethora of empty ones because people would rather duke it out with 4 other parties in an area that only supports two than go somewhere else and fight harder mobs. That wasn't a fault of the open world, it was a fault of monster ability design and player hardheadedness.
Couldn't only one party go into a BCNM at a time in FFXI? I remember sometimes having a few parties queued outside waiting for their turn. Was that because of "limitations" or was it a design choice by SE?
BCNMs/Salvage/Nyzul aren't true instances. They're a separate area, segmented into multiple layers. So the Waughroon Shrine (sp) zone isn't a series of individual zones, it's 3 copies of the Waughroon Shrine BC area on the same map, not connected to one another. Moridion Gaol is the same way; 9 individual disconnected rooms in one zone. It gives the apearance of being an instance but it's not one in the traditional sense.
Since XI's servers basically handled individual zones, even they started buckling with 150 or more people in them, and completely go to sh*t at 700. While I'm sure hardware tech's advanced since then, running larger zones with more seamless environments is still a concern.
Personally, any game that tells me I can't play after paying for it can @#%^ off. Maintenance and updates are the only reasonable exceptions, and even these should strive to be swift.
One could only hope that they have better equipment lined up to handle more people. As for maintenance, one thing I miss about FFXI is the fact that my game isn't down once a week. Of course, FFXI's once a quarter mantenance followed by 2-3 days of nigh unplayability wasn't all that great either. Again, happy medium ftw.
You're still gonna have hubs, even if they only give out 15 quests instead of 30. There's also the matter of transport within huge zones being conducive to a non-instanced experience. Grauberg is possibly the largest zone in XI, and while the warp in for Campaign may be somewhat near the center, this isn't the case for other zones. People won't be happy if they spend 10-20 minutes tripping past other parties just to get to the lesser desired camp, and while I'd rather not see Nyzul Birds all over again, I'd rather have 5 incarnations of it people could take advantage of instead of one just because a few people are a bit too sensitive on immersion.
Or, as I mentioned before, instead of 5 parties in 5 different Grauberg instances or 5 parties in the same world Grauberg, why not two Parties in Grauberg, two parties in Vunkerl, two parties in Fort Karugo-Narugo... The solution is neither to cram them all in one area -or- to instance it out, but to provide multiple areas that are all viable alternatives. FFXI has a lot of bottlenecking and overcrowding because while the game has alternatives, they aren't equally viable, and the players are stuck in their ways that there's the good zone that they want to go to, and they'd rather just not party or fight over mobs in the good zone than go anywhere else.
If you think about it, FFXI has a lot of Symmetry.
Ronfaure/Sarutabaruta/Gustaberg connects to Ghelsba/Giddeus/Palborough and KRT/Horutoto/Dangruf and La Thiene/Tahrongi/Konschtat, connecting to Valkurm/Buburimu and Jugner/Meriphataud/Pashhow and Ordelle's/Shakrami/Gusgen.... The list goes on, but there is so much zone redundancy that for any given level, there are at least 3 zones you could conceivably level in. The problem is that all zones are not created equal and as you go higher up the levels, the alternatives become far less desirable. No one will XP in Uggalepih instead of Quicksand Caves, or Rolanberry Fields instead of Qufim, or Ifrit's Cauldron instead of Boyahda Tree, or Halvung/Mamook/Ilrusi Atoll/KRT/Sky/Sea instead of cramming 80 people into 2-3 Bird/Imp maps because some camps are just plain better than others. If the game were re-balanced so that Dancing Weapons, Lamia, KRT Skellies, Aerns/Hpemdes, etc all provided equal xp/hr for equal effort, you wouldn't see nearly as much (if any) cramming as you do. Currently though, the options are "A camp 5 mins away for 20-30k/hr" or "A camp 25 mins away for 10-15k/hr". There's no comparison.
I tried Allods. You will be disappointed if you're trying to avoid PvP. It's forced PvP just like WoW on a PvP server. To make it even worse, they launched the item store last week, and the prices were just a slap in the face! The example that people couldn't get over was $20 for an upgrade of bag space from the default 18 to a paltry 24. If you dig deeper, you find that there is a stacking death penalty, which makes PvP and raiding impossible. To remove this effect, you need - you guessed it - an item from the item shop. $13.50 will get you 10 hours of debuff-free gameplay. As one PvP'er said - "That's $13.50 a day for me on my hardcore days ... no thanks!"
So I've heard, that's why I'm enjoying it while I can. I don't expect to be playing it much longer than a week or two more. If/when FoD or ganking make the game unplayable, I'll be quitting. Based on the paragraph after that, you sound like you're as jaded as I am. :)
I love FFXI's job system. It was one my favorite features (if not my favorite). I hate rolling alts. I would much rather be able to switch jobs, and take my keys, accomplishments, and identity with me.
Indeed. I've never liked the term "alts" either, because it inherently implies that you have a "main". Just like in FFXI, I didn't have a "main job"; my main job was whatever I'm playing right now. Job ADD led me to leveling EVERYTHING. Similarly in WoW, I have leveled every class over 40, half of them are 70-80. I just can't stick with one thing, and I'd rather not have to play the "Invite my alt to guild" game. I'm me. Simple as that. No need to complicate myself with 10 different characters with 10 different names, and of course everyone just refers to you by the character name they know you best as, so I get called Lota, Mik, Eil, Khae, Aes, Ac... etc. Just detracts from the immersion factor when I have half a dozen names that I go by. I feel like some kinda gangsta rapper with the dozen "AKA this AKA that AKA this AKA that" names.
I'm REALLY hoping that FFXIV lives up to our hopes and dreams. If it doesn't, nothing will.
If I could only take one thing from FFXI, it's this: No matter what your hopes and dreams are for something they're going to implement, no matter how many different possibilites people expect out of something, they'll find away to implement it in a way that no one had hoped for. (See: Pankration, MMM, Einherjar, Item "Enhancement"s, etc)
This is not to say that I don't agree with you, I'm in the same boat as you in that all my MMORPG hopes rest on FFXIV being my dream game. At the same time, I know SE's track record and while I can't say I wouldn't be disappointed if it turned out in a way I disliked, I wouldn't say I found the disappointment to be the first one I can credit to them.
Here's hoping though.