I figured a fair number of people on the board haven't played FFXI in recent years, to see some of the changes (or non-changes) SE has made to the game. I think these give a very good insight into how the dev's think, and will probably be good indicators of things to expect from FFXIV.
Last year when I started a new character with friends, I discovered a small series of quests you are pointed towards, which explains basic combat, mob aggro, the auction house, status points, basic crafing, and even searching for a party. I can't even imagine how much it would have helped when I started the game with thousand of other people from NA the day it launched. Also from the video's we've seen FFXIV will have some sort of combat tutorial on the ship, and I'm sure it will continue once you arrive in the city. Hopefully this should save a few poor souls from being utterly lost.
The longer FFXI was out, the less time it took to reach 75, not only because parties were more efficient, but mainly due to SE lower the xp curve. Whether this was due to a realization that it was a bit extreme, or just lowering the xp curve years later to allow people to fully level many other jobs is yet to be seen. The real question is, when the game launches, will there enough end game content to allow the majority of people to reach it before they can push their first expansion out.
Increased Job Abilities
After Zilart, I think SE realized that people enjoyed doing more in combat. All of the jobs in Aht Urhgan and WotG were practically WoW button mashing jobs compared to say Dragoon. While the footage we've seen the combat has been slow, SE has promised to increase the speed, also couple this with the fact they were low level characters fighting alone, hard to make a rabbit fight epic. If SE could make every job in FFXIV play like scholar, I would be ecstatic.
Faster World Travel
Every expansion added more options for traveling around the massive Vana'diel more efficiently. Much like experience, you have to wonder if this was just due to people tiring of chocoboing for 2 hours, or SE realized people enjoy the destination more than the journey...sometimes.
More varied endgame content
Not really much to say here. My favorite thing from FFXI were the missions, the exciting battles and memorable characters really set FFXI apart from any other MMO on the market. While I'm sure FFXIV will have them, I really hope there are a few less epic story lines, that can be done solo, or with a small group.
FFXI was probably one of the least solo friendly games for much of it's life. Aside from browsing the AH there really wasn't that much you could do solo, that you wouldn't be at an advantage doing in a group. However, after SE killed beastmaster, and all hope looked lost, they started rolling out more and more solo content. From campaign, to field notes, and besieged, they added content that could be enjoyed and provide character advancement solo.
Short term goals
WotG seemed to really catch on to the idea of small goals, or at least things that didn't necessarily take 3 hours. Campaign added the ability to quickly jump into a fight and earn rewards and field manuals allowed someone to fight 4 or 5 EP mobs and earn a decent chunk of xp and gil.
Anyway, feel free to add more, I'm really only scratching the surface.
Edited, Jun 21st 2010 10:03am by Lamnethx