The conclusion I have come to is that it is very difficult to do a direct comparison between games, since quite a few "easily" comparable statistics are actually quite dissimilar between the games. As such, I chose a few metrics at random, drawn from a hat to compare the launch of the two games. I will be comparing three metrics here:
In addition, Elmer posted an excellent summation of the beta and first few months of the game on his JP Button site. I won't go over it all again, since his post is significantly better formated and written than mine ever could be. To drastically summarize though, the FFXI beta included all of the core systems of the FFXI release, but had a noticeable shortage of content compared to the release (although interestingly some of the content in the beta didn't make it into the release until the first few updates). This shortage included, but was not limited to: only a very small number of NMs and several release zones were not included in the beta.
Before I start doing a raw comparison, a few notes: This is a best attempt at a non-partisan comparison of the two games, while I may let a bit of my own personal preferences slip in here and there, I am trying to make this as unbiased as possible. Also, this is not a perfect comparison, as I mentioned before, the metrics in the games are different enough to make it difficult to directly compare them. We are, therefore, forced to make assumptions and simplifications:
On release, FFXI had access to 11 regions:
FFXIV, in beta has 5 outdoor zones and 6 indoor dungeons (discarded for relative size to the outdoor zones).
Without taking into account dungeons (which is only fair, given their size) it is clear that FFXIV does indeed have a significantly smaller footprint than FFXI did on release.
For this comparison, I made a few assumptions about quests. For one, given the difficulty to track down which quests were added since the introduction of the game, and in order to not give biases, I count every quest in the average quest per city value. It should also be noted that this comparison is not a comparison of what quests one person can do, but only the shear number of quests put into the game by the developers.
Bastok has 111 quests, San d'Oria has 96, and Windurst has 111, giving an average of 106 quests per city.
At this point I must confess that my knowledge of guildleves is limited, having leveled primarily Armorer, with a little pugilist, if someone can correct my numbers if they are off, please do so.
Given the approximation that there are 4 ~1 guildleves per Discipline of War and Magic, and 4 ~10 guildleves, that gives 56 leves for War and Magic. Disciplines of Hand and Land have on average 4 leaves each per city, giving 44 leves. This means that there are 100 leves even per city in FFXIV at the moment (I'm actually fairly certain I've missed a few here, and this will be updated as soon as I have more data).
Given that both the FFXI and the FFXIV data sets here are not great, we cannot conclude much. However, we do know that the FFXI estimate is high, and the FFXIV estimate is low. Given this, it is safe to say that the number of quests (quality aside) in FFXIV on release will be greater even than the number of quests in FFXI after 7 years.
This is a simple enough comparison. At release, FFXI had access to rank 4 (Rank 5 missions were added on 8/8/2002). FFXIV, in beta, as 3 missions active that you can access at increasing levels.
FFXI still has a slight leg up on this one, but anecdotally, I would say that the missions as a whole are longer and more involved in FFXIV than in FFXI (for the first 3 at least).
Despite my own personal thoughts on the game (that it has more content than meets the eye) I must conclude that currently, the amount of raw content in FFXIV is drastically less than the amount of content in FFXI on release. The amount of area while seemingly huge due to the size of the individual zones, is dwarfed by the amount of area in FFXI on release. Quests, another contended issue, is at best, even (and as I'm sure some will argue, a lot less original) in FFXIV to FFXI. Missions are close, but quantitatively, FFXI still has the edge here.
This is all mitigated slightly by Elmer's description of the FFXI beta, and it is safe to assume that SE is still holding back some content, possible several zones. Despite this though, I am slightly disappointed by my own findings, and I truly hope that SE has reserved quite a bit of content behind the curtain, as it were.