-What is the general impression of XI players that have moved over to XIV?
I've played FFXI since ps2 launch, just to get that out of the way. There ARE some bad/frustrating things about 14, I won't deny. But really, my major complaints in the beginning seem to have disappeared. The lag/latency is still there a bit but it's much better. Not saying that when you get into the Adventurer's Guild it's not like Besieged waiting for people to pop up (sometimes people are there when I enter, sometimes I have to wait up to a minute for them to appear... used to have to wait EVERY time).
With the new divisions in the Market Ward it's much easier to find things now than it had been (and the addition of the search feature soon will make it even easier). I don't mind the retainer system too much. They just basically combined your Mule and your Mog House. Dump all your items on your retainer, plop them in Mule Alley, and sell stuff (limit of 8 items). Search is definately going to make it easier to find what you're looking for, but my main problem with no AH is that... well theres no good way to actually know whats out there. In XI you could just window shop the AH for what your future gear (minus r/e) was going to be. In XIV I really haven't got a clue what kinds of weapons or armor exists, let alone is available.
Travel is a TON easier. OMG it's so easy... You start out with all the maps and the main path is clearly defined. A rank 1 can travel from city to city with fair ease. A few spots you might have to wait to run past something but its not like trying to run through Jugner as level 1 thats for sure. Each City has camps in the zone outside of it. These are similar to Aht Urghan staging points. Once you've been to it once, you can teleport back at any time (any job, any rank.. as long as you have Anima for it.. only used for teleporting/returning and recharges a little every day). Along with the camps (which you can tele to from anywhere), spread out in the zone there are Nodes which you can also find. Each node is connected to a camp. You can warp from the camp to the node and vice versa. A comparison would be... Outpost warp from Sandy to the Dunes. Then once at the Outpost you can warp from there back to Sandy or to Selbina, Hidden Beach, Lizard Camp etc.
No more zone lines! (Mostly...) It's usually seamless going from zone to zone. The only thing you might notice is players names greying out or people's bazaars being unavailable. Run a bit past them though (and officially into the zone they're in) and back to normal. No zone lines means no zoning to escape aggro, but it's not much of a deal because the mobs are usually lazy. They've got their area and they won't run too far out of it to chase you down.
Jobs! You have a player level and a job rank. Every fight you win gives you both experience points (for your physical level) and skill points (for your weapon/job). I'm currently level 23, but rank 15 Gladiator, 10 Pugilist, 10 Marauder, 10 Lancer etc. Every physical level you gain you are awarded with stat points and elemental points. You're then in charge of where you put your stats. Want to put all 6 in Strength? Go for it! ... But oh no.. you've put all your points in your melee stats and now you're being asked to party as a conjurer. Have no fear because you can reassign your stats every 45 minutes!
Did you ever think "This PLD/NIN is pretty nice, but ****.. if I could just have a sub-subjob, or just somehow get access to Provoke this would be amazing!" (or another main/sub combo + extra skill) Well, now you CAN! After you've gained the knowledge of how use an ability from 1 job, you can then use that ability on all jobs. Even if the ability is learned at rank 20, you can use that as a rank 1 other job. This includes spells from the Thaumaturge and Conjurer classes. If you've gained access to it, your rank 1 Archer can be casting cure, or your rank 1 Marauder can be a wanna be DRK. Setting your abilities is similar to playing BLU. Once you've wielded whatever weapon you become that class. You then have 30 ability slots to fill with abilities. Each one is worth a set amount, and depending on your rank you can set X amount of points... so while I might have access to 5+ abilities for each of my 10 jobs, I can still only set 3-4 at a time due to point restrictions.
Crafting is a whole new thing. I hated crafting in 11. It was so mind numbingly borning. Now you actually have to pay attention to what you're doing and your actions have an outcome on your synth. Not to mention you also get physical experience for crafting as well as the skill points. ****, you could theoretically be level 30 but have never killed a single monster. Which leads me (back?) to leveling.