I've been a defender of FFXIV for a long time. I still really like the game. I was however was surprised by the lack of content offered up front. I compare it to other MMOs out there where you do NPC quest chains that lead you to different land marks. In essence the quests are rails for the game, taking you from point A to B to C. You of course have the option to do your own exploring.
I keep look at XIV then look at XI. There was a ton to do from the get go in XI. But I remind myself it was released here with an expansion in place and a years worth of adjustments. I miss the NPC side quests. It gave the world a more "alive" feeling. SE just took all the NPC quests and slapped them into one location as Guildleves. You still have the little story explaining why you are doing something, you still go out and kill target mobs for the drops. You just are awarded upfront instead of having to revisit the NPC for completion. It doesn't feel the same, not even close. Guildleves feel more like Fields of Valor than anything else. So that brings me to my next thought... The lack of content. Outside of Guildleves there isn;t much to do in XIV. Then I was thinking what I did in XI: I partied up and EXP'd.
That was XI's main content: group experience parties. I've been playing XIV mostly as a solo game, Then I started to group up. It's a much better experience (for me) to group and grind than grind solo. If they could adjust Guildleves to last longer (not make mobs harder) maybe continuously spawn mobs for the 30 min or up their HP/DEF I think guildleves would feel much better.
So what about the rest of teh content? It's a slow burn to get through the story line. I remember getting mission after mission in XI. But I just realized: I was capped level as well. I didn't run into any walls where I had to be a certain level to continue, I was able to do what I wanted when I wanted. I think thats where XIV will shine is when we reach max level. It'll take time getting there but I look forward to everything that come there after.
in closing I do think they released XIV too early, I wish they would have pushed back the launch til December or even so the simultaneous lauch with PS3 in Marh. But given time i think XIV will shine.