I will merely state my opinion so please, do not get offended/angry if you disagree.
I'm not sure any update/expansion can bring "soul" into an MMO. There are many instances where FFXIV fails to provide that immersion/excitement/magic (whatever you want to call it) that FFXI did so wonderfully.
For instance, in FFXIV, I walk from Thanalan and into The Black Shroud and I don't feel as if I am in a new place or a new environment. Sure, the surrounding looks different, but there is a lack of something I cannot name.
Also, in FFXI, you had a change of scenery when you went from West Ronafure to La Theine to Valkurm Dunes; and apart from West Ronafure, the other two were from the same region, Zulkheim. In contrast, you walk from Camp Horizon to Camp Drybone, and the scenery doesn't change much. You walk all the way from Gridania exit to Camp Tranquil, and the scenery hardly changes. You walk all the way from Limsa to Camp Bald Knoll even, and the scenery hardly changes. Granted, there were zones in FFXI that were similar in scenery (Dunes/Valley of Sorrows), but at least, they were not placed right next to each other :(
Another problem is the mob placemen. When I compare Limsa/Gridania/Ul'dah, I see very similar mobs, which further takes away from the feeling that I am in a new town/place. I am fighting Marmots in Ul'dah and I am fighting Marmots in Gridania. Although XI also had similar mobs in the starter cities (worms/bats), the overall variety of mobs fit in well with the scenery. For instance, Sarutabaruta had Crawlers/Mandys/Bees/Orcs, Ronafure had Hares/Orcs/Beetles/Sheep/Crabs, Gustaberg had Lizzies/Quadavs/Bees, etc. There is very little variety in FFXIV.
Also, many of the mobs in XI actually seemed menacing. You fought Orcs, Goblins, Yaguados, Quadavs, which were introduced in the beginning movie. You could fight the Orcs right away and it gave you a sense of justice to defeat them.
With regards to the missions, in FFXIV, I feel like I am contributing 0 to the actual nation quest. After a few levels, I merely get to watch a new movie (a cool movie), but with 0 interaction from me. At least in FFXI, you had to go out and do your own fighting for Mission 1 (Orcish Axe/Orcish Scale Mails comes to mind in Sandy Missions).
Lastly, I miss the entire drive one had in FFXI to level and make progress. I don't even feel any motivation to level. I remember partying in Dunes as a RDM; any time I'd see a higher level RDM (or WHM) run by or power-level us, it would instill in me a certain motivation to one day imitate them, to be just as they are. This drive is absolutely missing from FFXIV. I run around and see people who are at least 10-20 levels higher than me, and I feel... nothing. I don't really care, even if they are a Thaumaturge (my main). Therein lie 2 more problems. I don't even have a main in FFXIV. As much as I like the option in FFXIV to change jobs on the fly, in a way it has stopped me from actually enjoying/sticking to one job. The other problem is the fact that equipment is wearable at all levels, regardless of optimal rank. No longer does it matter that I am finally hitting lvl 30 and will finally get to wear that super-cool gear. Now, I can just wear it at lvl 1; so why even bother to get to lvl 30? It really doesn't even save me inventory space, considering my inventory is getting taken up by +1, +2, and +3 of the same item ><. There is hardly any strategy in battle; they've taken away kiting (if you try to lure the mob away, it will just heal its hp), they've taken away auto-attack (can't even type anymore), and the biggest disappointment of all... they've taken away the cool animations of FFXI. Remember Meditate, Mighty Strikes, Stoneskin, Fire, Benediction, etc.? They made you feel in control, powerful. Now, stoneskin has been reduced to a big block, shock spikes is a big block... oh wait, they all look the same. Even the Elementals in the game all look the same (in contrast to FFXI)
I don't know. Maybe I am just seeing a lot of negatives here, but if anyone can enlighten me as to how all of these can actually be a positive, I'd appreciate it. Plus, I don't think any update can really fix all of these issues. The only way they can fix them is to re-make the entire game and that is improbable.
Edited, Oct 29th 2010 5:01pm by LadyRea