I have literally been playing MUD's/MMORPG's since 1994. In this time I have had the privilege of playing many wonderful and not so wonderful MMORPG's dating back to UO, Eeverquest, the mothers of them all.
In around 2004/05, the MMO industry took a turn for the worst in my honest opinion due to MMO's becoming to easily accessible and in doing so it removed a few major elements that drove these MMO's to success. Communities died, long term subscribers died, the overall atmosphere died all in all, however, I am not here to debate why we have ended up in this position in todays MMO's industry, I am here to talk about my first impression on FFXIV.
As many of you know, there was very little to no information about FFXIV during beta phases and test periods. The lack of information is what most likely has caused alot of people to not want to pick it up and play. As I mentioned earlier, I am a old school Everquest 1 fan, having played Everquest 1 & 2 for the best part of 10 years and many other various AAA grade titles including Dark Ages of Camelot, Ashperons Call 1 & 2, Lineage 1 & 2, Ultima Online, Vanguard, Age of Conan, Warhammer Online, Aion and a variety of Free to Play MMO's in between upto now.
Around 2005, it felt to me that MMO publishing companies were becoming cash grab machines, taking advantage of the now known amount of potential clients the Western market had been injected with the release of World of Warcraft, companies seemed to only be concerned with off the shelf box sales and the reason most of us old school players loved MMO's was because of the depth involved with them, which at this point in time, had been lost.
I too have come from a long line of failure MMORPG's over the past 5/6 years. Every year we hear of the next best slice of cheese, grass is always greener on the other side of the fence, it's heaven in a box!!!! Yet, they always seem to fail. It's likely not fully the publishers fault directly as it would seem in todays generation gamers, if they can't hit cap level or maximize thier playing potential within the first month or two, they ethier quit or start hacking, cheating and RMT'ing ingame currency to make it happen faster. So, in a way, we, the community to some extent, only have itself to blame for wanting instant gratification.
I never played FFXI, by the time I heard about it, I was knee's deep in Everquest 2 leading my guild there and spending all my time helping it too high success, however, I am a FF fan from the console based series and I did read up on it and it looked mighty impressive, but, I was 4 years behind by time I looked into it and choose to spend my time in Everquest 2 instead.
I have to admit, FFXIV took me back to my glory years during Everquest 1. Back when MMO's felt big and you weren't feeling boxed in and claustrophobic. Back when the tedious things about the UI, targeting system and movement made you feel frustrated at first but once you had mastered it, was no problem what so ever. Back when MMO's made you use your brain, read NPC dialogues and most of all the big kicker, the adventure involved with other players alike.
The only thing I have to say about it in a negative way, is the fact they didn't localize it for any specific language barrier. However, the automatic translater is a nice effect but still requires you to put in alot of effort to try and communitcate with people without knowing what language they speak to begin with.
I am currently Rank 14 MRD, Rank 12 BSM and Rank 11 ARM. I haven't played an MMO for the past 5 - 6 years that felt this big, especially when adventuring.
If you are a patient person, have oddles of persistance and drive, this game will seriously deliver. If your the type of person who wants instant gratification, quick leveling experience and quests galore handed to you on a yellow brick road with no thought process or patteren required, then leave now, you will not find that here.
I give FFXIV a 9/10 for taking me back to my old school days and making me rekindle what little hope I had left for MMO's in the future.