First of all, I'd like to mention that i'm not totally new to FFXIV. I played it for a few weeks when the game came out, stopped, came back around xmas for another few months, stopped, came back around may for another few months, quitted and now with patch 1.19 i'm back for good.
The game has changed a lot. It still has a lot of flaws (Party search function, laggy UI, etc...) but it is WAY better than it was.
I rerolled a fresh character to experience it by myself and I like it so far. Got gladiator, pugilist, miner, botanist, blacksmith, armorer and leatherworker to lvl 10-13 and conjurer, lancer, thaumaturge, carpenter and weaver to lvl 5-8. It didn't take me a lot of time as I started playing last Thursday and have played probably around 20 hours so far.
The start is kinda rough as the gear is pricy but if you lvl up crafting classes gear is so easy to get. Yesterday, I crafted myself and 2 LS members a set of lvl 12 leather gear (that's right as a lvl 8-9 leatherworker!). I also crafted myself a Bronze Knuckles +1 (lvl 12 pugilist arm) as a lvl 10 blacksmith.The mats were easy to get (mostly basic mats i.e. ores refined into ingots) and the gear really makes a difference for the lvling. They really improved all the recipes I've used so far, much more convenient to do (no more mats lvl 20 weaver for a lvl 12 leatherworker gear...!)
The combat system is more fun and challenging than it was. If you like fast action combat type games, you probably won't like it. If you're a Final Fantasy fan, you probably will like it. It was the first time I grinded for more than an hour since I play the game. As a pugilist, I could grind non stop on lvl 12 mobs and get to Exp chain #5 and it was challenging and fun. Haven't experienced much combat classes so I can't say if they are all fun to play atm. I still need to experience a party grind as I only partied for like 15 minutes and it was at lvl 6.
The changes they made to leves are also nice. Being able to stuck up on leves is awesome. You don't have to do leves when they are available like you had to before and leves aren't the best way to get exp now.
Gathering is much easier too. You can now gather the exact mat you want. Let's say you want copper ores, go to Uldah's area and mine. After you get used to it, you can get copper ores every time in one swing of your pickaxe (just need to find the trick).
Gathering and Crafting experience rate seems to have increased but i'm still low lvl so I can't say for sure.
I rerolled on Figaro and joined this new LS Black Hole. I suggest to anyone who wants to start the game to come on Figaro server and message me in game (Venek Steelfist) to join our linkshell or for help. I am willing to craft new players gear for free, as long as I have the mats, to help get this community started. Always pleased to answer questions and toss help if needed.
See you in game!