I write game articles for a little-known site (no sarcasm there, unfortunately) and am currently working on a piece about FFXIV--its past, present, and future. I guess I should start further back than that, though. I played FFXI from 2003 to 2008; was a huge fan; met my now-fiance there on Ramuh; and was so psyched about FFXIV when I first heard about it. So this article isn't going to be biased at all. ;)
Anyway after playing a bit of FFXIV at launch I was disappointed with the gameplay quality and quit, and that was that--until recently, when suddenly I could not stop thinking about tarutaru. I've been playing again for about a month now and am so impressed by the changes Yoshida and his team have made to the game that I wanted to write an article about the state of FFXIV especially aimed at old players who are considering coming back and new players who never gave it a chance because of that brutal 49/100 Metacritic score.
And now to the point. I've only been back for about a month, and casually at that, so I'd love to get some information about the state of the game from you all in the trenches, who've experienced higher-level, in-depth content that I haven't seen yet or come across in my research. I'm going to include below a summary of what I've already come up with for FFXIV's past, present, and future, and welcome thoughts, corrections, and additions to what I've compiled.
September 2010 (then)
-There is no auction house. The replacement system, Market Wards, is a joke. In order to buy an item from another player you must manually check the bazaar of the retainer selling said item—in other words, get incredibly lucky or be impossibly tenacious.
-There is no auto-attack. You must hit enter every single time you want to take a swing.
-There is serious lag, painful lag, lag so bad your little brother knows not to come within 15 feet of you while you’re FFXIV-ing for fear of death by asphyxiation.
-The UI is terrible. Just God-awful. Also laggy.
-The most effective way to gain experience is via job-specific quests called guildleves which are available in sets of 8 every 36 hours. This system rewards low-key play-styles and heavily disadvantages dedicated gamers.
-A confusing system is in place where a character has two levels: class rank and physical rank. Physical rank increases no matter what class he levels, including crafting classes (Disciple of the Hand) and gathering classes (Disciple of the Land).
-The graphics are incredible, but you won’t be able to appreciate them if your computer isn’t top-of-the-line.
June 2012 (now)
-Lead Developer Hiromichi Tanaka has been replaced by director/producer Naoki Yoshida, a hardcore MMO player who “can work without sleeping” and who openly communicates with players in game forums.
-There is still no auction house. However players can now speak with an NPC to search the Market Wards for and purchase items other players want to sell. It’s a *massive* improvement but it’s still a bit clunkier than an auction house. For example if a city’s Market Wards are full, other players cannot sell their items there, which is ridiculous and frustrating.
-Auto-attack has been implemented, thank the Twelve.
-The lag issues have been sorted out. Little Johnny can breathe easy.
-The UI is better. But not great.
-MP now regenerates automatically (and quickly!) when not in active mode, which has you fighting more, resting less.
-There are now airships between cities, and single-player combos, and some other fun content such as NMs and quests that I haven’t yet had the chance to experience.
-Physical ranks have been eliminated for simplicity.
-Because too much simplicity is apparently bad for our health, a complex and controversial job system has been implemented in addition to and complementing the class system. It’s difficult to boil down, but jobs seem to be focused on perfecting a few skills, whereas classes seem to be less focused and instead more versatile.
-The game still requires a sophisticated computer setup to run smoothly and look fancy.
Final Fantasy XIV Version 2.0
1. Complete redesign of repetitive maps
2. Fully-customizable graphics to cater to a broader range of PC capabilities
3. A new server system which will improve current UI and search issues
4. A completely rebuilt UI that will even allow for user-made add-ons (previously unheard of from SE)
5. Unique story content that only those playing before version 2.0 will get to experience
Bring your brutal honesty. The point of this article is not to sugarcoat or advertise but to inform gamers about the state of FFXIV. Thank you for your help!