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Is This the Problem With FFXIV?

Is This the Problem With FFXIV? – December 4, 2010 9:39 PM (edited 12/4/10 4:39 PM)
Talraen (2373 posts) Doesn't Play with Others
Rating: Not Rated
The long-awaited first big patch has come out for FFXIV, and I'm not alone in thinking that it didn't really solve the problems with the game. It certainly made it more playable, but there's still just something wrong with the game. So what is it?

I've talked about this a lot with Airclair, who is chock full of theories on why the game sucks. However, most of those theories fall flat. He tends to pine for FFXI, but FFXIV is unequivocally better in any way he's mentioned than FFXI was/is at the equivalent point, both in terms of time (a few months after launch) and where we are in the game (around level 20). We like to romanticize and wax nostalgic about the games we like, but the fact is, FFXI is brutal at low levels, especially the first time around. It's shocking anyone even got to level 20. I feel like no one would had the game come out after WoW changed the MMO game... and maybe that's exactly what's happening to FFXIV.

But that still doesn't really explain what's specifically wrong with the game. Talking to Draethor earlier, a possible explanation hit me. Now I realize this explanation is quite me-centric, but I think it holds merit. The problem is that there's no non-leveling progress to make, especially in the department of quests.

It's always been a sticking point for many FFXI veterans that FFXIV's quests suck. However, those complaints feel hollow: FFXI had quests you had to search hours for (or use a guide), which were often way too hard for your level, involved ridiculous amounts of travel, and often offered little or no reward. Most of the good quest rewards could be bought before the quest could be done anyway. Aside from quests for some maps and rarely-sold spells, they were objectively pretty crappy. FFXIV doesn't have learned spells or discovered maps, but its quests (called leves) have very good rewards and a wide variety of objectives (compared to FFXI's quests), they're easy to get, and there's always more of them. In strict gameplay terms, they're just better.

Now, the going theory has always been that offering all quests centrally takes something away from the experience, but really, is that the issue? I mean, we'd rather wander around town talking to random people than, you know, play the game? The only complaint I find truly legitimate about leves is that they don't advance the plot, though it's worth noting that they have plot (everyone just ignores it), and only a bare handful of FFXI quests really did much plot-wise. If all you want is good writing, it's there, you just need to read it. But leves do lack something. But is that the problem? I say no.

I had a big spreadsheet for FFXI to keep track of which quests I had completed. There are user page templates on FFXIclopedia to keep track of the same thing. Leves, on the other hand, come and go at random, and are repeated regularly. The repetition isn't the problem - the problem is that there is no sense of completion. Sure, faction leves apparently involve some form of advancement, but practically speaking, I don't give a crap which leves I get, just what the objectives and rewards are. I can do leves for a month and I gain the same things I'd gain from just grinding. Sure, it's more fun, and there are some unique items to get from certain leves, but still. I'm not working towards a goal.

And that, I think, is the problem, at least for me. In FFXI, I wanted to level so I could unlock and complete more quests. In FFXIV, the only reason to do quests is to level. Yes, leveling unlocks more leves (and plot quests), but they have become the means rather than the end. And that makes them seem very, very empty.

There is no Mythril Sword in Elfheim
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