FFXIV vs WOW Socially

One thing I noticed that FFXIV had that WOW doesn’t have is that ability to change classes or jobs during the game.  Where in FFXIV if you wanted to pick up an axe and be a marauder or pick up a staff and become a conjurer – in WOW you’re stuck with the class you picked in the beginning.  This, in my opinion, makes being social and making friends all that much more difficult and I believe is one major factor in why I enjoyed FFXIV much more than I am enjoying WOW. 

ImageIn WOW I am now currently in a level 30-35 area with a level 33 character.  I can chat to other players in that area, but wandering around I am finding there are only a handful of people there.  Of that handful, most of them are doing what I am doing – which is quest after quest after quest.  When asking someone to join up and group with them, we’re never on the same quests, so we do not have an interest to group with each other.  So the solo play continues.  If I ask my guild if any of them want to join me they might, out of the kindness of their heart, join me for fun as a level 60 or 70 or 90 player.  Not something most people want to do though, and not something that would benefit them any.  The bottom line is, most of WOW is now geared for solo play and solo questing in areas that players have no reason to return to once they are beyond that level in character development.  This makes the world areas feel very neglected, empty, and isolated.  Outside of Stormwind I don’t see any end-game players or players of different levels wandering around and exploring.

Now let’s look at FFXIV.  Here you have many players who are a variety of jobs.  They might be a level 5 archer, a level 25 pugilist, and a level 50 white mage.  If someone in the guild says “Hey, I’m a new player and need help getting to level 10.”  That veteran player can step in and say “Hey, I’m only a level 5 archer, I can party up with you and help out.” Or odds are in a guild with multiple members, odds are someone from the guild can step in and help out and still benefit and have fun from doing so.  If someone is around level 20-30, that same veteran player can step in and help out another time with his pugilist class he is working on.  It really makes for better play and a stronger community.

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Social crafting in FFXIV

Crafting jobs were also a great way to be social in FFXIV, which I do not see similar benefits for crafting in WOW.  In FFXIV if you are crafting, you can sit anywhere and start making supplies and items from raw materials.  This means you can camp out where people are and craft for a few hours, and have some really interesting conversations in the meantime with your guild or the other people in the area.  This is also great if looking for other players to role play with on a slow day.  I always found it fun to craft in Ul’dah (the main city) because I could interact with all the regulars who also hang out in town and chat and form groups and have fun.  And that too was being put into a mix of other new and veteran players wandering around.  On any given day just hanging around town in FFXIV it was easy to find someone to help or talk to.  I’ve yet to find a similar mechanic in WOW.

Another great social aspect to FFXIV was just the layout of the world in general and how it sort of forced players to get to know each other.  Outside of the main cities, the areas were divided into different camps which catered to different level groups and different leveled mobs.  However it wasn’t just going from one camp to the next to the next never to return to the older camps or areas again.  Every player who wanted to level more than one class always found themselves returning to the different areas as they leveled up a different crafting, gathering, or fighting class.  This meant in general, no matter where you were at in the game, there was always a variety of players wandering around the same maps. 

ImageI know in part what made FFXIV so special was that there was also a smaller and more close-knit community involved.  Everyone who played had a love of final fantasy and the lore in some way.  I know going into the future with 2.0 we will get more of a variety of players and more solo and community-based activities to do, so that will make things interesting.  I am looking forward to the housing system in 2.0 and the free company housing.  I am looking forward to more areas where a mix of players will be gathering and socializing instead of always being off in segregated areas doing their own thing.  I look forward to being solo at times, with strangers at times, and with friends I know and respect at times.  Knowing a game will allow me to do this depending on how I feel and where the game takes me is going to be a valuable and rewarding experience.

Boring Quests and Being Social in WOW

So it’s been about a week now since I joined WOW.  I’ve gotten to level 30 and have just finished exploring Duskwood.  Just finished what seems like my millionth quest.  Just upgraded my gear yet again.  And throughout it all I’ve felt pretty alone.  And it’s this loneliness combined with the countless quests that I am going to rant about today.

Being alone is nothing new for me.  Most games I have are offline and I am the lone hero in the game.  And I enjoy that most times.  I like being able to do things myself and not have to rely on other players to be ready, or looking for a group.  I like it when the difficulty is geared to something I can do by myself.  However, I am finding no locations that have any activity going on in WOW.  Seems like everywhere I am going it is the same deal with just me and a bunch of varied lonely environments filled with mobs.  Mobs and quests.  Which is great – except there is nobody to go with me.  All the quests are nice, but they’re all solo.  Unless I have someone at the same point in the game as me in the same map doing the same quests (which only take about 10 minutes to clear and can’t be repeated) – there really isn’t going to be someone who wants to join up and do the same things as me. 

And the quests – dear god am I sick of the quests.  I thought over time they would get more interesting, but here I am at level 30 still doing the “Kill 10 mobs,” “Talk to this NPC,” “Deliver this item” quests.  I’m not finding any stories that are interesting either.  So far my last chain quests have gone like this:

NPC: “OMG!  Our town is being harassed.  Go kill 10 monsters!”

NPC: “Thanks for killing 10 monsters.  Now go kill 10 slightly uglier monsters!”

NPC: “OMG!  The monsters had a leader?!  Go kill that leader!”

NPC: “Wow, thanks.  You saved us.  Go talk to this guy!”

That Guy: “OMG!  I lost my shoe!  Go get it by killing 10 monsters!”

etc.

And this is everywhere I go.  Seems like every area is the same problems and the same quests, just different shaped NPC’s and different shaped monsters.  Right now I am coming out of Duskwood with night-themed areas with ghosts and werewolves and I am in Loch Modan with grasslands and woodland-themes mobs.  I saw a snow area with yetti-type mobs and caves with spider-type mobs.  Don’t get me wrong, the environments are beautiful and the mobs are very fitting to the location – but just changing the scenery while keeping the same mechanics underneath gets to be a bit tiring.  The NPC’s aren’t all that dynamic either, so I am having a hard time talking to them and deciding I care enough to do their little quest.  The reward has to be worth the effort.

What I did like about FFXIV was that they had a lot of repeatable quests in the form of levequests.  I could look for a party in my level range, get together, and then we could all get the same quests and go and do them as a group.  There was also a greater sense of community in XIV because we had to go to town all the time in order to get our business done.  To get new quests, to complete parts of a storyline, to buy or sell items, to meet up or start crafting or do item repairs – everything was done out of the main city.  When I go to Stormwind in WOW, I feel like the streets are pretty deserted, or people are only staying for a short while.  I feel like town is dead – and that makes it really hard to make a connection with the community on my server.

ImageThat being said, my next objective isn’t going to be trying to reach max level by doing more and more annoying quests.  I am going to try and be social.  I want to meet people outside of dungeon raids that I can talk to in the coming days or weeks on a consistent basis.  I just joined a new guild, so I will see if any of them have any advice for me as to what I should do or how I can find groups or what I can work on to make the experience a little more involving than it is for me right now. I know there has to be more to do, but I just reached that point in the game where I have to find it now.  I understand the mechanics fine, and the mechanics work well.  But it’s what to do next that is going to be my challenge.

Further Thoughts on WOW

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WOW Dungeon Finder

One thing I really do appreciate in WOW is the Dungeon Finder feature.  FFXIV 2.0 is planning something similar, but I can’t imagine a better version of this available.  Basically in WOW I just click the “Dungeon Finder” in the main menu, select the dungeon I want to do (or a random one), and wait for other people in my level range to do the same.  The game looks for a group of similar players and notifies me when the party is ready.  Once confirming I am ready, everyone is teleported inside the start of the dungeon.  From there it’s a simple run through the dungeon picking up treasures and equipment along the way – and when we’re done everyone gets to teleport right back to where they were before the dungeon happened and continue on what they were doing prior.

I really appreciated the Dungeon finder.  I appreciated how simple it was to use, and how easy it was to join a party and get started.  What I liked the most is that there was no time wasted traveling to the dungeon, and how no matter what it was I was doing beforehand (even flying on the gryphon or in the middle of a battle) when I ended the dungeon raid I was right back to where I was before the event with all the new items, experience, and money I earned.  I was right back mid-flight on the gryphon albeit a little wiser, a little more experience, and pockets heavier with gold.

Another thing I liked about WOW was how big the world felt after deciding to go traveling a bit more.  I made it to level 20 without even having to grind on mobs – just doing quests and dungeon raids with other players.  I found out that there are places I hadn’t even gone yet that were ranked at levels lower than what my character was.  I wouldn’t need to go to these places to level up further – but I could still go on my down time and fill in more of my maps and unlock more achievements for exploration.  This was a pleasant surprise as I thought much of the map would be unavailable for some time.

That all being said – I do need to gripe on how dumbed down some of WOW has become since I last played it a few years ago.  Yes, the world is still there as I remember, yes the quests are still there, yes the lore and the items are still there – but some core mechanics were taken away that I really and truly miss from older WOW.

One thing I was really surprised on was how abilities were automatically learned per job and not ones I would any longer have to seek out a trainer to learn once I reach a certain level.  Sure, this make sense because everyone usually snatches up abilities as soon as they are available anyway, but I appreciated the method of seeking out a trainer and the option to opt out of abilities that I didn’t want to deal with.  I liked the feeling of having to travel back to a town or where people are and mingle with other players and events while going to seek out a trainer.  If I had any say in it, I would have liked to see different abilities specific to certain trainers, to make more depth to the game and make it a conscious effort on the player’s part to learn something new and useful, not just have it come automatic to the class.

Another dumbed down element to the WOW I found disappointing was how different flight points became available on the map before my character had even been to the area.  I was just starting out and suddenly I have unlocked the ability to travel to areas I haven’t been to, much less heard of.  This made the game play too easy in my opinion and I feel I lost out on a valuable element to the game – which is having to put fourth effort into traveling to new areas and seeing new sights and then being rewarded with being able to travel there through flight later on.  This is how it used to be, but that has since been taken away.

UntitledMy final thought on WOW so far  is how the game is really are evolving and becoming more casual over time.  No longer is WOW as difficult and hardcore as it used to be.  It is still a challenge, but in a way that most players can handle.  When I first played WOW (and we were talking about this in-game in our guild), it was difficult to get anywhere in the game solo and there were many situations where players had to try multiple times as a group to get past certain quests and missions in the game.  Now it feels like a game people can easily solo for a majority of the time.  It is very new-player friendly.  However, as a new player myself the novelty will be wearing off for me shortly, so I’ll see if it is still worth playing over time, or if I’ll ragequit once the honeymoon is over.

Storylines are important

I’m on my fifth day of playing World of Warcraft, and still putting in lots of time – which is kind of a record for me as far as playing an MMORPG.  I must say what this MMO does, it does well.  But coming off of FFXIV being the only other MMORPG to hold my interest, there are several things WOW does that irk me, and things I hope to see changed when FFXIV 2.0 comes around.

WOW story quest

Today my gripe about WOW is that there is no main story.  There are no cut scenes to get my blood rushing, no big bad boss threatening to destroy the world, no NPC characters that are memorable, and defiantly no main story progression that rewards me as I get up to level cap.  Not to get me wrong, WOW does have some story lines and different conflicts in areas that are somewhat satisfying to follow through – but nothing that really gives depth to the game.  I feel like I have to force my own motivation to play – which isn’t easy when there’s a whole world and no direction.  While FFXIV made me feel like the central character and the main protagonist of the storyline, WOW makes me feel like some small unknown player that the world could care less where I go and what I do.  In WOW the quests and story lines also feel very temporary and cheesy with the world and areas going back to vanilla state after clearing out an area or resolving a conflict or completing a task.  I could go all over the world and help all the people, but when I come back through everyone is back and standing in the same spots as usual and everything is the way it was.  I understand the mechanics of WOW won’t allow for event changes in-game for each player individually, but that stiff and unresponsive world feeling is annoying.

FFXIV story quest

FFXIV on the other hand had a way of presenting story progression through side areas (that are otherwise closed off), and dialogues and conversations on-screen, cut scenes, and memorable characters in the world.  I appreciated how there were multiple story quests; and when I was doing a story quest how the camera would cut do different angles on both my character and the NPCs involved.  I also enjoyed the subtle things like the expression on character faces or how the music would change to fit the mood.  When in a story event, the other players would disappear so it was just me and the game environment for a personal experience.  The NPC’s were recurring characters in the story and they had a depth and uniqueness to each of them that made me feel that they were in a living world.  Each place held a memory of a cut scene or a battle or a conflict or a reminder of what the character went through.  The idea of having important stories unfold in otherwise locked-off areas or involving stories that compliment the environment and explain the state of the world was genius compared to how many other games get this wrong.

When 2.0 comes out, I really hope they stick to this formula.  I believe having an actual main story and making my solo character feel like the main character in the game helped suck me in and made me want to keep playing.  Having a world that feels fresh and characters that feel alive really makes an enjoyable experience.  I know I’ve thought this over many times, and one thing that kept me away from many MMORPGs were how clunky and dated the graphics looked compared to how fresh and clear my console games were.  UntitledI understand the limitations at the time WOW came out and how they cannot just change their program to run great cut scenes and story lines without changing the entire game and starting over from scratch.  That being said, I think if FFXIV 2.0 is as good as FFXIV was with their writing and cinematics there is going to be a wave of players like me who were waiting for the technology to catch up with what an MMORPG should be before diving on board.  I look forward to working with these people.

Waiting on Beta

FFXIV 2.0 Alpha Version Game play

So, it’s been a while since I was able to dive into the world of FFXIV, and it’s making me kind of bummed out.  I’ve tried countless other MMORPG’s since November 11, 2012 but nothing has since filled that void.  I’ve tried TERA and RIFT, but they seem like generic WOW clones (fight these mobs, collect these items, talk to these people, grind grind grind, get this equipment, get slightly better equipment, do generic quest, get this equipment, yadda yadda yadda.)  I’ve tried SWTOR and The Secret World – both of which had good stories, but the game play seemed too dated and clunky and had generic MMORPG feels to them.  I tried FFXI – which was fun for a bit, and had a lot of the FFXIV terminology and community, but ultimately had an interface and world that just seemed too dated, too empty, and difficult to work with.

I’ve decided the final days before Beta of FFXIV 2.0 I would bite the bullet and try WOW again.  I played WOW a few years ago and had some fun doing so, but never was too involved with it.  Seemed again like something that had been over done and had no real depth to it.  But I had heard that the development of 2.0 would have a lot of WOW elements to it, and after watching the videos of 2.0 and wanting to get ready for the experience that would be inspired by WOW, I decided to dive in and give it another shot.

Looking into my Battle.net account I saw I still had the standard version of WOW on there, so I downloaded the client and began the install.  I also didn’t have any time on my game account, but I saw there was a free 10-day trial of The Burning Crusade, I went with that.  So for the next week and a half I should have some free game time available.  One thing I appreciated was how the client was a large download, but after the critical files had been loaded, I was able to start playing while the rest of the game downloaded in the background.  I was playing after 10 minutes of launching the client.  I didn’t bother with trying to revive my old characters but went with a new character.  I picked a human hunter that came with his own little wolf pet.  I think i’ll ride this character out to see how far I can level him up before FFXIV opens up.

When I first started the game, I had to chuckle over how many noobs were like me, just starting out in the beginning town and jumping around and talking smack about each other.  I took some time to get familiar with the menus of the game, adjust the UI the best I could, filter some chat settings, set some graphics tweaks, and messing with preferences.  Once familiar with all that I dove into the game.

This time around, WOW felt different.  I could tell that some changes were made to the gameplay, the graphics, and the leveling system.  Whether that was for the better I cannot say, but I am enjoying it.  Many of the elements are the same old tired elements I remember from a few years ago, but the starting missions seemed different, the character creation was different, and the way abilities are learned is different.  It was much more fluid and streamlined as far as what to do and where to go and who to talk to.  It was nice to have map markers and a quest tracker – things I really yearned for when playing the older FFXI and one thing that really turned me off from the game.  It was nice to have an HD user interface and to be able to look at the screen and know exactly what needed to be done next.  I’m going to appreciate these featues in FFXIV 2.0 now that I’ve been using them again.

It was interesting going into a community of such a large scale and population as this one.  As I stated earlier, right off the bat people were talking and cracking jokes and asking questions and trying out new things.  It was easy to start up some conversations, ask for help, and join a guild.  And oh how I missed being in a guild (Also known as a Linkshell in XIV of course).

The other MMORPG’s i’ve been playing since XIV didn’t have that whole fun guild community I found while starting WOW again.  To just simply belong to a group of people who were in the game for fun, that would help out, could hold a fun conversation, party up, answer questions, or talk about what was going on with the game and the community was such a breath of fresh air.  To me, having a group of people who actually are there with you make a game much more enjoyable.  The whole point of an online RPG isn’t to simply grind and get to max level, but to make friends and enjoy the company along the way.  That is what made games like The Secret World and SWTOR so difficult to work with – their world was segregated into different zones that catered to different level groups.  Great for temporary parties, but not for lasting bonds.  I never felt like I was in one world as everyone else or one community – always a separate part with strangers who were trying to leave as soon as possible and move on to the next zone or area for higher levels.  To have a world where new players and veterans come and go for different reasons is invaluable and really makes the community feel more relevant no matter what stage in the game you are in.

I also did like how the map was blank until exploration.  I always had that sense of wonder for what else lay out there, and what is waiting for me on the horizon.  For a new adventurer, that sense that I am lost and piecing the puzzle together is a feeling that only happens once in a new game, and a feeling I always enjoy.  Even offline games like Skyrim, I always enjoy making that new character and finding places and leveling up from scratch.  (However, one thing I will appreciate with FFXIV 2.0 is that I don’t have to make an entirely new character to explore a different job or abilities). Travel in the game seemed appropriate too, with the ability to have mounts go get places faster, roads between settlements that were generally safe to travel on, and gryphons and other flying creatures for fast travel between settlements.  I know XIV is one to use aetherites, airships, and chocobos for travel, but the concepts are the same.

So honestly, if you do take the mechanics that work for WOW, get rid of their generic Lore and put in Final Fantasy Lore – add Lalafells and Miqo’te to keep things more cheerful, put in chocobos and moogles and mobs that are relevant to the series – there are the makings for a great FFXIV 2.0.  I like WOW’s quest tracking, settings, chat mechanics, interface, and controls.  If they do base the UI in XIV 2.0 with that of WOW, I will be OK with it.  If they add map markers and make travel easy to work with like in WOW, I will be OK with it.  I can see where using WOW as in inspiration for 2.0 does come in handy and how it will attract a lot of new players and make a greater community.  UntitledWOW has been changing and updating over time to keep up with being relevant and being the #1 MMORPG over so many years for a reason and the reasons are all ones I will be able to digest when 2.0 comes around.  Because what I want from a good MMORPG are four things – a great community, sleek graphics, A good user interface, and always having something I can be doing when logged in.  If those four things are there and easy to work with, then I welcome any game that can meet those demands.  So far the only two games I have been able to choke down and enjoy playing are XIV and WOW.  While I did like XIV astronomically more than WOW – knowing WOW was still far more enjoyable to me than any other MMORPG that has been dished out to me – well let’s just say there are far worse things that could happen.