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.
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 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. I 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.