So I’ve been sucked into Final Fantasy XIV. It’s all the fault of Gamers With Jobs, just so you know. They generally liked it, and I usually like things that they like, so I had to try it. Especially since it was only $30 for the first month.

They’ve stolen one idea from me. In the MMO that I want to design and write but of course I never will, you could advance in three different areas: PvE, PvP, and crafting. So you don’t have one level, you have three different levels. FFXIV stole this idea and took it a bit farther: You can level up any of a bunch of adventuring, gathering, and/or crafting classes. It basically means you only need to create one character and eventually you will be able to do everything (I think). Once you get to around level 15, you can unlock everything and essentially change classes on the fly, by simply changing your equipped weapon. The possibilities are endless. (There is a significant delay before you can use your abilities after you switch, though, so don’t be thinking you can switch fifty times in the middle of a battle.)

It has most of the other good features of a modern, post-WoW MMO, except for a couple of annoyances. There’s clearly no built-in spam filter on the chat system, and there’s no point-and-click way to ignore gold spammers. You have to open up the social window, go to the Blacklist, click the Add button, and type in the offender’s name. (On another note, this is by far the quietest MMO I’ve ever seen in terms of chat–once you silence the gold sellers it becomes a wasteland–maybe it’s because there are a lot of PS3 players who don’t have keyboards.)

Navigating around the world map is not as easy as, say, GW2, which is kind of a drag. GW2 really spoils you, though. In FFXIV you can teleport directly to these soul stone thingys placed at major hubs, but it’s expensive enough that you can’t just do it willy-nilly, so you end up having to run a lot. I haven’t figured out how to get a mount yet, beyond renting one for a short time.

The first dungeon, Siskesomething-or-another, had almost an hour wait in the queue as an archer–tanks and healers are apparently still non-existent. Fortunately you can queue for it and walk away (for some reason you get a funny-looking blue box icon next to your name that everyone can see). FFXIX groups are only 4 people, and the group I got was nice and drama-free. The tank was playing on a PS3, which was kind of amazing to see–I don’t think I’ve ever played a cross-platform game before. Someone else had really mastered the emotes and clapped every time someone won loot (in that adorably too-cute way that every character emotes in FFXIV). Overall it was an okay experience. Not great, not bad. Just ordinary. I don’t feel any compelling need to repeat the experience and "farm" that dungeon.

It’s a bit refreshing to see an MMO that is not so action-oriented and paced a little slower. MMOs seem to be getting faster and faster with each new iteration. For example, Neverwinter is kind of ridiculous in that regard. Fast MMOs are fun and all, but I usually don’t play MMOs for an adrenaline rush. Mainly I want a game I can play that doesn’t need my full attention.

The writing in this game is a hoot, too. Full-on high fantasy, over-the-top melodrama. Highly amusing.

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