As I write this it had been approximately two years since I’d last visited Final Fantasy XIV (and perhaps longer than that even) and to be completely honest I had stopped because I didn’t have the time nor the money to commit to another MMO. Fast forward to Christmas of 2019 and when asked what I wanted as a present one of the first things that leapt to mind was a time card so that I could come back and I will be completely honest, I’m happy on many levels that I asked and received exactly what I asked for.
So just a little background I suppose, up until I tried World of Warcraft around the time of the Burning Crusade expansion, I had never played an MMO before. At the very least I had never played one seriously before WoW took hold that’s for sure. I dabbled with Final Fantasy XI and it was most definitely beyond my skill set so I never truly felt a desire to go back up until I heard of FFXIV.
We all know the problems with the original release, or at least most of us do, broken and almost completely unplayable on so many levels to the point that Square-Enix made a rather bold decision in not only pulling the plug but also rebuilding the game from the ground up delivering us “A Realm Reborn”. Now when I first ventured into the rebuilt game I was amazed at what I saw, I had no idea what I was doing and was completely confused but I loved it, it felt like a Final Fantasy game should in an online world and I was most definitely not disappointed.
Now since the relaunch of FFXIV I haven’t been able to play it much if at all, my current state of existence doesn’t leave much extra room for a monthly subscription to MMOs so I’m a bit restricted to time cards when I’m able to get them and like I said thanks to receiving one recently for Christmas I was ecstatic to jump back in. I’ve missed the thrill that an MMO can provide though granted I never truly missed playing alongside other people, but I’ll get to that later. The world looks amazing and the gameplay feels just right, not too terribly confusing though it does have it’s moments, and it’s been easy (for good or bad) to slip into some old habits of playing far longer than I should and I have absolutely no regrets about that.
Now before you think that I’m some super fanboy of the game let me reassure you that as much as I enjoy it, and as amazing of a feeling that I get when it do, it’s not without its faults. Now while I applaud the fact that Square-Enix have tried to create a way of helping players by way of an online resource it can sometimes be confusing and feel incomplete, in addition some of the things that you can do in game do carry with them certain requirements which the game itself makes no mention of (riding mounts for instance leaps to mind). All of that aside though there is one thing that I really do dislike, there are often times when you are forced to group up for a quest to advance the story, including getting a mount if I understand things correctly.
Hold your tongues for a moment, I know a lot of people are thinking “but it’s an MMO the whole point is to play with other people!!!!!” you sir or madame, are completely correct however let me explain myself if I may. Over the years the one thing that I’ve always loved about MMOs is that you can play them your way, how you choose to do so and while I understand and accept the fact that these quests are done intentionally to foster a sense of teamwork and community, when you’re a massive introvert even in the online world those quests can actually induce a level of anxiety.
I’m not even joking when I say that having to group up with people in an MMO messes with me in the worst of ways, I’m terrified on so many levels. I know I don’t know the dungeon or whatever we may be doing, I’m not always completely confident that I know how to play my character, I’m constantly feeling judged because we may be struggling and I’m fairly certain that it’s my fault. In short I understand why it’s done in MMOs to a point, I just wish that in this instance it wasn’t necessary just to get to something so necessary, having to complete a few dungeons in a row just to continue on to the point of being able to get a mount to travel around easier. Now I could be wrong that I need to complete these dungeons to get to the quest I need, but every bit of info I’ve seen says I have to so it’s delayed me advancing by a lot, though that’s not to say I stopped playing, if anything there are plenty of things to do in the meantime.
One of the one things that I actually love (as a result of being terrified to group up) is the fact that you are not bound to just one class, you can explore every class and every profession with one character, eliminating the need for multiples characters which is something I can greatly appreciate for sure. So while I manage to get through being forced to group up with people I’ve never met and in some cases really do not want to, I can spend my time perfecting a multitude of crafts. Really though, in the end, and even forced grouping aside, I love it. I’ve gotten more enjoyment in a few weeks of being back than I have in years of other MMO. So long as I’m able to get a time card here and there I’ll be back again and again.