Yes. Final Fantasy XIV is probably the best MMORPG on the market today. But we'll get into the details here!
The Critically Acclaimed MMORPG
Everybody loves the acclaimed MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV. And for good reason. After over 10 years, XIV has slowly turned into a titan of the industry. Supported by both its dedicated community and the development team's love and care. Its continuous growth over the past decade didn't come without a fair share of hardships either. The Death and Rebirth of Final Fantasy XIV (you should definitely give the Noclip's documentary about the subject a watch), is the stuff of legend at this point. Not often do we get to see games rise from a terrible launch. And not only that but also thrive after.
While there are many reasons why Final Fantasy XIV is so popular today, some we'll get into in this article. There is a love and care associated with the title that you rarely get to experience in games today. Something that you'll feel from the warmth of the Crystal Prelude playing on the title screen, all the way to NPC's contextualizing gameplay elements within the story. So allow us to sell you the experience of Final Fantasy XIV.
The Legacy of the Crystal
Final Fantasy is one of gaming's great franchises. Having been around since 1987, the games have accumulated quite a legacy. Worry not, getting into Final Fantasy XIV does not require you to play the previous entries. But it might get you to try them out. Most of the games in the franchise stand well on their own and Final Fantasy XIV is no different. But more so, it is a love letter to the Final Fantasy brand.
And while it's not uncommon for the games to reference each other in a tongue and cheek way. Final Fantasy XIV goes above and beyond, by having bosses of other titles guest star in epic confrontations. Reimaging some of the other game's greatest moments within its own context, or simply playing tribute by integrating locations and characters.
If you are a fan of Final Fantasy, you'll probably find a lot to love here just because of that. And it's not uncommon for other directors to be involved in the project. Be it characters and bosses designed by Tetsuya Nomura, stories written by Yasumi Matsuno, or raids designed by Yoko Taro. And if that doesn't convince you, Final Fantasy creator Hironobu Sakaguchi is also severely addicted to the title. He even started his own fashion brand.
The Unending Journey
MMORPGs are usually not known for their narratives. At least that's the common perception of them. Even titles like Star Wars The Old Republic, Elder Scrolls Online, and Guild Wars 2 challenge that perception. These online games are usually more known for the stories the player's craft within. But since Final Fantasy XIV's third expansion; Shadowbringers, it has been called not only the best Final Fantasy of all time. But also one of the greatest stories told in gaming. And the reason for it is very simple XIV's writers know how to use the genre of MMORPGs to their advantage.
In the moment-to-moment narrative, the main scenario can be a slow burn. But that sets the pace for an grand adventure of epic scale. And because of the nature of MMORPGs, the story doesn't just end after the credits roll. Instead, it continues, on and on it goes. Final Fantasy XIV is not just the story of Hydaelyn and her people. It's your tale, the tale of the Warrior of Light and the people you meet on your journey. And while some MMO veterans might feel uncomfortable being the protagonist of that story, XIV's story is told with so much grace. It's hard not to get wrapped up in it.
Her Children One and All
If I was to gush on and on about the world building of Final Fantasy XIV, this piece would probably be a multiple part feature. But Final Fantasy XIV is probably one of the most realized worlds ever put in a video game. Even something so minuscule like how your combat markers exist are explained away within the games context. And this tireless attention to detail extends into every aspect of the game. To the point that every single fish you can catch, has a little bit of story attached to it.
And there is so much to this world outside of the main scenario. Some of Final Fantasy XIV's best stories are tugged away in little side quests. Be it helping a guy turn into a prophet after he adopts a pet snake or teaching a dwarf how to greet his friends. I never expected to be engaged in the still ongoing feud of a couple that got divorced due to a misunderstanding or the hijinks of Eorzea's greatest detective and his lovely assistant.
No matter how outlandish things might get, the world of Final Fantasy XIV is tangible and alive. And normally, its elements interact quite well with one another. So don't be shy to set aside your main scenario adventure and explore your options. You'll never know when elements from those side ventures might come up later on.
It wouldn't be a Final Fantasy if it wouldn't boast some fantastic monsters to fight. And while all the classics like Behemoth's, Tonberries and Cactuar's are here. Nothing compares to some of the bosses you'll encounter. Not only do these pick up with mechanically integrity and difficulty as you go on. They are also a sight to behold. The fight itself often turning into a story during their 10 to 20-minute runtime.
Ranging from the reinterpretations based on Yoshitaka Amano's beautiful artwork, to completely new designs. And while combat encounters in Final Fantasy XIV seem short, they are usually stacked with mechanics. You'll have to learn a complex dance while performing your role and coordinating with your team.
Same goes for dungeons, while early dungeons are more of the usual MMORPG affair. Later dungeons turn into story-relevant events, some of them are straight-up warzones while you claw your way through to the next boss encounter. And while they never stray far from the established formula of three bosses and trash in-between. They often offer fun little challenges.
Content in Final Fantasy XIV comes in several grades of difficulty. With normal content being fairly easy to pick up and play, while optional, harder content requires more and more preparation. Extreme and Savage content usually offers crisp challenges with the best gear rewards. While the infamous Ultimate content requires a well tuned team, primed and ready. Taking teams usually upwards of 80 hours to clear.
A Life of Adventure
Be what you wanna be, that's one of the core principles of the RPG genre. So you'll need a whole slew of exciting classes to play. Currently, FFXIV boasts 20 of them. Neatly ordered into their own subcategories. All of them come with their own playstyle.
Want to be a mobile ranged DPS that mainly supports their party? Then you play Bard. A fast-paced healer that focuses on a lot of spur-of-the-moment decision-making? Astrologian might be the job for you. Within their categories, jobs usually vary in party utility and personal damage. But the choice is yours. Because the game is very balanced, jobs only really shine in their party compositions. The game is balanced around jobs making up for another's flaws.
High-End content is balanced so any combination of jobs can, theoretically clear any fight. And combat is less so about optimizing your party composition and more so about learning fights. And jobs generally have their own unique quirks that keep them interesting. And you can always try out other jobs. Since you can level them all up on one character. Learning new jobs or a subcategory broadens your horizons and make you a better player overall.
Easy Progression and Accessibility
Probably one of Final Fantasy XIV's biggest strengths is the way progression is handled. It's quite easy to catch up with the story, and once you hit endgame it barely takes any effort to get ready to jump into the depend. But there are also a number of systems in place, that makes catching up pretty easy. Even if you don't even touch harder content, by just getting the easily obtained weekly currency. You can get gear of almost equal strength in no time. It just takes a while longer, but at least you won't have to compete with others over loot.
And even if you didn't get that weapon or the helmet you wanted. Just for clearing content, you'll get a token, that you can later exchange for that gear you wanted after collecting enough. Ensuring that you'll always progress towards something. As long as you meet the minimum item level requirement, you should be more than fine to clear any content. Everything you'll obtain after that point, will just make future clears easier. Or help you with gearing up alternative jobs.
Expand Your Horizons and Seek Discovery
An MMORPG lives and dies on its content. If you ask players what they want, especially the more hardcore crowd. You'll usually get the same answer, more and harder combat content. And while FFXIV has that. Since the dawn of its third expansion; Stormblood, there has been an effort to broaden horizons. Across the board, there is a lot more to XIV now than just leveling your character.
Probably one of XIV's more outstanding features is that you can do everything on one character. By that I mean that you can play every class and every job on one character. Started out playing a tank and feeling peckish? Try a healer or a DPS. Want to relax from slaying monsters? Why not pick up crafting, gathering, or fishing?
On top of that are many other time sinks. Be it filling out the sightseeing logs, ocean fishing, a barrage of minigames in the gold saucer. There is Chocobo racing and an entirely separate, yet attached Chocobo breeding system. Lots of customization options for your character. Deep dungeons that turn the game into a roguelike dungeon crawler. Several PvP modes that you can even level all your combat jobs with.
Then there is a housing system, which will soon receive a massive upgrade once the Island Sanctuary is released with 6.3. People have as of late started throwing bar nights, summer festivals or concerts in-game. Why? For the fun of it of course. And you don't even have to be part of an RP server to see them either.
Final Fantasy XIV steadily improving its ‘hangoutitude'. An aspect that is very important to MMORPGs if you want your players to stick around. And while some, probably only log in to raid with their friends and progress through content. There has been a large group of XIV's players, who just log in on the daily to hang out with their friends. And since the game is so lenient about the time commitment, even the weekly capable currencies can be acquired in one lazy afternoon.
Upon Eternal Winds
Music in games is pretty important. It's even more important if your game happens to be a Final Fantasy game. A franchise that is known for their out of this world soundtracks by industry legend Nobuo Uematsu. Since Uematsu semi-retired, many others have given Final Fantasy their own touches. The likes composer legends Yoko Shimomura and Hitoshi Sakimoto for example. The sound director and lead composer of Final Fantasy XIV is Masayoshi Soken.
And Final Fantasy XIV boasts probably one of the best soundtracks in all of gaming. It is stacked. With by now hundreds of unique compositions, it even holds the Guinness World Record for most original pieces of music for a video game. And there is a lot here. Be is smooth jazz, crude rock anthems all the way to J-pop, orchestral and techno music. It should not work but it does. Trust me you'll be just as impressed as once an epic orchestra transitions into rock ballad.
On and On It Goes
What makes Final Fantasy XIV stick out compared to other MMORPG's is the regulated schedule of updates. Those come in a circa 4-month cycle and you can usually plot out from the time an expansion launches when the heavy hitter content is coming. The team behind XIV is well-coordinated and when there isn't a global crisis at hand, they're usually right on top of things. Every expansion comes with 5 major patches. Even-numbered patches are when the new raid content arrives, while odd-numbered patches come with new features, modes and new boss trials. You can also expect at least one dungeon per patch and a 4-5 hour main scenario quest.
Content planned throughout the cycle of an expansion is announced beforehand. So everyone has somewhat of a timeline when what will arrive. And the team takes great care in informing players what changes are coming and why certain changes are being made.
Oh and by the Way
Did you know that the critically acclaimed MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV has a free trial, and includes the entirety of A Realm Reborn AND the award-winning Heavensward expansion up to level 60 with no restrictions on playtime? Sign up, and enjoy Eorzea today!
If you're not sure about playing XIV, try it. Not only does the complete edition go on sale fairly regularly. The free trial lets you play a third of all the content available without any commitments. You can take your time and explore Eorzea to its fullest, without having to worry about a monthly subscription fee. Heavensward alone is probably worth trying out. The award-winning part is no joke. Even as a stand-alone, it's probably one of the best RPG stories of the past decade. And trust me, it only gets better from there.
You are not Alone
Community is also a very important aspect. And while XIV's community is definitely overpraised for being open and accepting. There is a truth to it all. Probably stemming from the early days and the fact that many XIV players come from a very different subsection of gaming than other MMORPGs on the market. People are usually really friendly to each other. For some reason, people are comparatively less horrible to each other over a mistake or misstep.
No one is going to rip your head off for failing a mechanic or is gonna have a certified gamer moment whenever something doesn't go as planned. Some of this probably stems from XIV's attempt to bring people together. And there are very few ways to actively ruin someone else's day. The mentor and commendation system also probably contributes greatly to this. While the rewards of those are something you'll probably spend months or years working towards. It's a little encouragement to lift newer players up and show them the ropes.
We all love sprouts (new players as indicated by a little sprout next to their name). And most of us remember what it was like doing a hard boss for the first time, only to feel like baggage to the party. But there is always someone who's patient enough to teach. There's even an entire subset of content creators that help their audiences get through some of Final Fantasy XIV's hardest content.
And in due time, you'll start handing out advice and encourage a sprout to try again. It's like a rite of passage. Having veteran adventurers teaching beginners really adds to the experience. And is probably one of the reasons why XIV players tend to be more patient with one another.
So what are you waiting for? Go on and try Final Fantasy XIV, give it a chance. It's one of the best experiences you can have in gaming today with a dedicated team of developers behind it. Most of them are severely addicted to the title themselves. Even the producer and director Naoki Yoshida comes in early to work, so he can sneak in an hour or two of playtime. For more Final Fantasy XIV, stay tuned here on ESTNN.