That’s right. I gave into temptation and joined the fray. The last MMORPG I took seriously was Ragnarok Online, which I played way back from May 2003 to January 2006. While I would try out other MMOs later on like Tantra Online, Risk Your Life, RF Online, and so on, I never took it as seriously as the game that interfered with my college life. But this time, there’s no pressure for me to keep up. Final Fantasy XIV is known to be an MMO that actually respects the player’s time, but I’ll only believe it if I see it.
Final Fantasy XIV is the massively multiplayer online role-playing game that succeeded in dethroning World of Warcraft from its long-held position as the number one title in the genre. I don’t think there’s any room for argument in saying that since WoW is famously beset by problems in multiple aspects, from its gameplay and story to the very company that’s developing and managing it. Even WoW players considered to be “lifers” are leaving the game.
Meanwhile, Final Fantasy XIV has been filling in the gaps in ways most people haven’t even dreamed of. It’s way less toxic than WoW, its storytelling is more engaging, and the developers show that they actually care about the game and its players. Meanwhile, WoW has stagnated and its developers have since become jaded and even adversarial towards the community.
But Yoshi-P, the lead designer of FFXIV, refuses to dance on the grave and even praises WoW for laying down the blueprint for what an MMO could be. He was a WoW fan himself, and he took a lot from the game to make their game. That’s the mark of an artist who truly understands the creative process and everything that goes into it, especially for the collaboration-heavy development of a video game, even more so an MMO. That in itself should make you a fan of the FFXIV team.
And after months of watching and reading about the game, I finally took the plunge. It’s not like it was a hardship anyway since the base game is free to play. The onboarding process was a bit of a pain, but that’s what you get from a Japanese publisher running an online game — they’re notorious for below-average user experience design. But the game itself has been quite nice and I’m glad I gave it a fair shake.
Why and How I Started Playing Final Fantasy XIV
I have a couple of friends who play the game, and they sometimes harp on how great the game is in our group chat. The seeds were planted in my head during the Great Lockdown of 2020, but it was Asmongold’s videos that really made me start thinking about playing FFXIV.
Asmongold is a longtime World of Warcraft player who has had a surge of popularity in recent years through his Twitch streams and YouTube videos. I started watching his WoW-centric content around late 2019 and found him entertaining and fascinating, even though he does come off as abrasive and politically incorrect at times.
Hey, my therapy in the mid-2010s during my depression consisted of watching basketball coverage, binging episodes of Gangland, and listening to the Joe Rogan Experience podcast back when it was still mostly good (before all the anti-vaxxing and alt-right stuff took hold). If that’s what entertains me, Asmongold is a Saturday morning cartoon for me.
I was amused by how much he tried to resist playing FFXIV, especially with his edgelord sensibilities. However, due to the continued decline of WoW, he had to relent for at least two reasons — he wanted to play a good game for once, and he needed a new game to make better content out of. He started playing in July 2021, which saw him break his viewership records and exposed more people to his content.
Having followed that development through YouTube, it encouraged me to give the game a closer look. At the very least, it made me register an account, especially when I saw there was a local Facebook group for the game. That group had a pinned post on how Filipino users can register an account and play the game, as well as purchase it if they wish to get serious.
If I remember correctly, it had steps involving the use of a VPN and other crap. As good as the game is, the onboarding process is absolute garbage. Even with the English version of the website being adequately readable, the navigation is less than ideal and the system for registering and verifying a new account was confusing at best. I then found a post that led me in the right direction and I somehow was able to register an account.
Then it turned out that my Steam installation of the game was only for the paid version of the game as it kept asking for a serial key. That meant I had to download a separate version of the game that would allow me to play the “trial” — which includes the base game A Realm Reborn and the first expansion Heavensward. That’s incredibly generous and should give “sprouts” ample time to figure out whether they truly want to commit and buy the game.
How I’m Playing Final Fantasy XIV
I thought of going for a male Viera, but bunny bois aren’t available for free trial players. I ended up going with a male Au Ra, which is like a human-dragon hybrid. Anything but boring old human since it’s a fantasy game with fantasy races. I made a horny boi and named him “Avoider Brigandine” because I wasn’t going to name him “Avoider Dragon” with the forename-surname system in this game because that looked a little too corny for me.
While I’m informed that there’s a race change feature that I can use in the future to change from a horny boi to a bunny boi, I’ll most likely stick with this race.
You can potentially get all the jobs and level them all up to max. But of course, that’s going to take a lot of time. As a 35-year-old, I don’t have time for all of that. I can level them all up, but that will take a century and a half at my leisurely pace.
One thing I’m really liking with this game is that you can change your active job simply by changing your primary weapon. That’s such a brilliant yet also bleeding obvious idea that I’m quite surprised how there aren’t more games with this way of handling their character class systems. You can choose which job and playstyle you wish to use before a duty, and you can change if that doesn’t work out. Of course, you have to level them up first.
My aim is to have a Samurai. I don’t know why I’m getting bit by the weeaboo bug again, but perhaps it’s a bit of nostalgia. I was deep into eastern philosophy and Japanese history back in the mid-2000s, so this is still right in my wheelhouse. Also, perhaps the idea of weapon mastery fits with how I want to play this game.
Alas, it’s only available when you reach level 50 and buy the Stormblood expansion. I’ll have to choose a base job first and play for a good while before I ever reach that point. One of my friends informed me that Pugilist/Monk use roughly the same equipment as Samurai, so I can start with Pugilist. I’m glad I went for it because I quite like the gameplay with this job, thanks to the combo system. It makes for engaging combat that won’t put me to sleep, unlike most other MMOs.
I don’t know much about Monk yet, which is a specialization for Pugilists at level 30. As long as the playstyle is similar enough with Pugilist, then I’m sure to get it once I get to 30, which will be soon as my Pugilist is level 23 at the time of this writing. However, I’ve since taken a detour and took up another job to improve my gear.
I find the gameplay for Blacksmith quite interesting. It’s not entirely RNG as you have to consider how to proceed with the crafting of weapons and equipment. The durability and quality mechanics make for an interesting dynamic of getting the latter as high as possible while minding the former and knowing when to use the other skills for replenishing CP, restoring durability, increasing progress, and so on.
I also plan to get Leatherworker and Goldsmith so I can make more of my own equipment. For now, I’m just playing whenever I’m winding down, finishing quests and farming experience points while chilling.
My pugilist is currently at level 23 and put in stasis just before the Sastasha duty while I’m leveling up my Blacksmith to make better weapons. I’ll then go for Leatherworker and Goldsmith before I suck it up and do my duty. For now, I’m just feeling my way around the game and understanding how things work. Of course, this is just an excuse to delay the dreaded social aspects of the game.
Or at least I dread them. Maybe it won’t be that bad and I may even open the door to more new experiences and friends once I suck it up and stop having anxiety with using Duty Finder and engaging more with other FFXIV players. In the meantime, I’m learning to enjoy it in my own time, which is something I’ve yet to do with games I’m “supposed to like” such as Disco Elysium.
Have something to say? Do you agree or am I off-base? Did I miss a crucial detail or get something wrong? Please leave whatever reactions, questions, or suggestions you may have in the comment section below.
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