Final Fantasy XIV is my favorite modern MMORPG. I’m reluctant to say favorite MMORPG, because I grew up playing Dark Age of Camelot and EverQuest, so both of those games will hold an extra special place in my heart. There’s a lot to love about FF14, namely its gorgeous graphics, unique multi classing system, adorable emotes, countless glamors, and excellent late game boss mechanics. It also has the best player housing system I’ve seen in an MMORPG, but I haven’t seen the new homesteads in Elder Scrolls Online, which I heard was great. The one thing that nags me about FF14 though is that each job has zero actual customization. This means that every single Black Mage has access to the exact same set of skills. In fact, there’s ZERO difference between every max level black mage in the game. That’s right; zero class customization. Most people don’t criticize this feature because the class system overall is pretty great, as everyone can play EVERY class on a single character. Switching between classes only requires a player to equip a new weapon. Tired of being a mage? Just equip a bow and now you’re an archer! Being able to play every class on one character is great, but it doesn’t excuse the lack of customization on a per class basis. Yes, there are stat points, but there’s only ever 1 viable stat point build per class.
It’s unfortunate that such a great MMORPG is being held back by this one missing element. Perhaps I’m harping on this a bit much because I’ve played quite a bit of Path of Exile lately and that game has an incredible about of customization per character. It’s not exactly class customization, but gear customization. But you don’t need to have crazy Path of Exile tier class customization to satiate players. Even Mu Legend’s soul levels and ability customization systems are enough to differentiate players.
Another minor critique I have with Final Fantasy XIV is that the game starts off incredibly slow and only starts getting fun towards late-game. People say this about a lot of MMORPGs, but I personally find it inexcusable. The only reason I stuck with FF14 till it got fun was because my friends were playing it. Combat is slow paced and early dungeons are incredibly easy. It’s not until you start completing late game raids does the game really start getting challenging / fun. Games don’t have to be this way though. I remember having fun with Archeage and Skyforge pretty early on. I mean, neither of these games are particularly great, but they managed to hook me from the get go at least for some time. Aura Kingdom and Twin Saga from Aeria weren’t boring for the first 10 or so hours. I don’t mean to suggest these games are better than Final Fantasy XIV, but the early game experience in FF14 I think is pretty terrible. Yes, the story starts of pretty good, but it falls of completely between levels 20-45 and only picks back up again when the Heavensward storyline starts.
Despite its few small flaws, Final Fantasy XIV is still one of the best MMORPGs out there in my opinion. I’m eagerly awaiting the Stormblood expansion and have already preordered it. Fun fact too – Final Fantasy XIV was one of the most expensive MMORPGs ever developed, but not the most expensive.