Final Fantasy has been on my mind pretty much non stop since Square Enix's unveiling of their next MMO project Rapture now known as Final Fantasy XIV. Or well more precisely Sony's giddy announcement of FFXIV being exclusive to the Ps3 console, which earns them a big 'yeah right' from most gamers. Square is done with playing favorites they will release the title to those who will pay them, I can't blame them.
But that's not what I wanted to blog about, lately I've handed in all my mmo subscriptions and just been playing FFXI along with the Aion beta events. And I'M HAPPY. O.O For those who don't know I'm a long time FF fan from 1999 when FF8 released. I've been crazy about the whole series since then. From great story telling to amazing art and the latest graphics they've captured my imagination and fascination for probably ever. I figured one day I'd get sick of emo effeminate boys on a breakdown always saving the day, while the cute unassuming and ever tender girl wins his heart along with their string of varied companions, the cold hearted figure with the mysterious and often tragic past, the energetic in your face fighter with the soft side, the ultra cute little slightly annoying sister side kick ect..
But no, as the formula keeps delivering I keep buying into it and the series has evolved at least in tone over the last few years if a little dissatisfying on some points.
The online version is also to me a lot more compelling then the console role playing games where everything is scripted and you are basically going through a 3D book. Do they make Final Fantasy novels? Someone should. You get to play as your own character of your own making and participate in a rich fantasy world where danger lurking is not a nifty line on the retail box but a reality. FFXI is a very challenging game but very rewarding for those willing to learn the steep learning curve.
Now I'm done learning and I'm finally enjoying the world of Vana'diel. But only because changes were brought to the game earlier this year and last year. The one thing I have long lamented is the insane time commitment per session it takes to achieve anything, even going to your mog house (your apartment) can take a long time if you are new and don't have the travel options unlocked. The one thing I'd highly suggest to a new player is to ASK for help, do look for a linkshell (guild), do use the search function and try to ask people for help. I was just asked yesterday to help someone get a coffer key drop, basically had to go in a dungeon and kill mobs until they dropped the key. Not everyone will want to help you, and some won't do it for free, but there are many who'll be happy to help. You cannot play this game and expect to do most things yourself, this becomes more feasible later on. ^_^
Anyway, my point is leveling for me was very painful as I cannot stay online for hours at a time, I play for 1-2 hours a session and that's all I can afford. In the early days playing the game it would often take 40 mins just getting somewhere and getting organized and ready to go. Now that there's teleports, and I have chocobo riding as well as my own chocobo and an airship pass this is very easy to do. But the leveling part is still too much for me. At level 37 I was easily spending 3 hours or so for a meager level or two. These days are gone, with fields of valor, and level sync one can form a party with their own friends of different levels and form leveling parties not usually optimal and with any job (class). Personally I solo level because I don't have the time to look for a party and the population does seem to have decreased a bit, I don't actually see that many people looking. Or maybe it's just that I'm hanging in older zones too... Thanks to fields of valor though I can kill a few mobs get some really nice experience for it, log out do some chores, make lunch, then log back in later and do it again. I freaking love it!
Not everyone loves it and I do feel badly for those who've had their experience of the game changed due to this, but for people like me who have never been happy with other mmmos this is a most welcomed feature in FFXI. I was thinking though what this will mean when FFXIV comes out. Now that FFXI has been made easier and FFXIV won't be as cruel when it comes to time commitment per session will most people still bother with XI? Because if the difference in everyday challenge is negligible will you rather play the newer prettier version, play both or stick with XI?
Also were these changes too late? How many people came back to XI due to them? From what I can see it really isn't that much more but my perception is probably skewed due to not knowing anyone in game anymore. And how many more people left because they didn't like the changes, if any?
Whatever the answer may be and I'll probably figure it out as I re-acquaint myself with the community, I am having a really good time and I only think of other mmos a tiny bit and not have the longing of greener mmmo pastures, maybe it's also due that I know I'll be playing Aion in a few months and that game is very fun as well as gorgeous. Maybe it's because I have my mmo lineup done until 2011, rediscovering my love of my most beloved game is just awesome and finally I understand why some people go back to Everquest I once in a while, or whatever your first mmo love was. :)