If I were to try to make a list of things that I DON’T want in a MMO I could point at FFXI and say “Pretty much that”. Totally group centric, harsh death penalty, travel is a absolute nightmare, game play was totally GRINDTASTIC. The totally #&$$#@ up part is that it is by far, hands down, without a doubt my FAVORITE MMO I have ever played. Kind of odd isn’t it? There were so many things that I hated about FFXI but it was the little things that made me not care.
The music. FFXI has the best music I have ever heard in a MMO. I used to love arriving in Juno just to hear that music. It is the only MMO music that I can still hear clearly in my head. I haven’t played FFXI in 4 years and I can still hum the toon and it still makes me tap my foot. There is a reason the FF series is known for great music, FFXI is no exception. In addition I can still hear the music from the Mithra zone. The name escapes me at the moment.
Unique classes. There are actually several things I loved about the classes in FFXI. One is that they were unique and the other is that they actually had clearly defined roles. I’ll start with the latter. I think this is something that is missing from today’s MMO’s. Classes actually having a ROLE. Seems like now days every class is a sword swinging, robe wearing, nuke casting, healing crack mage. There was something oddly comforting about getting into a group in FFXI and KNOWING what I was supposed to do. I played 2 classes. Samurai and red mage. When I played my red mage I knew my job was to keep refresh up on the casters, help heal the tank if he got low and magic burst when I could. While it seems simplistic there was something enjoyable about it.
Samurai, summoner, black mage. While in retrospect this classes are really just run of the mill MMO classes they just FELT different in FFXI. A black mage didn’t feel like just another wizard. A samurai didn’t feel like just another damage dealer. Because each class had a defined role they tended to feel unique. Black mage was THE magic damage dealer. Hands down, no questions asked. It wasn’t like todays MMO’s where 8 classes fill the same role.
SLOW ass progression. You might go 10 levels without getting a new ability. But for some reason that made getting that new ability a lot more exciting. I remember when I first got meditate on my samurai and refresh on my red mage. It felt like I had actually accomplished something. A feeling I have never gotten since (With exception of maybe eve when I got done training a long skill). Now days it seems like you get a new ability or upgrade every level. It just doesn’t have the same rewarding feeling.
Fishing. Fishing in FFXI has to be the most repetitive mini game EVER created. It basically boiled down to hitting a button and waiting. Rinse, wash and repeat. But for some reason I LOVED fishing. I kept my account active for 4 months after I technically quit the game just to fish. I used to love putting on my fishing gear and spending hours simply sitting on the Bastok bridge. The only thing that could have made it better would have been if they put a cooler of miller high life in the game. This is the type of side activity that today’s MMO’s really need to try to match. Something else to do in game that is just plain “cool”.
If there is a gaming feeling that I have spent the last years trying to find again, It is FFXI. It is the only game world that I can honestly describe as truly memorable. From the races, to the zones, to the classes. I loved this game. I hope the next SE mmo doesn’t deviate to far from the formula.