The trouble with hopping around onto different games every so often is that you gain a certain perspective and appreciation for things that aren’t necessarily the fault of the game.
For the past few weeks, aside from FFXIV, I’ve dabbled in Star Wars: The Old Republic, RIFT, and Guild Wars 2, and I must say I found reflecting on the things one game has that another doesn’t to be a sobering, yet enlightening experience.
Aside from the weekly goings-on in Eorzea, I thought I’d share the findings of my reflections with you folks, just to further an appreciation for the things Final Fantasy XIV gets right, and why it remains my “home” game, so to speak.
The process was simple. From playing the current versions of games I’ve owned, I took a note of little things that irked me or pleased me about that game.
I could then use these shorthand notes to compare and contrast mechanical and feature aspects of the games as well as items which I think bring a certain X-factor to those games.
As this is all in reference to FFXIV, I’ll start by mentioning the mechanical pros and cons of FFXIV compared to RIFT, SWTOR, and Guild Wars 2.
’ll then talk about one particular intangible aspect of the various games that either resonated with my gameplay focus or irked me immensely.
Mechanically speaking: Skill bloat
Mechanically speaking, I enjoy the fact that FFXIV has remained more or less static in terms of skill bloat – the increasing unwieldiness of control that comes with the addition of new abilities in expansions or changes to game mechanics.
For me, FFXIV doesn’t seem to need to really worry about it yet, and there appear to be plenty of ways to adjust your skill bars and settings to compensate for any issues.
My main point of comparison has to be RIFT, which suffers from a rather large amount of skill bloat due the way class composition is handled, as well as the fact that it’s had two expansions to add onto the skill bloat issue. In RIFT, you can also buy additional roles (basically shells you can switch your hotbar setups and class compositions into) with in-game currency or real-world money in the form of credits.
The class forums appear to also indicate that certain types of soul combinations work better for specific classes, eschewing archetypal fighting styles. The warrior calling in RIFT, for example, is functionally a better ranged DPS in raids these days, according to current estimates.
Guild Wars 2, for its part, completely threw me off when they switched how the specializations system works. I’m still having to relearn how to play my character as a result.
Mechanically speaking: Guild functions
Currently, I think FFXIV has one of the stronger guild functions in the games I’ve been in, as Free Companies serve both social and functional purposes at present.
Specifically, FFXIV’s airships and free company crafting encourage guilds to band together to further the guild. With free company housing, there’s a dedicated place for everyone to gather and hang out, and free companies also serve as the perfect place to raise one’s chocobo.
RIFT, SWTOR, and GW2 fulfill different primary functions when it comes to guilding.
RIFT’s and GW2’s guilds can grow and scale, allowing for guilds to customize their performance by acquiring passive or active bonuses in certain things in addition to socialization functions.
SWTOR, on the other hand serves itself well by having guilds function as giant social constructs. In combination with its housing system, SWTOR shines as a beacon for roleplay for the MMO crowd.
Talking about features: PVP
FFXIV does suffer, however, from a decided pitfall in terms of competitive melee. Compared to Guild Wars 2 or RIFT, whose PVP appears to be more engaging (Or at least just more filled with people), FFXIV feels more collaborative than combative in that sense. This is not a sticking point with me, as I’m not particularly a PVP menace anyway, but it bears mentioning all the same.
That said, SWTOR’s Huttball announcers are murder. I cannot get them out of my head.
Talking about features: Housing
Now, I personally do not have a house of my own in FFXIV, but I do have an apartment in my free company’s house. I enjoy decorating more than building so to that end, I’m pleased that FFXIV caters to me, even if I can’t afford or find space to place my own house down.
FFXIV’s system pales in comparison to RIFT’s dimensions, but is slightly comparable to SWTOR’s Strongholds, though I still do not see myself living on a spaceship or airship in Eorzea, mind you. Plenty of hooks, a lot of customization options, and a place to hang your battle trophies and weapons is all good fun, especially when you have a guild system in place.
The X-Factor: Storylines
There are pros and cons to various storylines, but I wanted to make one thing very clear. The primary reason why this article came about in the first place was because playing SWTOR at 12 times the experience gain rate has made other games feel slow in comparison.
If you want to experience an enthralling storyline, SWTOR’s level 1-50 tales are top notch, and do not require me to skip through a ton of hoops just to get the right levels for them.
When I tried to get back into FFXIV and RIFT, for example, SWTOR made me question why I couldn’t just skip through sidequests in order to level up.
I knew it was a temporary thought caused by the experience gain mindtrick, but I couldn’t help but keep playing SWTOR till I completed at least one storyline as a result.
In terms of good storytelling, I think SWTOR’s Agent storyline is right beside the main questline of FFXIV 2.0, but then again I’m excited to get back to FFXIV to see what else my dragoon can do in Heavensward.
There are likely plenty of other points of comparison I could make relative to when I played a particular game, but I have to say that despite making comparisons, I love all these four games now, even if my strongest desire right now is to pierce hearts with a spear.
That said, I welcome everyone to comment with their own thoughts and comparisons of their favorite MMOs right now to FFXIV as they’ve played it. What stuck for you, and what sucked instead? I’d love to know what you think. Cheers!