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Should I Try (Or Return To) Final Fantasy 14 in 2023?

It's the hit MMORPG with a famous free trial, after all.

Victoria Rose Posted:
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Nearly ten years after its relaunch, Final Fantasy 14 is one of the hottest talking points of the gaming community. It had a rough start and a slightly less awful reboot, and now, it’s considered a gem and a rare, if almost impossible, comeback story. If you’re here, then you’re probably wondering: What does FFXIV look like in 2023? 

The MMORPG has grown since the launch of A Realm Reborn, the current client, in 2013. Now, including this base game and the four expansions, there are five main segments of story, with a ton of relevant “filler” in-between. Each expansion brought updates to its gameplay systems and new features to try, as many MMORPGs and games-as-service are apt to do.  

Therefore, it’s probably intimidating to consider delving into such a massive game, even with its friendly reputation and rave reviews. So, should you try FFXIV in 2023? 

Whether you have no idea what a “Final Fantasy” is because you’ve been playing the same MMORPG for a decade, or you’ve never even thought about an MMORPG, there are plenty of reasons why 

Final Fantasy 14 For New MMORPG Players 

One of the main draws of Final Fantasy 14 is that it’s a Final Fantasy game first, then an MMORPG. That’s to say, the story and world are the priority of the team, followed by making it a feasible MMORPG. While earlier expansions are slow, some argue that Shadowbringers is one of the best Final Fantasy stories, and as a whole, FFXIV performs well for the MMORPG genre, even standing up to other genres’ standards. 

Generally, the team behind the game has been making efforts to make FFXIV more approachable for all players generally. Now, for instance, all story-mandatory dungeons have AI bots that you can run with. The game has a YouTube channel with a cheery, informative new player video series that veteran players have received well, and there are a ton of official resources to get you caught up for nearly any topic.  

It’s sometimes tricky, though, to understand what you’re doing with your combat without looking up a few guides, but Icy Veins and The Balance tend to have you covered in that regard. If you’re ever lost or just have a second, I recommend looking at your in-game skill descriptions, followed by those resources. And 95% of the time, if you inform actual players that it’s your first time, they’ll take it slower and sometimes give you tips.  

Finally, all the infamous “grindy” stuff that makes MMORPGs intimidating is focused in the endgame (which you probably won’t reach for 200+ hours), and they aren’t by any means required for enjoyment. I mean, I do have friends who grinded the crafting/farming content just on free trial content alone, but that was of their own volition.  

In short, especially with its free trial, it’s a great starter MMORPG. Many of the fundamentals of MMOs are present without being too scary, and that’s without even the mention of a community almost always willing to step in to help and even socialize.  

Trying FFXIV As An MMORPG Veteran 

Right now, it’s hard to avoid the comparison of Final Fantasy XIV in the MMORPG community as both non-MMO players and MMO vets flock to it, thanks to its reputation from long-time players and content creators. But what does it provide compared to other MMORPGs? 

Especially given the era of its release about ten years ago, FFXIV remains well known for its emphasis on story, especially being from the Final Fantasy lineage. At least in the years since, it seems that other games have caught up on this front, but beyond the extremely okay base game, A Realm Reborn, it’s one of the most consistently decent storytelling experiences in the genre. 

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Beyond story, FFXIV maintains its desire to be a game with something for all types of players. On a practical basis, its “theme park” approach de-emphasizes hardcore and “grind” work. It’s possible to do so, but the only proper “grinds” are entirely optional, especially vibing while collecting and crafting for the economy. There’s no proper requirement to grind or even log in frequently in order to maintain a status in the game, but you can if you want. 

And while it works on MMORPG basics in regards to gameplay, FFXIV has taken strides to be approachable, especially given its influence from World of Warcraft. However, aside from high-end content, there’s less of an emphasis on “hard roles,” meaning tanks and healers aren’t exclusively simply taking and healing damage. FFXIV focuses more on the choreography of a fight and pattern recognition. 

Finally, most have noted the relatively friendly community, a holdover from when it was far less populated but likely stemming from the de-emphasis of “hardcore” content. You can do most dungeons solo, but in any multiplayer instance, if you inform the party that you’re new, they’ll try to take it easy in regards to speed and intensity of content completion. (They’re also likely in general to say hi at all.) Plus, there are plenty of vets from every game anywhere you poke around, so you can always ask for help. 

In short, if you’re looking for a more relaxed, paced experience, Final Fantasy 14 isn’t a bad move at all. You can engage to your own level of comfort and explore what’s offered at your own pace, and the primary content is fairly railroaded. 

For Returning FFXIV Players 

This is a perfectly decent time to return to Final Fantasy 14. There’s plenty to do, classes aren’t too broken or boring, and the community is pretty lively. Plus, the latest patch continues to deliver on great gameplay and story [INSERT LINK WHEN THAT HAPPENS] that made the game “critically acclaimed” to begin with. 

Let’s also cover certain bases that I know for a fact people were waiting for: 

  • If Endwalker queues scared you off, they fixed bugs related to the queue servers. 
  • If you just got bored waiting for more content, between the MSQ and all the new endgame content, there’s about 16-20 hours of story and the like to churn through, plus a ton of sidequests. 
  • If you were waiting for Island Sanctuary, that was released last patch, and it’s still being updated. 
  • If you’re a crafter or gatherer, oh boy, you’ve got a lot to work through now. 

Finally, if it’s been a few expansions since you played, just be warned that a lot of gameplay has been simplified. This tends to upset a lot of the more tryhard players, but in some jobs, it removed a bit of button bloat, especially for certain classes’ combos. There’s also a lot of complaining that tanking is too easy, which is probably true if you’re a tryhard, and I have no comment on that.  

FFXIV Free Trial or Full Version? 

If you’re on the fence about Final Fantasy 14, absolutely try the meme-famous free trial. As per the copypasta, it includes the first expansion, Heavensward, with no limits on gameplay time, though you’re capped at level 60, which is the expansion’s level cap. You get full access to most of the game’s core content, including the beloved story, plus any raids and similar gameplay content accessible via Heavensward

(Don’t get lost – here’s a link to the free trial proper at: FreeTrial.FinalFantasyXIV.com. This isn’t an ad, we promise, it’s just easy to get confused looking for this.)  

The primary issue for MMORPG veterans is that social and economic options are restricted. As a free trial player, you can’t send party and friend requests yourself, you’re capped on gil, and the player Marketboard, trading, as well as other features are locked. If you plan on delving deep into the player economy, especially with crafting and gathering, which are well-known as pretty zen gameplay experiences, this may be a frustrating limit. 

If and when you do opt to buy into the full FFXIV experience, don’t worry about buying multiple expansions – buying Endwalker will loop in every other expansion. However, do keep in mind that once you buy and link the full game, you’re locked into a subscription and will need to re-subscribe to continue playing past the 30-day limit. 

Also, if you’re on a PlayStation or on Steam, be mindful – you can only link one FFXIV account per Sony or Steam account, and you need to buy the game and expansions separately for each “platform” Sony, Steam, or PC launcher. Steam cosmetic purchases do NOT carry over to other platforms, but Sony and PC launcher purchases do. 

Should I try FFXIV in 2023? 

Yes! The Final Fantasy 14 team has put in a lot of work to make the game approachable over the past few years, and it’s paying off. 

With bots for all main story dungeons, better access to information, and more laid-back content than ever, it’s never been a better time to dip your toes in. (Commenters here who follow my game impressions will attest that I’ve said otherwise at times, I swear.) Some players feel it’s become too “casual,” but it seems the rising population of relatively happy and welcoming players is the majority in this case. 

Have you re-tried FFXIV lately? Or do you have any friends who’ve tried lately? We want to hear! 


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Victoria Rose

Victoria's been writing about games for over eight years, including small former tenures with Polygon and Fanbyte. She mostly spends time in FFXIV, head-deep in roleplay campaigns or stubbornly playing Black Mage through high-end raids. Former obsessions include Dota 2 and The Secret World (also mostly roleplaying). Come visit their estate: Diabolos (Crystal DC), Goblet, Ward 4, Plot 28.