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The Eorzea Prospect: Is Final Fantasy XIV a WoW Clone?

Christopher Saxon Posted:
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The term WoW clone gets thrown around a lot, but does it mean what people think it means, or are they using it as a derogatory comment? Not only have I’ve seen it the past few weeks in the comments of this very column, I see it from my friends as well, and frankly it’s sad. Comments aside, at least we only have Six days left until Head Start!!

Final Fantasy is such a different universe than World of Warcraft it’s unreal. The way story is presented, combat mechanics, and even the world around you is so unique and different it’s hard to even compare the two games. Sure, we can sit here all day and say they share the same core mechanics, they’re both MMORPG’s. On the same token, we could also compare them with, and suggest they are clones of, games released before them. If we really want to, we can shoot back to Dungeons and Dragons pen and paper and say every RPG from that point forward is nothing but a DnD clone. What we need to do instead is look at the games objectively, is one truly a clone of the other?  If not, why would you call it so? To me it boils down to the term being used in a derogatory manner as the person using it simply doesn’t like the game.

New Gridania Minstrel

What sets Final Fantasy XIV apart from World of Warcraft? Three key features, Style, Story, and Mechanics. While there will be similarities, understand they are both MMORPG’s. World of Warcraft did not invent the RPG mechanics; Story, Quests, NPCs, Damage Numbers. These are a staple dating back to the first RPGs ever made, Dungeons and Dragons, created in 1974. The simple fact that both games share these systems is not a representation of one being a clone of another, it’s simply a system. It’s how those systems work that determines if it’s a clone or not.

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For years now, the formula for Final Fantasy has been roughly the same. While I wouldn’t expect someone who isn’t a fan to notice, anyone who is a fan of the series can spot a Final Fantasy game right away. This is due to the style direction these games have, they all share a lot of it in common, and it’s an ongoing trend in the series. This one aspect sets it leagues apart from World of Warcraft. The unique characters, the pseudo-realistic worlds, and even the music are just completely different in almost every way imaginable. FFXIV takes a lot of inspiration from previous games in the series, some of them not so great, but most are spot on for the game. I like to put it this way: Final Fantasy XIV is a Single player Final Fantasy game played with other people. Yes, like FFXIV, World of Warcraft also has its own unique style, heavily influenced by its predecessors, most notably Warcraft 3. Let’s not forget early development of World of Warcraft used the Warcraft 3 engine and models.

Early World of Warcraft Development in Warcraft 3

Hands down, the story in FFXIV blows World of Warcraft out of the water. While I would agree the early story for ARR is rather stale and hard to pick up, Heavensward and beyond is simply phenomenal. Final Fantasy XIV is going into its third expansion, and currently clocks in at over two-hundred hours of story. Once the expansion hits that number will only increase. What’s more is the collaboration they bring to the table with unique stories accompanying them. Sure World of Warcraft has it’s collaborations, but nothing like this. We’re talking throwbacks to other Final Fantasy games, Monster Hunter World, and other big name games like Nier Automata. Every four weeks a new bit of story is added. Whether it’s in the form of an event, or a continuation of the main story quest, or the beloved Hildibrand series, we are constantly treated with new content on a regular basis. With World of Warcraft you’re limited to a new raid once every three months roughly. Each raid brings in a bit of story with it. In-between you’re left to grind rep, farm gold, farm herbs, or do whatever it is you do in the mean time to prepare for the next content. I have been a WoW player since launch, but I get bored easily when new content isn’t added regularly. That’s one feature that appeals to me with FFXIV, I always have something to do, with story.

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As far as mechanics go, FFXIV is a bit slower paced than WoW. Yet that’s exactly what sets it apart and makes it fun. Anyone who has played a single Final Fantasy game knows combat isn't fast. It’s a system where you actually have to think about what you’re going to do. Most abilities share a cooldown, so messing up, or using an ability at the wrong time can result in your untimely death. What’s more, the game rewards working together with other players as opposed to simply rolling a queue and just spamming buttons. Many jobs, especially in Shadowbringers, synergize with each other, allowing you to buff each other, or others. These buffs aren’t permanent and require re-casting, unlike WoW where you hit a button and forget about it. Yet at the same time these mechanics don’t feel like they’re bothersome, you actually want to buff each other, a single DPS cannot carry an entire raid, it’s a team effort.

Outside of normal dungeons and raid content, you have open world FATEs to complete. Most FATEs are soloable, but some require a group effort, bringing in a community aspect to the overworld content. FATEs currently give EXP but come expansion will grant more rewards to incentivize more players to interact and complete these together. One key feature that truly sets it apart from WoW is one character being able to be every job available. This mechanic provides the player with so many choices on a single character compared to WoW. Having to swap characters to craft, or to play a key role that’s required is simply not needed or wanted in FFXIV. This is not only a unique system for FFXIV, but one of player convenience.

Another area that sets FFXIV apart from WoW is the lack of Boss Mods. With no real addons available, you really must learn boss mechanics to win a fight. Most fights in World of Warcraft are easy in comparison simply due to boss mods that scream at you a mechanic is about to happen. The old argument that FFXIV uses telegraphs is a bit outdated now that almost every encounter in WoW now telegraphs their attacks.

Does any of this make one game better than the other? Absolutely not! The simple fact is some people will enjoy FFXIV, and some will enjoy WoW. I will be the first to tell you, and I have before, that FFXIV isn’t for everyone. I just can’t understand why someone would put in so little effort into a game, (or not play it at all) and call it a WoW clone simply because they dislike it.

4Story Screenshot courtesy of MMOGames.com

I can find not a single thing FFXIV cloned from WoW. What I can do is share with you a few games that are true WoW clones. Games such as 4Story, Allods Online, and Runes of Magic. If you’re wanting to see what a true WoW clone is, look no further than those three games. Otherwise please refrain from claiming FFXIV is a WoW clone. If you still insist, please comment below with evidence backing up the claim, I’d love to see it.

That’s it for this week’s piece! Hope you’re as excited as I am for Friday!!  By the way, I’ve been photobombing people, if you see yourself comment below! Until next time friends, have fun!


Christopher Saxon

Nurse, Gamer, and Freelance Journalist. Saving lives in game and out, nerding it out along the way!