Have you been recommended the free trial of Final Fantasy 14 Online, which now goes up to level 60 and includes the award-winning first expansion, Heavensward? Chances are, ever since the FFXIV free trial expanded in August, at least one of your friends has cornered you in a conversation with this lately. It’s gotten to a point where this has become a meme across social media.
Even the Square Enix advertising team has begun to emulate these players with a series of trailers making fun of other “free trials,” and urging otherwise totally normal people to join the trial. (Each commercial ends with some good freaking cosplay at least.) And as much as it seems “cringe,” players joke that, hey, this is basically what players do anyway.
So I’m going to translate this meme for you: “I want you to find one scrap of happiness in this hellscape of a world through a free-ish video game.”
Yes, that sounds like it’s stretching it. But for players who are really into the MMORPG, recommending FFXIV comes out of a place of genuine content and enjoyment. And because it’s free, we want you to at least try, and we cherish your time indulging our nonsense.
Said indulgence in our nonsense is an act of friendship to us. Sure, you could keep feeding the enemy jungle and getting carried. Or you could start learning how to beat up giant summoned monsters and become the Warrior of Light, progressing through what’s frankly a pretty solid story for an MMORPG. Despite the reputation it may have, A Realm Reborn’s slog isn’t that bad (again, for an MMORPG). The slog is bad, but it feels only worse in hindsight, especially compared to other Final Fantasy mainline titles and the rest of FFXIV itself.
And meanwhile, players love hearing your progress. The story is, frankly, memorable enough that when you tell us precisely which Dungeon or story mission you’re on, we’ll nod our heads and go, “Ah, yeah! That one.” It’s not just a case of catching up; it’s seeing if you’re enjoying it. And if you don’t? That’s okay! There will definitely be some disappointment, as it does actually get good later on. But if the gameplay isn’t for you, then — well, time to feed in the bottom lane again.
Eventually, you do hit points, the Dungeons and Trials, that are mandatory multiplayer bits. And when we say to let us know so we can join you, we mean it — we do want to join you! For one, there’s joy in seeing friends learn to overcome content like this, and letting you go to achieve more with other players. This is especially the case as the multiplayer content improves; all of the normal Dungeons, Trials and Raids have their own themes, including settings and even unique music. Plus, chances are, your friends are playing as a tank or healer, and want to help you skip some massive queue times.
The trial does come with the caveat that, yes, even Square Enix believes so deeply in this game that they’re willing to give up over eighty hours of gameplay before you invest more. At that point, you’ll want the Complete Edition once you’re done with the base game and Heavensward, which sums up to $60 at the end of the day. Plus, you’ll be spending at least a dozen dollars on your monthly subscription. That’s a lot of money, once things start adding up.
By then, though, chances are you’ll either love it or hate it enough to know whether this is an investment worth your time. And for many, they end up loving it.
But just speaking of the trial alone, it’s very, very rare for a game to give you so much content, up-front, for free. This is especially the case for an MMORPG, which brings together millions of players. And in times like these, when togetherness is difficult to achieve as normal, FFXIV has created a bit of a getaway for many.
As much as Limsa Lominsa gets made fun of, for instance, it’s become a hub for many friends to hang out. Not every dungeon party will be perfect, but most parties, populated by veterans, are kind enough to help or at least take it slow when asked. And while you can’t join Free Companies officially on trials, many have Discords where you can hang out anyway.
In short, FFXIV has brought a lot of people joy during these times. It could just be through the story, or it could be because it gives us a place to be and things to do together (such as showing off our new house) when it’s actively difficult to do so. Yes, we may sound like a literal commercial sometimes, to the point where you could just stick us in the place of the woman from the commercial, and you wouldn’t even need to pay some players for the job.
Just trust us. It’s coming from a good place. After all, we’re spending at least $12 per month on it, and chances are you’ll be getting a much better deal than many of us once did.