So, how is FFXIV “better” than WoW? [#Blaugust 12]

Yes I’m doing it, am comparing two popular subscription MMOs with die-hard audiences, some of which are very very vocal. Wish me luck!

I’ve drawn a comparison between FFXIV’s and WoW’s endgame lately, both of which are rather lacking in their straightforward, gear-grind focused approach. However, it seems FFXIV often gets compared to WoW for all sorts of things and I’m not exactly onboard with most of them, given that I’ve played its predecessor in 2002 long before WoW launched. There is plenty of MMO tradition in SE’s two titles for sure (same as for WoW) and no doubt the dev team analyzed WoW during ARR’s development (especially for re-launch). But FFXIV has its own spirit and way of doing things.

The venerable King Mogglemog XII

The venerable King Mogglemog XII

If I keep saying FFXIV is the better overall game than WoW, I should at some point explain why that is or rather, why it is for me. As an ex-WoW player and now-FFXIV follower I am totally biased, just like everyone else is. So agree with me or not, these are my reasons to prefer playing FFXIV over WoW today, in no specific order:

  1. Regular content: Over the course of 1.5 years between re-release and Heavensward expansion, ARR has known a respectable number of content patches. Steadily, SE have released new encounters, dungeons and driven the excellent story forward via questlines. The newly released expansion has already had content added to it. How many content patches did Warlords of Draenor have again?
  2. Great writing and stakes: I have gushed about how uncompromisingly SE handle storytelling in FFXIV. You can certainly dislike storydriven MMOs like that but at least they’re doing it damn well. In this, the game is second to no one and you’ll find detailed reasons in the post I just linked, if you care to.
  3. Superior LFG experience: Or maybe I should just say superior community because it is unbelievable how 98% of all PuGs in FFXIV are just the nicest social encounters ever. EVER.
  4. No stupid ass meters: There’s an unspoken rule in FFXIV that if you use any meters, you need to keep quiet about it. If not, well everyone’s too scared to go there. Apparently (although I cannot locate an original source) SE have taken a clear stance on dps meters: use them for yourself only or fall under the harassment offense. How awesome is that??
  5. World feel / graphics: FFXIV is a zoned world very much like WoW is but in terms of that authentic world feel, from how terrain is crafted to the texture of rocks, light and shadow or the sound of things, right down to how NPCs behave, it is simply the much superiorly crafted world. This is obviously a question of graphics style, engine and power too. FFXIV is a newer game than WoW is.
  6. Lousy Achievements: The lackluster achievement system in FFXIV remains unobtrusive and rather inconsequential in the greater design of things. Quite a few players have moaned about this since day one, while I want to kiss frogs and marry princes because it’s so wonderfully ignorable!
  7. Cosmetics/gear: Myeah, let’s move right to point 8.
  8. Housing and other whimsy: Not the greatest housing model in the world, FFXIV still let’s you have your own space to decorate and has equipped guilds with their own, individual hubs and more recently airships. WoW sports garrisons which I actually quite liked…they just don’t make up for housing. Furthermore, FFXIV includes experiences like the Thornmarch encounter or barber NPC Jandelaine, which I’d like to call wonderful experiences in wild japanese humor and whimsy. Harris Pilton and Indiana Jones questlines are mildly entertaining but that stuff is plain madness.

If you’re fuming at this point because I’m being very unfair to WoW, I’ll readily make the following concessions: there’s pet battles and plenty of cool mounts to collect, flex raids and a much, much better account management system with actual player connectivity across realms, regions and games even. Also, WoW let’s you use parties, mounts and pets at the same time – a feat of epic proportion for FFXIV it seems.

The mogstation really is teh worst and we all know this but it’s not like I log in there every day. This is largely the thread where I tell you why FFXIV > WoW for my personal intents and purposes and yup, I have a clear winner kupo!


  1. I waited five years before I got around to playing WoW. When I did I played it solidly for six months and didn’t begin to run out of steam until the sixth. I’ve been back twice since on the sub-20 free trial, leveled a couple of characters as far as that allows, had a great time and I’ll very likely subscribe again at some point.

    I was in the beta for FFXIV. Even after that horrific experience I signed up again for the revival beta and bought the game at launch. I lasted the free month and I ran out of steam in week four.

    I’ve been back a few times on the free weekends, ran around for half an hour, couldn’t think of any reason to stay and left.

    I think that pretty much sums up where one stands versus the other for me. One was a lot more fun than I ever expected it would be while the other turned out to be a lot less.

    1. So what you’re saying is, you liked WoW better because there your expectations were so long to begin with? =P
      How far up did you get in FFXIV story-wise, if I may ask? It does definitely have a slow start but there’s a threshold where it goes nuts, at least that was my experience.

      1. Well I think I was level 34. I stopped short of whatever Primal you have to beat at that point I think. I really, really hated the whole Primal fight mechanic. Forced dungeon runs to progress story is an abominable mechanic but forced single-target arenas? I just don’t…

      2. lol see I don’t get that – a single arena fight is sooo fast and easy imho 😀

  2. Glad to be clapping for this instead of the other thing. I’ve been impressed with how well crafted XIV is considering the rocky start that I experienced firsthand. What’s great is that they’re only getting better! Heavensward has been A+++ so far!

    1. It was an amazing comeback that I don’t think has ever happened before for any title, certainly not an MMO revamp.

  3. I run a DPS meter nearly all the time. One of my long-standing complaints about both WOW and FFXIV is that they provide nearly no feedback in-game on whether or not you’re “doing well” at your job except in the most primitive ways (the tank loses hate, the healer OOMs, the group wipes when some DPS check failed). There is nothing to provide any guidance, and many, perhaps most, people want some guidance on if they’re doing well or poorly.

    And like it or not, a DPS meter provides feedback.

    Refusing to provide feedback doesn’t make everybody hold hands and rainbows span the sky … it just makes the group wipe on Bismarck repeatedly because there isn’t enough DPS to kill the Sanuwa in time, or Faust isn’t dead and the OT runs out of cooldowns, and without external tools you have no idea what to do to fix it. This kind of “I’m failing and I have no idea what to do about it” is nobody’s idea of fun.

    My personal suggestion is that the game should simulate what your DPS should be given some basic assumptions (equipped gear, network latency, assumed “reaction time”, etc), back that off by some “fudge factor” (10%?), and show you your actual DPS vs your simulated DPS on the screen. It doesn’t need to be broadcast, but it would provide players an actual benchmark to measure themselves against.

    1. In my experience people most certainly do NOT want feedback on “if they’re doing well or poorly”. They want some kind of proof that a) they are awesome and b) everyone else sucks. And then they want to use it to bludgeon the rest of the group.

      There is a reason why pugging in FFXIV is such a delight compared to pugging in WOW, and that has much to do with the low prevalence of damage meters.

      1. As an aside, I returned to WoW with WoD, and in a few months of subscription, and a lot of heroics, some LFR runs, and some Kazzak kills, I’m still yet to see a single damage meter posted. They honestly seem to have gone out of fashion in WoW. It’s night and day compared to five years ago when I was last regularly playing.

    2. @Morris
      I have no issue if anyone wants to improve their dps themselves – I didn’t say there should be no meters allowed in MMOs. You don’t get banned for using them in FFXIV – what you may get punished for is harassing others. Big difference 😉
      PuGs are not the place to tell people about their performance issues and it never works anyway. If you want to only ever play in groups as dedicated as yourself, that’s fine – they are called guilds.

      What I think would be a nice addition in any MMO is the implementation of a dps meter into target dummy areas where players can go test their dps in peace, including raid buffs simulation and such, if they wish to. But to try educate or rather patronize complete strangers during a 40mins run is wrong.

      1. “But to try educate or rather patronize complete strangers during a 40mins run is wrong.”

        There are people who join PUGs and they go AFK or watch TV while hitting one or two buttons. What’s wrong in calling these people out? Why not use their DPS or HPS etc to backup the claim that they are AFK?

  4. Gotta say I’m a big fan of the way FFXIV handles meters. Making them a personal choice to improve your performance goes a long way from the “post-and-shame” culture that pervades WoW.

  5. Unfortunately, when I tried FFXIV, I didn’t get as far as discovering the truth or otherwise of any of these points, because I was bored senseless after two weeks, and only when my free month expired did I realize that I hadn’t even logged in for two weeks.

    Actually, I lie – I can reply to point #3 by saying that I did run one LFG dungeon as one of the last things I did in game, and the experience was good. Ended up with a couple of players who knew the dungeon well and a couple like me that didn’t, and it was all very friendly and helpful.

    Sadly, my most enduring memory of FFXIV is that the gold spam was worse than every other MMO I have ever played COMBINED.

    1. Oh yeah – I don’t know when exactly you played but it’s gotten a bit better over time (I hear) with the goldspam. It is still there though, I just really don’t notice it because I have disabled tell-prompts. It would be nice if SE could somehow battle this better, am not sure why they cannot.

  6. My duo levelling is on hiatus in FFXIV for a while. We recently finished up the 2.0 content and started unlocking some quest chains but trying to catchup with the bulk of the playerbase in Heavensward was too intense a grind. The story (MSQs) is great if you play it as intended – mixed in with other content but if you concentrate on progressing it as fast as possible a *lot* of the standard design issues in the genre are made obvious – a lot of trivial ‘padding’ quests, too many boomerang quest (go to X; now come back to me) and a lot of enforced solo content.

    The last two raids of the main storyline were some of the worst designed group content I have ever seen – cutscenes not only at the start and at major story points during them but even right before major fights. We barely had time to skip the cutscene before getting locked out of some fights. We were left so demoralised by having to skip them all as the other Heavensward-geared players raced through them. It felt exactly like pugging heroics in Wrath-era WoW. *shudder*.

    I do agree FFXIV has had an amazing turnaround from v1.0. I also have enjoyed playing it these past months, but it’s not the best MMO to play cooperatively with a friend or two.

    1. Yes ‘those’ quests you speak of in the factory areas were very poorly designed – luckily, players complained about them and SE have changed this in HW, so it doesn’t happen anymore.

    2. I recently posted in my blog how those last two 8-man dungeons of the 2.0 storyline were almost enough to kill my desire to play FFXIV entirely. TERRIBLE design for latecomers. In The Praetorium I actually got left behind in the vehicle section and that was probably the most demoralizing situation I have ever been in in any MMO.

      I am trucking onwards because people have repeatedly told me they never repeated that design mistake again.

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