I think it’s safe to say that 2021 will go down as the year of FFXIV’s third coming. A Realm Reborn being its second coming literally, it was with the release of the Heavensward expansion that Square proved to the world they are still capable of creating wonderful RPG experiences with a mass market appeal – and that they can also deliver this experience as an MMO themepark. The title has been going from strength to strength since and has known a notable influx of new players in 2021, to the point where FFXIV is now officially Square’s most profitable Final Fantasy game in the entire series. The hype is so big that even the father of Final Fantasy, Hironobu Sakaguchi, has started playing the game this fall and is apparently racing through Eorzea like a champ. Good times.
Along with the increasing player base, many more well-known WoW streamers have jumped ship this year which has led me to follow Twitch for the first time ever. Honestly, I never expected that many grown up men to cry over an MMORPG (yes really, it’s everywhere on twitch and youtube), to the point of where several streamers confessed they had forgotten what this genre “was really about”. It’s been a real joy to watch these tired old WoW players discover Eorzea and break the shackles of toxicity that are Blizzard and their abusive shenanigans. And that isn’t even related to the Californian lawsuit, no – I am talking about the state of WoW and Shadowlands. This is where you’ll have to bear with me while I rant.
Against all better judgement, I joined a few old WoW guildies this late spring for the odd dungeon run and raid night. You could say the timing of my return couldn’t have been more ill-advised. Despite all the bad press that literally broke about two weeks after my resub (after 10 or so years), I decided I would judge the expansion myself and I really tried my best to find anything redeemable. But what I’ve encountered was a disgusting, manipulative shell of an MMO that is frankly insulting in the way it’s treating its playerbase and its players’ time. I cannot believe what passes for content in WoW nowadays, all the lazy micro-management and RNG-infested gear sub-systems and stupid re-grinds…for what? Raising another 0.5 item level on the third iteration of the exact same gear item or exact same skill conduit, so you can go have a shot at the third iteration of the exact same raid. Oh and shards and legendary slots and currencies and timers and cooldowns for almost everything! I’ve never known another MMO to grab such exclusive hold of its playerbase the way WoW does, by design and very deliberate engineering. And don’t get me started on the joke that is Oribos, lackluster circle in the sky hub, the Maw and Torghast. Nothing in WoW feels alive any more – 99% of the world is dead, pugs are toxic and players hate the devs. Now I understand why this community is so resentful; the hamsterwheel Blizzard have created demands constant playtime in a joyless world full of recycled, meaningless rewards. Heck, they don’t even design tier sets anymore.
If you ever felt MMORPGs were about the whimsy, world building, community, diversity and social interaction, WoW 2021 is not for you. Sadly, it isn’t even killing it on the endgame side of things anymore either. FFXIV has hundreds of epic fights and some of the hardest raid/trial encounters in the genre right now. There is not enough COPIUM in the world to keep me playing this game anymore. It is truly and veritably over!
FFXIV Community Highlights
No time in MMORPGs is more exciting than when the community is collectively psyched and waiting for the next expansion. Endwalker is three weeks away and you can feel the excitement in the air whenever you log into Eorzea. Especially since Yoshi-P’s recent media tour, where he gave a large number of streamers personal interview time, message boards have been ablaze with new info and speculation. I was personally very happy to hear that some of my most wanted class changes are going to happen and I love the new armor sets and class designs. Sage and Reaper make older jobs look like nubs.
The anticipation of Endwalker has led me to some personal milestones and discoveries too. For one, I’ve finally founded my own FC on Cerberus as more mates are flocking to the game. We’ve hit rank 8 last night and I am both antsy and weary in equal amounts for a shot at the housing lottery in 6.1. The housing system is my biggest gripe in FFXIV bar none and now that we have an FC, I would love nothing more than a (small) house for our daily business. Here’s to hoping fortune will smile on us come Endwalker.
Our server’s community has also been very lively of late with concerts, house parties and Halloween events. The clubbing scene is one of FFXIV’s many subcultures I had never looked into before. Having finally experienced a Halloween event, I am positively surprised as it was a completely enjoyable and friendly experience (with a live DJ via standalone webpage, no less). It’s interesting how effortlessly fun and joy are spread in MMOs when everyone’s having a carefree time. That’s what I’ve really come to appreciate so much about FFXIV; after so many years it can still surprise you and while it has all the trappings of a traditional themepark MMORPG, a bottomless well of side-activities and creative opportunities lie underneath. You never quite know what you may encounter next.