A long while ago, back when it was announced that version 1.0 of Final Fantasy XIV was going to end so they could relaunch the game with better mechanics, I was totally fine with it. As I said back then the game had a good core but too many systems that were confusing or obtuse to use. Plus during the whole road to the relaunch they were very good at communicating what changes they planned to make, why they were going to make those changes and they also kept channels open for feedback. A lot of it I could completely agree with too. It were changes that the game needed.
Then came the beta for version 2.0, the version where the game was going to be relaunched at as a "Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn". Since I played during 1.0 I was automatically allowed to participate in that beta. But I wasn't able to play more than a few minutes before logging out, heartbroken for what the came turned out to be.
It wasn't that I felt betrayed or lied to. The changes were exactly as they said they were going to be. It is just that I still much in the mindset of Guild Wars 2, which did a lot things differently and still felt a breath of fresh air for me. Anything slightly similar to more traditional MMO mechanics felt to me like a huge step back. And during those minutes I played of the beta the game felt too similar to more traditional MMOs.
I still felt those changes were what the game needed though and considering the amount of people playing the beta it seemed others were enjoying themselves. It just wasn't the game I wanted to play at the time though. So I bid the game farewell, without any resentment or hatred. Just wishing it all the success it deserved, as it certainly did deserve considering all the work the developers put into revamping it, not to mention the risks with a move like that. I just moved with my life, playing other games, doing other things that interested me more.
So what changed?
I guess I did. But I didn't get back just on my own. Late last year some of my friends got interested in playing Final Fantasy XIV. I didn't join them immediately since I still wasn't feeling like restarting in yet another MMO. Then a bit later there was a good promotion for the base game (The "A Realm Reborn version" which I didn't have) and the expansion Heavensward. All that combine plus a combination of people in Twitter posting some pretty great screenshots of the game finally made me tempted and I got back into the game.
Even then I still didn't end playing as much as I hoped for. I think I only got to about level 20 or so with my first character. It wasn't that I felt the game was bad. I think it might have been a combination of quickly falling out in the mood for MMOs as well as stretching my focus too thin trying to get all the classes as soon as I could.
So the game ended up on that category of "Well, there is this game I bought and I guess I will play it tomorrow." except that when tomorrow comes I end up doing something else that feels more interesting.
My friends seem to have gotten bored with the game too as everybody seem to have stopped playing it.
I made another character on the same server as her and have been happily playing the game. This time I am trying to be more focused with the goal of becoming a monk and eventually getting that job to level cap. If I get any other jobs with this character it is something I will decide later. My plan is also to focus only on a few crafting classes at first, just the ones that make the most gear for monks and the tools for crafting.
So far this has worked well. I got farther in the main quest than before, to the point where the story is starting to get really interesting. I also got my chocobo which was something that I really wanted for a long time. Travelling is so much better with one!
Oh, and this last saturday we created our own Free Company (that is how guilds are called in the game), Clarius. 🙂
All in all I have been very happy playing Final Fantasy XIV this last week. A feeling I haven't felt playing a MMO in a very long time.
A side note about the community
The Final Fantasy XIV community might be one of the most polite ones I've ever seem.
Due to the requirement of doing some dungeons to continue the main quest I had to do join some PuGs to do them. Much to my surprise the worst I had so far were people just being quiet through the whole thing. All others people at least said a "Hello" at the beginning and a "Good work" at the end. Even when I messed up a couple times due to my noobiness or didn't know how an encounter worked people were patient with me. That kind of attitude helped me get over my fears of PuGs and confidently join them.
With Free Companies it wasn't too different. Before we founded Clarius I'd get random invites to join other Free Companies. I only received a couple of blind invites. Every other one they send a tell, politely inviting me and explaining what their Free Company was about. I felt bad declining them but they always took it well, wishing me good fortune in my adventures. If I wasn't looking for the formation of Clarius I'd probably have joined one of them.
And last night I saw someone in Ul'Dah (one of the starting cities) shouting that they were offering their excess potions to newbies. I am not sure how common that is in Final Fantasy XIV but it was a nice gesture that warmed my heart anyway. 🙂
So kudos to you Final Fantasy XIV community! You are probably the most friendly game community I've seem in a MMO (that isn't a subcommunity too!)