Recently I discovered the wonderful Miss Mojo and her blog. I feel a bit ashamed that I haven’t done so sooner but it is what it is and if you are not already following her I suggest that you do. Earlier this week she posted about MMO wanderlust and settling on a MMO home which has sent me on a bit of soul-searching. For the better part of ten years I considered my home MMO home to be WoW with often a game or two on the sides. Since last year however that changed to FF14 being my home and while I know that I changed, Miss Mojo’s post got me to ask why. This is going to be a train of thought sort of post so fairly warned be ye.
If I try to be objective and compare both games, WoW and FF14 are very similar and I’d even say that WoW is the more refined and polished of the two. WoW has become so polished that there’s this sense that everything flows together and you just have to follow along to get to wherever you want to go. Everything is laid out so that it’s easy to know what to do and how to do it to achieve whatever you want to achieve. The raids, the music, the quality of life improvements, everything is there to help you out. I truly think that overall WoW is the better designed game out of the two.
Then there’s FF14: A realm reborn which is more or less Vanilla WoW with a dungeon finder added on top and a few others quality of life improvement that have shown up in MMOs over time. It’s slower paced, there’s grinding, gating, less content, you’re often sent back over and over to the same old zones. On paper, it’s an old style MMO which I guess I should not be playing since we’ve evolved since then… And it’s not a case of graphics since both game have their own styles or lore or nostalgia since both WoW and FF14 are based on series of game I’ve been playing since I was a kid. It’s not the “new game” factor either since I’ve been at end game in Final for over a year now.
So why the hell am I sticking with FF14 when there’s a similar, but better made game right next to it? Why did I grind out World of Darkness for 6 hours this week just to get a stupid drop when I have yet to even step in Blackrock foundry?? I’m writing this and I can’t figure out why… it makes no sense.
So what does FF14 does that WoW isn’t? The first thing that comes to my mind is challenge. FF14 is harder than WoW is and that helps keep my involved in the game when I’m playing it. It’s not always super hard mind you and by now I can do the first three dungeons half-asleep but still, it’s harder. The 3 raids making up Crystal tower, the catch-up raid for newer players is still a proper raid with mechanics that if completely ignored will cause wipes. I can’t say the same of LFR. Gear also has less of an impact than class skill and being able to execute strategies. In WoW there’s often that point where if you gear up enough you can just ignore an encounter mechanics. That rarely happens in FF14. The game will even lower your level and gear when you enter lower level content just to make sure that you have to pay a minimum of attention.
The second strong point of the game for me is the effort put into keeping the world alive through the clever engineering that goes on to keep sending players out into the world and interacting with each other no matter the level. There’s a lot of incentive given to players at endgame to run low level content, complete public quests (Fates) and just go back out into the various zones and explore. This means that for the low-level player coming up there will be interaction and help from the higher levels. It makes the world feels more alive and it reminds everyone that endgame is not just about sitting in a city waiting for the raid queue to pop.
I know that both points are subjective, that someone raiding Mythic difficulty in WoW will find lots of challenge to the game and that it’s possible for someone to go out in the world in WoW and interact with others. I just feel FF14 handles it better.
The end result for me is that when I play FF14 I get more of a sense of accomplishment that is gone from WoW. In WoW I’m ticking off boxes of things to do. Garrison, done, LFR, done, quests, done, pet battles, done, and so forth. In FF14 by contrast I’m beating a mighty primal and I’m proud of it. I’m rocking my Demon healing set and while I didn’t enjoy all those runs to get it I feel a sense of accomplishment now that I have it. Same for the Zodiac weapon grind that I’m doing at the moment. This is used to exist in WoW and now I don’t feel it anymore.
When I get sent back to do Copperbell mines and notice someone with a green leaf over their head (new player), I’m happy and excited to be there as they experience the dungeon for the first time. It may be super easy for me now but I know that I’ll have to explain the second boss that wiped us the first time when I had no idea of how to do it because even if I over gear the place, we’ll still have to no kill the bombs if we want to succeed. It may sound stupid but I enjoy that we have to cooperate and that I get to show the ropes to someone new.
This is running long so I’ll end by saying that ultimately, FF14 asks of me to cooperate with others if I want to succeed. WoW has me mostly complete a list of tasks. I know this is subjective but it’s how I feel and ultimately it’s what made me change my home from WoW to FF14.
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