My free month of Final Fantasy XIV runs out in 5 days’ time and I’ve squeezed a great deal of fun out of it. Unlike Star Wars: The Old Republic, where I worked out that a month of subscription was all I’d need to see all and do all that I wanted today, Final Fantasy XIV is a different beast. It’s not an issue of whether to subscribe or not, it’s an issue of how long to subscribe for.
My Gladiator is level 50 and just started dipping his toes into endgame activities like reputation grinding, my Fisher is level 50 and working on his gathering and perception skills in order to start catching Big Fish, my magic classes are all still pretty low level but I’m loving how my Arcanist can rip through targets, heal and tank better than any of my other classes could at a similar level – Carbuncle rocks, plain and simple.
From the storyline perspective I’m up to the second 8-player dungeon, but as usual with MMOs there are a lot of distractions like Treasure Hunting and Beast Quests (and fishing!) to be getting on with as well, so I’m not in any great hurry. And joy of joys, I’ve annihilated every single Gil-spammer by discovering how to turn off all incoming /tells. Of course, none of my friends in-game can contact me without joining the same Free Company that I’m in, but I figured it was a small price to pay – lose a really handy function but get to play in peace undisturbed. Incidentally the process of turning off all incoming /tells wasn’t easy to find, and I’ve already forgotten how to do, it but the answer is out there somewhere.
I still have lots of things I want to do, like raise my other crafting classes to supplement my Fisher and, believe it or not, take a healer into a party for the first time as I’ve always just tanked or been present as a damage dealer. I still have lots of things to learn and unfortunately for the other players I learn most from my mistakes, my latest faux pas being forgetting to do my Job Quests for several levels and trying to tank a level 42 dungeon without my ‘Reduce all damage received by 20%’ ability, it wasn’t pretty.
With free game time rapidly running out I had to make that crunch decision of whether to subscribe at £8.99 a month or move on to other games that I want to play and am missing out on. Fortunately for me, that choice was quite simple – there’s nothing I’d rather be playing at present, there’s nothing I’d rather be playing in the future (although Destiny appears right up my street and is looking brilliant) and I don’t care if my backlog continues to pile up – I’m hooked on FFXIV so I’m in. I signed up for 6 months. I’ve succumbed to my MMO addiction of World of Warcrack proportions because it’s the same rush as before, only tainted by the familiar “I’ve got to do my dailies” routine which FFXIV also has.
As with most MMOs I’ve played, the fun has always been in the journey rather than the endgame. Final Fantasy XIV enhances this journey by allowing ALL classes, jobs and professions – all of which have their own separate questlines to follow – to be learned on the same one character so I won’t be short of things to do for a very long time. And endgame isn’t really all that bad if you’re into fishing because you can ignore all the drama of parties and raids and just get on with things at your own pace. Completing the Fishing Log alone is going to chew up most of my subscription time and I’ve yet to really explore endgame content in any meaningful way, like I said earlier I’ve only just dipped my toes into it and there seems to be a lot more yet to discover, upcoming patches continue to add further content, so for all I know I might actually enjoy it.
Since the FFXIV beta started way back at the end of February I’ve already started to become electronically withdrawn – I’m writing less, I hardly ever post on my usual forums, I can’t remember the last time I composed a message to a friend on either Xbox Live or PSN, Raptr and Steam are completely silent, emails are piling up and even my own family sometimes have trouble reaching me on Facebook, simply because the first thing I boot up these days is the PS4 rather than the PC. Being sucked into games in this way is what I live for and games that can do this are few and far between, I’m lucky if one comes along every 5 years or so.
So if I disappear off the planet for a while, be it for 6 months or several years, keep in mind it’s because I’m having fun and be happy for me. I’ll be keeping tabs on things here and there, seeing how you’re all getting on with The Last Of Us next-gen repolish and finding your feet in Destiny, watching you get to grips with Tom Clancy’s The Mission, seeing what happens as console hard drives start to fill up beyond capacity, keeping my fingers crossed for Nintendo’s survival and so on, the meta stuff of our current gaming world.
But mostly I’ll be having fun because I was lucky enough to find my first nominee for ‘Game of the Generation’ right at the start, rather than a few years into the current lifecycle.