Eorzea’s Perspective: Tales from an FFXIV Regular (and Why This Time Is Different)
I first picked up Final Fantasy XIV when A kingdom reborn launched because I am always ready to give news Final fantasy game a try, and I had missed the original launch somehow. ARR also hit at the right time for me. I agreed with World of warcraft and Guild Wars 2, corn Star Wars: The Old Republic had lost its print for me at that time. Suddenly, I found myself with a little time to put towards another MMO. As much as I enjoyed FFXIV, there were a few things that kept it from really clicking with me enough to keep playing it for the long haul, but I keep coming back to this over the years. I did it again recently, but to my surprise all I wanna do is play FFXIV. I’m not even exaggerating. So, I wanted to take a moment and discuss why this time around is different.
When I started ARR, I enjoyed the game a lot. One thing that was a little strange to me was the need to level up two different jobs to learn the one I actually wanted. In my case, I wanted to play Bard, which meant I had to improve Archer and Pugilist. Archer didn’t bother me too much because it was directly related to what I wanted to do. But Pugilist was the opposite of what I wanted to do. I did, however, and liked it when I finally became a bard. The process of getting there was just frustrating. Fortunately, Jobs have all received an overhaul in Stormblood, and all original jobs now only require one basic job before learning the more advanced job.
One of my first frustrations during ARR feels like it shouldn’t have been a big deal in hindsight, but it was a huge frustration at the time. I didn’t like having to dismount every time I wanted to talk to an NPC. I would not be disassembled automatically. Instead, I was getting an error message and had to go downstairs before talking to them. It’s one of those things that seems small, but really frustrates me every time I meet her. Even to this day, it’s a huge annoyance when this happens while I’m playing a game. Fortunately, this was changed some time ago. Now when I try to talk to an NPC I automatically go down which is much better.
The biggest problem with ARR not appealing to me as much as it could at the original launch was the number of cutscenes without voiceovers. It wasn’t just that, however, it was the way the cutscenes alternated between voice and no voice, seemingly at random. When I first logged in to my first character, there was all that initial cutscene where “someone” was talking to me, and it was all a mystery. He then cut me into a cart, and a peddler was talking to me. But suddenly there was no more voice. Honestly, I thought something was wrong with my sound because I wasn’t expecting it at all. It continued throughout the story, and it was always shocking because there didn’t seem to be any real consistency between what had a voice and what didn’t.
Fortunately, with both Stormblood and Shadowbringer, there is a lot more voiceover in the main story quests, which makes all the difference. I still ran into a few critical conversations that felt like they should have been voiced, but for the most part, the line between what’s voiced and what isn’t doesn’t feel much more natural now. Maybe I just adjusted to the one FFXIV mix of voice and non-voice content, but that no longer precludes enjoying the story. Also, finding out that I can turn on Auto Advance in cutscenes helped a lot. Not having to click after each vocal line allows cutscenes to flow more naturally.
Another blocker in the past was that while I liked Bard, I never really felt like it suited me. I made a secondary character (at the time ARR started upgrading alternate jobs on a character was a royal pain) that I did a Lancer because it seemed to suit me a little better as I tend to prefer melee. However, that didn’t grab me either, and I finally decided to put FFXIV aside as a “not for me” game. I also came back for Toward the sky and I enjoyed the story, but it still didn’t grab me the way I had hoped.
I then came back before Stormblood because I knew I wanted to play Samurai, and the teased story sounded interesting. Of course coming back meant I had to finish Toward the sky and make sure my bard is fully leveled to learn samurai as soon as possible. This part was a bit tedious, but it was worth it when I learned samurai. I had finally found a job that suited me perfectly and I was having a lot of fun. The whole 50-60 year job questline was fantastic too, and I enjoyed it all. Well, there was a duty that kicked my ass for a while. If I remember correctly it was the level 57 quest where I had to go on a boat and fight two different bosses which was quite difficult for me. most samurai. I was really frustrated with this quest for a while, but it taught me how to play better, so it was a frustration that was worth it.
Unfortunately, the story of Stormblood was too slow to start. I also think it didn’t help that my time playing through the story until Stormblood had been so fragmented over the years because I couldn’t remember much of the background leading up to it. However, I discovered the Hildibrand quests during this time, and I have never been so completely derailed from the MSQ before. I don’t think I’ve ever played through such campy and hilarious content in any game before. I finished everything quickly. Somehow I missed the Hildibrand questlines added in Toward the sky and Stormblood, but I will go back for those! By the time I reached what I thought was the end of Hildibrand’s story, I was pressed for time and couldn’t log in FFXIV as much as I wanted, so I dropped my sub.
Shadowbringer didn’t bring me back again just because I knew the time to play just wasn’t there for me, and I didn’t feel like I could play enough to justify paying the subscription fee . I felt the tug again when the Endwalker the trailer has fallen. After all, FFXIV knows how to get out of the exciting trailers. My exact reaction was, “I have no idea what’s going on here, but I want it! They still have me. However, I still didn’t have time to play, so I figured this would be another expansion that would pass me by – which seemed like a big deal on one level. I felt that if I let two extensions go in a row without coming back, it sort of meant FFXIV was really over for me. It is not logical. Obviously, I could always come back anytime. Nonetheless, it seemed like a big deal.
Then August rolled around, and I found myself not having too much motivation to play some of the other MMOs that I usually play and so I watched FFXIV again. I found out that I had two weeks of free play available, and thought I would give it another chance. I would force myself to focus on the MSQ, and if that could hook me in two weeks, then I would continue, and maybe I would buy Endwalker. Remember how I said the Stormblood the story started slowly? Well, that hadn’t changed. I hadn’t gotten very far with that, so it was still very slow, but I pushed and found that everything had changed when I got to Doma.
The change started when I met Yugiri and Gosetsu. I only vaguely remembered it from previous encounters in history because it had been years by then, and I spent a lot of time not thinking about the FFXIV story or characters. Nonetheless, I loved them both from the first meeting and really wanted to help them. However, for me it was Hien. I love everything about Hein and the way they choose to tell his story. It was so refreshing to meet a leader who felt the weight and importance of choosing whether to fight the empire or not. I like that even though he was ready to fight the Empire, he didn’t want to impose the consequences of that choice on his people if they preferred to maintain the status quo. I also really respected his choice to support Mol, despite this objectively being a bad choice as they were seen as weak. Add to that the beautiful voice of the English version, and I would do anything for him.
From this point, Stormblood took place at a gallop and was a great ride. However, I learned that I had to stop thinking, “Oh, I’m almost done with this story, so I can finish it real quickly,” because invariably, when I think I’m almost done, I’m almost done. at least two more hours before the end of the scenario. It was especially bad towards the end of the Stormblood launch content. I swear I ran around thinking “okay, this will be the final fight” for four hours. It didn’t help that NPCs kept saying various forms of “This is it !!” and “One last fight to do!” I love how the story took a while to breathe and take stock before it got to the end because everything was satisfying. I wish the message about how close I was to the end had been a bit clearer.
While Stormblood took a long time to get to the heart of the matter, Shadowbringer rolled from the first moments. I’m currently working on 5.2 content, and things haven’t stopped for a moment. I also think this is an area that I have benefited a bit from entering and exiting FFXIV the way i have. I had never done Crystal Tower content before, so when I finished Stormblood, a message popped up saying that it was strongly suggested to complete this before proceeding with Shadowbringer. It was great because the whole history of Crystal Tower was fascinating, but also everything was fresh in my mind when I walked into Shadowbearers, and it was all relevant.
As I get closer to completing my goal of completing all Shadowbringer before Endwalker Early Access I’m also incredibly aware that there’s a ton of other optional content that I haven’t seen at all yet. Honestly, it can be overwhelming at times to think of all the things I can do but haven’t done it yet. Additionally, Samurai is even better at level 80 than at level 70, and I’m also upgrading Gunbreaker, which was also a lot of fun. It is the most invested Final Fantasy XIV I never have been, and I don’t see it slowing down any time soon.