Breaking this down into Buffs (things I love) and Debuffs (debunking a lot of misconceptions of the game that led me to believe I might not like it) and Curse (what sucks).
I’ll just start with the awesomesauceness of the game.
*The graphics. It has not been since Final Fantasy XI that I have encountered graphics that really impressed me and so it is quite appropriate that it’s FFXIV that trumps the last time I was truly wowed by a graphic engine. The renderings are just spectacular, the details are as crisp as I remembered the last time.
Did I mention the graphics are just awesome? I definitely would not recommend anyone try to play this game without the bare minimum system requirements for sure. You will lag, your screen will look like the original nintendo, and it won’t be worth your money to try to play this game unless you can fully appreciate it.
* This game rewards you for exploring and figuring things out as you go. Spending the time to click on the NPCs and talking to everyone often yields really cool stuff you wouldn’t know about. The wiki for this game is still pretty small so I am finding the need for exploration a really fun change from having every zone and NPC memorized.
*Minimal questing. You only get like 8 quests per week and then the rest of your leveling is done through grinding mobs or crafting. I think I hated this in FFXI but now love it having been totally burnt out from quest grinding in WoW. It’s just nice to not have to worry about everyone being on the same quest etc.. just go out, explore, and kill shit that’s within your level. It’s nice because…
*The combat is a lot longer than in WoW for sure. You spend many minutes on one mob which might sound tedious if it weren’t for things like Battle Regimens which require group coordination to perform special debuff abilities on the mob when performed correctly. It’s not easy so far and that challenge alone makes game play not as boring as “spam spam spam spam kill.” The combat system also offers Tactical Points which let you set off special moves as well which break up the spammyness of your typical fights. And you know the game mobs are only gonna get more complex when a simple beginners mob dodo bird can blind, slow, and sleep you. lol.
*Crafting graphics are awesome (not just twisting your fingers around in the air while being hunched over). You actually see saw blades and spin wheels for tailoring etc. And so far I love the actual crafting mechanism too. I actually feel like I’m performing a skill when I’m fishing or doing botany (chopping down wood off trees). It’s like a mini game inside the game.
Problems I heard people have in FF that I didn’t think were bad at all.
*Controls. Movement controls are fine for me but I’ve always used the awsd keys in conjunction with my right mouse click to navigate in WoW. If you are used to the arrow keys, I can see how you might really have a hard time but the plus side is that once you learn to move with your mouse and keyboard, it’s way more fluid and nice…good habit for game play anyhow.
*XP Fatigue. This is the one I’ve heard people bitching about the most but I think it’s probably the most misunderstood mechanism of the game so far. In FFXIV, ONE character can be any class and a class is defined not only as say like a conjurer or lancer but also as a fisher or botanist or miner. You can be all of them if you want. To change classes, you only have to change out your weapon and bam, you are a new class.
XP Fatigue begins after 8 hours of ONE class and then diminishes to zero XP gain after 16 hours (per week). This means you can go to another class and level that up after those hours. They are encouraging people to not just be mono-classed and seriously, who the hell can do more that 16 hours of grinding a fuckin’ wharf rat or doing 16 hours of mining per week.
They did this so you wouldn’t feel guilty about leveling up another class during the week..time you would otherwise pour into perfecting your main class etc. I rather like this system a lot because it frees me up to do other things in the game rather than to level chase and encourages me to try other things in the game than grinding a mob.
There are 18 classes in the game and 18x16 = more hours than in a week…so it’s not like you have to turn off the game at any point for you crazy mmorpg addicts *looks at self*
*No Epic Loot Drops. I guess I actually like that there is no looting in the game. Random crap just goes directly into your inventory and you don’t have to waste time pick up crap off the mob. Gear and weapons are pretty much crafted although some crappy stuff occasionally drops off mobs or are received through quests. The majority of loot you will want though will be from other players in the game who spend the time to gather and craft etc. THIS is what makes crafting in a game actually useful…demand. When awesome crap falls off of mobs, who the heck wants to five days crafting a shield? Not me.
*No Auction House at game launch. This one I can see why people are going nuts but at the same time I still applaud SE for trying something bold with the market wards. Yes, they are laggy and horribly time consuming but at the same time they generate a community that is normally vacant. Secondary class systems have previously just been useless and interaction for trade systems in WoW was rather annoying because of the amount of spamming you had to do. I get the feeling they will bring in an AH system later but for now, they want people active in the market wards. And quite frankly, the awful truth is that if you find yourself saying “I don’t have time for this” then this game is probably not for you..stay far far away. (I spent thirty minutes just looking for the fishing guild on three different levels of an area cursing in frustration the whole way but being so excited when I finally found it…that’s FFXIV)
So the stuff about the game that just plain sucks!
*TABing to another window while running FFXIV will crash the game. I’m not sure if that’s just beta or if that will be the case in the title release.
*(my BIGGEST gripe of FFXIV) Software Mouse sucks but hopefully someone will make a mod so we can use the hardware mouse instead.
*/tell Firstname Lastname to talk to friends sucks! there is no /r yet which makes chatting in the game a pain. Maybe they are trying to encourage people to get in a linkshell ASAP.
*Party invite only seems possible when you are physically near each other and can click on the player..seems cumbersome.
Gonna go ahead an list a few things I learned that might make game play easier for anyone just going in:
*Shortcuts I love:
[Home] = open and close main menu
[C] = Target Lock
[F] = Toggle Active/Passive Mode
[B]= Open/Close Emote
The rest here:
*Talk to everyone more than once…sometimes they have more to give you…ie.. I got my extra spell by talking to the main barkeep in town a second time.
*Macro Guide: http://www.ffxivcore.com/wiki/Macro_Guide
*Like @Ejji says: put everything you know and love about WoW on the shelf before playing.
I set up a bindpoint channel for FFXIV to spam random crap about things we've figured out:
Sign up here at bindpoint.im
Instructions for Aidum (mac) and Pidgin (pc) here