Over the weekend I decided to give Final Fantasy XIV a try. It’s one of those games I’ve been covering in the news for years but never played. Nearly every friend I have who plays MMOs has played this game and loved it, many of them still playing it today, so I thought I would find out what all the hype is about. This is when I discovered that I’ve come to expect certain things because of the MMOs I’ve played through the years, and those expectations keep me from being able to enjoy what is, by all accounts, one of the best MMORPGs currently on the market.
Right from the start, I found myself comparing FFXIV to all the other MMOs I had ever played in the character creator. How complex was the character creation? Would it compare to games like Neverwinter with their fingernail length slider? When the creator went beyond just how they look I was comparing the experience with Guild Wars 2. What was the importance of picking a birthday? It wasn’t explained anywhere, and I still have no idea.
My next surprise came just moments after I finished character creation. It was the lack of voice acting in cutscenes that are, at least in my mind, begging for voice acting. It honestly came as a complete surprise that there wasn’t any, and I’ll be honest, it was kind of a deal breaker for me because, yes, I have been spoiled by the likes of Guild Wars 2, Elder Scrolls Online, and Rift.
So all of this got me thinking about the hordes of people out there who have played just about every MMORPG in creation and still find themselves on the MMORPG Subreddit asking for recommendations. Are they, like me, judging every game on the best things of all the games they’ve played before? It’s human nature to, so of course they are.
Each time we play a new game our tastes are refined and what we consider a minimum requirement for a game changes. Before City of Heroes introduced /walk, I never knew how much I wanted it. When Rift changed the speed of walking and made walking impossible to use to get anywhere, a little part of my love of the game died. When I got to Tera and there was no way to walk at all, it was a dealbreaker. From 2009 to 2011, walking went from not being a consideration at all to being vital to my enjoyment of an MMORPG.
In 2012 I went from loving the complexity of Rift’s combat system to playing Guild Wars 2, which taught me that one tray of abilities is really all you need. Now games that require you to have five trays of abilities just seem like they’re overcomplicating matters. I didn’t quite appreciate this when I played The Secret World, though. I guess it just hadn’t clicked with me yet.
Instead, what The Secret World gave me was an appreciation for a very sleek UI and complex storytelling in an MMO. Now, I don’t expect any MMO to live up to the storytelling in TSW/SWL but it did raise my expectations a little bit.
Equally, all player housing in MMORPGs gets compared to Rift’s Dimensions. The first time I laid eyes on them at Gamescom I actually squealed with joy. They are, to this day, my idea of a great housing system.
I’m a bit picky about my MMOs. I don’t play them all, I wouldn’t even say I play most, but every one that I have played has given me a lasting impression of what a good MMO should be. Something as simple as not including the ability to walk is enough to kill my interest in a game.
It seems to me that the people who play more MMOs are less happy in all of them. The more they play, the higher their expectations are. There also aren’t enough MMOs being released to keep them happy as they quickly burn through one and move on to the next, having not been satisfied in the previous. A cycle that continues until…well, some just give up on the MMORPG industry altogether. Others keep going, keep repeating this cycle. They’re the ones who will never be happy because unfortunately, there is no such thing as the perfect MMO.
But those who take their time and lovingly devote themselves to a small handful of games find themselves so much more fulfilled. They’re happier with the games they’re playing and they have fewer expectations for future games to live up to.
So, I guess there are two main types of MMORPG players in the world. Those who seek perfection and those who find happiness with the flawed games they love. I won’t say that there’s a right way and a wrong way to enjoy games, but it does seem like one side is much happier than the other.
If you’re one of those who isn’t happy with any games right now, find a new MMO that is coming out and immerse yourself in the community. Once the game comes out, take your time and acknowledge everything you appreciate about the game. Read everything. Turn on walk and give yourself a mission to see every corner of the world, if that’s what it takes. Along the way, you may just find your happiness.
Or maybe you’ll find that one of the most popular MMORPGs on the market just isn’t for you and your hunt will continue. Either way, you’ll have experienced something new and gained a new appreciation for the things you loved in the games you’ve played. Who knows, it might even inspire you to revisit those games you used to adore.
I’ll be letting my FFXIV trial expire and uninstalling the game. It wasn’t for me, but I am glad I tried the game. It did make me appreciate Guild Wars 2 again in a time when my interest in the game was waning. It did exactly what I needed it to do.Related: Article, MMORPG, Opinion