Shoutout to our friend of the show/friend in real life, Brilund from the Down in Front Podcast for sending in a Guest Blog comparing WoW and FFXIV.
*Spoiler Warning for WoW Shadowlands at the end. YOU HAVE BEEN WARNED*
THERE AND BROKE AGAIN: A SOUTHERN FRIED DEGENERATES TALE
For the last 16 years I have played many games but one game has stuck with me through all that time: World of Warcraft. WoW has been my video game comfort food; the mac and cheese that you can always rely on when you are unsure of what to eat. And this southern fried degenerate has even taken his fandom to the motherland of BlizzCon. I stuck with WoW during even the more recent maligned expansions of Battle for Azeroth and Shadowlands. I have my Model W mount from completing all the achievements on Mechagon. My Covenant sanctum upgrades? All maxed out. Last week the latest update to the Shadowlands, Chains of Domination released. I fired up my PC anxiously awaiting to see how does the new saga of The Jailer’s plan shape the future of the greatest continuing gaming lore of all time.
First impression: Chains of Domination lands with a dud. The new area of Korthia and the new campaign quest line feels lazily implemented and doubles down on the excessive grind that Shadowlands brought to its end game. As for the story? I’ll get back to that later.
After this immediate turn off I sat back and wondered if there was a game that could bring back what I love about WoW: an engrossing story. A lively gaming community that didn’t expect you to know all boss strats BEFORE the release of a new dungeon and raid. An ongoing experience that can grow into whatever you want it to be once you reach the end game. As I sat there struggling I suddenly heard a knock at my door. When I opened it there was a big eyed anime cat girl throwing up a peace sign. She asked a question:
“Have you accepted Final Fantasy XIV into your life?”
I laughed at the very thought of it. I should try to play what I’ve heard is the MMO with the most excessive grind experience out of all MMOs? Play an MMO to look like a mishmash of all final fantasy characters ever made? A Final Fantasy game without a rich and deep story?
The cat girl lowered her ears, a serious look fell upon her face.
“What do you got to lose? It’s free right now.”
Fine. I downloaded FFXIV, made the least weeb character I could (a human) and hopped into the world of Eorzea. I read up on some of the jobs (their names for classes) to figure out how do I want to shape my character. I locked in on getting my character to be a Machinist (an engineer/tinker class; something I’ve always wanted from WoW) but in order to get there I would have to start as an archer and unfortunately become a bard in between. Once I began my job as an archer, FFXIV wasted no time diving into the story of Eorzea and A Realm Reborn and it’s a doozie. A very Final Fantasy story of collecting crystals from ancient creatures that threaten the world of the adventurers that sign up to bang out 50 levels of character progression.
I took the advice from a friend and stuck to mainlining the Main Story Quest (referred to as the MSQ among players) and was quite surprised that the grind I heard so much about was non existent. Also I found myself, regardless of how weird and over-weebed my gear looked, enjoying not only the MSQ but also my Archery and Bard job quests. FFXIV’s story felt like a streamlined Final Fantasy story removing a lot of the obtuse exposition in favor of your adventurer’s self made journey of traveling around the world, meeting other adventurers, and diving into dungeons to fight off tougher bad guys. I have to say I haven’t enjoyed a Final Fantasy story this much since FFVIII. After 60 hours of playtime I had reached level 50, completed the MSQ of A Realm Reborn, and even saw credits roll.
And I wanted more. The damn cat girl was right.
So I coughed up $25 and got the three other expansions and started to dive into Heavensward. I would not be denied my final form as a Machinist.
It’s not perfect or superior to WoW but just different and sometimes different feels good. There is a lull in the story between levels 20 – 35 but it is a small price to pay for overall a fun enjoyable adventure. The most shocking though is how helpful the community is in FFXIV. When getting into a group you aren’t expected to know the fights and you don’t get called out for it like you would in WoW. There is no trade chat that tells dumb jokes or delivers hot takes on politics in the world. It is refreshingly peaceful and quiet in the main hubs. So far FFXIV is feeling more like WoW than WoW does today.
And what of the lore I love so much from WoW? Has it continued to be intriguing and keep me interested? I was curious so I watched the cutscenes for the new raid of Chains of Domination.
*SPOILERS FOR SHADOWLANDS*
They literally copied and pasted the ending of Avengers Infinity War where Sylvanas is Thor and she doesn’t go for the head of The Jailer.
Even the story of WoW feels lazy now which is terribly disappointing. And it is not surprising that right now many long time WoW players are packing their bags and moving over to FFXIV and the world of Eorzea.
Blizzard I hope you bring WoW back. Until then I’m grouping with a catgirl and a moogle to fight a big ass robot dragon.