Things Final Fantasy XIV Did Wrong – Starting Cities

Before I begin, let me preface this by saying that I think Final Fantasy XIV does a lot of things correctly when it comes to being a very solid MMORPG. I enjoy the game a lot, and I’ve spent plenty of time (and subscription money) to frolic around in Eorzea. What’s Eorzea you ask? Well, it’s the fictional world Final Fantasy XIV is set within.

A bit of backstory seems prudent. I began playing Final Fantasy XI back when it first released in the USA in the early 2000’s. I played the original Final Fantasy XIV before Square Enix tossed aside the project and went back to the drawing board (more on that game and its countless failings in a separate post). That’ll be a rabbit hole if I ever decide to explain that mess.

Anyway, when the game later released anew under the name “A Realm Reborn” I claimed my free copy offered to those of us who had played on the old game for so long and dove headfirst into my favorite type of MMORPG, the Final Fantasy kind.

For years though, I’ve always thought that Final Fantasy XIV made a few decisions that weren’t exactly wise for gamers like myself, coming from other MMORPG’s with the intent to “static” with other players.

What is a “static” you ask? Well, that’s simple, it’s when you play a game only with a select few people, and you do so regularly. In FFXI, static parties were a commonality among close friends. Many MMORPG’s seem to put systems into place that destroy the “static mindset” and considering that FFXI thrived on that style of gameplay, you can guess how I might feel about that…

Generally speaking, I’m not too happy at all with the concept.

While Final Fantasy XIV has plenty to praise, the story line particularly, it also has one thing I absolutely despise… well, it has a few things I despise, but none more so than they way they start you in a city based on what job you plan to level, rather than where you’d LIKE to start.

Say for example, what’s going on for Kresh and I currently as we plan a stream day around Final Fantasy XIV (yes, we both like the game that much, that we’re going to stream it regularly soon). There’s just one problem, I plan to level WHM (White Mage, a healer for the uninitiated). Kresh plans to level a tank… however, there are no tank jobs that start in Gridania, meaning Kresh would have to start elsewhere.

See what I mean?

It kind of defeats the purpose of friends starting off together on new characters. If don’t start there, I would need to wait to level the job required to unlock WHM, however, if we don’t start in the city Kresh where Kresh can get a tanking job, then it makes for the same problem in reverse. This is a confine of the game directly, and it makes for something of problem that is strangely antiquated despite the fact that the much older MMORPG (FFXI) never had this problem if the first place. Jobs were not implemented in this way.

Final Fantasy XI never had any such issue, because you could choose your job and your starting location. It wasn’t a lose-lose situation. It didn’t have to be. Final Fantasy XIV should have followed suit in my personal opinion, because games that discourage friends to play together based on something as arbitrary as starting cities loses focus on what an MMORPG truly is.

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Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game… that’s what MMORPG stands for, and it should be at the core of the valuable systems indicative of the gameplay experience.

In this particular aspect, and a few others, Final Fantasy XIV failed that concept. The starting cities based upon your job within the game is a key point to make about this.

Now, to be clear World of Warcraft had a similar ideology at one point. It was irksome there as well, particularly during the dark ages when being a druid forced you onto starting as either a Tauren or a Night Elf. However, at least in World of Warcraft that made sense within the wider lore and universe. Final Fantasy XIV has no set player-verses-player standard the way that World of Warcraft did, nor, longstanding lore to draw from. Therefore, I find the “lore” argument a harder one to make or even defend for Final Fantasy XIV.

Now, to be clear, in Final Fantasy XIV this really is just a minor annoyance at best, as you can change your job at whim… however, that’s kind of the point. In World of Warcraft, you couldn’t do that. If you picked say… a warrior for example, then that’s what you were… a warrior… you couldn’t suddenly change your job to a mage or or a priest just because you felt like it. You had to start another character and begin the grind again.

In Final Fantasy XI and in Final Fantasy XIV you can level all of the jobs on one single character, with no need to make a second or a third. With this ideology in mind, surely you can see how it might be just a little reductive and in some ways flat out idiotic to demand a starting location based on your starting job alone.

Some games pull off that sort of limitation more believably than others, but in my personal opinion, Final Fantasy XIV just isn’t one of them… you may actually like this system the way it is, and if you do, that’s fine too. This, to me, is just a personal annoyance, but one that sticks out so perniciously as one very bad idea, and one that just didn’t have any real need to be implemented in the first place.

This has been Kernook of The Demented Ferrets, where stupidity is at its finest and level grinds are par for the course. I’ll see you next time.

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