FFXIV: The good kind of difficult

One of the aspects that soured me on WoW post TBC (although even prior to WotLK this was already somewhat of a trend in the game, just much slower) was the decrease in challenge in the ‘normal’ game, with only special ‘hard mode’ versions of the same content being tuned to really push you. Especially in vanilla, there was plenty of content that would test you, even during the leveling game (elite quests, certain dungeons). This removal never made sense to me, because WoW never forced you to beat that content, and outside of max-level stuff, you always had the option to go back later if you wanted to see something.

FFXIV is a lot of fun in part because the content challenge doesn’t insult you with how trivial it is in spots. Yes, most random quests you pick up ARE very easy kill five of this or collect five of that tasks, but the dungeons you run as you level require some level of competence, and the main quest line (that isn’t optional) and class quests have some fairly challenging fights you must solo due to the Duty system (basically a private instance).

It’s these Duties that my wife struggles with at times (and sometimes I do as well), mainly because we always do them right as soon as they become available, and because our gear is limited to what we get from questing and running the dungeons once (no AH or crafting), and I think this challenge is a great thing overall. The smart thing about this design is you CAN come back to the Duty later when you are a bit stronger, but even then you can’t completely overpower it as the Duty will level-sync you should you be more than four levels above it (though four levels is a fairly significant amount of power).

The only consistent complain I’ve seen about FFXIV is that the main story is required to progress in the game, but I think the real complain is the challenge, because WoW has trained newer MMO players to not expect any. And again, this isn’t even older WoW, where if you wanted to see the main villain of the expansion (Illidan) you had to be a top-tier raider; this is simply required content you can’t completely faceroll to progress past, and yet a minority still complain.

As Rohan wrote, this overall helps FFXIV, as it weeds out the worst of the ‘WoW-kiddies’, meaning you don’t get randomly grouped with them during a dungeon, or have them running around spamming local chat, tagging mobs, and generally being WoW players. I’m glad SquareEnix ‘doubled down’ on this design by making the expansion content gated behind completing the original content, and hopefully they don’t make the mistake Blizzard made with WoW starting with WotLK.

About SynCaine

Former hardcore raider turned casual gamer.
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4 Responses to FFXIV: The good kind of difficult

  1. cristiand90 says:

    I don’t get why many people consider vanilla wow to be “the epitome” of mmo’s, it was horribly inefficient and broken.

    Most specs were not viable, at all, anywhere.
    ALL gear had stats that made no sense.
    Spells that did jack shit 99% of the time but were required to even consider taking on a boss.
    Farming resistance gear was the stupidest thing ever.
    Getting High Warlord/GM required a blood oath and initiation into the local crime syndicate(so I’ve heard, never made it that far).
    Preparing for raids was satanic in how expensive it was to get consumables.

    It was all a big mess, with TBC making a step to better and WOTLK having close to all specs viable and gear very tuned to what you needed from it. AKA a full and enjoyable game. These patches also had the two best raids in the game, IMO, Karazhan and Ulduar.

    Quests challenged you? They challenged you because you had major lacks in leveling areas, forcing you to either take higher level quests or to grind pigs in the barrens. That wasn’t challenging, it was grinding and frustrating. Remember Hammerfall and the quests in the stronghold on the other side of the map? When you had no mount? And you had to do that run multiple times? And everything on the way tried to kill you? And you barely got a shitty sword as a reward?

    “WoW never forced you to beat that content” – It only took away your shoes and threw broken glass on any other path, if any.

    Yes, they ruined it with Cataclysm, but vanilla was IMO the worst version of wow, followed by the best version of wow.
    I enjoy challenging content, but when it’s intentionally challenging, not sloppy “hello this area has a level 50 elite patrolling” challenging.

    Also, the fuck is up with ” and generally being WoW players”, didn’t you play WoW?

    • Trego says:

      Circular logic is circular.

    • SynCaine says:

      I don’t think vanilla was the greatest MMO ever, I’m simply saying vanilla did a lot more right than WotLK+ WoW. And clearly it did enough right to become the largest MMO ever, so sure, it had issues like the first version of PvP gear where if you lost the rank you lost access to the gear, that was idiotic, and once fixed was awesome, but clearly the game did more right than wrong.

    • Sjonnar says:

      Getting wrecked by the Son of Arugal whilst questing in silverpine was literally the second best thing ever. So there.

      This is not sarcasm. I liked the high-level elites because it drove home the point that you were in hostile territory. And the first time i killed that fucker was literally the first best thing ever.

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