What I’ve Learned

 Traversing the blogosphere can be a very enlightening experience. It was there I read about all sorts of games I would have otherwise never experienced. For example, I have Syp to thank for my exposure to Fallen Earth, and SynCaine for a brief stint in Darkfall. I’ve read quite a bit about DaoC, Age of Conan, EVE, and Warhammer, as well as several other games I’ve never played. A common theme among many of the blog posts is how to improve the game in question. As I read through many of these posts, a single thought often enters my head – the answer to the question mark-less question posed in the title header.

 For all its flaws, Final Fantasy XI got so much right.

 What, you ask?

 Take Spinks‘ post today about guilds, for example. Final Fantasy XI never shackled you to one group of friends – you could have multiple Linkpearls (guilds). You simply switched which Pearl you had active and – voila – there you were in another guild. Imagine a WoW where you can have a social guild with your friends, your bank alt guild, and your raiding guild all available to your main character. Imagine FFXI.

 The lack of a third faction has been brought up on multiple occasions as the killing factor of both Warhammer and AION (the NPC faction doesn’t count). Imagine a world where you are fighting for the pride of your country, striving towards a common goal, and opening pathways based on that conquest. Imagine a WoW where your Alliance members can join up with a third faction to beat down the Horde which has owned Wintergrasp for eight straight days. [Seriously, the battlegroup I play(ed) in for WoW is a sad story for the Alliance – I almost pity them.] Imagine FFXI.

 Now, I’ll admit I’m reaching quite a bit here since FFXI doesn’t really offer much in the way of PvP, but regions are owned by countries (there are 3 – San D’Oria, Bastok, and Windurst) and the capitol city vendors as well as outpost (warp and save points, essentially) usage are dictated by who owns the turf. It matters who owns what – and impacts the world, even if it’s just a little bit. The groundwork is there for amazing potential.

 “I rolled a mage, but now my guild needs a healer. I guess I’ll re-roll.”

 “I wish I could do something other than just DPS – rogues are so limited.”

 Imagine a world where your one beloved main character can be any class you want. Imagine a world where you have two jobs – a primary and a sub-job; a world where your thief can heal himself. Imagine FFXI.

 Where’s the social aspect of WoW? You can solo to max level. People are so rude, there’s no sense of community. FFXI was damn near impossible to level beyond 10 at the get-go (with any class other than Beastmaster), and the community rocked.

Look, I’m not professing that Final Fantasy XI was, or is, perfect. Many of the qualities I describe above would be a turn-off for much of today’s gaming base. The grind-style leveling certainly left much to be desired. (Although the mentor-type system FFXI has introduced certainly aids the leveling process – I still remember waiting hours for Dunes groups… /shudder). It just struck me funny that many of the advances players might wish for already existed in some form or another in a very old game.

 Final Fantasy XI doesn’t get as much “old school” publicity as EverQuest, but I think it should.  I anxiously await Final Fantasy XIV, because for all that’s right and wrong in MMOs today, I have faith in Square to deliver something special. They did many years ago with FFXI.

~ by Drew on May 17, 2010.

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