FF14’s Content Mountain is Good Gaming Glue

The crux of the “games as art” argument is that both are subjective to interpretation.  And as much as there is shitty art, there are shitty games…so let’s no belabour the point too much.

Jewel over at Healing the Masses has a neat post about her qualms with the forced narrative in FF14.  While I understand the complaint, I think it’s one of FF14’s main benefits.  Here’s the logic.

Let’s say you’re a new player and you want to play with your friends who have been there for some time.  In nearly every other MMOs, you jump in, level up what needs to be done (or get carried, or buy a character) and in a week or so, you’re in the expansion territory.  FF14 takes a completely different approach.  From 1-50, you must complete the following quests to progress.  It’s not optional, you simply won’t gain other skills, jobs or be able to access other dungeons/content.  These are major gates.  And that’s just what launched with 2.0.  Once you hit level 50, you need to complete the majority of these quests in order to access Heavensward.  Jewel’s point that many of these quests have you running around the world is accurate – some of these quests can take 5 minutes or require you to clear an entire dungeon.

There are two options here. Either you look at that mountain of quests and say screw it, or you climb that mountain and meet the other folk who did the same.  This is a massive content wall, something that pushes away every 3-monther from giving it a shot.

WoW decided to open the floodgates to everyone.  Within 2 weeks of the WoD expansion, if you had never played you could have seen all the mandatory content from start to finish.  And when LFR came out, you could have cleared each wing out in a day.  A month or 2 in, and everything is done.  And then you lose 3m subscribers.   What was the record for hitting level 100?  Under 4 hours I think?

Wildstar took the crazy* approach of attunement but only at max level.  The original skill level required to attune was quite high but you could reach 50 by mostly face rolling, with some exceptions.  They’ve modified it since, but it’s such a massive departure from the rest of the game it throws people for a loop.  If there were more people playing this would be less of an issue but at current server pops, it’s a real challenge to complete.

FF14’s optimal leveling path is dungeon runs and group content.  The LFD system actually works pretty well since every single dungeon you have unlocked is available.  At 49 I was running a level 15 dungeon, and I scaled to its level.  That means that nearly all the content, in nearly all the zones, is relevant at nearly all levels.   Plus, forced grouping makes your social presence important.   This also means that people are going to quit at various parts of the leveling game, rather than reach the end and go away.  It’s a very interesting approach to “gaming glue”.

Which sort of begs the question, are you playing an MMO for the game for the people, for the mechanics, or for the game as a whole?  The 3 examples above fit into those categories.

As a final remark, I’m at 49.5 now on my White Mage.  I’m looking at that list of quests left to do and it seems like quite a task.  But the content is fun, the people are fun and it scratches a heck of an itch.

7 thoughts on “FF14’s Content Mountain is Good Gaming Glue

  1. I won’t speak for Eri, but I agree with a lot of her sentiment. It isn’t necessarily the gating or even the amount of content, but the quality and way in which it is implemented. Far too much fetching and loading, and with Heavensward out, it is far too tempting to autoskip the narrative just to get to newer content and play an expansion many have already paid for.

    I think their system works and I mostly enjoy it, but I do get so tired of square stories pushed into circular MMO holes.

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    • I get the temptation to skip. As for the quest types, that part I don’t really get. The main quest line is much different than the quests spread out across the world. Plenty of solo instances, team battles, dungeon runs, interactions with the environment in the main line.

      I think the issue is the cut scenes (stories) rather than the actual quest mechanics. Having to move around the world rather than a linear path of picking up more gems from poo has to be progress right?

      And that Heavensward requires completing a significant portion of the previous content, how is that a bad thing? Isn’t it exactly the opposite of what we complained about with WoW? Negating 10 years of content with a single patch? I mean objectively here, rather than knowing that I have a damn mountain of stuff to get through to see a drop of my $30 worth 🙂

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  2. It does seem for those that play, and play actively this is an excellent facet of the game. It gives lots of content to do, and creates a strong narrative and mechanics that tie the entirety of the game together.

    On the other hand for those not that interested, playing on the side or looking to get back into it it becomes a large roadblock that I know some decided not to bother with because of it. Just this week some of my own cross game guildies were talkign about the expansion and getting back into it, excited to play the new content and classes only to realise they would have to do that mountain of tasks first. And, they decided not to bother in the end. So yeah, good gaming glue but only if you’re already stuc

    I don’t know if that is a bad approach though. I’ve ranted before about the way most mmo’s seem to be focusing far more on the potential market rather than the players they have now – gw2 for instance.

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    • Absolutely true and one of FF14’s strengths in discouraging tourists. It makes for a much different community. It sucks big time if it doesn’t hook you though!

      As an example, I did Chrysalis last night in the quasi LFR tool they have. We must’ve wiped a dozen times and there was zero whine. Just tips to get through and a lot of patience for the new folk. I honestly can’t remember the last game where random people were nice to each other for so long.

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      • I have to admit that the dungeon running community was one of my favourite aspects of it – the occasional elitist but so little of the usual idiocy and if those mechanics are part of the reason to that then – they are probably worth it.

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