There are a LOT of features in WoW that simply amaze me in their lack of vision. Conceptually they are rock-star ideas that with a bit of work can be long-term gaming pillars. Island Expeditions is the only good new idea to come out of the last 2 expansion, and it’s treated like a lead paint eating cousin. Proving Grounds dates from MoP and is without question the best way to train any player on how to play their class/role in a controlled environment. Timewalking Dungeons is the other bit, where the devs have built over 120 dungeons over the life of the game, and only a half dozen are ever relevant. Every so often they add a half dozen more from a given expansion (and then nerf any reason to do them). There’s obviously been effort to add scaling to these dungeons, so there’s no reason that the pack of them can’t be cycled in/out on a regular basis.
FF14, sensing this relevance issue a long time ago, built-in scaling to dungeons from the start (well, ARR start). This was built from the clear design goal to have dungeons be part of the main story – and ensure there are always people around to make those groups happen. To make this work, they put in categories of dungeons, of which players can select at any point in their class career. The main reason this works is simple – FF14 has from the start, used tokens to bridge the gap towards max level gear. Completing items within this roulette awards tokens, at varying rates, depending on your level, the amount you’ve completed, and the class ratios (e.g. needing tanks).
Heading back to WoW, it’s entirely possible to never see any dungeon that isn’t in the most recent expansion. And way more likely that they’ll never set foot in any given raid. Even to this day, I’d bet there are less people who have done Throne of the Four Winds vs a single pet battle. I mean, that sort of fits in WoW’s more recent design penchant to only build temporary systems, rather than incremental ones. Garrisons, Class Halls, everything Azerite – none of it even matters an ounce today.
Now, I’m not advocating of keeping everything relevant. One of FF14’s main challenges is massive bloat to get from level 1 to level 80 – a good 100hrs to get through it all, and you will have to participate in nearly every single system along the way. They have done some pruning along the way (stances, skill variety, class balance, etc…) to try and “flatten” out the bump, but it’s still a crazy amount of content to get through. But FF14 also celebrates the value in they journey, and goes to great lengths to keep it meaningful and valuable for everyone. This breadth of content creates some really weird scenarios where you are gated from one activity and no real indication of how to get over that fence.
For the last bit, let’s consider the tail end off an expansion for a second. The structure of WoW (I guess old WoW) was that an expansion was only relevant for the necessary DINGs to get to the next one. The actual content and mechanics were meaningless. In new WoW (post-SL), there are entire expansions that are fully ignored (Vanilla, TBC, WoLK, Cata, MoP) because WoD is so generous with XP. And if you were waiting for SL to drop, there was no reason to do anything but ding 50 in BfA in terms of prep. FF14 won’t let you pick up the first quest in a new expansion unless you’ve done the 40-50 post-expansion quests from the previous tier. If you bought WoW today, and wanted to prep for SL, you’d be good by the weekend. If you bought FF14 today, you’re a few months away. And if you bought a story boost, you’d still have ~60 hrs of content to get through.
It’s sort of like going to a buffet and not being allowed to leave until you try everything that’s on display. There are limits to what a person can take. Way different perspectives depending on awareness of how much of the buffet is left to work through. I’d honestly recommend that people buy the story boost to get to the more recent bits, get to max level, and then start the new game + that allows you to replay the skipped MSQ. At least that would turn the buffet to being optional.