I’ve professed a fondness for FF14 and that really hasn’t gone away. I had stopped my subscription just about a year ago due to lack of time to play and things just haven’t aligned since to get back on. ESO & Wildstar took up the late spring/summer and WoW is up on deck likely ‘til the end of calendar. RIFT looks interesting, as Syp’s posts certainly have me itching. We’ll see how the cards are dealt in that one.
But back to FF14 for a second. I left just before the housing issue (crazy prices) and 2.4 seems pretty neat. The next expansion is in February (?) and has a few highlight items, in particular a job with no class (Dark Knight). Classes/Jobs in FF14 are pretty darn well thought out in general and with the 2.5s GCD, it’s more about strategy that is moment to moment button spamming. The skill cap is lower that WoW or Wildstar but the base difficulty is higher than most other games. The “ramp up” or training wheels period is super smart and the fact that 1 character can take any role is even smarter. Account-based progress is done superbly here. It is the best “pure MMORPG” out there – and subscriptions reflect that.
I keep rambling. I want to get to the concept of flying mounts in FF14 as a prospect. After having recently done Blasted Lands with only a ground mount, after ~4 years of flying around for the majority of my play, it was quite a shocker. FF14 monster placement is such that there are spots you don’t want to walk through for fear of a chain stun/knockdown. It provides a sense of scale to the game. Not that travel is complex as each place is fairly easy to access once you know the paths. We’re not talking about MMOs from 10 years ago where you spent more time walking than actual doing something. The game today just isn’t designed for 3D movement.
Flying worked in BC because the zones were poorly designed and the concept of travel flawed. It really was something for the devs to split content from the leveling folk and max level (like the Netherwing faction). Flying mounts will never work in SWTOR due to the significant amount of zoning involved. It would work in RIFT but there really isn’t a need due to the Portal system. I personally see flight as a band-aid solution to poor design decisions. It provides a massive convenience for the player that removes a ton of value from the actual content and thought process.
WoW-Cataclysm is my go-to argument for not including flight. There are whole swaths of that expansion that I’ve never seen because I flew over it. Heck, I was leveling my Hunter recently and found spots in Hyjal that were new. And I’ve done that zone 6 times already. The entire concept of exploration just goes out the door. MoP took out flying while leveling but kept it at cap. Horrible flight path logic made flying at 280% much more effective at getting around. WoD is not putting in flight at all, which I think is a great decision. They’ve already increased flight path speed and from beta impressions, the flight logic makes more sense.
So when I look at FF14 and they say they are putting in flight in the next expansion, I am quite pessimistic at the prospect. From initial impressions, it would seem that I am not alone in that sentiment. Though in the same breath, I find that the devs for FF14 tend to put a fair amount of thought into each step of design since the relaunch of the game. Sure, the housing prices were bonkers but the system worked. Duty Roulette worked. Class balance works. FATES work, bosses work. Crafting works. Solid, if not necessarily spectacular, from end to end. Just seems like an odd pitch for a feature that is not met with much acclaim in any other game.