At work I have a co-worker named Jeremy, who still plays Final Fantasy XI. He’s on Asura server, and about mid-tier in endgame raids: he does Sky, Dynamis, and Sea. Today we discussed a lot about it: while he plays he doesn’t keep up on the game as much as I do, so he didn’t know about the recent planned 75+ job abilities.
A surprising amount of people I know play it. Out of my coworkers at least 3 besides me have, and many on console. In my past job another person did, and I used to often see fellow players at the local Gamestop. I think its a combination of the Final Fantasy brand, and the ability to be on console which puts it above the usual MMOs. I have never heard of anyone playing EQ2 or LOTRO yet in my circle of friends.
FFXI is also a very well designed game. There are 20 jobs, some of which are incredibly creative. Blue Mages learn spells by being hit with them from mobs, and set them via points, limiting the arsenal they can carry at one time. Puppetmasters have one of the best pets I have seen, a mini-player able to switch jobs like you can. There are tanks, pet soloists, healers, buffers and crowd control, meelee and magic dd, and hybrid jobs. There is always some job to appeal to someone.
The content is incredibly deep as well. 3 main mission lines for each nation. 3 long mission storylines for each expansion, mini expansions, multiple endgame raids for 6 man to alliance levels, and casual skirmish play in campaign. All of this running on a PS2 console with a small HDD.
I think many PC gamers understimate how strong FFXI’s hold is on a lot of us, and will be caught off guard when FFXIV gives TOR a run for it’s money. FFXIV looks to be taking a lot of the negatives of FFXI out, like massive grind, hard solo play, and endgame fixation, and working on more of the positives. It also looks amazing: Square Enix has a very understated but detailed art style for FFXI and FFXIV, and given their expertise with cutscenes will push the bar even higher.
I’m very excited for it, and will be there on launch day. Even with the problems of FFXI, the game managed to hold me so much that my usual MMO cynicism is fully checked. Jeremy is even trying to get me back to the original game: apparently Asura has a lot of noobs that need training, and it’s tempting.