I finally, finally played an MMO yesterday, the Final Fantasy XIV beta. I suppose technically it wasn’t my first MMO ever, but it’s the first time I’ve ever ventured further than mucking around with the character editor.
I found the experience illuminating. I’ve avoided MMOs because they come burdened with such complexity, and FFXIV isn’t much different; thankfully, it also comes burdened with self-awareness. FFXIV (well, A Realm Reborn, anyway) reflects a conscious effort by its creators to lower the barriers to entry for newcomers, which is much appreciated. I know MMOs take a lot of crap for always starting out by sending players into the grounds near the initial town to kill a handful of low-level creatures, and FFXIV does the same, but now that I’ve actually undertaken the task I frankly can’t think of a more effective method for getting players up to speed on the specific mechanics of such a convoluted system while offering them some valuable experience and gold. Even stripped down to be console-friendly, FFXIV‘s interface presents players with a jumbled mess of an interface, all tiny type across a dozen HUD elements. I murdered harmless ladybugs and ground squirrels, and I was grateful for the experience.
Beyond those initial clichés, I could see myself becoming terribly hooked on FFXIV. It’s reportedly extremely friendly to solo play, which means I’m probably doomed to muck around for ages just wandering the land and ignoring the story for hundreds of hours like I did in Skyrim. Or I would be, anyway, if Square Enix’s login system weren’t a total load of butt that refuses to recognize my account password, even when I reset it through the client and enter the new password on the very next screen. It’s frustrating, because I actually really enjoyed what little I got to play of FFXIV, but maybe the game is just trying to protect me from myself and my own compulsive RPG habits.
So, farewell, FFXIV. It was nice making your acquaintance, however briefly. Somewhere, deep in your recesses, an eleven archer who looks like Morena Baccarin dressed as Amano’s Celes Chere is languishing at Level 4, pining to complete a handful of quests for friendly NPCs in the opening town, standing mutely in place while obscenely named heroes (“Johnson” is a surprisingly common surname in Eorzea) run past her.
That’s no way for such a lovely lady to spend the rest of digital eternity. Such a pity.