Should You Try Final Fantasy XIV in 2023? Check Out Our FFXIV Review

Are you one of the many MMORPG fans who have yet to try Final Fantasy XIV? Or have you played in the past but struggled to get into it? If so, you’ve come to the right place.

My personal experience with FFXIV began just before the release of the game’s first expansion, Heavensward. I’ve had an on-and-off relationship with the game ever since. My typical pattern was to return to the game a few months after the release of a new expansion, complete the main storyline, explore the endgame content for a few weeks, and then move on to another game. This pattern continued until the release of Endwalker.

In preparation for this FFXIV review, I returned to the game and found that I was having a great time! However, I couldn’t help but wonder if it was the game that had changed or if my approach was different. Upon reflection, I realized that the game’s structure had not changed significantly, and it was likely my approach that had changed. I slowed down, immersed myself in the story, and enjoyed the leveling experience.

However, after about 15 hours of gameplay, I found myself getting bored with daily roulettes and main scenario quests. It became clear that neither the game nor I had changed, and we were still not a good fit for each other.
Despite this, I still appreciate many aspects of FFXIV, and I want to like the game. In this Final Fantasy XIV review, I’ll highlight the game’s most important features for me and suggest the types of players who may enjoy the game and those who may not

You can watch our YouTube video version of this review on our YouTube channel, by clicking the below link:

Instanced Group Content

Instanced group content is a cornerstone of the MMORPG genre, providing a unique and engaging way to play with others. Final Fantasy XIV in 2023 offers some of the best instanced content in the genre, with a level of quality and quantity that is hard to match.

The game’s instanced content is both visually and aurally stunning, featuring beautiful and diverse scenery and top-notch music and graphics. The encounters with bosses are interesting and engaging, making each instance a memorable experience. While the mechanics of bosses can become repetitive over time, this is to be expected with the sheer number of instances available in the game.

Speaking of numbers, Final Fantasy XIV offers an impressive amount of instanced content: From main scenario duties and dungeons to trials, raids, and guildheists, there is something for every type of player.
There are almost 80 dungeons, more than 70 trials, and more than 30 raids, some with multiple “turns.” This amount of content ensures that players will have plenty to do at max level, with the potential to play daily roulette without seeing certain content for months.

Overall, Final Fantasy XIV’s instanced group content is a standout feature of the game, offering both quality and quantity that is hard to match in the MMORPG genre. Whether you’re a casual player or a hardcore raider, there is something for everyone to enjoy.

Scenario quests in FFXIV

One of the most controversial aspects of Final Fantasy XIV for me is the main story line. On one hand, the major plot points are interesting and epic at times. The overall story is engaging too. However, the problem is the story bloat. The game’s appeal would increase if half, or even more, of the main storyline quests were cut. In FFXIV, you run errands for NPCs regardless of being level 24 or 72, and this takes away from the enjoyment of combat in Final Fantasy.

Furthermore, the presentation of the main scenario suffers as filler fetch quests don’t significantly push the story forward. They are often not voice-acted, even in cutscenes!
This is in contrast to other games, like ESO, which have spoiled me in this department.

I vividly remember playing through the Stormblood expansion a few years ago, where the quests and dialogues were so long that I actually fell asleep in front of the screen. It had never happened to me before! When I woke up, I uninstalled the game for a while. Unfortunately, the leveling experience is my least favorite part of FFXIV. And that’s problematic because leveling is a huge time sink in this game. Each expansion has a storyline of somewhere between 30-50 hours. So to get to level 90 (currently max), you will need about 200hours.

Classes in Final Fantasy xiv

In Final Fantasy XIV, classes are a mixed bag. On one hand, the game boasts an impressive number of classes, each with beautifully animated skills and visual diversity. Players can enjoy the fashion game and customize their characters with a wide variety of items obtained through in-game content rather than real-money purchases or player trades. The availability of cosmetics through in-game achievements is a welcome change, especially in an era of pay-to-win trends in online gaming. The game caters to a diverse audience with classes to suit every player’s taste and style.

On the other hand, the downside of the game’s class design is the homogenization and streamlining of classes. Over time, the developers have made each class within the same archetype (tanks, melee DPS, ranged DPS, and healers) play very similarly. Though each class has its own unique buffs, skills, and gimmicks, they don’t feel distinguishably different from one another. Furthermore, classes tend to have one optimal rotation, leaving no room for diversity or player choice in gameplay. Players cannot alter how their character plays by choosing talents or skill trees, limiting their agency in the game beyond fashion choices.

The pros and cons of this class design philosophy are clear. On one side, the game’s balance is well-maintained since there are no significant variables in how a class is played. However, the lack of variety and player agency can leave players feeling frustrated and unfulfilled. It would be ideal to have the possibility to re-spec, for instance, a DPS class more for dots for one type of content and then switch it up to AOE burst damage for another.

But we should bear in mind that most people nowadays follow meta guides for classes anyway, so the choice is more or less an illusion in MMORPGs.
I guess, I would just like to maintain the illusion of choice in Final Fantasy XIV in 2023.

Now let’s discuss a topic that is heavily connected to mentioned lack of diversity and good balance.

Item progression

In Final Fantasy XIV, item progression follows a purely vertical design philosophy. This means that as your level increases, so does the quality of your gear (item level). However, this streamlined approach to item progression comes at the cost of limiting the amount of diversity and meaningful progression choices that players can make.
This aspect is as true in players’ experience of Final Fantasy XIV in 2023, as it was back at the game’s release.

Unlike other MMOs, FFXIV doesn’t offer unique perks for sets of items, which means that players do not make any meaningful choices when it comes to their gear. The biggest choices come from selecting secondary attributes, which only have a minimal impact on how you play. While this design philosophy may offer comfort to players who feel overwhelmed by games with multiple sets of items and build diversities, it limits the fun and challenges that other players typically enjoy.

This purely vertical progression design philosophy also means that players cannot experiment with their character’s build or playstyle, as there are no sets that offer unique perks or bonuses. This lack of variety and meaningful progression choices can become tedious, even for players who typically enjoy streamlined mechanics.

While this approach to item progression helps developers balance the game efficiently, it comes at the cost of limiting the amount of fun and challenges that players can experience. If you’re someone who desires to expand your class’s mastery by experimenting with it, you may have to jump between classes to change things up in FFXIV.

No FOMO design

In the modern MMORPG scene, most games focus on creating systems that incentivize players to log in daily, complete daily quests, and participate in limited-time events to keep them engaged. However, Final Fantasy XIV takes a different approach to player retention. The game has daily roulettes, weekly currency limits, and loot limitations for endgame content, but these are less aggressive compared to industry standards.

Yoshi P, the game’s director, has stated that it is okay for players to take a break from the game after enjoying the new expansion content. This mindset is a refreshing change from the usual grind-focused design of other MMOs.

The approach taken by Final Fantasy XIV is ideal for players who cannot commit to daily play but still want to enjoy the game’s content. Additionally, players who enjoy taking their time exploring the game’s world and lore will find it more enjoyable. It allows them to play at their own pace and not feel forced to participate in daily events and quests.

In conclusion, Final Fantasy XIV’s unique approach to player retention is a breath of fresh air in the MMO genre. It caters to players who want to play at their own pace, while still providing enough content to keep them engaged when they do log in.

FFXIV Combat Gameplay

Combat gameplay in Final Fantasy XIV has been a topic of discussion and criticism among players, with many claiming that it is slow and tedious. However, the speed of combat in FFXIV largely depends on the level of the player, with many feeling that the game picks up speed past level 50. In fact, players often find themselves trying to maximize their damage potential or heal their party while also contributing to group DPS, which can make combat quite hectic.

One thing to note is that, like many MMORPGs, FFXIV can be slow at the beginning when players have yet to unlock their skills. However, as the player progresses, the cooldown periods shorten thanks to statistics that lower their duration. Additionally, players unlock many skills that can be weaved in during downtimes, making combat more engaging and dynamic.

That being said, some players may be put off by the encounter design for raids and trials, particularly the hard/extreme versions. These encounters tend to be like choreographed dance scenes, where players must perform predetermined mechanics and move in specific ways. Failing to do so, even by just one player, can result in a wipe for the entire group. This may appeal to some players, while others may find it frustrating or tedious.

Overall, while combat in FFXIV may not be for everyone, the game does offer a lot of depth and complexity that can keep players engaged and challenged.

Who will enjoy Final Fantasy XIV?

You will enjoy Final Fantasy XIV in 2023 if you:

  • Are Group Instanced Content enthusiast
  • Enjoy JRPG titles
  • Don’t mind time sink games
  • Like tab target gameplay in MMORPGs
  • Are PVE focused player
  • Focus on fashion-game within MMORPGs
  • Don’t mind slow start to the game (both combat & story)
  • Value no P2W in the in-game shop

You will not like Final Fantasy XIV if you:

  • Dislike forced story questing to progress in the game
  • Lack patience for fetch quests in MMORPGs
  • Are PVP focused player
  • Want meaningful choices in your class progression
  • Prefer action style gameplay in MMORPGs
  • Mind paying subscription fee on top of expansions’ cost
  • Value agency over balance

Final Fantasy XIV 2023 Review Summary:

Final Fantasy is, for me, a rather contrasting experience. On one hand, the game respects your time and does not try to create constant FOMO to push you to log in daily, etc. But on the other hand, the game requires a significant time investment to get through the leveling experience.

FFXIV has some of the best group content I have ever seen, yet it locks it behind the completion of the main storyline, which, more often than not, is a slog-fest of fetch quests.

On paper, the game offers a diverse cast of classes available at our disposal. Classes are well animated and interesting. But over the years, developers went into a streamlining path with class design – jobs are same-y within their archetypes.

The game could be near-perfect for me if it cut unnecessary fluff in the main campaign (like cut the stroryline by half), added bigger class diversity, and more interesting loot.
But then the game would become less perfect for those who enjoy Final Fantasy XIV in the shape it is right now.