Final Fantasy 14 nails the most important part of starting a new MMO

Final Fantasy 14 nails the most important part of starting a new MMO

A fighter and chocobo in Final Fantasy 14
Image: Square Enix

Final Fantasy 14 instantly makes new players shout ‘I need that’ at their monitor

Starting a new MMO is one of the most daunting things a video game player can do. Games like Final Fantasy 14 have massive, sprawling worlds filled with hundreds of hours worth of quests and more systems than 10 AAA games put together. So shepherding a player through their first 10 hours and reminding them that this game is worth their time is key to a good experience.

But nothing incentivizes a player to stick with an MMO than seeing all the cool shit you can unlock as you level up, and nothing does that quite as well as Final Fantasy 14.

Like many, I’m a longtime World of Warcraft player who finally decided to give Final Fantasy 14 an honest shot. I started making the jump to FF14 before the state of California sued Activision Blizzard for sexual harassment and misconduct in the workplace, but the recent legal action certainly hasn’t made me eager to dive back into World of Warcraft full time.

Even as an MMO veteran, diving into something like FF14 is daunting. I may have the language to understand it, and the experience to know that YouTube videos, hobbyist websites, and experienced friends will be my greatest tools, but there’s still so much to absorb.

Those first 10 to 20 levels are so crucial for every MMO, as it needs to carefully carry players like me as well as complete newbies through overwhelming tutorials and single-ability combat. It’s the easiest time to quit, but FF14 runs you through a variety of capital cities just to show you what you’re in for. And the spectacle is enough to keep anyone excited.

Despite not being much of a mount collector or glamour player in MMOs, I still appreciate cool looking collectibles, and cool stuff is never far from your eye in FF14. In the capital cities there are giant crystals and characters dressed to the nines. Some players are max level wearing shiny sets of armor, others are still leveling like me, but have silly cosmetics on, like a Chocobo helmet.

When I first stepped foot out of my capital city, I got the chance to catch more experienced players hop on a mount and ride away. I enjoyed Sesame Street and Big Bird as a kid, so I’m already down with a cool looking Chocobo. But when I saw a max level player drive by in The Regalia, the car from Final Fantasy 15, I got pretty excited. And when I watched that car start flying before my very eyes, I knew I’d be sticking with FF14 for quite some time.

Final Fantasy 14 offers tons of moments like this, when something extremely bizarre catches your eye in just the right way. It’s sensory overload, but of the “I must have it” variety. I’ll never get the time-limited Regalia for myself, but someday I’ll soar over the heads of some new, bright-eyed FF14 player on my equally silly mount. And they’ll look at me with the same eagerness I have now, and know they’ve found a new home.

Update: A kindly reader has informed me that the time-limited Regalia will return for a limited time later this year. When new players look up at me with hope someday, I guess I will be cruising in a sick-ass flying car.