Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Morning in Vana'diel: Quality Control.

Morning in Vana'diel is your daily dose of FFXI and all things Vana'diel. Give us your thoughts on the interesting topics of the day! Today's post spun forth from my mind while writing the POL New Update. Yes, to this day I still think that FFXI is a better overall game than WoW. Do I want to be part of the slobbering masses? Is WoW really good? It is, but it's not everything.

The one thing that SE did amazingly well was creating a variety of end-game systems. In WoW, you can either raid or PvP. There are different raids and they do get might complex after a while, but the construction of them and the progression of them is very linear. You work on older content to gear up to do newer content. There is little you can do to pick and choose what event you want to do because you will not be able to do the newer content without gear from the older content. Again, I believe this is because of a far superior job-system design on SE's end. If you have different jobs there is less concern about having to create linear progression and you instead can have a much wider base to create new content. You don't have to worry that all your new content has gear for every single job because players have multiple jobs.

SE's approach lets you pick and choose the end-game you want to play, while Blizzard's approach forces you down a path of their own choosing. You may say that Blizzard's choice is better because they have more people playing, but how many of those people are hardcore end-gamers? How many of them are running the current level of content as soon as it is released? The answer is not very many, and a much lower percentage that FFXI players. Ultimately, this is a game design decision. While WoW is very accessible to those people that are just starting the game, the end-game situation is very inaccessible even with the improvements and changes that Blizzard has made in the past. The problem is even worse if you come in late during one of their expansion cycles, because you will have to do 3 or 4 levels of content to get to the current level of content.

In FFXI once you hit end-game you can pick and choose among many different options and while gear helps there are no artificial road blocks that limit you based on gear. Save for PW and AV which are the ultimate in ultimate end-game mobs there is little that a player can not do in end-game because of gear. Sure, it may require a few more people, and while people are definitely moving toward low-man options for end-game events, this is not an artificially created barrier forcing you to do content that you, your friends or your guild may not be interested in doing.

I have said it before and I will say it again, WoW is a great game, but it is far from the perfect game. The number of casuals that play WoW is huge, while the number of casuals that play FFXI is tiny. I do think that WoW has far more hardcore players than FFXI, that would be undeniable, but the percentages are far more in favor of FFXI, and even the raw numbers would be much closer.

At the end of the day, I can see why many people play WoW for much shorter periods of time than FFXI, and why so many people come back to FFXI after playing WoW. WoW is a good relief valve from FFXI, but for anyone that has played FFXI seriously WoW is a toy at best.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

A little part of me dies when people mention Quality Control in conjunction with Square Enix. These are the people who brought us "You receive a share of D-hole Union's spoils" when you
a) were not in D-hole union
b) were not in campaign at all and
3) D-hole union's coffer didn't spawn.
Quality Control would have caught that sort of thing and whipped a programmer, then made somebody work 5 minutes unpaid overtime to fix it.