After a fair bit of arena in last WoW season where you’d basically just end up leaving as soon as you saw a Hunter, I decided to stop playing WoW for a while and see what else I could come up with.
I went through my standard phase of “patching all possible candidates”, which basically involves patching up to date 4-5 different MMOs I’ve been playing over the years, then reading up on the different games to see if there had been any major changes done in either of them.
The game I ended up having a bit of fun with was FFXI, or Final Fantasy Online. I think it might actually be one of the older MMOs I have played, having a launch date in 2002 or somewhere around there – but it’s still heaps of fun! Now, my reason for leaving this game was sitting around in the main town for an entire weekend looking for a group that would take in my Summoner, and just giving up after being so frustrated with not being invited to anything really.
The basic idea of Final Fantasy Online is a thorough PvE game set in the Final Fantasy universe. What really puts this MMO in its own category is the fact that it’s actually developed for both PS2 and PC, then ported to Xbox360 later, meaning it’s probably the first major console MMORPG to hit markets. (Not counting PSO etc as MMORPG) Furthermore, it’s to my knowledge the first MMO which has a world-wide server audience in mind, and implementing an in-game translation tool for the Japanese/English languages.
The way FFXI is mainly played is through grouping. Leveling goes from 1 to 75, and you used to want to group from 10 to 75 really, which is what made me stop playing as my beloved class wasn’t as wanted in groups as quite a few of the other classes. And add to that the fact that you’d basically lose 10% of your xp needed to the next level every time you died, you’d be very careful about inviting only the classes that you felt really contributed in the best sense to your group, fair call really.
Now, what made me try this game again was a nice read at the FFXI Wiki, describing a fair few changes done “recently”, namely improving the XP gained from soloing, improving the XP gained from smaller groups – and the most interesting feature, a “Level Sync” feature, which basically lets you play with everyone at “any level” regardless of what level they’re at.
The ability to sync to levels isn’t unique in this MMO though, it’s been done through mentoring/sidekicking/whatnot in other game,s but what sortof sets this implementation apart from the rest, is the way it benefits people. The XP System in FFXI gives you 100xp for defeating an equal level mob, regardless of level. So, when you levelsync down to another level, you still manage to maintain the same XP-gain, even though you may have synchronized your level down from 60 to 20. So you can actually level from 60 to 61 in level 20 groups.
I think this implementation is what would’ve made the game a lot easier to play “back when” I actually played this actively with my friends. The problem with leveling at that point was that you pretty much always needed a perfect group set, and the perfect level, to actually level at a decent rate. This pretty much solves all of those problems, and enables friends to play whenever they want really.
Now, if only I hadn’t been the only one I knew of who played this game at the moment… :(
- Mijan, Level 22DNC/NIN