“Final Fantasy XIV” was the perfect game for me back in August. I finally had tons of free time but couldn’t go outside due to the pandemic. As you would expect from a “massively multiplayer online game,” this game offers huge open worlds ripe for exploration, exciting adventures and characters to meet and be attached to, all the things we could ever want in such a time. But while I think “FFXIV” is the best in the genre (easily surpassing the now-scorned “World of Warcraft”), what is most striking to me are the players themselves.
Something I immediately realized as I started is how much they enjoy just hanging out. There are always so many people standing in the three central hubs and not doing anything—perhaps they enjoy the mere presence of others, “to be alone together.” Some are dancing, showing off their wide variety of emotes or fashion choices or casually chatting about anything. I once even encountered someone offering to give away a ridiculous amount of free gill—the in-game currency—and food items to new players. All you had to do was ask. Often there is a “bard” who’s playing well-known songs on their virtual harps and electric guitars. I was so amazed when I first saw this, by their incredible skill and the fact that the game allows for so much creative expression. The bard often attracts a sizable audience who will sit down for some time to enjoy the performance, clapping and cheering when a song ends. I have never seen a game where players enjoy hanging out with each other as much as actually playing the game. It makes the world feel so alive and the experience so wholesome. Well, not so wholesome at midnight, where a lot of NSFW role-playing occurs.
I also quickly found out that the lively community is also outrageously encouraging and patient, especially to new players. In dungeons and raids, veteran players often provide tips on how to tackle a certain boss fight or mechanic. Even if you mess up and cause the party to wipe, you should never worry about being kicked (in contrast to “World of Warcraft”), because they understand what it’s like to go through the game for the first time. There are always toxic players, of course, but they are so few and far between that the experience remains overwhelmingly positive. Some players even go above and beyond to help, which is absolutely mind-blowing. I made a “group finder” once, looking for people to do a high difficulty raid with me, and soon someone messaged me offering their help and brought friends along. These wonderful human beings then patiently taught me, a complete noob who was so hopelessly clueless, how to configure the settings for dungeons and raids. When we were done with the raid, they even offered to help every player in the group who didn’t get the cool, green horse mount, which drops from the boss at random, to get one. They really went through with this, and it took about an hour until we all got one. I think we were so moved by this that the players who got the mount first stuck around to help. I was so moved by this that I told them that “this game’s community is amazing.” That mount remains my favorite one because of this, and it plays the boss theme, which I love, when you ride it.
This paragraph is devoted to my guild. I wasn’t sure what it would be like when I got the unsolicited invite, but after spending some time in it, I did feel a sense of belonging and ease chatting and interacting with my guildmates. This was wholly unexpected because when I played “World of Warcraft” in my early teenage years, I never talked to any of the people in my old guild nor anyone really. I just played the game like I would a single-player game. I think the welcoming atmosphere of “FFXIV,” generated by positive players like my guildmates, have enabled me to be more open in these online games. And praise must be given to the guildmaster, who is just like the players I described previously. He goes above and beyond to make everyone in the guild feel welcome. He greets you when you log in; he reminds you to do the latest in-game event before it expires; he frequently offers help on raids and other things and does indeed help; he works with another lovely guidmate to provide items in the guild chest for members to take; and he is always clear that no one should ever feel pressured to do what they’re not comfortable with. He no doubt inspired the other members to be similarly kind and helpful, making the guild a welcoming place. It warms my heart now seeing new blood come in and remark how nice everyone is. It’s a shame that I can’t log in as much as I used to, now that college life is upon us once again.
Unfortunately, there isn’t enough space for me to talk about the other aspects of this game like playing as a healer or going through the main story, but hopefully the wonderful community aspect of it has at least piqued your interest. If so, then consider playing the free trial, which includes the entirety of the base game “A Realm Reborn” and the “Heavensward” expansion up to level 60 with no restrictions on playtime! After that, you pay a 15-dollar monthly subscription, though given how hundreds of hours worth of content is already in the trial version, the game might as well be free for newcomers.