Massive Experiences

Aestus (FFXI)

  • Aestus
  • Level: 20
  • Class: White Mage
  • Server: Carbuncle

In the interest of being a more responsible gamer, I've been investing more time and money in the craft. Video games have always been a small part of my life; I owned an NES, then a SNES, and always had a few games on my old Macintosh systems. Post-college, I have more free time, more numerous and more powerful gaming systems, and more disposable income. I have a lot of catching up to do.

Ceto (FFXI)

  • Ceto
  • Level: 4
  • Class: Red Mage
  • Server: Carbuncle

One genre I have missed out on these past few years is the Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game, or "MMORPG". Since February, I have been testing the waters. I have invested significant time in Final Fantasy XI (FFXI), World of Warcraft (WoW), and, as of the April 28 release date, Guild Wars (GW). Each game differs slightly in the implementation, but all are based around role-playing in a fantasy-style environment.

Of all these games, Final Fantasy XI has required the largest investment of time and been the least rewarding experience. Don't mistake me: of all the hours I have spent playing this game, I would only call a small fraction unpleasant. But, compared to the other games, much more work is required to accomplish even the most basic task. From the time spent running about at low levels, to the patience required to farm effectively, to the hours and hours spent partying for experience, as a whole it feels like a job, not a game.

Its most redeeming quality has been the social factor. Such a thing is highly variable and a case of being in the right place at the right time, but I've found FFXI players to be extremely helpful and friendly. (Shout out to Phalanx and the crew, long live The Faith!)

Ceto (WoW)

  • Ceto
  • Level: 20
  • Class: Rogue
  • Server: Uther

World of Warcraft is a purchase I have never regretted. The story is more engaging, the leveling less tedious, the whole experience more fun. From questing to crafting, the game is more discoverable and thereby less frustrating. Where a FFXI player might beg an NPC for hints on crafting recipes (or, worse, resort to a guide or the web), WoW players have a good number of these laid out before them from the word "go". The result? More time spent playing, less time spent researching out-of-character, and no more crafting for 15 minutes for a one-point increase in skill.

Aestus (WoW)

  • Aestus
  • Level: 16
  • Class: Druid
  • Server: Burning Legion

The relaxed character creation rules in WoW are a nice feature. I am allowed to choose which server my character is created on, and I am far less limited in the number of characters I create. (FFXI players may have up to 16 characters, may not choose their server without a World Pass from a user on that server, and must pay $1.00/mo for the new character.) Even the user interface is less painful. FFXI has the distinct disadvantage of being cross-platform. PC users must jump through hoops since all elements of the game must be accessible by a PlayStation 2 game pad. The button-pushing simplicity of WoW beats the macro- and list-based ability access of FFXI any day of the week.

Ceto (Guild Wars)

  • Ceto
  • Level: 8
  • Profession: Ranger

Last but not least, we have Guild Wars. What can I say, really? It's been out in the wild for a week, and I am still learning how the world works. It has put a twist on the MMORPG style, expanding on the instance feature of WoW to an extreme. Initial prognosis is good. I hope it stays that way.

I'm by no means an expert in any of these games. My highest level characters have not yet passed level 20, meaning I have only scratched the surface of each world. Consider this, though: I have spent 342 hours as Aestus (FFXI) to reach the point I'm at today. Ceto (WoW), on the other hand, is the result of 58 hours work. Pound for pound, I have accomplished more as Ceto. Her skills are more well-developed, and she is closer to exiting the leveling treadmill we find in so many MMORPGs.

Whatever floats you boat, though.