Tonight, my LS got chatting about the pros and cons of the most recent release from Square Enix. I quickly became the voice of doom, stating the game is setup for a fall. And the more I looked at it, the more I realized there's little to no reason to have faith in this game. Let's look at the issues:
The Schizophrenic Game of Combining Hardcore and Casual - So, on the surface, the game seems more casual-friendly. Guildleves, more solo play, and an NPC buddy for missions. But then after you scratch the surface, you find the hideous monster that is hardcore. EXP limits, tricky party mechanics while leveling, and the terrible repairs system. I'll get to that.
SE needs to make up its mind. The game can't cater to both groups at this point. It either needs to foster that newbie-friendly experience, or it has to be punishingly hardcore to attract the masochistic of us MMO players. Combining integral mechanics that reward the hardcore and spurn the casual will lead to a rapid decline in numbers right out of the gate.
Repairing that Requires Grinding - Durability of gear as a risk/reward feature is fine. Many games use it, and it is an interesting twist that once gear reaches a certain level, it starts to perform worse before it breaks and becomes useless.What is not cool is requiring that you level crafting (multiple crafts at that) just to maintain your own gear. Sure, there are NPC repairs, but not to 100%, and the expense in a player-based economy is painful beyond belief. Then, on top of that, requiring the acquisition of a particular item as well... SE wants you to pay through the nose for DARING to level in their game but not be a crafting enthusiast.
SE needs to make repairs done, at a low cost, at an NPC. You can provide the bonus of being able to field repair to crafters, or even let them increase durability or performance by making repairs. Do not penalize everyone simply to enforce a doctrine you believe in.
Player-Based Economics - One of the greatest failures of FFXI is being repeated again. No Auction House just makes this all the more punishing. NPCs sell items in the thousands of gil, yet buy items in the tens of gil. It makes it next to impossible to make enough money to survive. It would have been amazing if SE had allowed you to make money from farming and gathering that did not require you waiting for other people to grind up their pennies for your items.
It's time to let go of the player-based economy SE. It nearly killed FFXI, it will kill FFXIV.
Chat Interface issues - You cannot chat while crafting, any menu that comes up immediately shuts your chat window. You cannot chat easily, there are no quick shortcut buttons, you have to hit the space bar then the chat shortcuts work. You cannot automatically reply to tells using CTRL+R like in FFXI until you've typed the name at least once. In a game where quick, useful communication is so necessary, you are stabbing a knife in its chest by taking steps like this.
Player Search issues - You cannot search for jobs you have not leveled, and to level those jobs, you have to buy the weapon for that job. So now you are clogging your inventory with weapons you'll likely not use, spending money you would need, all to just be able to seek people out for parties and missions!
Anti-Power Leveling script killing parties - SE doesn't want you to power level others now, something I really don't care about happening. However, this new bit of programming is now killing parties in the field. The script triggers for no reason, causing melees to stop gaining any form of experience points so long as they keep healing. It's a ridiculously huge mistake, and SE has yet to acknowledge it.
The Ever Secret, Ever Ignorant Development Team - SE is ridiculously secretive. Their idea of openness about their game leaves much to be desired. And their firm idea that they know how to make the game, and that the player base doesn't have a clue about what makes a good game will drive this game to the grave. They need to listen to the player base and bad reviews, then make massive changes to this game.
Otherwise, this time next year there will be no FFXIV.