Final Fantasy XIV. The game that did what no other has before it. When Final Fantasy XIV launched in late 2010 it received poor reviews. As someone that always respected Square Enix from all the way back to when they were Squaresoft and having spent a fair amount of time in Final Fantasy XI, I was really looking forward to this new MMORPG. At this point I was sick of all the free to play MMOs out there and tired of being burned when an MMO I liked switched to free to play (Tera!). I wanted this game to succeed. I wanted a game with developers that made actual content and expansions instead of items to sell in a cash shop.
I wasn’t as negative about the game as many others were, but soon after it launched most of my friends stopped playing. I tried to continue on my own and I played off and on, but eventually I stopped playing as well. As did many people. The game was doing so bad that the company suspended subscriptions and a new development team took over led by an unknown Naoki Yoshida.
After some patches here and there they announced they would be re-releasing the game with a new engine, content and revamped gameplay. This was unheard of in the industry. Most games in this state would have just switched to free to play. However, due to the fact that “Final Fantasy” is a brand, Square Enix couldn’t let this happen.
I was really happy to hear they were going to re-launch the game. I eagerly waited for it to come out. I can safely say this game is one of the main reasons I disappeared for almost three years.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn was launched in August 2013. I played the beta, bought the new Collectors Edition, and I also was a “Legacy” account since I subscribed to the original version during the time they were developing the revamp. I was very excited to play this and it was all well worth the wait. The new version (2.0) was polished and filled with all new content. They didn’t only add to the game, they completely remade it! It had all new zones, all new quests, a new user interface, and more. Every aspect of the game was reworked all the way down to the animations. About the only things that remained from the old version were the races, classes, main cities, and the lore of the game world.
They did it! They rebuilt a “failed” game… and it was a success.
During beta I joined a free company—a guild. I was making new friends, everyone was enjoying the game, and I even did a little role-playing. Things were great! My first class of choice to level was the newly added Summoner. The game was eating my time like nothing else, and I loved every minute of it.
During my journey I tried out other classes. I was a Black Mage for a time and I also tried Scholar—the healing counterpart to Summoner. I found that I really enjoyed healing, but I was not a good Scholar, so I started to level a White Mage. I played a White Mage in Final Fantasy XI and it was the last time I played a healing class since they are typically, at least in my experience, not treated too well by other players. Here, however, surrounded by a great group of new friends, I was eager to heal again and help out in our group content.
I became pretty good friends with one person, the leader of our guild, whom, after some months, left the game for personal reasons. This was pretty upsetting. Our little guild fell apart after that. I had become rather close to many of them. It was a heartbreaking situation. For a while I played some other MMOs as my heart wasn’t in FFXIV after all that.
After a couple months, however, I returned to FFXIV with a couple friends from the original guild and I started a new guild for us. Together we saved up and bought a house. Little by little many of the old members joined us. I tried very hard to keep things going as they used to when we were the old group, but I couldn’t really replace our old leader.
As these things go sometimes, drama happened. I had some troubles with one close friend of the group. I tried to deal with the situation and also keep things from escalate to the rest of the group, but it affected me and people could tell. To them I appeared to have lost interest. Around this time I fell in with a static raiding group. I had raided a little in WoW, but typically this was a part of MMOs that I didn’t get involved with.
Between raiding and trying to avoid causing issues with my guild and that one person, I was under lot of stress. I was also the White Mage for this new raiding group I was in, which was a new kind of stress and responsibility. I started to close off a little… a lot. I was getting worn out from it all. People started to drift from the guild and a lot of my play time was spent raiding or leveling and getting better gear for raiding.
Juggling the two things became impossible, and I became depressed, but I kept playing. For a long while this is how things continued. My guild eventually settled, but in a much quieter and smaller state. I met some new friends and lost some others. The old guild leader even returned off and on. My raiding group cleared all the raid content and I slowly became a competent healer. My character even got married! A lot happened and a lot of my life was wrapped up in this game and the people I played with. Yes, it was just a game, but the people I met there became a part of my life even outside of the game. We became a family of sorts… a somewhat dysfunctional one, but it was what it was.
Then the first expansion came around—Heavensward. I was so glad to finally be playing an MMO that had a proper expansion. I was excited for all the new content. My raiding group, which by this point had been farming all the old raid content, was eager for the new challenges. We ate up the new content like locust, but it was great. The story was interesting, the new classes were… unique and flashy, and the new race was actually really cool. The new race was so cool that I changed my main character to it. By this point, and with everything that had happened, I was in desperate need for a change. Since I did role-play a little this caused some issues, but by this point the role-play in our group had been pretty scarce.
I also tried the new healing class, the Astrologian. This was a pretty neat class. It had a lot of the skills and playstyle of a White Mage but with an added random card mechanic. It made playing a healer all the more engaging. Sadly when my raid group started on the new raid content, the Astrologian just was not tuned enough to handle the healing load at the time, so I went back to my White Mage.
I liked the expansion. It kept me playing for several more months, but by this point things with many of the people I had met in the game were strained. We had so much history that it almost felt like walking on ice in some cases. I would log in just expecting some issue to arise. I tried to keep my head low and play with the few that I had fun with, but there was always something looming. Why I had kept playing for this long started to become a thought in my mind. I loved the game, but the social aspect with some of the people I met and the issues that arose from it really killed the enjoyment of the game. I’m not the type of person to burn bridges. At the very least I try very hard not to. So I stayed in this… sort of mentally abusive relationship.
Eventually things started to come to a head. The raid content was extremely punishing. As a group we managed to defeat everything we came in contact with. We were a pretty tight little group. We knew each other’s strengths and weaknesses. We managed to defeat the first two bosses of four of the new raid content, but the third was proving to be trouble for us. We spent weeks and weeks beating our heads against it. The mood around the game was low all around. Many other groups were falling apart. Some even gave up on the last two bosses and just farmed the first two.
Morale was low. Eventually, after talking to others in our group, me and a couple others decided it was time to call it quits. We had been raiding for over a year and we were just not enjoying it anymore. I was so worn out from all the stress over the year that I needed a break.
With that, sadly, the raid group fell apart. The others seemed to feel the same. Many stopped playing altogether. Me and a couple others kept playing for a month or so, but eventually even we were getting to a point that it just wasn’t in us anymore. That spark was gone.
As I write this it’s been a few weeks since I last logged into Final Fantasy XIV. I have many fond memories of this game. I really did put my all into it. I met a lot of interesting people, made some great friends, learned a lot about myself, role-played, ran a guild, raided and played nearly all the content the game had to offer, and much more. I played this MMO for longer and more consistently than I have any other in my gaming history. Something that I think won’t be soon replicated.
It was a good run… a great run! While I was often stressed, I will miss the good parts. It was my life for a long time. Some things I would not change for the world. Who knows… I may poke my head in Eorzea again someday and see how the world has changed, but for now it’s time to explore new realms and also to work on personal projects again.
Final Fantasy XIV will always have a special place in my heart. I’ll never forget. ♥