Author’s Note: It’s worth noting that this article is several years old to the point where it’s not too relevant anymore to either game (since this posting seems get frequent traffic off of Google). I’d be interested though, in hearing how FFXI has changed since I originally posted this.
I don’t think I really ever made it clear why I quit Final Fantasy XI. As many people know, I bought and tried FFXI shorty after it was released in the US. Played it for about 2 months, before I got sick of it and quit. In short: It started to bore the hell out of me. Not comprehensive by all means, but just in case anyone is interested in hearing my two cents, a comparison between FFXI and World of Warcaft, and why I’m sticking with WoW.
I never did, still don’t, and likely never will ever have the time and patience it takes to play Final Fantasy XI up to the higher levels. Despite both being MMORPGs, FFXI and WoW actually differ greatly in play style. This becomes evident very early on. Leveling is very slow, and I can’t emphasize that enough. Leveling in FFXI has to be one of the most painful experiences. Ever. If you have the time, patience, and mentality to spend hours just grinding on things then kudos to you, but overall it’s a pretty boring experience especially since the combat is relatively repetitive.
FFXI is geared almost exclusively towards group play. You can solo up to level 10, and maybe up to level 15, but past that all soloing activity stops cold turkey. A group is basically required in order to do any of the quests. Finding a group to party with is another painful procedure. I often only have time to play in one or two hour chunks, I don’t know about anyone else, but spending those one or two hours finding a group just so I can do one quest isn’t my idea of fun. Even then, the quests really didn’t offer that great of a reward or experience.
Some people like to solo, some people like to group, some people like to do both! One of the most significant aspects of WoW is that you can choose how you want to play, thus appealing to a much broader range of players. Want to play alone? All good, most of the normal quests can be completed under an hour. Want to group? There are plenty of elite quests designed for a full group of players. The duration for most of these are around 2 hours. Want more? For higher level players (level 60), there are raid instances, designed for a group up to 40 players. The quests for the most part are well written, and offer a nice chunk of experience and usually a nice cash/item reward so that it feels worthwhile. Lots of bad Blizzard puns…LOTS. You absolutely can’t miss those.
The death penalty in Warcraft is a lot less frustrating than just about all other MMORPGs, no deleveling, no experience penalty. When you die, you appear in ghost form at the closest graveyard, and must run back to your body. You can also resurrect at the graveyard, but with a much heavier equipment penalty (which will ultimately cost you some cash, but no experience will be lost). The game doesn’t feel like it’s punishing you!
It’s hard to compare the graphics between the two games because they are each styled pretty differently. FFXI is more anime-ish and realistic, while WoW has a cartoony feel. I would have to say that the FFXI graphics in general are better textured and are smoother. The character models are also a bit better than the models in WoW, though they seemed to lack variety. Not enough facial customization 🙁
Graphical comparisons with WoW against other MMORPGs has been a popular discussion. It really does depend on your personal taste I suppose. WoW has a lower polygon count than other MMORPGs, which contributes to its cartoony feel. Some people don’t like that, but I personally think that it adds a lot of character, since it’s appropriate to how the Warcraft RTS games look and feel. Anyone who has ever played a Warcraft game knows this…It’s hard to judge style by screenshots alone. Most of the beauty is in the way the world is designed, the level of detail, the uniqueness that each zone has, and how lively each area is. FFXI just seemed to be missing much of that.
From the beginning, I just felt that Azeroth was more immersible than Vana’diel. Both worlds are fascinating, but Warcraft has 10 years of backstory and history under its belt. From the savanna like barrens, the jungle like Stranglethorn Vale, to the throne room of Lordaeron, it’s all there. (shame on you all who haven’t at least read about Warcraft history on the page. I mean, you should at LEAST KNOW WHO ARTHAS IS D:).
Several things severely annoyed me about FFXI, the first and most notable one being the ass interface. It just sucks…and it sucks hard. Annoying to use, limited, unintuitive, and hard to customize. It feels like it was designed for use on a Playstation controller, which it most likely was, so it didn’t seem to be optimized much at all for those of us who have the privilege of playing with a mouse. The WoW interface on the other hand is intuitive and very easy to use and customize. Virtually no learning curve. And, with the upcoming content patch, it will be even better (finally adding additional bars into the interface so I don’t have to download Cosmos).
Another important thing: It’s impossible to ALT+TAB out of FFXI, minimize it, or otherwise without automatically being disconnected from the game, and sent to the stupid Playonline menus. This pisses me off so fucking much. Being able to check things online while playing really isn’t too much, especially for an MMORPG. I don’t have all that much free time, so on many occasions, when I do play, I have the game running in the background while I read lecture slides, so I can occasionally bring the game into focus to check on auction and chat with friends. I mean, at least allow me to run it windowed, or god forbid minimized so I can look up quest stuff in Firefox….
Oh yeah, you can jump in WoW. YOU CAN JUMP! Jump over people’s heads, jump off of the Stonewrought Dam and Freewind Post (to your death). Why can’t you jump in FFXI? That’s important… In FFXI, you had to pay an additional $1 a month per extra character. WoW allows you 10 per server. It really_really_is nice to have alternative characters, especially if you want a taste of the different classes or are trying to keep on equal levels with friends.