So what does that title mean? For those that may not recognize all the abbreviations, in long form the tile is as follows. Final Fantasy 14 : A Realm Reborn versus World of Warcraft Mists of Pandaria and World of Warcraft Warlords of Draenor.
Before getting into this quagmire of a topic sitting on top of a mine field, I first want to say this is not a post about which is the better game and which sucks or is awesome. Also the information on WoD is still quite limited as there are no versions of WoD not sitting behind NDAs. So all we have to go on is Blizzcon and the Water cooler posts by various developers. I am going to get into 2 main topics that are split into a total of 3 areas: Alts as Different Characters, Alts as different Roles, and Travel.
I was originally going to talk about the in-game markets/economy but changed my mind after really looking at them. While the time for the market implosion is different in each game they both end up in the same place and are therefore remarkably similar. The leads to the only game to contrast them with is EVE Online and that a topic worthy of a separate post so that will come later.
Alts as Different Characters
Both games support this in that it is possible to have multiple characters on a given server and play with the same group of people on either character. In WoW it is trivial how quickly this can actually be done anymore. With the various xp/level changes that have occurred each expansion, sometimes in the middle of the current one the time to reach max level has been greatly reduced over the years.
For example in earlier posts I mentioned that I had 10 max level characters in Wrath of the Lich King and 13 or so in Cataclysm. Hell I could even make a 3 way versus: Wrath & Cata versus MoP & WoD versus FFXIV.
So in FFXIV:ARR each alt character has a bit of story line quests and dungeons that must be completed to unlock various aspects of the game and dungeons along the way. This is fine if everyone is at about the same level but I have noticed as I fell farther and farther behind the “main” leveling curve those restrictions became more and more frustrating.
I am sure if it had not been for the great multi-game community I am a part of I would have quit by now. I have since volunteered and recently became an Officer in the FFXIV guild. I was in the same situation in WoW for different reasons, it was the social connections that kept me playing long past when I had become quite embittered with the game.
So in summary WoW is still the better game for Alt Characters, especially since some things have moved to the WoW Account level rather than Character level. The leveling experience while more quest grind-y is much faster and the fact that you can access all systems through pure solo play is a nice feature set.
Alts as Different Roles
Now this may seem to not make much sense why I am making distinction between Alts as different Characters and Alts as different Roles. I did it because what 1 character can do in WoW versus FF(XI & XIV) is drastically different. There is however similarity when you compare how some class types in WoW have the ability to perform different roles in the Holy Trinity of MMO encounter design. The FF games are more like EVE Online than many of the other current MMOs on the market.
Specifically in WoW if you want to play a Tank and pick Druid you can do so. Also because you are a Druid you can also with a re-specialization or alternative specialization: DPS (Ranged), DPS (Melee) or Heal. However if you wanted to be a Warrior for Tanking, Rogue for Melee DPS, Mage for Ranged DPS and Priest for Heals, that requires you to have 4 characters all of equal gear level so tons of dungeon running, reputation grinding or what ever other mechanics for gear acquisition Blizzard puts into the game.
Final Fantasy games on the other hand allow one character to be any class with mechanics in place to switch between them while out of combat. So if there are 11 classes like there are in WoW today you need 11 wow Characters to play any class or 1 character in Final Fantasy. You still need to level up each class individually but you are not on a separate character with separate mail, bank, AH and other storage accesses. It also means that when you get gear not suited for your current class which is BoP it does not get wasted like it does in WoW or almost any other MMO. WoW could implement it by changing all or most BoP to BoA but I have been asking for that for years, so I am not holding my breath on that one.
Additionally another reason one can sometimes have many alts in wow is for crafting, back when crafting was actually worthwhile as a source for gear and making in game currency. Since in WoW you can have 2 primary professions per character with about 10 different professions including gathering activities. There are 3 gathering classes in FF and 7 or so crafting which again can all be learned and leveled on the same character.
So in the area of role/class flexibility Final Fantasy games are light years ahead of other MMOs when it comes to being able to focus all of your time on one character but not be gimped by class restrictions.
I have posted about travel a few times in the past and was planning on bringing it up again, however as I will sometimes take a few days writing these posts and I write bits and pieces here and there, one of the WoW developers gave an interview and due to their phrasing set off a firestorm.
The response from Blizzard to the firestorm boils down to “trust us”. Well at least for me not anymore and by temperature in the echo chamber of the forums not many other do either. The key from all of this is the consistency in which Blizzard is inconsistent. Rather than stating a goal and vision and let the player-base be involved from the beginning they end up working on fixing issues 1-3 patches behind.
While I wish many of the players lost in MoP were due to flying restrictions and no implementation of a book of Pandarian flying like cold weather flying. I know that is not the reason. Additionally while many like to say it was the leveling speed accessibility in Cataclysm that drove players away due to boredom anyone with half a brain should know that is false as well. The reason so many left in Cataclysm is due to 3 things.
- The implosion of the social network on servers and guild. The raid changes at the end of ICC to implement the Cata model were disastrous. It just took 6-9 months to see the full effect propagate throughout the player-base. I have harped on it before and will leave it there.
- Competition from other games. WoW is 10 years old, there have been many similar games that have come out during that time. Some more successful than others. Some catering to specific niches in the play model where WoW attempts to do them all. It is refreshing playing in FFXIV:ARR and knowing that PvP is a side game, and that nerfs to abilities are applied as PvP only and do not really change the PvE game.
- The economy stupid. MoP came out in 2012 and Cata came out in 2010, employment for the key game playing demographic 18-35 year olds has been underwhelming for 4+ years now…. Any excess savings anyone had prior to the economic issues in 2008 have well since been depleted for many around the world in that age bracket. Games and culture that requires expendable income have all taking a header for several years now MMOs are not a special case. I am being very careful hear because I don’t want to start an economics or political discussion, which are both buttons that can cause rambling rants.
Anyway I know Blizzard is doing the wrong thing with flying and travel in WoD for one very important reason. My wife, Lissanna @restokin, and I agree on something in WoW. I want flying all the time and think in many ways Cata crossed with ICC would be the best expansion paradigm possible. She is willing to have flying at max level only, and I agree to that compromise with the caveat that there should be a BoA book for alts. I can say one thing with certain, had there been a BoA book for my alts I most likely would not have canceled both of my accounts in WoW 6 months and 1 year ago for each account. I may not have been happy today in MoP but I most likely would at least have 1 active subscription.
** Edit ** I dug up some of my old travel related aids for actually analyzing flight path design and placed the pages back under my Misc Items Section.