Increasing Soloablity: FFXIV Doesn’t Want to be a MMO Anymore

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It’s one of those old gamer debates – MMO is an MMO because you’re supposed to play with people. That’s what the “massively multiplayer” part of the title means, right?

So what happens when an MMO doesn’t want to be an MMO anymore… and would rather just be an RPG? That’s the position that Yoshi-P says that FFXIV is in.

During the last Live Letter, he expressed the desire for FFXIV to be treated the same as any other Final Fantasy in the series. He was sad that fans of the series overlook the game simply because it’s online and it forces you to play with other people. Therefore, he wants to change this perception of the game by rebuilding much of the way it works from the start of the MSQ.

The Trouble of Forced Group Dungeons

This is an interesting stance to take for a MMO that forces grouping in dungeon after dungeon just to get through the main story. I’m trying to think of another MMO that bars your way with mandatory dungeons – I’m not talking about dungeons that pop up at the end of a questline in a zone, either. Rather, I mean dungeons that completely stop you from progressing in MSQ when MSQ is required to progress and unlock zones and much more.

I know that for a number of people, this has been a huge turn-off from playing FFXIV. I remember when I first started, back before Syn was playing with me, this was the reason I almost quit playing.

It’s an ironic story, actually. We were both chatting one morning, and we both told each other that we had something to say. She let me go first, and I admitted that after a few months of playing FFXIV, while I liked that game, the forced dungeon grouping was too stressful (at the time), so I was going to put it aside.

Thankfully, what she had to tell me was that she was thinking about trying the game! I’m glad she did because having a friend to get me through those dungeons helped me stick it out through ARR. The story was never the problem for me – my problem was always with the forced group dungeons.

And that’s exactly the area of the game that they are going to address to change FFXIV from a MMO to a RPG.

Fun Alone or With Friends

Yoshi-P used this line in the Live Letter: “Fun Alone or With Friends.” Online, of course. But he even really wants to drop the whole “online” bit from the title as well.

The first step in this is extending the current Trust system to work with older content – specifically the MSQ 4-man dungeons. This overhaul is starting as early as patch 6.1.

There was a Reddit translation of a post Live Letter interview with Yoshi-P that says some interesting things.

On the subject of making the game more solo friendly, he says he still believes, as he’s said in many interviews before, that online games and MMOs offer unique experiences. But in FF14’s market research surveys, the fact that the game is an online game is the number 1 reason people give to not want to play it, so he thinks they can’t continue with things as they currently are. Being able to say that the main story is soloable will be a useful tool for the community and PR in the future.

Reddit translation

He wants the current growing community to not just have that “free trial” spiel ready to roll when looking to recruit friends, it seems.

“We’re doing this so the community and players can say to their friends, ‘the main story is fully soloable so come try it out!’” He thinks this messaging could overcome the game’s genre. He also wants the appeal of playing with others, of sharing the world with other players, to reach this new playerbase.

Reddit translation

A few side notes:

  • Cape Westwind is turning into a solo story instance
  • Castrum and Praetorium will become 4 mans – able to be run with Trusts
  • MSQ Roulette is probably going away
  • Squads are likely being merged into Trusts some way

The MSQ roulette will probably be abolished and the new 4-man dungeons will be suitable for levelling. What will happen with the Gaius fight is a “spoiler” he can’t talk about yet. The mechanic of riding the Magitek armour in Praetorium will be completely changed.

Reddit translation

Oh, and before you get too excited, Aurum Vale is not included in the Trust dungeon rework since it’s not part of MSQ. Neither are the 8 man trials, to start with. Bummer.

I’m all for extending Trusts to older content – this is especially needed in Stormblood dungeons. I’m ashamed to admit that I’ve story skipped several characters just to avoid having to go through Stormblood MSQ again – not because of story, but only because of dungeons.

I see nothing wrong with providing a solo option to forced content in an MMO. This is what Lost Ark does with its dungeons, and that seems to work just fine for the folks who play it. There’s plenty enough group content in FFXIV for those who want it – let folks play through the story with the option to solo.

This is a project that’s going to evolve over the 6.x series of patches, and will hopefully extend to trials sometime in the future to make all content soloable.

What are your thoughts on FFXIV trying to remove the “MMO” and “online” labels from the game?

7 responses to “Increasing Soloablity: FFXIV Doesn’t Want to be a MMO Anymore”

  1. They never should have made the Final Fantasy MMOs “numbered” like the rest of the series. They are not anywhere near the same kind of experience…and other “non-standard” experiences in the series always had a word rather than a number (ex: Tactics, Mystic Quest, Crystal Chronicles, etc.). They should have called it “Final Fantasy World” or something and left 11 and 14 as “true” entries: a single-player epic story.

    As it stands, people “skip over” these numbers in the series because they simply don’t belong in the series to begin with.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s an interesting point. I’m going to guess they did it for marketability, hoping to ride on the name of the franchise. But at the same time, when things bottom out for any entry in the series – such as when FFXIV first launched – it makes a mark on the franchise to have a numbered game bottom out like that. That might be one of the major reasons we got to see ARR – they didn’t want a numbered FF in the series falling apart.

      Who knows. But I wouldn’t argue seeing a “FF World” as a title instead!

      Like

  2. I agree the two mmos should never have been in sequence to begin with. It’s just weird. The forced dungeon groups for MSQ were the specific and pretty much only reason Mrs Bhagpuss and I quit after the 30 days that came with the box, way back in 2012. If it hadn’t been for that, we could have been playing FFXIV for the last ten years instead of GW2. That said, the never-ending cutscenes were a major problem, too. If we’d wanted to watch a mediocre fantasy movie with sub-par animation we wouldn’t have bought an mmorpg.

    I am tempted to go level up my free character some more when this all kicks in but honestly I found FFXIV a lot more fun when I just ignored the MSQ altogether. It would be handy to be able to do the necessary dungeons solo just to open some of the features, though.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Well, the option will be there all the way up to level 60 with the free trial once they start getting the revamped dungeons out. They will be done in waves over patches, so you might want to hang on until they finish Heavensward. However, if the cutscenes aren’t your cup of tea (they get much better after ARR), I’m not sure you’ll change your mind further on in. But you never know until you try, right?

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      • The animations really don’t get much better imo. Its still the same /emote and wait for each person to do their shrug/smile/etc before moving onto the next line.

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  3. Interesting. It occurred to me reading that I think WoW is trying to force the MMO too much. I’ve become disillusioned with having to have a partner nearby to fish or just do a few quests. Ever since they started encouraging rushing through dungeons, go faster, play reckless, strategy means nothing, beat the clock. Certainly there needs to be a balance. Perhaps both games need to meet in the middle.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Those are some interesting observations as well! I never considered an MMO being too much MMO before, but I get what you’re saying. I’ve never been fond of the runrunurunrun mentality I see, even in FFXIV. I hope things can change for the better in that aspect for both games.

      Liked by 1 person

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