Sunday, April 17, 2011

...It Was the Blurst of Fantasies (Part 2)

So now that we've learned what worked about Final Fantasy XI, what didn't work? Well, lots of stuff. It had two big things working against it right from the start. First it was an MMO, and second it was Japanese. If there's one thing I have learned about Japanese RPG players it's that they fucking love to grind. Combine that with the typical amount of grinding you'd expect from an MMO and you've created a perfect shit storm.

It's not like I didn't expect some slow going, but these assholes cranked the grind to eleven and broke the fucking knob. You could only level up solo for about the first 10 levels of the game. After that monsters got way stronger and you pretty much had to party to get any amount of exp. Monsters yielded tiny amounts of exp for their level, so you were forced to fight incredibly tough monsters to level at a reasonable pace. In order to do this, you needed a very specific party setup. Finding six people of the right level and class to form a party was always a giant pain in the ass.

Healing classes were in huge demand, while there was an abundance of damage dealing classes. So if you were a dragoon, monk, warrior, etc. you could wait for days without getting a party invite. Bards were as rare and precious as wizard's gold.

To fight harder monsters you also required better gear. Unfortunately most basic gear was useless and a few rare pieces were so incredibly superior to everything else that you needed to have them. Most of these rare pieces dropped from monsters with very predictable spawn areas and timers, so they were completely monopolized. Prices went through the roof, and you had to grind for weeks to earn enough money to buy good gear to go out and.....grind exp. Yay!

This wasn't helped by the fact that the game launched in Japan about six months before North America. So by the time we were just learning how it worked, they had mastered everything and figured out where all the rare items and valuable resources were. They were also very xenophobic and many refused to share any knowledge or even party with North Americans (Not that I can blame them). This lead to a big divide and an "us versus them" mentality that persisted for quite a while among some people.

The last thing that sucked about this game was just that it was balls-in-the-ass hard. It explained very little to players about how anything worked. Quests only gave you vague directions on what to do. How stats and abilities affected different things was a complete mystery and you had to spend a lot of time reading guides and forums to understand how they actually worked.

Even once you knew what to do and how to do it, many of the monsters and bosses would easily grind you into a bloody pulp. To have a chance against any of the high level bosses, your guild really needed to have their poop in a group. I guess that's why games like Demon's Souls and Monster Hunter don't even faze me. Nothing in any of these games can compare to a boss that takes over 20 hours to beat, to a point where people are passing out and throwing up. The sad part is, after all I had played (Max level monk with dynamis gear) that article doesn't surprise me in the least. The truth is, this game was made by assholes who hate you.

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