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"Final Fantasy XIV" vs. "World of Warcraft": Which MMORPG Is Right for You?

I'm an MMORPG fan, and I share my reviews of the pros and cons of various games.

The Two Major Players in the MMO Industry

For several years now, World of Warcraft and Final Fantasy XIV Online have been two of the most popular and highest-earning MMORPGs on the market, and this doesn't look to be changing any time soon. There is a good reason for this: Both of these games have a tremendous amount of quality content for players, as well as incredibly high production value thanks to their famous lineage of popular game franchises.

While many gamers would like to be able to play both of these games simultaneously, MMOs have become an exceedingly expensive hobby in comparison to ordinary single player and multiplayer games. There is a significant investment of both time and money necessary to become an entrenched player in most MMORPGs. As such, many players choose to devote themselves to just one or to a very limited number of these games at one time.

In this article, I will lay out some of the major pros and cons to the two largest MMOs on the market in order to help players make an informed decision about whether they might like to purchase either or both of these games.

Box art for "World of Warcraft."

Box art for "World of Warcraft."

World of Warcraft

After being released in 2004, World of Warcraft has consistently managed to maintain the largest active subscriber base of any MMO on the market. The game's initial fanbase was attracted due to the game being the latest installment of the highly popular Warcraft franchise, but its ongoing longevity showcases that there is a lot to love in World of Warcraft.

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The Good

  • Highly consistent cartoon-like art style, which has remained true to the art style of the original Warcraft RTS games.
  • WoW has an incredible amount of content. After 7 expansions (and more to come), the game has thousands of hours worth of quests and dungeons to discover.
  • The game is steeped in traditional Western fantasy and will enthrall lovers of swords, sorcery, and fantastical creatures.
  • A large ensemble of different playable classes awaits players in this game. There are twelve classes to choose from, with each having various specializations to change the way that they are played.
  • Similarly, there are several different races to choose from across the two major factions of Warcraft lore. These include the more traditional Dwarves and Elves, but also original beast races such as the Tauren.
  • The developers at Blizzard are not afraid to take risks with new and unique game mechanics. Even when many of their ideas fail, they are still willing to massively overhaul elements of their game in the name of constant improvement.

The Bad

  • While it is impressive that World of Warcraft has been around for so long, it's aging game engine can sometimes hold it back. For younger gamers looking for flashy and realistic graphics, WoW's appearance is not always likely to make a good impression.
  • WoW's story is incredibly lengthy and detailed, but it regularly falls short due to being overly derivative and frequently rewriting its own lore.
  • WoW has yet to catch up to most of its competitors in the realm of Player vs. Player combat. There is a wealth of well-designed PvP content, but it is generally held back by a lack of balance between the numerous classes that players can choose from.
Box art for "Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn."

Box art for "Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn."

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

After a particularly underwhelming launch of the original Final Fantasy XIV 1.0, the game was remade and re-released in 2013 as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Since then, the game has enjoyed constant critical success as well as two major expansions.

The Good

  • For fans of Japanese media and entertainment, Final Fantasy XIV offers a story that is second to none. The game is very heavily story based, and features voiced and unvoiced cutscenes with very high production value. The story is also very lengthy, coming in at over 500 quests for the main story alone.
  • Unlike many popular MMOs, Final Fantasy does not require a player to create multiple characters to experience different combat or crafting classes. A single character is able to switch to any of the classes at will. This is a blessing for players who can't stand having to create an entirely new character to try out a new play style.
  • Another departure from more traditional MMOs is that crafting and non-combat gameplay are remarkably in-depth in FF XIV when compared to other games in the genre. Crafting is not a one-button affair; it requires a significant amount of forethought and effort, making it very engaging.
  • Because this is a more recent title, there is a great deal of attention and effort put into character models and animation. For those looking for a realistic but still semi-stylized art style, this is quite a good looking game.
  • The Final Fantasy series has always been known for it's catchy and memorable music, and Final Fantasy XIV is no exception. The game has dozens of unique tracks and even spans multiple genres of popular music for some of its boss encounters.

The Bad

  • While Final Fantasy's story is amazing if you are a fan of its style and writing, it can be an utter curse if you do not find it enjoyable. The game essentially requires you to play through the main story in order to experience most content, and this can easily require more than one hundred hours of playtime to accomplish.
  • Final Fantasy XIV gives you the freedom to change classes at will, but there is not a significant amount of gameplay diversity within each individual class. There are no different types of "builds" or skill trees that one might find in a game like WoW.
  • Although the game is designed to be enjoyable for solo players, it will occasionally force you into group content in order to complete the story. The group content is usually easy and fun, but can be a chore for people who prefer to play alone or who experience anxiety in groups.

Closing Thoughts

Personally, I have spent many hours playing both of these games. If you have the time and money to spare, I would highly recommend trying them both. If not, I hope that my advice helps you to choose an MMORPG that will provide you with innumerable hours of fun and happy memories.

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