Final Fantasy 14 had a rough start. When the game first debuted back in September 2010, it wasn't a fun game at all. Fans of Final Fantasy 11 tried to make do with what was available to them, but the service was eventually suspended in November of 2012. When the game relaunched in August 2013 as Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn, many of the issues players had with the original release had been address. Since that time the game has flourished with over 2.5 million subscribers at present. The first expansion, Heveansward, was released last month and it seems as though the sky is the limit for the renewed MMORPG.
As we look ahead at what Final Fantasy 14 may have to offer in coming years, it's clear that while Final Fantasy 11 was essentially Square's take on EverQuest (the most popular MMORPG at the time), Final Fantasy 14 is Square's version of World of Warcraft. To Final Fantasy 11 fans, that's not exactly great news. The hardcore nature of EverQuest and Final Fantasy 11 is a stark contrast to the ease of play and virtually spoon feeding offered in Final Fantasy 14 and World of Warcraft. Still, the gaming realm is ever evolving, and the World of Warcraft model is what players want these days. In fact, aside from a few notable entries in the Dark Souls series, games have gotten increasing easier in recent years.
While games are getting easier, Final Fantasy 14 seems to actually be taking a different approach. Perhaps it's the development team finding their rhythm, or producer Naoki Yoshida (Yoshi-P) broadening the appeal of the game, but much of the new content in Heavensward offers a considerable challenge compared to the base game of A Realm Reborn. Take the three new classes for instance. The Dark Knight requires more resource management than the Paladin or Warrior tanking jobs, and the Astrologian has to manage two stances and multiple card techniques in addition to main healing duties.
Meanwhile, Machinist has a turret to manage and support abilities, while players have complained that the damage output is below that of most other DPS classes. Yoshi-P has countered with the fact that the development team is parsing higher numbers with Machinist than what they're seeing from the players. This could be a matter of the player base not fully grasping how to deal maximum damage with Machinist, another sign that the job is more challenging than other DPS classes in the game.
We expect this trend to continue as regular patches add more and more content to Final Fantasy 14. The game has a lot of easy to access content, but Yoshi-P seems focused on creating a variety of content that will also appeal to the players looking for more of a challenge. The next expansion is a long way off, but it's likely that train of thought will continue with any new jobs added at that point. It's also not out of the question to see a new job added before the next expansion, just like Ninja was added before Heavensward.
When it comes to raids, expect the difficulty to continue to ramp up. If we compare the Binding Coil of Bahamut to Alexander, there's a significant difference in the difficulty. Normal Alexander is fairly straightforward, but parties still struggled with completing it. Now that Savage Mode is available, people are having a tough time getting through the content, and that's exactly what Yoshi-P was going for. He wanted normal Alexander to be challenging, while Savage Mode would test even the most hardcore players.
As we look forward, this is the kind of content players should expect. Just like the Story, Hard and Extreme Primals from A Realm Reborn, there will be base content designed to be challenging, then Savage content that takes that challenge to an entirely new level. It's the best way to merge Final Fantasy 11 with Final Fantasy 14, creating a wide variety of content that will appeal to every kind of player while not alienating anyone.