The Things That I Don’t Miss in WoW – and Things That I Do

Having transferred to FFXIV completely as my major MMO and gaming pastime, I remember my WoW times with a mix of nostalgy and yuck. Of course, can’t help comparing both games inadvertently – so yes, that would be a comparison post :)

It is yet a question if and when I would return to WoW. Currently, payment methods to Blizzard from Russia are largely unavailable, so basically it’s no access when your sub runs out. Although accounts are not banned, and theoretically you could earn gold and spend it for WoW tokens, but never was a question in my case, as the game becomes a job rather than entertainment. In any case, I stopped logging in November, and even if I renewed my sub for 3 months of the final SL patch, ending in May, it took my attention as far as seeing fantastically boring story beats of Zereth Mortis and the first wing of Sepulcher raid (which I quit btw at the final boss), then completely abandoned for 2 months and let the sub quietly die out.

Besides, the new expansion Dragonflight announcement envoked like zero hype and interest in my case – both in theme, story and zone previews. So it’s not exactly the case of a fabled fox which cannot get the grapes and proclaims “they’re green anyways”, but accumulated general discontent of Blizzard providing an awful story (my major attraction), lack of plan and vision and boring, soulless, grindy gameplay.

Anyways, I’m thinking fondly of my times spent in WoW, and I had my fun even during the “worst” expansions (I liked BfA, and even SL had its moments that I enjoyed – as far as Korthia and Torghast raid), so I’m missing some of the stuff.

Story

The approach of FFXIV and WoW to their lore is very different. FFXIV is very character centered and is an ocean of emotions at the major beats, while also being logical and explained, thoroughly planned throughout all expansions, no retcons, but not devoid of stunning revelations and plot twists – which rightfully makes it the best MMO story ever told. WoW always played its lore in LotR field – surely, characters matter, but EPIC and armies matter more. I think that both approaches work – as sometimes you want depth, and sometimes you just need to see something bombastic, spectacular, with primitive, but spirit rising claims like “We will never be slaves!” or “A sword day, a red day ere the sun rises!”. Japanese tradition is resolving the final encounter as a combat of whose spirit is stronger, while Western is about the raw battle of power – I like both, and the latter I miss without WoW.

Visuals

WoW’s cartoonish, bright style was always my weak spot, and this is the only department in Blizzard (well, and the raid design team maybe) that rightfully earns its bread and butter no matter what. It’s a feast for the eyes, and always provides vistas and spots you’d like to call home.

FFXIV, while there’s nothing bad to say about stunning armor designs and characters, loses in terrain by a mile. Even if zones and cities are very different and inventive, and can also be very beautiful, but they still lack that sense of immersement. A part of it has to do with adapting to earlier Playstation capabilities, especially with earlier zones, but it’s not just technical features. Some – many – zones look too bleak and uninspiring – for example, Dravania is largely a pile of dirt and stones which you want to quit asap and take a shower. For want of a better word, many zones are uninviting and don’t make you feel like you wanna settle there.

Open World

Well, it becomes less important as you unlock travel points and teleport across the world anyways, but FFXIV is not seamless, and having to go through 2 loading screens just to get to a questgiver when you’re already at this place – is simply awful. Surely, they do better now with the new expansions, dragging them out in the open and requiring less realm hopping, but it’s still a nuisance.

WoW’s open world, when you can cross zones and already see the next zone when you’re on the verge of previous one is precious and cannot be underestimated. It makes the world whole, and provides an immense immersement – as you can fly the whole continent in whichever direction – this is called freedom, and this is very endearing. Imagine if you could fly over the whole Othard in FFXIV: hopping in the air in Kugane and just fly to the farthest reaches of Doma and Azim Steppe? Or from Ala Mhigo Castle to Vesper Bay or Ishgard?

Long story short, in WoW I would miss my epic moments in cozy and spectacular terrains which I can walk wherever I please – the feeling of the welcoming, vast and open world.

The Things I Don’t Miss in WoW

Strange enough, but most of them are about the actual game aspect. And here we go.

The Grind!

Grind is bread and butter of WoW, and you can’t deny it. Every next story step would require completion of 3-4 quests of kill me 10, bring me 10, grind me something in horse amounts. FFXIV? Kill me 3 or bring me 3 if any at all. Endgame? Endless grind of reputations, dailies and weeklies just to get some gear. FFXIV? Buy a full set at auction house or craft it, and you’re ready to jump into raids. You can grind some stuff for, sure, but it’s purely cosmetic and doesn’t timegate your endgame activities. Currency in FFXIV? Comes in a form of completing a round of older raids and dungeons, one per type daily – if you wish so. A built-in randomizer (aka duty roulette) provides day-to-day variety, a different set of bosses and a reminder of great story beats – it’s just never boring.

Now I can’t even imagine how I would return to WoW and have to cope with all the grind I took for granted. The very first formula of kill me 15 centaurs and collect 10 herbs around would drive me mad. Not to mention the exhausting streak of dailies, repeated on every toon until you puke. I look back at my roster, the lengths I walked, and I shiver.

Raids and Dungeons

Surely, dungeons and raids are WoW’s major focus, so they’re thoroughly worked through. And yet it’s about the approach: I just like FFXIV system a lot more. It won’t insert ridiculous amounts of trash to clear – just enough to provide the spice and vibe of the setting. The trial type of raids (major expansion bosses and 12-boss streaks of side stories) are devoid of trash at all, being arena-like boss fights without running. Both games are about learning boss mechanics and executing them, but WoW is a lot more chaotic and frantic, while FFXIV is an intricate dance which requires precise execution, and once you learn it, you’re good.

WoW is constant harassment of the party, mostly with unavoidable minor or major damage, FFXIV is about avoiding stuff and precise positioning which allows healers to spend 90% of time DPSing and only pay attention to the big booms, ready to save or rez those who failed a certain mechanic, or top up from the unavoidable stuff. WoW is about pulling the weight throughout the fight, FFXIV is about reacting to peaks: the big booms which require precise positioning (but if you fail them, it’s VERY punishing – some 80-90% of health, a stack of debuffs or often death).

WoW has a limited number of rezzes – and only if you have a certain class in your group, FFXIV has rez available for every healer, plus 2 dps classes, limited only by mana, plus a raid-rez if you accumulated enough limit break stacks (one per fight). There were certain situations when a surviving tank and healer managed to rez the whole party one-by-one and finish the boss, when a WoW player would call it a certain wipe. Finally, WoW has lots of enrages (more pressure), but FFXIV (the normal stuff) requires you to stay focused and endure, and you’ll succeed.

All in all, WoW encounters are like marathons, long, exhausting and requiring you to start from the top (plus the runs). FFXIV group content is designed a lot to make you endure and manage, encourages retries and mutual help – in short, failing a mechanic and dying, or a wipe is never the end of the world. And that leads us directly to:

Toxicity

During a year of playing FFXIV, I can remember maybe less than 10 examples of utter dick players – and such a case is always a shock you remember for weeks. Surely, some would leave after a couple of tries – if certain people came for a first-time story boss kill, and the others were hoping for a 5-minute duty roulette currency/XP income, rinse and go – but even this behaviour is frowned upon.

It is normal – and expected – to say at least hello and gg at the start and the end of dungeon or raid. It is normal to explain a certain mechanic when it’s obvious it was the reason for wipe. It is normal to ask how this or that thing works – and people don’t send you to read or watch guides, but explain and encourage you. It is normal to have a conversation between healer and tank about how many you may pull, or arranging who tanks a boss between two tanks. It is normal to wait for the new people to see dungeon and raid cutscenes (in EVERY dungeon’s beginning and before the final boss). Some of them might take up to 2 minutes, while others patiently wait – and will tell the new people “enjoy the story” once the boss is killed. It is normal to retry, be patient to mistakes and deaths, and wipes in general.

As for WoW? Should I really elaborate? Any hindrance for a dungeon or raid run is a shower of insults, quits, kicks and general irritation, looking for whom to blame, paying attention to others’ performance and all.

Loot

As a case of grinds and raids – WoW farming is much less rewarding. RNG plays in full, and you can visit the same wing for months for the only item you want, on a weekly basis. Even without competition – as you farm the older raids for mogs solo.

FFXIV raids have normal drops and token drops. Normal drops are certain gear pieces in “alliance raids” (24-people wings of 4 bosses), tokens drop from bosses in “normal raids” (arena boss fights, 4 per patch).

In “alliance” raid, loot is more than enough: 8 players compete for 10 gear items. As you can get only one item per week, there’s always two spare – so that provides some variety and choice, and everyone will get one in any case for their trouble. An average player would play several jobs, so even if you don’t have an item in loot for one job, you can roll for your other job, and be happy. I haven’t finished a single run of current Aglaia raid without grabbing an item, and by now I’m almost packed for every job I play on both alts.

Tokens in “normal” raids are more chaotic, it’s 8 in the loot per boss kill, but you could roll for all and win none, so it’s RNG. On the bright side, they’re universal, which means you can farm normal raids on tank or healer for faster queues, or your best dps, say, samurai, and exchange the acquired tokens for gear of your least geared job – for example, a black mage. Or you could do every next run on a different job just for the sake of variety!

Finally, FFXIV takes off loot restrictions from previous raids as patches drop. 6.0. normal raid (December 2021) allowed one weekly token roll per boss, at 6.1. (April 2022) you could already farm all gear tokens until you puke, and in 6.18. they removed restriction from weapon tokens. Basically, today you can get all your jobs packed in current raid gear in a weekend or two before the next patch drops.

All in all, I feel that my FFXIV raid and dungeon runs are rewarding, my every effort gives some fruit, and no time was wasted in re-runs and queues. I gradually grow in power – and collect transmogs (aka glamours) on my way. In WoW? I remember my gear and mog gear hunts which could take up to 6 months and more. Today, I do not know if a dopamine kick of finally getting an item is worth those endless hours spent in travels, queues, lengthy runs and all the toxicity on the way.

Travel

By the way. A lot of WoW gameplay is endless travel. Surely, we have teleports, but it’s major cities at best, and a rare hearthstone – and a lot of legwork. FFXIV uses aetherytes – every major settlement has a teleport spot where you can hop from EVERY point of the world at will, even when you’re mounted and in the air – then it’s just a less than 1 minute ride to a point of interest. Flying unlocks by finishing a zone story, completing 4 very quick side quests per zone, and visiting certain points – no timegating at all, just learn the lore and explore a bit, and you’re good. In reminiscence, the amount of time I spent for WoW travel (I even remember making a raid mog farming post with optimal routes) – I don’t think I want that as part of my everyday, grindy gameplay.

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So… yes. Lots of things to remember fondly about WoW, but also so many gameplay stuff that would unpleasantly shock me if I were to return there.

4 thoughts on “The Things That I Don’t Miss in WoW – and Things That I Do

  1. Fascinating comparison. I’m glad you’ve found a new game to love, a new world to inhabit. I worry reading it that I’ve become an utter fan girl, in that WOW, except for the toxicity, still presents as a more appealing game to me. I think I just tend to be loyal. However, in my brief try at Final Fantasy, I found nothing appealing in the world, the story or the combat that made me want to continue to see what comes next.

    Liked by 3 people

    • Well – to each their own, of course :) The only thing that killed WoW to me (a fanboy of the universe since 90s) is WoW itself – I just woke up to see that the story is too bad, and developers simply have no vision or plan where to lead it. It just stopped being WoW that I loved for me in Shadowlands, and it seems that Dragonflight is not a vision either, but rather a no-brain fanservice reaction just to keep the sinking ship afloat.

      As for FFXIV, it required me 5 approaches during two years since my first login to brave the initial slog, surpass level 20 and manage towards the further expansions’ content. Truly, the threshold of entry is high, and the game really becomes fun by 50 both in story and combat departments, but is it worth the journey? It is. Each expansion’s content becomes better from its predecessor by a mile, and you grow deeply into the characters and events.

      Liked by 2 people

  2. You kind of hit on one thing the developers seem to have forgotten about WoW, the land itself stretching for miles in any direction. We once did a sever motorcycle ride from Booty Bay to Silvermoon City. It took us 45 minutes, and we did have the portal to go through that separated the expansions. But it was great to spend almost an hour just riding. These last few expansions, having so much content hidden behind instances or if you’re in the world constantly on guard because every 50 feet traveled stops with a fight, or you end up dragging so much behind you that when they catch you you’re dead. They took a game where the world was a wonder to explore and turned it into a dangerous land to avoid at all costs unless you had to venture out. There have been a lot of things they’ve done right over the years. Most have been removed because, well, they were fun, and you can’t have that.

    As for the toxic people? I think they were always there, but when they were offset by millions of positive players you didn’t notice them as much. When the 6-7 million positive people left for Final Fantasy, those few million toxic people remained and laid claim to the world. I highly doubt I will see a beta key for Dragonflight, but I will venture in to the PTR once it opens before I decide on whether I will purchase. I let myself be pressured into Shadowlands. I won’t again.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. I’m glad to see you settling into FFXIV so comfortably. I love the game, but can’t bring myself to log in for stupid reasons (reminders of real life that cause distress). I would love to get back in, but every time I log in, existential dread. I am living vicariously through your adventures in Eorzea, so thank you.

    Liked by 1 person

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