I’ve been playing FFXI through the 2 week free trail past few days. I’ve been meaning to get around to it for years, and I’m enjoying it so far. Also doing research on the history of the game. I was inspired to just go ahead and dive into it by Dia Lacina’s ongoing let’s play of it:
After playing one character up to 55 and another to 40 in Classic WoW on it’s launch I’ve solidified for myself that I really love the slow burn of grinding through MMO zones, I enjoy marinating in the music and the environment and the architecture, and I especially enjoy getting the opportunity to help (or in some cases hurt; i really love killing and eating male human paladins) others, and to be help and hurt in turn. Contemporary MMOs don’t really give you this and end up being more similar to something like Destiny, co op with people you already know doing instanced content, or a endless solo grind for fashion. I’m pretty done with that. FFXI made some changes over the years to become more solo friendly, to the point that it seems standard to grind to cap by yourself. I am enjoying myself (levelled a Red Mage to 13 and Warrior to 16 both starting in Windurst, ran around the other cities and opening zones, not a huge investment so far,) but for these reasons I’m going to start playing on one of the 75 cap private servers. I enjoy being forced to get together with other players to push slowly through the world, the denser areas with elite enemies in classic were my favorite parts. I’m looking at tanking though Red Mage and White Mage both appeal to me a lot as well.
I’ve also just been thinking more broadly about what I get out of that kind of experience and why it’s hard to find it elsewhere. For one thing a lot of games which might offer that particular mix of heavy footfalls, wonder, comradery, bitterness, loss, exhalation, and occasional loneliness like Valheim are principally built as co-op experiences. You can interact with strangers on strangers servers, but that’s not the base assumption of the game. I play fighting games with my friends or do things other than play videogames with them, and I’m just not very interested in that, it can be fun but its a different set of feelings. Minecraft might offer some of this but it’s kind of siloed as well, and there’s a very different feeling to moving through a procgen world (it has it’s own kind of wonders to be sure,) than say, coming upon that bizzare white structure in the desert (MM0s of the early 2000s love structures and framing and sight lines,) as the wind is howling and one half of it is baked by the sun. I’m also ofc thinking about current and old internet culture in the midst of this, watching ancient youtube videos and reading ancient forum posts. I don’t have any conclusion here but I wanted to put those thoughts out there.
Anyhow, in the spirit of this, I’d like you to tell me about FFXI. Whether you played or not, the good and the bad, I just kinda wanna hear about people’s relationship to this game (and maybe other games of the era, or the internet at the time.)