Final Fantasy 14 is the best MMO that I hate to recommend (2022)

Final Fantasy 14 is the best MMO that I hate to recommend (1)

I love Final Fantasy 14. I have rambled incoherently about it on our podcast, declared it our best MMO of 2019, and even traveled halfway around the world just to cover it. Since I started playing when it re-launched in 2013, I have logged nearly a thousand hours on a single character—which is nothing compared to more hardcore players. It's one of my favorite games of all time, and now that its new Shadowbringers expansion is out, I'm even more excited about the prospect of sinking another thousand hours into it. And yet, for all that enthusiasm, every time a friend asks me if they should start playing it, my usual answer is "no." As great as FF14 is (with a secure spot on our list of the best MMOs (opens in new tab)), it's an almost impossible game to recommend.

Yes, I'm aware of how ridiculous that sounds. At best, it makes me sound like a weird elitist who wants to hoard all of FF14 to myself—a sad MMO hipster who is terrified of other people liking the same thing I do. At worst, it makes me a hypocrite. Hear me out.

Journeys and destinations

MMOs are intimidating games to get into, but I think FF14 might be the worst of them. When I first started playing, it was back when it relaunched as A Realm Reborn. The original FF14 was a disastrously awful game and, to Square Enix's credit, they spent a good few years rebuilding it as an entirely new MMO. The developers even wrote the demise of the original version into the story, an apocalypse that ended the old world and birthed a new one.

Though I never played the original FF14 much, the relaunched A Realm Reborn version was a revelation at the time. Square Enix improved on everything, resulting in a gorgeous, accessible MMO with an uncommon emphasis on storytelling. As a lifelong Final Fantasy fan, it was brilliant and I immediately fell in love with it.

(Video) Should you play FF14 in 2022 ( Final Fantasy 14 )

But what's kept me playing for all these years is the way FF14 has continued to evolve. With Heavensward, FF14 went from telling an OK story for an MMO to weaving a tale that confidently sits as one of the best in the entire series. And though Stormblood didn't quite reach the same high as Heavensward, it did tee up some satisfying revelations that have paved the way for Shadowbringers, which in turn promises to turn the whole world of Eorzea upside-down.

Unlike World of Warcraft, where until recently expansions were largely isolated from each other, FF14's story is a consistent thread that leads from each update to the next. Everything is connected, so truly understanding Stormblood's rebellion and character arcs requires knowledge of events that came before.

Like any excellent TV show, I've developed an intimate relationship with the main characters and the world of FF14 along the way. FF14 does a remarkably good job of bouncing between fun fan service and gutting plot twists that have sometimes left me speechless. I gawked as villains once thought dead returned to life, marveled over new revelations about the lore of Eorzea, and agonized over the uncertain fate of favorite characters. It's an almost singular achievement that Square Enix has managed to weave a coherent and compelling story across years of an MMO. World of Warcraft, comparatively, is a mess of paradoxical timelines that barely make any sense.

But I don't think my FF14 journey could have the same impact if I were to begin it now. Unless you have the patience and commitment to sit through nearly 100 hours of story just to get to Shadowbringers, you're going to be missing out on the fundamental appeal of FF14—that sense of grand adventure I have been on for more than six years.

Part of what makes FF14's storytelling work is that it's delivered piecemeal through updates. Every three months, like clockwork, a new update is released that continues the main story while adding new dungeons and other features. That pacing gives plot twists room to breathe, creating tension and drama that persists until the next update is released. And someone racing to catch up with everyone else is going to inherently miss out on that.

(Video) Hate MMOs But Love FF: Why You Should STILL Play Final Fantasy XIV

So much of what has made Final Fantasy 14 special to me is that I've experienced it as it's happening.

Starting from the beginning and playing catch up comes with its own problems, too. What I've now realized in hindsight is that A Realm Reborn was only great relative to the disaster of FF14's original launch. I was willing to forgive so much because so much had gotten better. A Realm Reborn's story was passable but compared to the narrative heights both the Heavensward and Stormblood expansions have reached, it's aged poorly. Before you can start to enjoy the thematic punches that I just mentioned, you're going to have to sit through dozens of hours of meandering bullshit.

There are ways around this, however. For $11 you can pay to skip A Realm Reborn's story—effectively marking all of its associated quests as complete so you can jump straight into Heavensward (You can pay $25 to unlock all the story content up to Shadowbringers). There's even a way to view in-game cutscenes so you can get all caught up on the story you're missing, but that amounts to around a dozen hours of cutscenes.

Level-boost potions are sold separately and cost $25 per class. So if you're new, in addition to buying Shadowbringers and the base game for $60, you're looking at spending upwards of $110 just to start playing Shadowbringers right away. It's akin to recommending people skip the first two seasons of a popular TV show because they're not that good—but there's no denying that even if those initial episodes suck, they're an inextricable part of what makes later episodes better. A Realm Reborn's plodding story is much longer than a few hours of television, though.

And that's why, more often than not, I want to tell people they're better off not playing FF14. It's not because I don't think it's wonderful, but getting into it is such a frustrating catch-22. The best time to start playing FF14 was 2013. Anyone looking to play it now will either have to miss out on part of what makes its journey special or endure the long grind to catch up. Neither are ideal.

Final Fantasy 14 is the best MMO that I hate to recommend (2)

(Video) Why? Either Love or Hate #MMO ? #FFXIV #FinalFantasy14

Square Enix has created something special with Final Fantasy 14, and I love that I get to be a part of it. But so much of what has made Final Fantasy 14 special to me is that I've experienced it as it's happening. I've watched for six years as the pieces of what the game is today have slowly fallen into place.

If there's one silver lining to this, it's that FF14 is showing no signs of slowing down. And even if you decide to skip the entire journey in favor of getting into Shadowbringers right away, missing the beginning might not matter four years from now. There will be a mountain of new twists and turns to fondly reminisce over and everything that came before will be obsolete. But anyone getting into FF14 now is going to have to make peace with all of this.

And that's why I hate recommending Final Fantasy 14. It's a large and risky commitment, and even if you catch up to everyone else there's no guarantee you'll fall in love with it the same way I have. Or maybe you will—a lot of people certainly have. Just know that if you're going to give it a shot, it's best not to rush through it. All great journeys take time.

Final Fantasy 14 is the best MMO that I hate to recommend (3)

Steven Messner

(Video) MMOs and their age. What is too old?

With over 7 years of experience with in-depth feature reporting, Steven's mission is to chronicle the fascinating ways that games intersect our lives. Whether it's colossal in-game wars in an MMO, or long-haul truckers who turn to games to protect them from the loneliness of the open road, Steven tries to unearth PC gaming's greatest untold stories. His love of PC gaming started extremely early. Without money to spend, he spent an entire day watching the progress bar on a 25mb download of the Heroes of Might and Magic 2 demo that he then played for at least a hundred hours. It was a good demo.

Go listen to the first-ever gaming concert at the BBC Proms, a landmar...►


Is FFXIV a good MMO? ›

Endwalker isn't just the best Final Fantasy 14 expansion so far; it's one of the best MMO expansions ever. In a year that saw Final Fantasy 14 steal so much momentum (and so many players) from World of Warcraft, there was a slight amount of trepidation surrounding the release of the MMO's latest expansion, Endwalker.

Is ff14 still worth Playing 2021? ›

In the game you become the Warrior of Light and help deliver the realm from darkness, a plot not too unfamiliar for fans of the series. Like other online games, it can feel like the right time to play has passed, but "FFXIV" is absolutely worth jumping into in 2021.

Is Final Fantasy 14 or WoW better? ›

WoW appears to offer more competent gameplay. However, FFXIV offers more flexibility thanks to the Armoury System, where one can change the class of their characters through the weapons they wield.

Is ff14 the most played MMO? ›

Final Fantasy 14 - A Review of the new most played MMO in the world

Why is FFXIV suddenly so popular? ›

One of the primary reasons for FFXIV's popularity is the free trial. Even if an MMO has a free trial, it's nowhere near as expansive as FFXIV's. Currently, prospective players can play through the base game (A Realm Reborn), as well as the first expansion Heavensward.

Is FF14 more popular than wow? ›

Final Fantasy 14 might be closer to World of Warcraft in terms of active players than ever before. According to statistics by MMO Population, Final Fantasy 14 is currently sitting at around 2.49 million active players, compared to World of Warcraft's 2.19 million active players.

Is FF14 worth playing in 2022? ›

There were simply too many players trying to play at once, and the developers could not address the server overcrowding yet. But when it comes to the question if someone should play Final Fantasy XIV in 2022, the answer is an unequivocal yes.

Is FFXIV still good 2022? ›

FFXIV is still worth playing in 2022. Yes the game failed upon its initital release, but they came back better than ever with the Realm Reborn expansion pack and all of its current and future DLC releases. The game is updated regularly, and there is a large community behind it.

Is FF14 worth playing solo? ›

“If you ask FF14 players what is their most enjoyable experience in the game, [the] vast majority would say it's the single-player questing experience, specifically when working through the main story quest,” Quazii says.

Is ff14 harder than WoW? ›

WoW raids and FFXIV raids are hard to compare really. They are structured very differently. FFXIV raids at the top end I would think is harder. They don't offer the level of rewards that WoW raids do though so there is less incentive to participate.

Why are WoW players switching to FFXIV? ›

The WoW playerbase is dwindling fast though and many of WoW's subscribers are unsubscribing and moving over to Final Fantasy XIV and enjoying the greener grass The reason for the mass exodus is due to - what I believe to be - game fatigue, bad design choices, a fed-up community and the recent Blizzard lawsuit.

What makes ff14 better than WoW? ›

FFXIV Has Superior Story & Quests

The scenes are grand and the characters expressive and life-like. But where WoW is lacking horribly, as compared to FFXIV, is the attention to detail. Why kill 10 monsters for a quest? WoW doesn't give small quests its due respect.

Is WoW losing players to ff14? ›

Rise of Final Fantasy XIV, decline of World of Warcraft

According to numbers released by Activision Blizzard, they are seeing a consistent decline in players in WoW. The drop from 26M to 24M is on top of a 13% decline back in November 2021. These numbers are not good for WoW, but they can be corrected.

Will ff14 surpass WoW? ›

FFXIV is now the most actively played MMORPG in the world with nearly 2.5 million active players every day. This surpasses World of Warcraft and World of Warcraft Classic with 2.19 million and 1.75 million respectively.

What percentage of FFXIV players use Steam? ›

MonthAvg. Players% Gain
Last 30 Days23,329.0-5.73%
June 202224,747.9-4.84%
May 202226,007.0-2.59%
April 202226,698.6+48.84%
94 more rows

Is FFXIV good 2022? ›

There were simply too many players trying to play at once, and the developers could not address the server overcrowding yet. But when it comes to the question if someone should play Final Fantasy XIV in 2022, the answer is an unequivocal yes.

Is Final Fantasy 14 good for solo? ›

“If you ask FF14 players what is their most enjoyable experience in the game, [the] vast majority would say it's the single-player questing experience, specifically when working through the main story quest,” Quazii says.

What kind of MMO is FFXIV? ›

Final Fantasy XIV is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) developed and published by Square Enix.

Is FF14 expensive? ›

Final Fantasy FFXIV is an expensive game. For a game that originally launched over ten years ago, you still pay a whopping $59.99 USD — in other words, full-game price — for the complete edition of the game. This edition includes the base game and all of its expansions so far.


1. Final Fantasy XIV Is The Best MMORPG Right Now
2. Why Final Fantasy XIV isn't an's an MORPG. (Why FFXIV is beating WoW.)
(nerdSlayer Studios)
3. I hate that mount! #Shorts
4. FFXIV doesn't HATE US! Vee reacts to "MMO Grinding Can Be...Fun?"
(Mom's Den)
5. Tell me you hate this video game stage w/o telling me you hate this video game stage #FFXIV
(Aether "SavageHyuRa" Wallace)
6. World of Warcraft vs Final Fantasy XIV: The Great MMO War of 2021
(Icy The Fire Mage)

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