I'm frustrated right now, so I apologize if a little bit slips into my post. I'll try my best not to let it happen in the interest of providing useful feedback. I realize that it is unrealistic to expect any of this to change, since it seems like it's been this way throughout the game's life, and with FFXIV pretty much out, it wouldn't pay to rewrite any part of FFXI, other than adding more content. That's fine, and I accept that, but I still want to give my opinion, feedback, and share the experience I've had so far. This is by no means a fiery "I quit" post and/or hate speech. I'm more than willing to give this game another chance, but I need some help understanding the why this game is so hard to start out in.
A little bit of history up until this point:
- I just bought the game yesterday, and spent all night updating the game. I heard its a notoriously long process, and took around 5 hours. That didn't bug me, because a.) I was expecting it, and b.) because I understand that MMO's have huge file sizes.
- The sign up process is long, compared to other MMO's where registering takes a few minutes tops. You sign-up for an account.. that's it, you're ready to play. I spent about a half-hour filling out all the PlayOnline forms.
- I got around to playing it this morning. Character creation went smoothly. I chose San d'Oria as my starting place.
Now, onto my gameplay experiences from the short span I've played. It concerns me that I already have so many gripes with it. I'm sure it gets better as you level, but its discouraging when you get stuck at such an early point.
- First, and foremost, there NEEDS to be a mini-map on screen. All that is provided is a compass that, for new players, can be hard to read because you don't know the layouts to begin with. Most Final Fantasy games have had a mini-map, and since worlds in MMO's tend to be a lot bigger than other games, I'm surprised this was done away with in FFXI. I'll continue to explain why this is so crucial as I go. Also, please consider auto-marking a person's map with their contacts.. I ended up spending a lot of time just trying find people I'm supposed to talk to. I found myself using Google to figure out where I needed to go.
- Secondly, there is no information given to new players about controls, and basic operations in the game itself. Having this information on your website is great and all, but there is no reason why there shouldn't be a pop-up message that displays this information when you first enter the world.
- The tutorial is really helpful at first, and does a good job of explaining some early game mechanics. However, it also exposes new players to the more frustrating aspects of combat VERY early on. Specifically at the part where she sends you to La Theine Plateau.
- This is where my \struggles began. See, she doesn't actually tell you that you're wasting your time making that trip if you don't spend time leveling up first. Not knowing that I would be thrust into such difficult mobs (even on the way there), I figured that the challenge would within the range of my character's capabilities at the time. She sends you there at level 4.
- Long story short, I died. And I kept on dying, because of all the orcs. Now, it was quite easy to figure out that you need to avoid these guys like the plague, however the game goes to great lengths to make this a very difficult task. First of all, their aggro range IS INSANE. They seem to be able to spot you from half a field away. This is not fun. I was fighting bunnies by the Westgate (trying to get back to level 5 from being dropped to level 3 throughout this mess) and still, one came up and two-shotted me. They don't even spawn there to my knowledge, let alone be high enough to do that much damage per hit ( I was level 4 at the time). I'm guessing it must have been one of the orcs that chased me all the way across the zone the previous time I died. Why in the world should monsters at low levels be able to do that? There is no way to possibly escape from getting killed by orcs that are chasing you at this level. You can't stop to throw a potion because of the cast time, your not going to have skills to mitigate with this threat, and you certainly don't have the time to check your map to find the zone's exit. That's why having a mini-map would be so incredibly helpful in running away, because that's what your going to be doing a lot in these early levels.
Now this may seem more like a rant than I wanted it to be, but to be honest, no game should ever be this difficult to get passed level 5. I understand that this MMO is about challenge, and I really want to enjoy that part, but not before I've gotten a chance to gain the tools I need to succeed.