Leveling in FFXI use to be a long process. After soloing yourself to about level 10, you needed a full group (six people) in a balanced party of 1 tank, 1 healer, 1 support, and 3 damage dealers and a good camp to farm higher level monsters (higher levels gave more XP). If you had a good party you could expect to gain a couple levels per night of solid leveling. Holy crap has that changed!... Read All So I’ve been a bit absent from the Cheerful Ghost community for a little while, and it’s largely because I decided to pick up FFXI again. Now that I’m about two weeks into my return to the game I wanted to post some thoughts on how the game has changed since I quit in 2009.
Leveling in FFXI use to be a long process. After soloing yourself to about level 10, you needed a full group (six people) in a balanced party of 1 tank, 1 healer, 1 support, and 3 damage dealers and a good camp to farm higher level monsters (higher levels gave more XP). If you had a good party you could expect to gain a couple levels per night of solid leveling. Holy crap has that changed! Leveling is insanely fast now compared to the last time I played. First of all, I soloed two jobs to 15 without breaking a sweat. One of my jobs, I took from 20 to 30 in two hours with one XP party in Gusgen Mines (which, I might add, use to be a BAD place to try and xp).
The difference is there are now Field Guides / Ground Tomes scattered around the world that offer you little auto-repeating quests that grant you bonus xp and gil (money) for every X amount of mobs you kill. XP party’s now exploit these quests for insane XP by forming an alliance and just slaughtering everything in a zone. It doesn’t matter that you only get 20 xp per mob when every 6 kills nets you a bonus 1k. There’s no party dynamic in leveling anymore, you just throw as many people at the mobs as you can and if you have curing abilities you help keep everyone healthy.
This was probably the most jarring change for me. Part of the reason I picked the game up was because I missed playing in a party, skillchaining and magic bursting with other players. That said, the new leveling system I think is a benefit to the game. Because of how strict the old party set up use to be, certain jobs had trouble finding groups to level with because of a general overabundance of damage dealers and a lack of healers and tanks. That’s not an issue anymore. Plus even in 2009 people had generally given up on skillchains / magic bursts in favor of just spamming abilities.
The community in FFXI was always its strongest asset. Because the game forces you to work in a group early in the game it is very easy to find a linkshell (guild) or another group of players to join up with. Outside the game, back in 2009 there was no official FFXI forums, so the community built their own sites/forums to help each other and collect/share data and information on the game. Although there are official forums now, it looks like people are still mostly active on the fan sites.
The player base itself has shrunk considerably, but that’s to be expected for a game that’s so old. Back in 2009 at any given time there use to be around 3k-4k on the Cerberus server, I checked the population the other day it was around 1.2k. However, Square Enix has announced a new expansion for FFXI, so it’s expected that we’ll see an influx of new and returning players. Plus they’re adding 2 new jobs, so there will be a lot more low level people for me to join up with (hopefully) soon.
This has always been FFXI’s biggest weakness, and unfortunately it still is. Making money, especially for low level characters, is still difficult. Although it looks like the wild inflation that wrecked the economy back when I was previously playing the game has been largely fixed, new problems have popped up that are probably related to the decrease in the player base. Low level gear is almost non-existent on the auction house and I’ve struggled to keep my character in gear appropriate for my level. Either the items are too expensive or they’re just not there. I’ve actually bought several pieces of gear from NPC merchants, which use to be unheard of because the players could craft better, cheaper armor and sell them on the auction house. However due to the speed that you level in the game and the fact that you level on easier mobs, having maxed gear is much, much, MUCH less important than it use to be.
Also, some items that are vital to completing quests without high level help (Sneak oils and Invisible powders that let you avoid aggroing mobs) are ridiculously expensive now. I’ve been talking with higher level players and they have told me that making money is a lot easier later in the game, but that doesn’t really help me yet (or other new players).
Another hurdle to making money I’ve noticed is that due to the smaller player base (and therefore lower demand) items take longer to sell on the auction house. On the other hand, I’ve noticed that competition for farming mobs is almost non-existent. Monsters that I use to never see wandering around because they were farmed for items I now see in an abundance.
Overall impressions and some side notes:
Overall, I’ve actually been having a lot of fun rampaging through Vana’diel again. The game is so much easier now. Level caps have been removed from a lot of content, making it possible to solo a lot of missions / quests that you otherwise couldn’t before. Leveling is ridiculously easy now, possibly even easier than other MMO’s like WoW. While I’ve certainly hit a few snags along the way, none of them have been that bad. Having said that, a lot of my ease is because I have experience playing the game previously. While the game has made some serious strides towards making the game more welcoming to new players, especially the addition of a new low level quest line that provided some basic gear and some significant starting money, I still think a total newbie would have some problems if they don’t have at least one more experienced friend also playing the game with them.