I spent a good chunk of the weekend playing the new Final Fantasy XIV. I've got my primary combat class up to level 21 and have all of the crafting classes in the 12-17 range. I've decided I'm liking the game enough to set up a subscription once my free trial for buying the original game has expired. It's not all perfect by any stretch and it's clear this is a fresh launch of a new game with the missing features I've come to expect from a new game launch, but it's been a lot of fun and that's really all I can ask.
The biggest problem is probably the number of gold sellers who are getting away with spamming all the public channels into oblivion. There isn't an easy blocking mechanism and there doesn't seem to be a very good GM presence. This isn't an unexpected issue, but I guess they decided it wasn't worth investing time and money into fixing for the launch. I can't block people using just my controller, sadly, but I can go to the keyboard and type in /blist add "their name" to get it done. Once I learned how to do that things got a lot better. My blacklist is getting larger and larger, but I'm finding I just need to block one or two people when I zone into a major city and then I'm fine. A little annoying, but not a big deal.
Another issue is the lack of a sorting function. They've actually done something pretty great for inventory management and it's just missing a sort function to make it awesome. What they did is split your inventory up into different pieces. All key items for quests go in their own tab. All crystals used in crafting go in their own tab. But the big thing is every type of gear gets their own 25 slot bag. So I have a bag for rings, and a bag for boots, and a bag for weapons. This is needed because I currently have 19 different classes! There is a fair amount of gear overlap (all crafting classes want the same stuff for every slot except weapon and offhand) but since I could have them all at different levels it makes sense to have inventory set aside for all these things. There's also an item rack system so I can quickly change classes and have the right gear put on automatically. The only problem is there's no way when looking at an item in my inventory to find out if it's in any of the item sets. I'd like to know if I'm done with something before I vendor it!
A final issue is the existence of a critically important main quest line. I didn't realize how important this quest line was going to be when I started, and I ended up doing pretty much every single quest around my starting town except for the main quest line. This became a problem when I went to look up how to get to the other starting towns to unlock the other starting classes. Turns out you can't leave Limsa Lominsa until you've done a good chunk of the main quest line, and I'd outleveled it. So either I could do a trivial quest line or I could grind monsters in a circle with the other combat class in my area. I ended up doing the trivial quest line route. The main quest line also is a gate locking out the ability to use the auction house, and to disenchant gear into materia, and probably to get a chocobo mount. It also involved doing multiple dungeons, and I randomly chose a DPS class when I started. Dungeons in FFXIV only have 4 people, and as anyone who's tried to use a dungeon finder should know that means there simply aren't enough tanks or healers. I've been looking at a 45+ minute wait time to get into the dungeons with a 45 second window to accept when my turn comes up, which means I've had to stay logged in waiting all that time. I just went and crafted stuff because I like doing that so it wasn't actually a big deal, but if I had to do it again I would definitely start as a tank (marauder or gladiator) or a healer (conjurer) and make sure I stuck to the main story line as much as possible.
On the positive side, the game definitely feels like a Final Fantasy game, with lots of little throwbacks to the older games. Nobuo Uematsu did the music for the original FFXIV and that was pretty much the only part of that game that didn't suck. I got into one story line fight and the music was a remake of the Final Fantasy II combat music. I joined a secret society who's code word was 'wild rose', the same as the rebels used in FFII. There's an evil empire using magitek armour from FFVI. The whole thing just feels like Final Fantasy, and that's awesome for me.
The game has an interesting subclass system going on. You can pull in abilities from other classes, so when I started over at level 1 to get a feel for a different combat class I also got to include a healing ability from my main class. Each of the 8 combat classes has a different feel to combat, which is nice. The crafting classes also get to pull in abilities from other classes, which is a little weird, but each of them seems to get a unique ability at level 15 which is a slightly better version of a base ability, and I get to pick and choose which ones of those I want when I switch to other crafting classes. It makes the whole thing more complicated and interesting which I like.
There are still messages when I log in about server issues and character creation being locked on some servers, but I haven't had any issues at all. I got into a log in queue once when I tried to start playing at 9pm, but I was 10th in line and got on in the time it took to go get something to drink. So it sounds like probably there are some popular servers with huge guilds from the original game having problems, but Faerie doesn't seem to be having any of them. I got randomly invited into a guild in the game (I thought it was part of the tutorial) and it seems like there's a guild leveling system so guilds want as many chumpers doing things as they can. I'm not high enough level to do anything with them because I like to craft things, but it is nice to have random chatter to read every now and then.