Final Fantasy XI Online

released on May 16, 2002

Final Fantasy XI Online is the franchise's first MMORPG as well as the eleventh installment in the main series. FFXI was the world's first cross-console MMORPG, available for Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox 360 and Steam.

Since its release in 2002, it has become the most financially successful title in the Final Fantasy series. Due to the nature of online RPGs, FFXI differs in that the player is not the only hero. Instead, each player creates a customizable character and adventures through the world of Vana'diel with other players; leveling up, exploring, completing missions, quests, and much more.

Leveling up requires a group of people working together in what is called a Party, with each participant contributing their own skills to help take down a foe and gain Experience points. Battles occur in real-time, taking the ATB system to a new level, which was emulated again to a certain extent in Final Fantasy XII.

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Giving this game, or at the very least its base campaign, any ranking today feels a bit weird I'm gonna be real.
It's clear this experience extends much further and I do intend to discover where it might lead.
But I still do want to put a small recounting of my feelings about this game up until this point so that I may contrast the quality of it later down the road.
It took me a few months to really get into this game, and I don't blame anyone for immediately shafting it in the opening hours. The controls are clunky, the mechanics are poorly explained, the exploration can be gruelingly slow and a lot of QoL features made specifically to cater to novices are very badly tutorialized, which sucks.
A lot of the early game will be spent navigating from wiki page to reddit questions about the most basic bullshit to your more veteran friend's dms, if you're lucky enough to have such a friend (thanks Alise).
However, and this is where I can't really justify myself, once you're past the stage of second guessing every mouse click, and once you begin understanding the patters under which the game operates, it's...good?
It's still slow, there are still a lot of things kept from the player for no discernable reason and some of the dungeon design would make the CIA's torture teams blush in embarrassment, but I definitely took enjoyment in the general experience.
The world of Vana'diel is bleak, shrouded in a lot of mysteries and secrets, some of which the main plot does address. Exploring, seeing the sights, discovering more and more of the towns and regions of the world felt like my exploration was being rewarded in kind. It felt good to walk for hours and to finally discover a bustling town of miners embroiled in thinly veiled racial tensions.
And while the plot itself is, quite frankly, a tad basic for what you'd expect from an FF game in the 2000s, there were some genuinely great scenes and set pieces, and the main villain was really poignant? It definitely did struck a chord with me at the very least.
All of this is a rough and general summary of my experience with FFXI's base campaign, and I don't doubt some of my feelings about it will change with the later content. I think XI's a game with a flawed, but fairly decent foundation with an unfortunately alienating new player experience. However, if you do have the patience to surmount those harsh early hours of the game, and a few other stumbles along the way, this game might be worth a shot.

i'd love to rate this higher, because the worldbuilding seems interesting and it has a quaint, nostalgic charm about its presentation that i love. however, it took me about an hour of googling to find out how to even sign up and log into the game, and the controls render it far too obtuse for me to actually sink any time into. currently figuring out how to unsubscribe.

the MMORPG of all time. a truly mysterious jogo in rpg form. almost impenetrably opaque by modern standards, which only adds to the quaint mysteriousness of its world. it feels like the MMORPG you'd hear about in anime back in the day brought to life.

This is a challenging game to assign a "rating" to. It's clear that this game has depth beyond anything I could experience in a reasonable amount of time, and it's clear that there is much to enjoy here, however the game lacks modern tweaks that would make this a more enjoyable experience. The biggest problem is that the game does not respect the player's time--even with massive EXP boosts and Trust NPCs, it can take hours to accomplish even simple tasks. Small mistakes can cost time, and it's impossible to play this game without a guide. I'm glad to have experienced this game, but I don't think I could recommend it to others. This is the time it took me to clear all of the Bastok missions, which was my starting nation.

I don't feel like leaving a review, I played 20+ years after it came out. It was a cool experience though.