Comparing and contrasting a released title to an unreleased title is a difficult measure. With one you have actual hands-on experience the other sits vaguely on the horizon beckoning you with temptation, just out of reach. In this case, we’ve had a few days to play Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, and plenty more time to read over all of the interesting and persuasive material on Everquest Next, and thought it would be fun to compare and contrast the two.
To me, in a way both games are similar from the get to but also vastly different. FFXIV: ARR is the reimagining of the original FFXIV that failed miserably, built on top of the heritage of a long and successful franchise. EQN is the reimagining of the entire EQ franchise, from top to bottom and an attempt to reimagine the entire MMO industry.
That, of course, is where the big differences arise. FFXIV isn’t innovative, it’s iterative. It’s built on the work of MMOs past; from public quests to having players don their FEDEX hats and deliver packages to and fro. The feature list is that it’s an MMO, Final Fantasy themed, and isn’t like that other FF MMO where you spent years upon years leveling up.
EQN, on the other hand, is digging up new dirt (up to and including the Voxel Farm voxel-based procedural engine that will actually allow you to dig up dirt), reimagining the MMO. From the Minecraft-esq world to innovating ideas, it is permeated with freshness and creativity. Creativity is the big keyword here. It’s not only one but two games, with Landmark being a world building and crafting tool and EQN being the meat and potatoes of the bunch.
However, to say that they are not similar is to laugh in the face of the industry, and to say that EQN is nothing but new ideas is to completely forget the existence of Guild Wars 2. FFXIV’s cross class system allows you to mix and match classes with ease while EQN will also let you, in their own words, “be a backstabbing barbarian.”
Of course, we can also make a stark comparison between the two to Guild Wars 2. The FATE system in FFXIV: ARR is disturbingly similar to GW2’s dynamic events, and EQN has some features similar to GW2’s living story (although, I will say, drastically different at the same time). But at this point in time we can’t drub an MMO because of similar features, nay, for if we did that we would have to berate a game for having quests or movement.
One critical difference is the “holy trinity” and how FFXIV handles it vs. how EQN will be handling it. FFXIV uses, to me at least, an innovative system that allows tanks like the Marauder to play like your standard DPS role while tanking (meaning that they have DPS abilities that have increased enmity) and healers have the ability to DPS and heal with ease. EQN will, much like GW2, eschew the entire trinity for a system that lets people move a little in one direction or another, but won’t have dedicated tanks, healers, and DPS.
Not to sidetrack a comparison article too much, but I will say I’m fond of the way FFXIV handles it. I like the definition, that a class is the tank, and the organization of having the fight under complete control. I also rather enjoy mixing and matching classes which lets everyone enjoy skills from all of the classes and to inject some much needed variety into the match. In GW2, I do appreciate the chaotic nature of dungeons and the “non-threat” system, but at the same time the chaos does get to be a bit much.
Which game is superior? It is too soon to tell. FFXIV has had a massive influx of new players, but we have yet to make it to that month mark to see how many stick around. Likewise, buzz for EQN is growing steadily but we won’t even see the game for a long time to come. With that said, I rarely ever feel like one game is superior to another since it’s all subjective. I rather enjoy FFXIV and it’s the first MMO since GW2 that I’ve felt compelled to play. As in waking up on the weekend and excited to login. EQN will most definitely have that same feeling, but again it’s way too early to tell.
One of the things about FFXIV that isn’t that great for me is the lack of innovation. It lacks something new or different to challenge me. EQN is brimming with it. I do think that will be the greatest difference and the biggest boon.
What are your thoughts? Do you think that FFXIV will be relevant still when EQN launches? Do you think there is any comparison at all and if so, which one do you favor?