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An element that Bear and I've always enjoyed in MMO's since our days of playing World of Warcraft is when something known as "phasing" occurs. "Phasing" is the simple idea of the world changing depending on what you have accomplished in an MMO, may it be something simple as a change in NPC or obstacle placement or even huge reformations of a zone's geography. It may sound like a simple concept since it's been in console games for ages, but it's a bit different and a little more complicated when phasing occurs in MMOs since they're populated by thousands of players at once, many of which are at different progression points and have accomplished different things. "Phasing" allows players to have a more personalized experience with the game, for example, making it so that the player will not see a story related change occurring in the world if they, themselves were not the one to cause the change; though there may be thousands of people playing in the same world at the same time, not every player will see the same things in the same places or even the same players. WoW had done this on a major scale a number of times in Cataclysm and I've seen other MMO's adopting the concept, but never in the grand way WoW did it; nevertheless, even in small bits, it makes me happy to see.
Final Fantasy 14 does phasing to a degree and I can't help but to smile a little whenever it happens. It's so great to simply know that something in the world changes from what happens in the story, to have that little breath of life in the game.
Since the stories have you revisiting locations and prominent figures, NPC's are bound to remember you, right? It actually happens in FF14! =D If for instance you decided to become a white mage and had met the characters associated to its story quests; if you were to meet the same NPC's in the main story, you will be presented with special dialogue that shows that you've already met!~ People who've never touched being a white mage on the other hand will get dialogue of meeting for first time. Some of the NPC dialogue is even tailored to whether you chose to make a male or female character. =) I know it's something really minor, but it really does wonders in making it a little more of a personal experience.
Bear and I've started doing raids in FF14 a couple weeks back since we're finished with the main story quest for Heavensward. It's pretty exciting because though we wanted to raid in WoW, we never really had much of a chance to.
I really love FF14's approach to raiding in that there's a story quest that ties everything together. It's not simply a dungeon that you're fighting through; there's a sense of discovery, to unravel the dungeon's mysteries and to reach the end of the mini-story arc. =) There are even story cinematics in-between and at the end of the raids. XD
I'm a bit surprised after finally having a taste of FF14's take on raiding; it's not what I expected since for years, I've heard that WoW raiding took hours upon hours to do while in FF14, raids seem more like major bits of content, yet, bite-sized. I guess I always associated raiding as being hardcore, time intensive, vitality draining, and grueling, but it doesn't feel like it at all in FF14. XD -not to say that the fights don't have their own pointed edges; boss fights definitely require the teams to dance around special mechanics to survive.
For those who don't know, there are two types of raids in FF14, 24-man dungeons that have three or four bosses, and the 8-man tiered-floor-like ones in which the objective varies depending on the floor you choose. Though I admit the 24-man ones aren't too hard, the fights are fun and strike a nice balance between being accessible and having spikes of difficulty; there are checks on players to pay attention to mechanics as not doing so can make the encounter go sour quickly.
The level fifty 8-man ones known as Coils of Bahamut can be brutally hard and clearing a floor can take numerous attempts. It's difficult and yet oh-so rewarding and fun to get through! XD We just beat the fifth floor last week, thirteen floors to go! =D I'm really looking forward to doing more!