XP Fatigue/Quest Limits: Not As Bad As You Think

It’s been a little funny playing FFXIV the past couple of weeks. A lot of what people were so scared of has turned out to be a non-issue. Fatigue and quest limits in particular have gone pretty much unmentioned by the majority of players actually in-game.

The non-issue of the fatigue system is especially noticeable. If there was ever a flash in the pan, this was it. I’ve only talked to one person who’s even encountered it since they fixed the error that made it so apparent in beta. I’m not sure exactly what they did but there are some pretty hardcore players in my guild and none of them seem have even mentioned it. Maybe it’s because they’re changing classes fairly often. Still, they’re in their mid-twenties by now and that’s pretty good for this early in the game. Myself, I’m level 14 and admittedly casual (maybe 7-10 hours a week), so I’m guessing I’ll probably never see it at all.

Then there’s the leve limit; there’s something that has to be clarified here. I’ve heard people say that there’s an eight leve limit and that’s simply not true. I repeat, you can have more than eight leves at a time. It works out like this, leves are broken into two categories: crafting and field (combat/gathering). There’s a limit of eight per category which means you can actually have up to 16 at once. The timers on each are a little different– 24 hours on crafting and 36 for the field – so it’s possible to have the cooldowns overlap. Still, let them all refresh and you have a lot of quests to do, crafting often taking longer than the kill quests of other games.

The issue is more conceptual than anything. People don’t like the idea of being limited, even if it probably wouldn’t slow you down much anyways. Just by playing for a couple hours and doing all 16 of my leves, I was able to get two and a half levels last night. That’s not bad and actually a bit faster than leveling in many other games. Add into that some personal crafting time and it becomes even more possible to race through the levels– all without normal quests. There’s this little mental hang-up that says “well, what IF I wanted to play for eight hours a day, I should be able to do that!” and, yeah, I can empathize with that. Doing that exclusively through leves would be game breaking, though.

The timer is important because leves are simply too rewarding. If you removed the limit, we’d see people hitting the level cap within the week. You’d also see people ignoring other parts of the game because they’re followed such an obvious path of least resistance. There’s an argument out there that we need more types of quests to break up the monotony, leves being basic kill quests, after all. I’d tend to agree but that’s a little different than saying there’s nothing to do.

The issue people are having is a general aversion to approaching crafting as a legitimate playstyle. As much as people enjoy crafting elsewhere, many players simply aren’t ready to make it such a big part of their play. That’s fair and an aversion to crafting will definitely hinder your enjoyment of the game– it does, after all take longer than combat leves, effectively cutting 60% of your playtime right out of the equation. Not good for hardcore players. For players who appreciate building and creating, however, it’s a refreshing change from the norm.

If you choose to do all leve types, you can expect to be occupied for a couple hours at least. It’s actually lead me to not log in a couple times. The completionist in me wants to get everything done so they’re refreshed for next time, but there’s more there than I can reasonably do in one play session. For a working person, FFXIV is a great choice; even a few leves gives you a nice sense of progression. Add into that your own crafting and random kills, and you’ll probably level faster than you would elsewhere. In the end, the game probably isn’t a good match for the four hour a day player that wants quests non-stop. Crafters rejoice, however, because FFXIV gets it very right and you can spend LOTS of time getting better at what you do.

In the end, both XP fatigue and the quest limits are good examples of behavior we’ve seen in almost new every MMO. We see something that, by concept, sounds risky and so we rail against it (transmutation stones, anyone?). As is often the case, the reality doesn’t live up to outrage some would have us foster. That’s definitely the case here, so take complaints with a grain of salt. I’d bet most people complaining haven’t even encountered what they’re railing against. Or, in the case of leves, don’t want to try something that other players may well enjoy. Being locked in a single playstyle isn’t a design flaw. Good or bad, it’s just being stolid.

Post-Note: It’s not worth an entire post, but I thought it was worth noting that playing FFXIV has actually made me want to get back into LotRO a bit, too. The game’s have such different takes on the MMO that I’m kind of excited to step back into a more structured experience. I guess it just shows how different a niche this game fills for me.

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