So innocently enough a few months back I follow a link from the Penny Arcade forums to World of Warcraft's free stress test beta. Hey, why the heck not? I ask myself. I start to play...and play...and play. But at the end of the week, I stop logging in once I realize the character I made will be wiped and think that's that.
Later, after getting more and more frustrated with FFXI I browse around and see that WoW is having another open beta. I snag a beta key and play again, and play...and play...and play. I go back and play FFXI some more, but every time I log in by comparison seems like a chore. I'm almost level 50 and I still can't do any "cool" quests or missions, and even if I could, good luck finding a group of people who will agree to do it all at the same time in the exact formation of jobs that is required by the game for success. So meanwhile it's slog slog slog through levelling up, which consists only of fighting the same mobs over and over and over again in different areas that don't even have the decency to be different colors or have new attacks, and only in parties of six and only in the exact lineup of jobs required by the game to succeed. Want to join a group, but you're a Theif? You'll probably be looking for a party on the average of about three hours before you can find one. Anyone want a Summoner? Why, when they can get a White Mage or a Red Mage who has Raise? Want to level Monk or Warrior all the way to level 75? Good luck, you'll consistently get turned down by groups who only want a Paladin or a Dark Warrior. I buy the $30 expansion pack hoping for new quests and content, only to find that to access most of the new areas you need to complete a nearly impossible series of quests again requiring 18 people who all get together at the exact same time in the exact formation of jobs that you need with the exact items you need to succeed, and even then only a tiny fraction of the promised expansion content is implemented. By comparison everything I do in WoW seems like a breath of fresh air. Even exploring new areas nets you experience. The game is very soloable. Some people call the game "too easy," and to them I say if you've got the time and desire to mire endlessly through impossible battles, go to it.
And then the Beta ends a week early, and while sad, I think to myself "well, that's the end of that I suppose. My husband would kill me if we were paying four MMORPG fees a month (FFXI, WoW, CoHx2)."
In the meantime, to see if it was just the change of scenery that got me interested, I try Guild Wars and The Saga of Ryzom free betas. I delete each one in less than a day, completely uninterested.
Then I go into Best Buy today, and on a shelf staring me in the face is the box for World of Warcraft. And I think, and I think hard, about how much fun I had playing it, compared to how little fun I've had in FFXI lately. And before I know it, the box has leaped off the shelf and right into my hand, all unbeknownst to me.
But as I said, my husband will froth if he finds out I've signed up for ANOTHER MMORPG. So now I'm forced to take a hard look at FFXI and ask myself: is it worth it anymore? I've dumped so much time and money into the game and by comparison gotten so little out of it. There's high-end content that I'd like to see, but even if I spend the months that would still be required for me to level high enough to do it, then there's the endless waiting and arranging and rescheduling of trying to beg, borrow and steal enough people to help out with it. And by comparison, I can jump into WoW right now and finish the entire first two areas with varied quests and exploration and get to about level 17 in relatively little time, and have fun doing it. And while being surrounded by other people and chatting with them, I am not absolutely bound to them and their schedules and their whims to do pretty much ANYTHING.
So for right now, I think my plan is this - cancel FFXI. My character data will remain for 90 days. I can even reactivate and then re-cancel it every 90 days to keep it around indefinitely, although I'd have to pay just once every 90 days as opposed to once a month. And in that time I can probably see if WoW is much more suited to me, which I already know it is, but hey, the game only just started and it can still be nerfed out of existence once Blizzard realizes that people are actually having fun with it or something
"And for the record, I'm excited about the possibility that I can <i>not allow</i> you to do <i>anything</i>."
--My husband, in response to me whinging that I wasn't <i>allowed</i> to go on the computer