Bhagpuss has an excellent post on the Duty Finder system (for dungeons) in FFXIV that I read yesterday. He also talks about the gating of story within dungeons in this game.
I find myself agreeing with this post, it accurately outlines some of the reasons why I wasn’t that tempted to subscribe to the game after the free time ran out. The issues he outlines aren’t isolated to FFXIV though, they also relate very closely with a similar trend in modern World of Warcraft:
- Forcing players to use a Dungeon Finder / PUG system
- Locking story progression behind such a system
So when I was playing FFXIV and suddenly found I had to do dungeons to get on with the story I was pretty disappointed. I was in doubt whether I’d subscribe and didn’t want to go through the trial of trying to find a suitable guild only to disappear a few days after joining. This left me forced to play with random groups of players just to progress the story. Compared with LOTROs solo-friendliness this felt too rigid, or restrictive and controlling as Bhagpuss described it.
I find the WoW dev tactic of storylines gated by raids to be equally restrictive – in particular the Black Prince story arc (spoiler-filled wiki post) requires you to grind multiple raids via the Raid Finder system to collect tokens. The story isn’t bad from what I’ve seen so far but Blizzard couldn’t pay me enough to do two or more raids ten times or more through LFR; it’s just a plain bad experience (yes I know I could do normal mode or now even flex-mode for some of this but it’s still story-in-raid!).
SWTOR also has some story in its flashpoints and operations but the group sizes are smaller than other MMOs so it’s easier to fill a group of friends and family to do these. Guild Wars 2 has the dungeons as part of the personal story arc and we did about the first half of the first dungeon before deciding to never, *ever* go back to that mess. Even worse it locks the final part inside a dungeon as well!
So, devs, either give me a solo option (EQ2 does this really well and Rift’s Chronicle system too) or leave my story outside of the gear-grind dungeons!