The only downside I’m finding to playing FFXIV at the moment is the volume of solo-only instanced content in the main scenario quests. It’s a very common problem in MMORPGs, developers seem to think we should be forced to do story-heavy missions on our own. To be honest if I want to play with friends why should it matter if it’s a bit easier?
It’s particularly irksome that this includes not using your Chocobo companion and that the game punishes you for having one out if you are running main scenario quests – any remaining minutes on the food buff used to summon it are lost if you put it away to do such a quest!
Not every main scenario quest is solo though, there are ‘purple area’ quests which summon the encounter in the open world, albeit locked to your group. This uses the same tech as the Guildleve system – you can only attack leve-spawned monsters if you are grouped with the initiator. So if the tech exists why do so many missions as solo instances?
It’s the inconsistency that really irks me; not that some things are solo in the game. I have exactly the same problem with mission design in The Secret World since the game does small group play very well in most cases, but then has pure-solo missions that break that flow. Star Wars the Old Republic was possibly the best supporter of group play, even in the class story missions, although I’ve read recent blog entries by Shintar that seem to hint that the newer content is not so supportive of coop gameplay.
I just wish MMORPG developers would put more thought into letting people play with their friends as a priority, it’s the obvious social mode to include!