Seeing as I haven't seen anyone else around really and a noodley friend from TSW has been bugging me to try it for ages, I figured I have now run out of excuses. I do only have 30 days to play it as it is a subscription game (boo! hiss!) and a recurring sub isn't financially realistic now. So this stuff will be my first impressions and game overview for anyone interested or curious.
No dwarfs. 0/10. They have elfs, humans, cat people (it's Japanese after all), giants, and a small, deformed child-like race. It's as close to a dwarf as I could get. There is another race that looks like either demon people or goat people (they have horns), but you can only play one if you have the expansion, which I don't.
You have to choose a class at character creation, but once you reach level 10 in it, you can then venture around and get initiated into other classes. They all level up independently, so if you switch to another class, you start from level 1 and have to run around doing low-level stuff again. You can switch classes on the fly outside combat by changing your weapon. Any other gear you don't meet the requirements for will be unequipped, which is why you see a lot of people running around in their underwear: they didn't keep, make, or buy low-level gear that their other class could equip. Here's a list of classes:
- Marauder - A 2h axe-wielding tank. More damage, more hp, lower defenses.
- Gladiator - A sword and board tank. Highest defenses, rubbish damage.
- Thaumaturge - Basically a black mage, if you know FF. Otherwise, a fire/ice/lightning-based magic damage dealer
- Conjurer - White mage / healer who has some earth-elemental damage
- Arcanist - DoT magic / pet class that has some heals
- Rogue - Dual dagger stealth melee fighter. Cannot start as this one since it was added to the game in a later patch.
- Archer - What is says on the tin
- Lancer - Uses a 2h spear/lance and jumps around. The pre-dragoon for any FF nerds
- Pugilist - Hand to hand fighter, positional based damage
This game is very Japanese and very Final Fantasy, for good or ill. There's a lot of cutscenes/exposition, the story revolves around crystals, animations are very much not what you see in western games (not bad, but distinctly Japanese), and the writing is...weird. It's hard to explain exactly if you're not big into JRPGs or know Japanese. They use words that you wouldn't normally see in western games because, well, the translators picked really weird translations out of their Japanese-English dictionary. I guarantee you'll learn quite a few new words you didn't know existed. Even I learned a couple. It's very clear they made this "Japanese in English form" as opposed to making it English, which is pretty much what they always do. Also, some of the menu options are unclear. Once you use that option, it'll make you think "Ooooohhhhh, I see what they were going for here. I guess that kinda makes sense," but you wouldn't guess the function just from the option itself.
Swapping weapons to change class isn't bad. It's basically what you do in TSW, to an extent. Plus, this means as long as you have the gear, one character can do every job. FF14 has a completely separate inventory for gear, so it doesn't get all mixed up in your crafting mats, trash, potions, etc. You can also create gear lists (saved sets of gear) and can just use that menu to switch classes rather than manually equipping/unequipping. Taking on a new class will provide you with a starter weapon, but not gear, so you need to hold on to level 1 gear or you'll be running around in your small clothes.
On my first day, I had to put 12 people on ignore ("Blacklist"). Why? Gold sellers. This game is full of them. They not only spam the local chats, but also will send tells to people they find in the search function. Luckily, I got told a wonderful piece of advice. If you set your status to "Busy" you cannot receive tells from anyone, including gold sellers. Problem is you also can't be added to a group or receive tells from people you might want to receive tells from. Sad, really, that it's one or the other.
Dungeons are part of the main story quest. Don't do the dungeon, don't advance the story. Advancing the story unlocks certain things, like traveling between the starting cities (which are based on which class you picked at creation), game functionality like the group finder ("Duty Finder"), and of course the expansion content if you own that. Personally, I don't like this, but I'm contrarian. If you tell me dungeons are optional and give me nothing, I'll probably do them. If you tell me I have to do the dungeons and there's uber loot and huge story payoffs, I don't want to do them simply because I'm told I have to. I've done 2 so far, but they've basically been tutorial dungeons.
EDIT: Forgot to mention that leveling is fairly easy and simple so far. You have the main story, a class story quest every 5 levels, Fates (little zone events), and a hunting log (unique to each class). The log is basically slayer deeds, but so far has only been 3-5 enemies of each type. You get 10 new groups to kill every 10 levels and they provide a ton of XP, plus you get a hefty bonus for completing a group of 10. You can do sidequests, but it's overkill and you're better off either not doing them or saving them for your low-level jobs.
EDIT (cont'd): There is a LOT of back and forth travel, but unlike say, SWTOR, ff14 gives you different ways to get around. Besides on foot, there are crystals you can teleport to after you've found them once. Within towns, it's free. Outside towns, it costs money. If you're a cheapskate like me, you can purchase a ride on a chocobo for much, much, much cheaper. It's not instant of course, but it's 5-15 gil versus 100-400. You can grab an airship (after a point in the story) to go between the main cities for 120 gil, as opposed to 200-400. You have a return spell that takes you to one specific crystal of your choosing for free, but has a cooldown. You can register one crystal as a free transport (if you have a security key...I don't) and can register 3 others as "favorites", reducing their cost.
Lastly, the gcd in this game is 2.5 seconds. That's loooooong. Most games have a 1-1.5s gcd. This makes the game take on a slightly slower pace, but also you have to be very careful and deliberate with your skills. You better be sure you don't need a taunt or heal in the next 2.5s if you decide to go with a damaging skill. If something happens immediately after you use a skill, you might be screwed, so you can't mindlessly spam skills. There is a stat in the game to decrease the gcd, but I don't have enough of it to make a difference at the moment.