The Top Japanese MMORPG
MMORPGs are both a game and a social hub. Players from all over the world could meet up with each other, do activities, or chat. While there are some things you can do alone, the game has several features that facilitate cooperation and/or competition between the players. Many developers have tried to make one, but only a few ever reach the top. Now, we’ll be talking about the top Japanese MMO.
“Did you know that the critically acclaimed MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV has a free trial and includes the entirety of A Realm Reborn AND the award-winning Heavensward expansion up to level 60 with no restrictions on playtime? Sign up, and enjoy Eorzea today! https://secure.square-enix.com/account/app/svc/ffxivregister?lng=en-gb” – A meme you’ve probably seen a thousand times on the internet.
With this quote, it should be obvious what the best Japanese MMO is.
Table of Contents
FFXIV is the fourteenth (obviously) entry to the Final Fantasy game franchise. It is the second MMO to be released in the series and is the more successful one. Only a few people know or realize Final Fantasy XI is an MMO; though it is still going strong, Square Enix has yet to make plans to pull its plug. Still, XIV has the more significant fanbase and exposure, evidenced by the meme above.
FFXIV: A Realm Reborn is actually the second iteration, and the first one was a critically acclaimed failure. It was released in 2010 to a storm of criticism and negative reviews. The graphics and score were nice, but the UI, the experience of playing it, and player limitations that seemingly had no rhyme or reason couldn’t be ignored.
FFXIV (the first one) was mocked and deemed a failure. Square Enix pulled its plug, as it was costing them resources with no chance of getting it back. The company also overhauled the development team and the design process.
During the first time around, they used EverQuest as inspiration. The game also concentrated on making graphics as good as it could be. This left gameplay lacking, which is the main complaint. Naoki “Yoshi-P” Yoshida became the director and managed to make marginal improvements to the original. He made more extensive changes in the year between the shutdown and the release of A Realm Reborn.
He asked the team to play World of Warcraft this time as inspiration. Yoshi-P also focused on catering to specific players. Controller support was optimized, a Duty Finder system was implemented for busy players and patch cycles were scheduled to help returning players catch up quickly. Naoki also streamlined getting approval by setting about 400 design fundamentals to implement standard features.
A Realm Reborn was released in 2013, this time to overwhelmingly positive reviews. The PS4 launch even overloaded the servers, so many players wanted to play it.
The game features a persistent open world players can freely explore with a customized avatar. They can choose to be a Disciple of Magic or War as a starting class, but they can unlock the rest later. Changing it is as easy as changing the equipped weapon. Depending on the subscription type, players can have 1-8 characters per world, with the most expensive subscription allowing for 40 characters max.
The game has a story told through ‘Main Story Quests’ and side stories through ‘Side Quests.’ Other than that, there are Raids, the Golden Saucer, exploration, and smaller dungeons to explore. A FATE system is also active, providing various activities for players. Whether killing bosses or collecting items, it’s a way to connect with other players or earn extra XP. Professions and life skills are also available, letting players be crafters instead of adventurers.
PvP is an optional activity players can choose to participate in specific areas. It has various modes, from simple duels to matches in Crystalline Conflict. Other player interactions are Parties, Free Companies, and Friends.
FFXIV’s interface is the same on every platform it can be played on. The difference is how players access and navigate it.
Unfortunately, these are different products when concerning FFXIV. You must buy the base game ($19.99), the Endwalker expansion, which includes all previous ones ($39.99), and a subscription. There is a Complete Edition ($59.99) which has every released add-on.
Subscriptions have two tiers: Entry and Standard. Entry costs $12.99 for 30 days. You can only have one character per world (up to 8) and can’t buy several in advance like the Standard one. This plan is perfect for those players who want to enjoy the game for short periods.
Standard Tier costs $14.99 per 30 days and provides players with up to 40 slots for characters. However, the maximum they can still make per world is eight. Standard Tier can also be ‘stacked’ as it has bundles for 90 days ($41.97 total, $13.99 per month) and 180 days ($77.94 total, $12.99 per month). Buying the 6-month bundle is more efficient if you’ll be playing the game for that long.
Game Time cards also exist as an alternative. It’ll provide 60 days of the Standard Tier subscription at $29.99.
Buying the game through some retailers or other stores than the official online one might provide other subscription benefits. However, be careful about the Steam version, as many have found that version problematic. It would be better to transact, buy, and play the game through its official site.
There are four expansions for FFXIV: Heavensward, Stormblood, Shadowbringers, and Endwalker (as of the time of writing). The last one ended the game’s main storyline, but the adventures have continued. Some plot lines are still to be reconciled, and mysteries are to be solved. That means there is more content to look forward to, even as Endwalker finishes the storyline.
The game is set in Eorzea, a land of different races and peoples. From the adorable Lalafell to the towering Roegadyn, the land is as diverse as those living there. The variable player character is an adventurer in the Seventh Umbral Era. They join one of three companies and go around the land helping people (or not).
Though the Main Story Quest can direct what the player does, it is ultimately their choice to follow it. Some enjoy the social aspect of the game more. Others focus on the fashion or roleplaying potential it provides. There are many ways to enjoy the game besides doing the main quest or raiding.
Much of the extraneous codes have been removed or fixed with A Realm Reborn. The game didn’t seem like a buggy mess or incomplete, and the team learned from their year’s subscription to WoW. The graphics have been slightly scaled down to fit its cross-platform properties better. Also, prevents bloating, as HD assets take up more space than standard ones. Despite that, the game’s graphics hold well even after ten years of service.
Combat is engaging. It’s simple enough for non-gamers to pick up. Still, veterans and experts take on the challenge of making it more efficient and figuring out the rhythm of using skills. It also has various activities for all kinds of players:
- Quests for Lore-Seekers
- Dungeons for Raiders
- Crafting for Creators
- House decorating and fashion hunting for Designers
- And More!
The game offers something to do for everyone.
Even though there will be jerks everywhere you go, the game’s community is mainly populated by genuinely kind people. Strangers help you out, people plan concerts in the city plaza, and it’s easy to find new friends.
Combine all that, and you get an award-winning MMORPG. You can see how the game deserves its title of best Japanese-made one. Its player base is also dedicated, reaching up to millions of players. It’s so big that Endwalker’s launch caused a massive slowdown of servers. Queues got so bad Square Enix had to suspend sales and add data servers to manage it!
Also, it has transparent developers. Due to the failure of the game’s first iteration, Yoshi-P decided to host live streams and post developer notes regularly to build trust with the player base. While other games would have patch notes, they rarely consider player feedback. FFXIV’s development team is more responsive than most, another reason for the game’s popularity.
Final Fantasy XI, as mentioned, is another FF-themed MMO. It’s more dated than XIV, but it’s still an excellent game. Its storyline ended in June 2023, and it was the last server online on the PS2 service. It’s now only accessible through PC. A mobile port was planned but got canceled in 2020. The developers have expressed interest in continuing its services, so it will be online for some time.
Dragon Quest X is a remarkably similar game. Dragon Quest is another popular franchise, and this is an MMO entry in the series. It’s a turn-based game with the classic charm of its predecessors. Unfortunately, it has not been localized for Westerners, so it remains a Japanese-only game.
Phantasy Star Online 2: New Genesis reboots the old PSO2. It has upgraded mechanics and QoL, even if it was released around a decade after the original. Impressively, Sega didn’t make it a brand-new game. It’s compatible with the old PSO2 data, letting players use their accounts from the previous game to play New Genesis.
Even if FFXIV tries to cater to everybody, it’s not perfect. Some will prefer other games or even dislike MMOs at all. Still, if you’re having fun playing, that’s the most important thing. Keep on playing!