I enjoy playing MMOs a great deal. There's something in them that checks the boxes in my weird lizard brain: the roving exploration, finishing the lists of quests, and the random player characters you come across. The issue is I enjoy a few different MMOs and I review a lot of other games for USgamer, so I lack the time to commit on a regular basis. This means I have pre-expansion periods, where I get back into a game, get comfortable with any new mechanics, and rush to finish any content necessary for the next expansion.
This is where I'm at right now with Final Fantasy XIV. The early access period for the Stormblood expansion begins on Friday, June 16, but that's at the end of a week of E3. So I have these next few days to wrap up the post-Heavensward story patches before then. Some folks I know haven't even gotten to Heavensward, which is a huge wall of content to complete.
As a curiosity, I looked at the new "Tales of Adventure" level boosters, which are being introduced in Stormblood. These items will level one Job up to 60 or skip through the game's existing story content. The first option levels up a single job to 60 and is limited to one per account, for a cool $25. The second Tales of Adventure item clears the pre-Stormblood story content on a single character, also for $25. That's $50 if you aren't doing the legwork on your own.
If you're completely new to the game and you want to jump into FFXIV with friends, you're looking at around $110. $60 for the base game and $25 for each potion. For Square Enix, the price is a deterrent.
"We made the pricing intentionally a bit high," Final Fantasy XIV producer Naoki Yoshida told PCGamesN. "Before introducing these items we had really serious discussions. We wanted to take a really careful stance because players who didn’t understand or know about these items might feel worried or intimidated that totally new players could catch up with them instantly."
"If we made the price point lower then many people will want to use it straight away," Yoshida added. "For our game, if we compare it with a TV drama, for example, we’ve just entered the third season. But you can still catch up with the first and second season. We want you to actually see and experience Final Fantasy XIV from the beginning through to its current status, so that’s why we intentionally put the price point that high."
World of Warcraft gives a free single level boost for every expansion at this point and offers a number of alternate methods to get to cap. Elder Scrolls Online has level scalling for everything, meaning you can jump right into expansion content. The bigger issue is Final Fantasy XIV has a hard lock on story content, meaning you have to progress through A Realm Reborn and Heavensward to play any of the Stormblood content. ARR to Heavensward alone is a huge undertaking for the average person and FFXIV is one of the few MMOs that requires dungeon runs as a major part of story progression.
Which is to say, if you want to enjoy the Stormblood expansion, your choice is to start playing now or pay up. I'm going with the former option, as the latter is too rich for my blood.