I like MMO's, but only casually. I can't say that I hate them because they have allowed me to meet some amazing people that have turned into wonderful friends that I adore. However, there are so many MMO's out there that it's kind of difficult to justify playing more than one. In my life, I have seriously played 3. I use the word 'seriously' as the attitude of play. I'm going to compare them (I know, big no no, all MMO's are different and should be judged differently and blah..blah..blah)
This one is first. Not only because it was my first, but because I hold it most dear to my heart.
FFXI required patience. FFXI required finding a Linkshell that you fit in well with. This is very much a community driven game. Sure you could do things by yourself, but it was built for you to do it with others. This game forces you out of your comfort zone and demands you work well with others, because if you don't you won't make it that far.
The 6 years I off and on played this game were very great. The people I met are all top notch and still are now some of my favorite people. (Hiredhelp, this is to you.)Their existence makes mine happy. It is rare in life I think, that you meet people that affect you that way.
The Job classes were interesting, so many different options and you only needed one character to play them all. This was something that was very appealing to me, I mean I could be a Samurai, Dancer, Ninja, White Mage, Black Mage, Scholar, etc. So many choices!
The story is by far one of the most engaging and emotional experiences you can have in an MMO. Characters lived and characters died, you explored with them and fought with them. I have never played a more interesting story. And that story helped to make the community strong. We ALL wanted to know the story.
Graphically I loved the game. It had a very 'realistic' style and color palette. I played that game and felt like "you know, maybe this place does exist somewhere". I mean sure the graphics were severely limited by the PS2 support, but even so, Square Enix knows what they're doing when it comes to that.
The music was gorgeous in some places and enjoyable in others. I liked listening to the background music, I rarely muted my TV.
Some downfalls were initially the game was not geared for solo play, and if your friends all quit playing, it left you little reason to want to stay. Since it is so much a community game, once the community is gone...it just doesn't feel the same.
It's not easy to make gil in FFXI. Things cost millions and at most quests give maybe 10k? Drops from mobs sell for nothing, and things are super camped.
Not worth $15 a month at this point. At least not anymore. Game sales go down over time, the same should apply to MMO subscriptions.
World of Warcraft
This is the most successful MMO in history. We could argue for decades whether or not it's deserving, but you cannot deny that this game helped fuel the existence of MMO's.
WoW is ridiculously easy. I'm surprised they don't just give you a bot for the first part of your adventures there. But since the game is so easy, it's easy to start, get high level and do what MMOers do best: Raid, Kill, Loot, and rinse and repeat.
There are some interesting story lines, and there are almost TOO many quests. There is always so much to do and the world is incredibly expansive. This also explains the simple art and design level.
Community wise I can't say I enjoy it too much. I know some of the friends I love and adore in FFXI play WoW now but they are a small percentage of the amount of douchebaggary I have experienced in WoW. Granted I haven't played a whole lot of it. My highest was a level 60. But it was enough for me to not really get interested.
It is super easy to make money in WoW, you just need lots of it for things like mounts and whatnot. Not really an issue though, because like I said, it's super easy to make money.
WoW has some great gameplay elements though. They work with the community to make programs that they can use. Essentially companies don't like 3rd party programs because they are mostly used for hacking and what not, but Blizzard sees what's used and try to make it for their players. This. Is. Wonderful. This is the kind of relationship you want as a player with the developers. You know they listen and this is so important.
However I truly don't feel the game is worth $15 a month. It's almost a rip off for essentially how easy the game is.. and especially for how old it is. FFXI suffers the same thing, when you have established servers, and have lost players over time, the price should go down. Blizzard for one could deal with a price cut.
This is the most recent MMO that I have dedicated time to. There are a lot of good things about it but there are equal amount of bad things.
The graphics are gorgeous and I have never had so much fun creating and falling in love with my character.
The music is nice in some places and annoying in others but there are a lot of details put into it. Small things like the body adjusting postion if it's standing on a hill, certain NPC's have cool story lines. There is a daeva of music in Pandemonium who sings this really gorgeous song, and you can hear it (and read the lyrics). There are a lot of little things that I enjoy.
It's not too hard to make money, but the boss drops are really stupid. We did an instance about 7 times and saw 1 blue item drop. That is just awful. You need more of a reason than a 1 in 7 chance to see a blue item and then have a 30% possibility that you could even use it.
The community for the most part have been enjoyable, the gameplay is inventive and fun (Who knew how much I loved gliding?) The concept behind the Abyss PvP and flight system is wonderful, however, the game is very broken.
There is so much potential here, but there is a seriously lack of communication from the dev team. They post videos (See Aion Vision Trailer) of what they WANT for the game, plan a huge graphics overhaul but they can't even fix a majority of their known issues. They communicate primarily through things like Twitter, but only things like "Hey check out the new Fan Art!".
The PvP is fun, but the way it's set up is wonderful for greifers, awful for the rest of us. Almost everywhere is a PvP zone which means if you're leveling in a lvl 20 area, you WILL get ganked by a lvl 50, at least 7 times before you /ragequit.
Overall my favorite is FFXI. Maybe it's because it was my first, but that game had so much going for it, and so many options, and the story was so amazing that I will always compare my experiences with that one.
They all have their plus and minus'. Unfortunately Aion and WoW are geared to play casually, and FFXI just isn't. And what it comes down to, is that I'm a casual MMO player.