Like many MMO's it takes quite awhile to get into the FFXI realm. Once you get past you first 18 levels (which can happen in 2 days), you start to really open things up. There is a "macro" system that works like many other MMO's, in the fact that you can basically macro any activity to a singe keystroke, like CTRL1= attack or ALT2=Use Ranged weapon. The classes are pretty diverse, and there is something for everyone. If you want to crush skulls for a living, you have several classes and even 1 to 3 advanced classes to choose from. Want to be more subtle and fry your target from 50ft away while your enemy is bound to his spot? Black mage class is for you. Caster classes in general (there are 3 to date) are a fun breed, but take patience and dedication due to their low armor rating, and hit points. You can even be a Bard, which has songs that lend status buffs like Defense, attack or evasion bonuses, even hit point, and magic point regeneration. Want to summon powerful creatures to do your bidding? You can be a Summoner class. There are even the sneaky classes like Thief and Ninja that cause great damage by surprise to the enemy. The crafting system works with “Guilds”. You going a guild to get support (higher success rate) for items you would make for that guild. Like Smithing (metal armor/weapons items) Clothcraft (cloth armor and items) Cooking (food items when consumed give you amazing bonuses like extra health, or magic), Goldsmithing (rare and precious items come from these crafters) Woodworking (Wood and metal weapons) there is even a fishing guild that you can trade your fish in for cash that you catch all around the world. There are more to choose from. At first, I had issues with the fact that the crafting system was nothing fantastic. What I mean by that is you could craft any item or just buy it in a store. Well after a few patches that is gone. There are some real precious items and money opportunities to make in the game. Some armor, weapons, items, and food can only be made by players now. The only downside is what we refer to as "Named Mobs". These are monsters that hold precious and highly sought after gear, weapons, items, or spells. Often you will find yourself “camping” (waiting for) the same mob to get that ultra rare hairpin with the evasion boost. Or even, that immensely popular spell that costs too much at that AH, (Auction House) perhaps you are better off just trying to kill a named monster for it. Then we get into the AF gear, which is “Artifact Armor”. This is special armor for each class that can only be used by THAT job class. Hunting the monsters for “coffer” keys can get repetitive and frustrating. Once you walk around in full AF gear, you are hot stuff, and the reward is worth it. Of course you can buy many in game items at the auction house which I think is one of the most intuitive and amazing inventions in a MMO to date. It is simplistic in its use, and you can get about 95% of all game items there. There are some special items you can’t get there like the Artifact Armor, or even some items that are "Rare/EX". This status of rare/ex means they can't be traded or sold. Therefore, if you do not want the item anymore, you throw it away. Final Fantasy 11 is a great MMO, but if you are expecting a typical RPG in the FF universe, this is not your game. This is purely played online, with no single player mode. The user interface is mainly targeted to a console user in the aspect that the UI (user interface) is mainly menu driven and not keyboard and mouse driven. This still is one of its many strengths, as you can use a controller to play the game or a keyboard and mouse. I play on the PC version as there is also the PS2 version, which requires the purchase of the PS2 hard drive, which comes with FFXI pre-installed. Not to mention you still have to pay a monthly fee, but I feel this is worth it. I have not had so much fun from a single game, in a long time. The 2nd expansion pack will be released later this year; I can’t wait to get my hands on that!
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