Want to craft instead? Then craft. Try to strike a balance of quality and overall item durability. Get it just right and you wind up with a much more powerful item; get it wrong and you’ve got a mess. Crafting is a fully developed game in and of itself, along with the option to just mass-produce items if you don’t care about quality but just need plenty of lumber.
Want to gather? Go out, scout out locations, find out where to harvest rare items, sell them on the free market or use them yourself. The game does not care. You turn a corner and you find another fleshed-out system waiting for you. If you’re not interested in one thing, you don’t have to take part.
Don’t want to quest to level up a class? Run dungeons or do FATEs (yeah, we’ve got dynamic events here, what of it?) or do leves or fill out your hunting log. Whatever. FFXIV Gold Queue up for a dungeon and then go craft for a bit. That’s cool. We’ll tell you when it’s ready. Go harvest some logs and then turn them into furniture. Whatever you like.
And this is just at launch. This is based off of playing the actual live game for less than a month. We know that housing and a variety of PvP systems are coming, not in the vague “we’d like to do it maybe” sense but the “yeah, first patch, just ironing out the kinks” sense because we got to test a bit of these systems in the last beta test. We know that vanity systems are coming along with new classes and jobs and new ways to interact with the world.
If you want to climb a gear ladder, fine. If you want to focus on crafting and harvesting, fine. The game does not care.
The game isn’t for everyone and isn’t really meant to be. It’s aimed at a very specific portion of the population, a portion that hates the idea that you can have your elaborate housing and crafting systems or your polished combat and directed dungeons. People who don’t freak out at the idea that this MMO has a story but also don’t freak out at the idea that I have to fill in my own story too. An experience not streamlined or simplified but polished and refined.
So why do I like FFXIV so much? Because it gives me all that stuff I just talked about. It picks out what it’s going to do and then it just does it. Combat is pretty familiar if you’ve played anything else with a hotbar (with a big added slice of “move out of dangerous crap on the ground”), but it’s not trying for novelty; it’s trying for polish and tactics. Combat isn’t about spamming out abilities; it’s about considering your situation and positioning and then making the best use of them possible.
That’s why I play Final Fantasy XIV. Well, that and Magitek Armor.