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I've played WoW on and off for almost 9 years now. Played a LOT of other MMOs between then and now, and a bunch before WoW too.
FFXIV: ARR does not remind me of WoW, not at all really. It feels so, so much different.
I feel it is far, far less of a WoW clone than many give it credit for.
On combat, the game feels a lot more like a Final Fantasy game, especially a lot more like FFXI than it does WoW.
WoW, combat is much faster, you tab-target a mob and unleash your skills in quick succession, small GCD, plenty of instants, procs... movement is not overly important (except on some bosses in raids/dungeons) but very fluid and in that way it is a LOT like GW2 combat - it's obvious to me GW2 modeled their combat off of WoW.
ARR is a lot more deliberate. You target an enemy it feels a lot more like you are "locked" onto that one mob, like it was in FFXI. For the most part you are standing still trading blows back and forth like a turn based JRPG.
You even get a camera angle change to really focus on your target - definitely don't get that in WoW or such.
It's a nice touch (also from FFXI) if you lock onto a mob and strafe, you automatically move in a circle around the mob. Makes it easy to avoid direction attacks. This can be a disadvantage when you are trying to get out of a larger red AoE circle though, you generally have to un-target a mob to move away at full speed.
Traditional FF games you never got more than a dozen or so possible attacks or defensive moves/spells per character in your party. ARR feels the same way, much more limited choice of skills - but it makes your class choice more meaningful.
Also makes you rely on your party as you don't have all the answers to every situation on your toolbar, even with cross-class.
They definitely need more classes, but the ones in ARR feel very distinct.
On story and structure, I'd say ARR feels more like TSW or SWTOR on presentation than it does WoW. WoW, you get a text box pop up with some block of text to read. ARR is more like TSW or SWTOR where you get a few lines of conversational text, a real back and forth, and a zoom-in camera change with a cinematic flare and even some VO on the main story.
The fact the game forces you into party-only content to advance the main story is very different. SWTOR kind of did that with the first Flashpoint, but you had the option to skip it. FFXIV definitely knows it is a MMORPG and wants you to play with other people. "Solo to the cap" would be very, very hard stopping the main story at level 14/15 and you never would get access to mounts, Grand Companies, etc.
On progression, yes it looks like every Paladin will have the same "build" with the same optimal cross-class skills equipped. But I think ARR is designed so that it's not about YOU... it's not about your character and your build... it's about your team. Your party. The encounters are designed to challenge coordination and communications, not your button spam skills and whether or not you have the Elitest Jerks approved "optimal" build and setup.
I play this game and I don't see WoW. I don't feel WoW... and trust me, I know WoW.
I look at the MMO genre and the quote "failures" since 2004 - I see lots of games built on gimmicks, built on sameness and built on undelivered promises. Unfinished content, broken systems, bad design.
I think FFXIV is different. It's familiar and comfortable, but it is different. It's also polished and feels complete. Well, except for the server infrastructure!
Best way I can put it:
If WoW is to EQ.
FFXIV:ARR is to FFXI.
It's an update, a refinement, an evolution of an existing and proven model.
I think ARR looked to WoW for inspiration on what levels of convenience and accessibility players required, but looked to their own history on what to replicate and what to innovate on.
Anyways, just my 2c.