With all due respect,
I found myself at a crossroads in choosing what my return MMO would be..
Would I return to FF XIV or Guild Wars 2?
Both games I loved.
I had a small group at work who also wanted entry into an MMO and they counted on me to work out the numbers (Two Math Majors, Two Science Majors, Two Artists, One Law Major, One English Major....all of us Educators).
We wanted to enter a game that was good on our time, and our money as well. We each had decent machines to run both of them. When I calculated the numbers, we chose FF XIV over Guild Wars 2 for the following reasons:
1) A new group of players starting out in Guild Wars 2 will not be helped in mid-level dungeons. Most of the playerbase is in Path of Fire as well. Our group wanted to build up from Level 1 to Level 80, and we thought path of fire would be good.
2) We did not like the existence of the Max-Level Boost not because it does not get you into the latest action quickly, but because it sends a message that all the lower level content is irrelevant. In fact that was the argument we had "Why make a good game and spoil it to the new player through a max-level buff?" and "what happens when new players enter a new area dependent on advanced classes with a basic class?"
3) We absolutely hated that in doing research we found that we needed HoT in order to access one of the classes and we also needed it in order to access the initial Specializations. Some of them better than what Path of Fire has to offer.
4) The idea that we had to work on boosting our Bag (Inventory) Space from the start due to the large areas the expansions offered was not appetizing enough.
We were also looking for a game where we could play together without the downtime of having to earn in-game money to turn it into cash-shop currency for various functions.
I owned the full game and both Expansions (since I like Guild Wars) and the others went into the Free Game and they did not like the level of conversation that occurred in Lion's Arch and we absolutely hated the toxic nature and lack of support in the main forums of the game. It felt like uncivilized barbarians beating up each other over both; trivial and non-trivial matters. Not to mention the horrible class balance the game has.
5) We hated the idea that we had to hunt down mounts to traverse areas. We thought that was a double-edged sword. It not longer was about finding a mount for cosmetic purposes. It was pretty much "Gotta Catch 'Em All" Pokemon-style mount gathering along with that one Do-All/Epic-All Mount which defeats the purpose of having the others 90% of the time.
We loved that when Stormblood was released that Square-Enix claimed that buying the latest expansion to the game gave full accessibility to that point. Buying Stormblood meant one could play all of Heavenward. ArenaNet could have learned from this as it would have cleared confusion.
We went through both sets of forums (FF XIV and GW2) along with the support that exists for the game and the guides:
Our decision in the end (due also to a gameplay weekend to play FF XIV for free as well):
We loved FF XIV to the fact we could play together in Light Parties and Full Parties. But we absolutely loved the class balance and the story. We didn't like the whole housing situation, but we loved that we had to work together to win the instances and that the level sync (while it made dungeons a bit easier), it also allowed dungeons to not become irrelevant.
Considering also that each of us makes between $50 - $200 an hour, we believed that if downtime did not give that to us that it was worthless and Guild Wars 2 simply does not do that. FF XIV allowed us to maximize our time together without having to deal with any downtime between the main game itself and having to farm.
There is also the fact that FF XIV has the NN Chat which helped us greatly (and myself returning) and the Linkshell system.
We paid more initial money for FF XIV and a Subscription, but we didn't have to deal with the typical BS found in F2P and B2P that translates to "You either PAY in TIME or you pay in Money" and we chose to pay in Money to have a better experience, and we have not regretted it or looked back..
We got to enjoy FF XIV without having to worry about having to EVER stop the game in order to grind/farm something, and we enjoy the MSQ (Main Story Quest).
Also, Path of Fire is only the second expansion to Guild Wars 2. Don't call it "The best Expansion for Guild Wars 2" when its only the second. You make it look like there are 5 - 10 expansions to the game....
We chose FF XIV + Stormblood w/6 month sub...
Over Guild Wars 2 Path of Fire... and all the hidden deception behind its advertisement campaign that turned us off... that even Youtube Videos expose.
And now this post will cover the losing aspects of GW2 + Path of Fire
1) The Expansion is for Endgamers.
Its nice that one gets a Level 80 boost, but truth be told... the expectation is to have a specialization going into it and preparing for it. This also means knowing your class. Using a Max-Level boost and running to the Expansion means getting your ass kicked.
This is also means that there are many players who do not know their class and are being carried by others.
In order to progress through the expansion, you need every bit of strength possible. This means you need to have the HoT Specializations. While new Specializations are great, not all the new ones beat the old ones according to the forums.
Its nice to have a link to Elona/Crystal Desert and feel so nice about linking Guild Wars 1, but that is the problem. The initial main story of the game had so many holes in the Guild Wars Lore and connecting both games together that it felt that my crime was playing Guild Wars 1. If I didn't play Guild Wars 1, I could have accepted Guild Wars 2's story without dealing with the main Lore. In fact, that has been such a turn-off for players throughout this game's life cycle. The Expansion Stories + Current Living World stories are the saving grace.
...and its funny how much one has to actually pay to unlock stories if a new player was absent. Imagine, a game where the penalty for not playing is to pay for content. 200 Gems for each Episode.
Even worse is the fact that Anet had to resort to finally triggering Guild Wars 1 Nostalgia in order to survive, when Nostalgia THIS GOOD should have been triggered since GW2's ORIGINAL BASE GAME.
4) Inconsistent Graphics
The graphics get prettier as one goes through the expansions, along with the Artwork that goes with it. Unfortunately, its very far from Uniform. As new maps came out, the graphics became better. Like you can literally enter an area and say "This is 2012" and then walk to the next area and say "Oh this is 2017" and then when you enter any of the original instances, some look amazing and others look like garbage.
I dare say that this is a game where as far as base graphics go, has not aged well. Textures in the Expansion look good in a 4K Monitor, but when I go to Lion's Arch, It doesn't look so well that I am stuck playing the game at 1920 x 1080 resolution to keep everything as consistent as possible.
HoT came out during a time where GW2 needed an Endgame badly, and it was advertised for Level 80 characters. Anet even went to claim that it was to breathe new life to those long-term players who made Guild Wars 2 their home.
PoF was advertised as a new expansion "for everyone who loved Guild Wars 1" and it so it lead to many players purchasing the expansion, just to find out that it is also an endgame expansion. This created problems (continued later).
Mounts are awesome to have, but when a player has to collect different mounts intentionally in order to traverse different parts, it forces the players to go after each relevant mount and forces each player to use each relevant mount when need be. In fact, the forum has a thread dealing with an argument around the cost of the mounts. Some claiming that some cost 20G and in order to get the Griffon mount, some are saying 250G.
Mounts are FUCKING AWESOME, but FUCKING GARBAGE at the same time!
7) Inventory Space (marketing continued)
This isn't an expansion where a player can just walk into. Like HoT, a thread exists in the forum about the Inventory Space required to actually do well in this environment and the costs associated in Gold/Gems to get said Inventory Space. Its actually quite staggering. Basically a player has to pay $17 or get 1200 GEMS (remember, minimum is 800 on a sale) to get 3 Bag Slot Expansions. Then its extremely expensive for a new player to get the bags needed to start. The forum suggests 24 - 32 slot bags (if you can afford them). The costs for a single bag over 20 Slots starts to get Ridiculous... where a 32 slot bag is around 250 - 300+ Gold due to cost of mats, Clearly an Endgame Bag for players with money to burn.
8) Server Woes...
New players enter a server only seeing a population marker, and not knowing the attitude of the server. Upon entry, a lot of the Low Level Areas have players who are leveling Alts or new players. However, the mid-level areas in the game are pretty much barren and empty; New players are pretty much alone for 20 levels in the game until it picks up again at around Level 50 - 60. Anet knows that many people will abandon maps for examples and that is why Max-Level Boosts exist.
9) Cash-Shop pushing:
If a player has 10 hours a day to grind faithfully, one can get what is needed in a few months of playing. However, Arenanet is known for employing certain maneuvers to push people towards spending their money on the cash shop. A lot of the reason why Guild Wars 2 players grind so much is because they do not want to spend real money for Gems. So they grind whatever and even make legendaries on new characters to sell them.
10) B2P to F2P
Anet promised players that this game would originally be B2P with unlimited access without any of the P2P/F2P game shenanigans. Then a year later NEXON bought shares from NCSOFT and sent an agent to work with Anet's Guild Wars 2. The Guild Wars 2 Manifesto was thrown out the window completely, and the grind was added to the game (Laurels, Tokens, a lot of currencies, etc). During that period a lot of players including myself left. Eventually NEXON was driven out from NCSOFT a few years later. However, the damage was done. A lot of players had left and the one thing that was done was that the game was forced to be made into an F2P.
Guild Wars 2 transformed from the game we expected in September, 2012, to what it is today. Like most games, it was a mixed bag.
11) Little Profession Lore.
This always bothered me.
You pick a class and the class just exists in the world.
The game doesn't do a good job to define where these professions came from.
All they did was allow all races/gender to be any profession (a good thing), but if everyone can do the same thing, why is culture only defined by the stereotype of "You look different, so your maps look different, and therefore your culture is different... all because you talk differently"
and this is every single race.
They try to give each race a difference voice with a different problem and a set of enemies, but when each race can do just about everything (in their cities) as each other....it makes me truly ask "What truly does make you different?"
For example, I can travel to Japan, China, South Korea, etc and they have Art Forms, Traditions, and Styles that are native to those nations. I walk from Divinity's Reach to where the Charr are, and the only difference is in how the maps look, how the city and their people look, since everyone can do the same + their racial skill!
Then the fact that each Class can do all the roles (DPS, TANK, SUPPORT, HEAL) always made me feel that was a human thing. Humans are the people in Science Fiction, Fantasy, and RPGs who are Extremely Adaptive in the whole "If there is a way, we will do it"
Guild Wars 2! All Hail Equality!
By everyone being the same, we are all different!
Yay! No more barriers!