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I admit, I have a thing for graphics. Some MMO gamers say that it's all about gameplay and playability and that they don't care one bit about the graphics, well, I'm not one of them.
Graphics are linked to my immersion in a MMO game, and immersion adds to my enjoyment of it.
It's why I liked GW better than WoW, because GW's art design was superior in beauty to WoW's design - WoW's world was rich in colorful design, which compensated a bit that I thoroughly disliked the cartoony look.
Graphics design made me annoyed with LotrO's character models and animations while warming me towards its vast world, even if it was far from what I initially pictured Middle Earth to be after the books and movies.
And it was the graphics in Aion (especially the detailed character models and animations) and AoC that helped with my immersion in their worlds.
I became just recently curious about FFXIV, I had pictured FFXIV's graphics design to be just a slight upgrade from FFXI. The more I see though the more impressed I become, up to the point that I've come to realise that FFXIV's graphics and visuals are on par with AoC's, which is not an easy feat to accomplish: most MMO companies have chosen for caution for their MMO's by opting for tuned down, cartoony 'stylised' graphics.
And that's the 2nd thing that impressed me. Up till FFXIV, AoC had the best graphics around of any MMO, but it came with a price: AoC is heavily instanced with separate areas, for the simple reason that computer limitations don't allow yet to have MMO's with that high a polygon count and texture detail in a completely open world without repercussions.
Impressively, SE managed to accomplish an AoC level of graphical richness and detail without having to resort to heavy instancing and zoning: yes, if what I read and hear is correct FFXIv is an as good as fully seamless world, even more so than WoW when it comes to seamless transitioning.
Well, I don't know about you guys but personally I find that pretty damn impressive. Especially since we're also talking about one of the very few MMORPG's that dare to go crossplatform.
So here's to the beautiful graphics design of FFXIV, may those who decide to play it enjoy and immerse themselves wandering around in its seamless world
The ACTUAL size of MMORPG worlds: a comparison list between MMO's
The ease with which predictions are made on these forums:
Fratman: "I'm saying Spring 2012 at the earliest [for TOR release]. Anyone still clinging to 2011 is deluding themself at this point."