I'm a big sucker for quality-of-life features in MMOs because as far as I'm concerned, anything that reduces tedium and allows me to focus on the game itself is definitely a good thing. While the folks over at Square Enix have certainly worked wonders bringing Final Fantasy XIV in line with modern MMO design, things still aren't quite perfect. If you've got the time -- and let's face it, the servers are probably under maintenance as you read this -- I'd love for you to join me past the cut as I dish on the 10 features I'd like to see added to FFXIV: A Realm Reborn.
1. Inventory sorting
Anyone who has ever played an RPG knows that inventory management can quickly turn into a tedious task all of its own. If you're a packrat like I am, it can become its own special circle of hell. During my time in FFXIV so far, it's unfortunately felt more like the latter thanks to the lack of an inventory sorting button. Yes, I know you can enable an option that causes items to be sorted as they're added to your inventory, but that's curiously disabled by default, and it does nothing if your inventory is already in a state of disarray. This one's a little weird because, if I'm remembering right, this feature was present in beta phase three. With any luck the devs will bring it back soon because right now my inventory tabs are too daunting to even think about reorganizing.
2. Map utilities
This one is particularly irritating to me because I keep forgetting about it. Final Fantasy XIV's maps are absolutely covered with a huge number of (rather lovely) icons denoting points of interest across Eorzea. And every time I open my map, I expect those icons to tell me what they represent when I mouse over them, but for some reason, they don't. It's not a huge deal, but it sure would be nice to know right away which aetheryte point I need to go to instead of having to figure out which one it is by seeing what's nearby.
Oh, and while we're at it, the ability to quickly zoom up or down one level (from the city level to the region level, for instance) would be nice. And if the devs are feeling particularly generous, the ability to place custom markers on the map would be groovy too.
3. Showing and hiding tracked quests
I don't think I really need to explain why this one is necessary. Not being able to choose which quests are tracked on the HUD is incredibly annoying. Like bag sorting, this feature was definitely in beta but mysteriously disappeared. Hopefully it won't be gone for long.
4. Item linking
The ability to link items via chat channels is a necessity in any modern MMO. Whether they're trying to hawk your wares or just want to show off their shiny new sword, players need to be able to quickly and easily share the stats of items with one another.
5. Dressing room
This one is slightly less necessary than the previous items on this list, but the fashionista in me feels compelled to add it anyway. I know I'm not the only one around here who's more than willing to take a hit on stats if it means not looking like an absolute clown, so the ability to try on those quest rewards (and dyes, later on) before I shell out the gil would be very much appreciated.
6. Recommended quest levels
Don't get me wrong; I love the recommended duties feature. But it's not quite as robust as it could be. I'd appreciate it if the game would show me the levels of the recommended quests. As I was trying to finish off the last bit of experience between levels 14 and 15, it was pretty frustrating to be recommended a quest only to arrive at the questgiver and discover it's five levels below me. At the very least, I'd appreciate it if quests below a certain level threshhold were marked as low-level so I'd know not to spend my time picking them up.
7. Easy report/ignore
It's day three of launch and already the gil sellers are out in droves. Please, Square-Enix, for the love of all you hold sacred, let us right-click on these miscreants' names in the chat panel and report and ignore them in one fell click.
8. Item comparisons
Being able to decide between two pieces of gear at a glance is essential for ensuring the flow of play isn't interrupted by having to perform basic arithmetic, and right now FFXIV's item comparison tooltips just aren't cutting it. For some reason, the tooltips compare only the physical and magical defense (in the case of armor) or the base damage (in the case of weapons) of any two items. As anyone who has ever played an MMO knows, though, armor and damage are about the least of your worries. It's really all about the attributes. As a tank, I'll gladly sacrifice a point or two of damage if it boosts my Vitality, and these are just the things that item comparison tooltips should be telling us.
9. Aethernet travel
This somewhat ties in to my point about the map; currently aethernet travel is a bit more complex than it needs to be. When you're attempting to teleport to aethernet shards within a city (or to aetheryte crystals across the world), Final Fantasy XIV provides you with a textual list of your possible destinations. For the purposes of travel this is completely counterintuitive, and I have no idea why the game doesn't just show you a map of all available destinations. It would definitely save players a lot of trouble opening the map, scoping out the nearest shard to their current destination, and then figuring out which item on the list it is.
10. Debuff display
Final Fantasy XIV's revamped UI is undeniably sleek and does a rather impressive job of communicating lots of information in a slick, non-cluttered kind of way. Unfortunately, it falters a bit when it comes to tracking debuffs on enemies. The only thing that distinguishes your own debuffs from everyone else's is a slightly different coloration on the debuff icon's timer text. If you're playing a class that relies on keeping certain debuffs on your enemies, you better believe a lot of your time (especially in FATEs) is going to be spent trying to figure out whether you need to reapply them or not. This could be easily solved by designating a static location for player debuffs, perhaps off to the side of everyone else's, and would save a whole lot of trouble (and maybe a few lives).
So there you are, friends. Those are the top ten features I'd like to see added to Final Fantasy XIV ASAP. But of course, it's by no means a comprehensive list. And hey, a little wishful thinking never hurt anyone, so why don't you pipe up in the comments and let me know what I missed?