Back in 2019, Final Fantasy 14 director and producer Naoki Yoshida was asked by Easy Allies if he’d consider creating a classic version of the MMO (à la World of Warcraft Classic) based on FF14’s disastrous 1.0 version. In what’s become a bit of a running joke in the community, Yoshida emphatically responded, “nightmare!” and that was that for the discussion around a Final Fantasy 14 1.0 Classic. However, heated drunken debates with Free Company members in the wee hours of the morning had myself and my friends arguing amongst each other, will Final Fantasy 14 2.0 (A Realm Reborn) ever need a Classic server?
Outside of the interest in archival purposes, I think it’s fair to say the MMO’s 1.0 version should remain a memory. However, the early days of A Realm Reborn are already a far departure from what Eorzea looks like in Shadowbringers (5.0), and some folks are already feeling nostalgic. When I look at the Final Fantasy 14 of the past, more specifically that of A Realm Reborn and even Heavensward, I certainly think things were more difficult. I’m nostalgic for the same intensity of fights like we saw in The Binding Coil of Bahamut (Turn 9) or Thordan’s Reign (Extreme), both of which I never managed to clear while relevant, but I got close.
But when I take a step back and lift those rose-tinted glasses, I realize the early days of Final Fantasy 14 in A Realm Reborn and Heavensward weren’t always hard because those fights were brutal, but they were often hard just because things didn’t work. When my friends argue for “the good old days” of healers using cleric stance and tighter raid DPS checks, all I see are broken bits and pieces of an MMO still trying to figure itself out. I’ve been completing Savage raids and Extreme Primals since they came out as both a Healer and a DPS, and I look back on stance dancing and early versions of things like the Dragoon’s Blood of the Dragon with no love. Clunky delays, animation locks, tiny icons, and a messy queue system for player abilities made some jobs the stuff of nightmares in harder difficulty.
So what is it folks would want from a Final Fantasy 14 A Realm Reborn Classic? The battle system has changed dramatically over the years, but you don’t feel many changes in meaningful ways until the harder content. Other older systems from previous expansions, like Relic Weapon quests from 2.0 and 3.0, are still there for players to work on old gear. I look at Final Fantasy 14 as it exists now and see no need for a Classic version as it stands, even as we enter eight years after its relaunch. Right now, Square Enix already has solutions for revisiting difficult fights as they were intended in the form of new Unreal Challenges—fights where old bosses are brought up to the current difficulty to meet the power of new gear. If anything, I want more of this from Square Enix outside of just the Primals. I want The Binding Coil of Bahamut, Thordan’s Reign, Alexander, all of those old A Realm Reborn and Heavensward battles to have Unreal versions.
In this regard, it’s easy to see that Yoshida and his team truly are fans of games like World of Warcraft and other MMO staples. The best parts of some of these games appear in Final Fantasy 14, but they feel a little more future-proof. As the clunkiness, the hurried designs, and bloat are stripped away from Final Fantasy 14 with each expansion, we get something that’s easier to keep going forever (or until the next big MMO Final Fantasy). It’s the formula for a game that can easily take us down a trip through memory lane with Unreal trials for old fights, but does so in a more thoughtful approach that doesn’t require these big relaunches of something like a Final Fantasy 14 Classic.
While I do have all of the love for my early years in Final Fantasy 14, I still believe most of us look back on some of the bloat a bit too romantically. Things may be a bit easier these days, but nostalgically chasing some of those tired old systems certainly won’t lead to anything better. For now, I think I’ll dismiss the need for any Final Fantasy 14 Classic versions and keep my eye on the future with Endwalker and beyond.
Next: When Will Final Fantasy 14’s Warrior Of Light Stop Tanking And DPSing? Make Him A Healer Already
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Andrea Shearon is a news editor at TheGamer who loves RPGs and anything horror related. Find her on Twitter via @Maajora.
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