For players that love exploring huge worlds, Final Fantasy XIV will resemble a big joyride. In fact, certain design choices, like the inability to directly manipulate the in-game map, appear to be aimed at forcing players to hoof it around the world rather than find everything via maps and simply auto-run without paying too much attention.
The in-game cutscenes for Final Fantasy XIV's main story quests feature amazing production values, especially the animation work. Actually, the entire game is masterfully animated. Assuming your computer can handle the demanding hardware requirements, this makes watching combat a delight.
Switching classes requires only that you equip a different implement on your character's main hand. Want to mine? Switch to a pick axe. A bow and arrow will make you into an Archer. You get the idea. The only problem with this is finding the starting equipment for each class, which requires the player to scour an entire city state. And sometimes traveling to another starting city state altogether ends up being required in Final Fantasy XIV.
I'm a fan of the combat system, because it feels like the kind of system you'd find in any other marquee Final Fantasy game. When you initiate combat you're locked onto your target. Attacks are mapped to a hot bar along the 1-0 keys atop your keyboard, and can be customised through the game's menu system. Final Fantasy XIV's combat pacing is actually quicker than most would expect for an MMO, but the stamina bar prevents ability spam. Each attack absorbs a certain amount of stamina (or Mana with spells). Of course, the bar refills fairly quickly, but not so much that I could simply mash several buttons without any thought.
Crafting has been rolled into Final Fantasy XIV's class system, which gives an emphasis on the importance of gathering materials and crafting them into useful items. The actual act of crafting revolves around an interesting system. Players must juggle between a progress bar indicating the level of crafting completion and a durability indicator that steadily drops from 100 percent. This juggling is done via selection of either standard, rapid or bold crafting techniques. The idea is that no single approach is always the right one, making crafting more than opening a window, selecting a quantity and hitting an OK button.
The subscription registration process for Final Fantasy XIV is actually worse than Final Fantasy XI, which held the crown for 'most confusing subscription system' until now. To play this game you must first activate a Service Account as well as Optional (not really) ongoing service, which amount to your character slots. Yes, the game 'service' only costs £8.99 a month, but each additional character, or 'Optional Ongoing Service' - including your first one - tacks on another £2.10 per month.
By the way, each character slot is just that: one slot. It doesn't apply to multiple servers, so if you're considering making a character on two different servers you'll have to pay twice. The whole thing is unnecessarily obtuse, involves far too many steps and feels a bit too expensive. Sure, one character can play any amount of classes, but they also have to pay extra if some of their friends play on another server and they want to keep their original Final Fantasy XIV character.