Final Fantasy XIV and World of Warcraft are currently engaged in the fight for the title of the best MMORPG available on the market.

If you’re looking for a great online adventure in a fantastical world filled with a multitude of quests you can carry out with your friends, these two titles should be your go-tos. However, some players might find it hard to dedicate their time to two massive online RPGs.

This article is for those who would rather choose the best of the two games and spend time with it instead of dividing attention between two expansive games. In our article, we’ll compare the stories of both games, discuss the gameplay mechanics, compare the visuals, and so on. After reading, you’ll have a better idea of which game will be more up your alley – WoW or FFXIV.

Story and lore

Fans of MMORPGs know well that the story can often make or break a game. Both Final Fantasy XIV and World of Warcraft feature deep lore, offering the players hours upon hours of story background to explore. However, WoW draws upon the years of worldbuilding that had occurred throughout all the installments of the Warcraft series.

World of Warcraft Characters
World of Warcraft Characters

The players who had previously dabbled in Blizzard’s classic RPG will immediately recognize the locales and characters introduced in the series MMORPG spinoff. The Alliance and the Horde races are prominently featured in the game as the player chooses to side with one of the factions, still fighting over the land of Azeroth. Despite having the previous Warcraft motifs deeply ingrained in its DNA, World of Warcraft is also approachable by the players unfamiliar with the game’s legacy offering unique scenarios and quests.

While Word of Warcraft’s lore is an amalgam of years of worldbuilding, Final Fantasy XIV doesn’t require the player to have any prior knowledge of the series to be completely immersed in the story. Thanks to the stand-alone nature of Square Enix’s series, even the players who hadn’t touched a Final Fantasy game before will have no trouble finding themselves in the world of FFXIV. The game takes the player to the world of Eorzea, where they will begin their adventure as a member of one of three adventurer companies. Several forces threaten the land, and the player’s task is to help defend Eorzea from those who would try to invade it. All that while completing minor sidequests and missions given to the player by NPCs.

FF14 Characters
FF14 Characters

Both WoW and FFXIV feature expansive storylines that will keep the players entertained for the long hours they will spend in the worlds of Eorzea and Azeroth. However, while Final Fantasy XIV offers a nice, stand-alone adventure, WoW’s story is built on the years of Warcraft lore. In this battle, the victory goes to Blizzard’s production.

Gameplay mechanics

Both Final Fantasy XIV and World of Warcraft share some similarities when it comes to gameplay mechanics. The core gameplay feature of these two titles is the party system. However, both games offer a different take on this classic MMORPG mechanic. In World of Warcraft, the player is encouraged to form a party with others to tackle more difficult dungeons.

In Final Fantasy XIV, it is required that the player take on the quests as a party of a specific size. As it is the nature of MMORPG to enjoy the game with other players, FFXIV’s insistence on the player forming a party is understandable. But it can easily alienate the players who want to experience the game’s world on their own.

The combat gameplay differs considerably between the two titles. World of Warcraft draws on Blizzard’s traditional hack and slash mechanics, offering an experience similar to that in the Diablo series. The player can use various physical and magical attacks, dependent on the class they have chosen at the beginning of the game. WoW’s combat is an excellent example of an “easy to learn, hard to master” gameplay style. Despite being fairly uncomplicated, it might take a while for the player to grasp it completely.

In Final Fantasy XIV, the combat system follows the traditional MMORPG routes, with the player character fulfilling specific roles within the party. However, the class of the players’ character can be changed at will thanks to the Armoury system, which ascribes the player character’s class to the weapon they carry. Weapons, and the classes with them, can be changed at will, offering greater flexibility in specing out the player’s character.

The confrontation of gameplay mechanics was hard, but there could be only one winner. Thanks to its combination of classic mechanics and flexible class system, Final Fantasy XIV wins over WoW’s competent but frigid gameplay.

Multiplayer features and player base

We’ve touched briefly on the party system of both titles, so let’s take a look at other multiplayer features offered by Final Fantasy XIV and World of Warcraft. Before entering the online play on any of these titles, the player has to choose a server. In Final Fantasy XIV, it’s best to choose the server in the region the player is located to avoid major connectivity issues.

World of Warcraft offers more diversity when it comes to its multiplayer characteristics. First of all, it offers two different sever types: Normal and RP. The Normal servers focus mainly on fighting monsters and completing quests. On RP servers, the player must role-play as their characters throughout the session. The game offers PvE and PvP multiplayer, with the player able to switch between the two after reaching a specific character level.

When it comes to the player community, as of writing this text, the number of active FFXIV players has reached over 20,000. Meanwhile, the number of active World of Warcraft players counts in nearly five million. Considering these numbers and the multiplayer features of both titles, it’s clear that the winner in this category is once again World of Warcraft.

The style and graphics

Both games offer a unique visual style. Final Fantasy XIV offers a more realistic visual style, while World of Warcraft relies on Blizzard’s traditional, slightly cartoonish style. During battles, the player’s screen is flooded with colorful, magical effects, slightly more flashy in WoW. Depending on your preference, either of those two games could be a winner in this category. We have a draw.

The final verdict

It’s clear that in terms of gameplay content (including multiple DLCs), multiplayer mechanics, and player base, the winner is Blizzard’s World of Warcraft. The game offers the players a quintessential MMORPG experience, supported by the years of development and improvements by one of the best game developments studios.

Does it mean that Final Fantasy XIV is clearly the worst game of the two?

No. Square Enix’s MMORPG still has plenty to offer for the fans of the series and the genre. But through our comparison, World of Warcraft proved itself to be a better game for MMO players in 2021.