My experience so far with ARR.
First off, I don't see how it's at all fair consolidating reviews for two different games. Although ARR is version 2.0 of FFXIV, it has almost completely been redone. The engine, UI, battle system, etc is new. Second, a little background on my MMO experience. I started playing FFXI back at NA PC release and still play it currently off and on. Throughout the years I have taken breaks and tried out other MMOs. The list of them is staggering but I always returned to XI. When XIV was released I was excited. That excitement quickly became disappointment . The UI was clumsy and laggy. The battle-system (more importantly the targeting) was horrendous. Although the story was completely engaging I couldn't bring myself to play more than a few months. ARR is NOT XI. ARR is NOT 1.0. I had to make that distinction clear. ARR is it's own beast. A game where the UI has been cleaned up significantly. The battle system has been scaled in difficulty so that at low levels newcomers to the genre may slowly be immersed into the MMO experience. Up until level 15 players are made to pretty much solo so that the stress of meeting people and being in a party for the first time is left to when they have a better grasp of their class. The instanced dungeons introduced to then at level 15 each offer them a lesson is core MMO strategies whether it be environment interaction or crowd control etc. The game is designed so that everyone will have fun and it is just that. As a FFXI veteran it is easy to spot the differences between the two games. Some of my XI brethren who are in the beta test have taken to gripe about certain things that no doubt will reach you ears eventually. Things like there is no partying, it's button mashing, no skill involved, no sub jobs, no airship rides (yes there are some who feel nostalgic I guess for getting one toe on the boat and it leaving, waiting for the next, and then standing there for a ten minute uneventful ride), the list goes on and on. Let it be said that the majority of these grips are coming from people who want ARR to be the next incarnation of XI and it's not. ARR is as different from XI as any other FF game is to another and rightfully should be. They have played very little of the game based upon this ill preconceived expectation of the game. They expect difficulty straight out the gate and it's just not plausible for a game that is striving to invite new blood into the genre. Then there are the people who want the game to drop the subscription model and adapt a F2P or B2P model. This is ridiculous. After 10 years of XI you come to realize one thing, that a subscription plan ensures steady content release and game expansion. B2P simply brings no money in unless a store is added same with F2P. F2P destroys the game economy and unbalances players based on who can dump more money into the game to get ahead not who is the better player. So ask yourself this in the coming months when you see reviews of this game. Is the person comparing it to something else they love and expect it to be or are they objectively reviewing the game for what it is. Granted ARR isn't perfect (no MMO is) but it's pointed in the right direction this time. With a quality company like Square Enix and the devoted loyal community that FFXIV has behind it I believe ARR can be great.