Bit of a bump, but here's my take on it, and arguably KingA was pretty spot on about waiting for 2.0, however i'll expound on some of his points:
(Note: I just came back to this myself, after having destroyed my CE game with a bunch of explosives, and posted it on youtube for the world to see....I'm retarded, yeah, moving on here's some things i've noticed, not white knighting, cause lord knows the game is still rough as ****, however...)
---Pwr Leveling is the way to go, until about level 30, where you can usually form/find a party to exp with, but PL'ing does indeed get you to around 40-42 quicker, and once you get a job to 40-42 you can do Spiritburn parties to cap out.
And you can't really get every Disciple of War/Magic to 50 in 2 days lol, but you can (if you get into a PL party get 1-2 Classes to 50 in a weekend. Crafting is till relatively slow, but there's decent money to be had having BSM, ARM, GSM, Culinery at 50 (I'll explain later). Disciple of the Land (DOL) is, imo, the hardest to get experience with as you really only have leve's to spam to get good EXP.
---Endgame raids (1hr instances), and boss fights (Garuda,moogles,Ifrit) all have strategies and can be between at different levels of skill for different rewards. Speed runs require 8 highly skilled players to pull off (17 min Aurum Vale Runs, etc) but give the most loot. Boss fights (primals) all require strategy, but for Ifrit and Moogle, those can be shouted, Garuda not so much (they nerfed the BLM burn strat)
---Additionally SE added in the Grand Companies and the associated "stuff" that goes with them, including but not limited too:
-Hamlet Defense (a two staged event, 1st stage 48hrs, 2nd stage 24hrs) that involves gathering items/materials to boost your Hamlets defense rating (currently only able to raise it to level 2 Defense, which involves more/harder Mobs during the 24hr "fight" time) for better drop rates (24hr event is every 20ish minutes a new "wave" happens, and you have to battle to protect the NPCs, aswell as farm and craft items to buff/de-buff the NPC's/Monsters
-GC seals (obtained through quests,item turn in, short instances events, etc) which can be used to purchase higher ranks, different items, repair materials, etc.
-GC Storyline is also only aval. until version 2.0, and honestly is worth spaming through as it's pretty good imo. Very interesting concept that their attempting to pull off and if 2.0 actually becomes decent, there will be the old school crew how sloughed through the suck of 1.0 so they could tell the war stories to all the new ps3 folks^^
---They no longer have "physical level/Job level", now you just level up your Disciple level, for instance, say you level Marauder to 50, and you have Gadiator to 15, you can start the Job quests to unlock WAR, (which is a level 30 quest, so it's totally soloable) and then you can swap to your marauder by equiping an ax, then equip the job crystal of warrior which locks your available ability pool to Maurder and Gladiator, and additioanlly gives you unique abilites that only warriors have. (the quest line for the Jobs starts at 30 and every 5 levels a new quest opens up, which are soloable generally, until level 45ish)
---Achievement system is pretty robust, and there’s some doozies that are only available until 2.0 hits, such as “visit every aetheryte, and their mini aetherites” due to the entire world changing once Dahlmund impacts Eorza (that’s some of the storyline for the GC’s, I won’t spoil it anymore)
---Materia system is … there lol. It’s a decent concept however it’s also frustrating as ****. Basically you would buy a piece of gear (Ax, body armor, leg armor, etc.) and as you fight and gain exp in it, the gear gains spiritbond points. Once it reaches full spiritbond it can be turned into a piece of material. At level 45+ gear you can get some really nice Materia. However, I’ll explain some of the fail in my Reason’s not to play section.
---NM’s are back/around and a lot of them are soloable for a level 50 job, however most of their gear is for level 30ish jobs. The nice thing is that one could feasibly run around farming the NM’s (like highest respawn rate is 10mins I think, most the time it will respawn in a matter of a few minutes) and then turning those NM drops into your respective Grand Company for seals. Additonally there are those NM’s that have longer spawn times, and drop crafting materials that make some nice gear that can be sold in the markets, so there’s that to look at also.
---Boss fights still have rough drop rates, but luckily they implemented a token system, so that If you spam the fight a certain amount of times, you are guaranteed atleast one weapon (also with a dedicated group this can be done a lot faster by passing those tokens to one person at a time, essentially speeding up the process greatly)
I’m enjoying the game, but I know in a month or so when I have gotten all my DOW/M up to level 50, and I’ve gotten a DOL (mining) up to 50, I’ll be looking to get into a smaller, less social oriented LS (talking maybe 36 man or less) to focus on getting a relic. I won’t go to much into detail about the current relic quests, however, if you have 8 focused individuals, that are skilled enough at efficiently running instances/boss’s/hamlet getting 8 relics shouldn’t be a major problem.
REASON’S NOT TO PLAY, or things I hate, but am willing to suck up due to my interest in the rest of the game:
---The UI still lags horribly for certain things, I.E. trades, retainer inventory, NPCing crap drops from mobs, etc. Battle wise, it’s gotten a lot better but **** I hate doing anything that involve inventory.
---The market wards were and still are just ******* horrible. They implemented a search/buy from search, so if you experienced the launch system, it’s 1000% better, but it is still one of the limiting factor to the game entirely, Hard to build an economy around such a fail system.
---Getting folks of together of the old school MMO mindset. I’m in an LS now, with like 90 casual players, and I feel like some of them want to be more “endgame” oriented, but when you just accept every new person that shouts for a shell in Ul’dah, you end up spending most of your time back tracking to help those people out, in the hopes that they stick around to get into the Endgame type mentality.
--- Materia. Great concept, failed implementation. For instance, I buy 10 body pieces for my WAR(Cobalt breastplates, avg. price on balmhung 50-60k gil so 600k), I join a spirit bond party, and SB each piece. I then turn them into Materia. The random number generator gives me 7 pieces of crap material that sell for maybe 10-15k a piece, 2 decent pieces that sell for 100-200k, and one highly sought after piece that sells for over 500k up to 2mil.
Well that doesn’t sound to bad does it? Well here’s the thing. I take that nice piece of material, and let’s say it’s Enmity +20, It only sockets into 3 types of weapons, and belts. So I put it onto my belt, which is decent gear. However, Say I had two of those pieces of material, and I wanted to meld them onto that same belt. The first meld is 100% success, no if ands or buts. The second meld has, often times, less than 20% chance of success. If you fail that 2nd meld attempt, YOU LOSE EVERYTHING, the belt, the two pieces of material and the two catalysts that were required to perform the meld in the first place. Yeah, this is why that same belt with those two material melded onto them sells for 8mil gil often times, if you can find one for sale.
---Crafting in general is still just crappy. It’s slow, hard to break even, unless your willing to go even slower, and just generally annoying as **** to do, as you have to fight menu lag when it comes to picking your recipie/materials
---Mining,botany,fishing is also slow and annoying, it turns a profit no matter what you do with it, (NPC or market wards) but unless you dedicated a large portion of time to it, your leveling is going to be slow and your profits will be low.
---RMT. Nothing you can do about them. Report them, call GM’s, call Customer support, etc. but SE won’t touch them currently. They have gotten pretty good about not interfering with the players but occasionally you’ll find them around, and they’ll be ******* up something you wanted to do.
---Server Lag is still there. The Japanese definitely have an easier time doing certain things because an AoE move that a boss does gives a 5 second warning before it goes off to them, whereas we get 3 seconds, and Europe might get 2-3 seconds. North Americans have learned to play around it, but watching a Japanese fight on youtube vs. the same one performed by NA will give you a better understanding.
I personally feel like 2.0 will bring a worthy game, as the changes they’ve made so far, with what they could (a testament of how horrid the original game was) are all pretty amazing in my opinion.
Is it worth paying for? Meh, probably not, I find myself enjoying it, and would recommend a month of play time, just before 2.0 hits, or the beta starts, or whatever, just to experience the story line, and see how well they related it to current player base, and the state of the game.
Also, gobbue mounts are going away when patch 1.23 hits, probably next month, end of this month, so you can jump on that, probably won’t ever be able to get that mount again, and man it’s pretty funny to be rolling around on a gobbue (easy to get, level a job to 30, talk to NPC, bam you got your mount)
Anyway, my two cents…