February 4, 2023

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The best live service games of 2022

By now most people have heard of the critically acclaimed MMORPG Final Fantasy 14. With an extended free trial and everything you need to know, by this point you know it all. More importantly, we all finally came to an end this year. The game’s fourth major expansion, Endwalker, released and ended a decade-long story in the making. A story that has taken us from protecting our own homes to the literal edge of the universe and one I know I will not soon forget. We have all of this along with a host of new features and content to take us through the year.

You could argue that the most important thing for an MMO is tons of content to keep players engaged, and while Endwalker may have seen more space between updates, those updates have been wonderful. New alliance raids with interesting themes, great boss designs, and awesome music were all highlights. Even with the slightly more difficult wild raids, I know my group had fun clearing the ranks. Where else can I have a blast banging a sexy vampire theater nerd with seven of my best friends while playing an awesome boss theme that involves silly little surf rock glitches? This is Final Fantasy 14 Online baby! That’s also not even mentioning the new adventurer plate system, the PvP overhaul, and the Overwatch-like payload mode, which is a blast to play. Or even the survival game and Animal Crossing-like Island Sanctuary mode, which lets you relax and collect materials while building your own island. The development team has been busy giving us lots of things to do and it shows how much they care.

However, the biggest thing for me is the story, even so long after it’s out. The game summed up how we closed a decade-long story and embarked on a brand new adventure. The themes and moments that took us to the end really made a big impression on me, and they all hit particularly hard after the standout expansion before it, Shadowbringers. I won’t spoil anything because I still think FFXIV is a game that everyone needs to experience, but it’s something to see just how far this game has come in all the years I’ve played it. Storylines and characters that accompany you throughout your journey grow and change, and seeing them all come together in a wonderfully emotional ending zone is something I won’t forget. It goes well beyond just asking your character things, and at times even directly asking you as the player to think about your journey and what it means to you. It’s a story about endings, accepting that death is inevitable and even when things get difficult or seem impossible, it’s always important to do your best not to lose hope and move on. The suffering of a thousand worlds weighs heavily, and yet we can all move on. – Ben Janca