If I could have just one game for the rest of time, Final Fantasy XIV is the easy choice. But there are so many good games out there that hit similar notes as the critically acclaimed MMORPG, some of which may even make you appreciate FFXIV a bit more. Director and producer Naoki Yoshida wants us to do other things after all, and if you’re gonna spend that time with other games, we have a few ideas on the best ways to do just that.
It’d be easy to list off other MMORPGs and call it a day, but we all love FFXIV for different reasons. Some may very well be MMO-heads who love the progression and deeper RPG mechanics. Some are enthralled by its style of storytelling and characters, and primarily seek strong narratives in games. Or maybe it’s the catboys, I don’t know! What I do know is that there are a bunch of games worth experiencing in addition to FFXIV — so, let’s put some shine on 14 of ‘em and talk about why you might like these games if you like FFXIV.
Final Fantasy IV
The FFXIV team always finds a way to incorporate elements of previous entries in the franchise. In the case of Final Fantasy IV, it served as a major influence for several aspects of Endwalker, the latest expansion. Of course, it’s a classic turn-based RPG, but those who loved Endwalker and haven’t played FFIV will be treated to some really cool connections and shared themes between the two.
The best ways to play FFIV today are either with the PSP version called The Complete Edition (through various means) or the newly minted Pixel Remaster on PC and mobile devices.
What makes it like FFXIV? Well, for one, it’s a Final Fantasy. More importantly, FFIV serves as the basis for many facets of Endwalker — going to the moon, the Loporrits, the Magus Sisters, the whole Tower of Zot dungeon, and the canonical Warrior of Light changing from Dark Knight to Paladin, among other things. FFXIV is continuing to bank on FFIV’s themes in Patch 6.1’s MSQ story, hinting at a confrontation with a knight who seems a lot like Golbez.
Why is it worth playing? A good classic turn-based RPG stands the test of time, FFIV included. It also moves quite fast — it never lingers on a story thread for too long and doesn’t make you grind much. Some battles can be punishing and the random encounter rate can be overwhelming, but it’s still a good time. FFIV still features some of the best battle themes in the series, too.
Final Fantasy Tactics (War of the Lions)
Final Fantasy Tactics was the first game to take place in the Ivalice setting. If you haven’t played this classic strategy RPG, you may have been a bit lost during the Stormblood alliance raid, which is based on FF Tactics. Much like that storyline, FF Tactics has a theatrical tone to wrap drama around its timeless turn-based strategy gameplay.
Figuring out the best way to play FF Tactics can be confusing, but we’d recommend the re-release, subtitled War of the Lions, which you can get on mobile devices or on PSP…through various means.
What makes it like FFXIV? Again, you’ll have a much better understanding of the Return to Ivalice storyline told in the FFXIV raid series, which was also written by FF Tactics director Yasumi Matsuno. Characters like Ramza, Alma, Delita, and Mustadio have parallel versions in FFXIV’s Ivalice, but you’ll get to know the original bearers of these names with FF Tactics’ deeper story.
Why is it worth playing? FF Tactics is a certified classic that stands alongside the mainline numbered entries as one of the best games in the franchise. It’s probably still one of the best implementations of the Job system, making for a fun and challenging strategy-RPG experience.
Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age
More Ivalice! If you passed up on Final Fantasy XII, some pieces of the Return to Ivalice alliance raid series from Stormblood and the Bozjan Southern Front content in Shadowbringers may have gone over your head. Of course, all that can be enjoyed without having played FFXII, but it can certainly enrich the experience. Again, Yasumi Matsuno led the story development on all the related content in FFXIV and wrote for FFXII, leaving his ever-present stamp on Ivalice.
The definitive version, subtitled The Zodiac Age, brings a ton of quality of life improvements and is available on PlayStation 4 and 5, Xbox One/Series X|S, PC, and Nintendo Switch.
What makes it like FFXIV? FFXII, and the Ivalice setting as a whole, has a reflection in FFXIV lore. There’s a whole Dalmascan region with a similar but unique backstory that develops as you progress in the Ivalice raids, Bozja, and Zadnor. Where did the Viera come from? Who the hell is Fran? Why are bunny girls the best? If these questions popped into your head at any point, play FFXII.
Why is it worth playing? Between the Gambit system for combat and the complex political dynamics of the story, FFXII gives you a lot to chew on. Its gameplay flow takes some getting used to, especially for those expecting a traditional Final Fantasy experience, but it’s quite satisfying. Fran and Balthier rule, too.
Within the crowd of incredible games that launched in 2017, NieR Automata stood out as an all-time great with its provocative, emotional storytelling and slick hard-action gameplay. With the powers of director Yoko Taro and developer Platinum Games combined, the NieR franchise found mainstream success and is now recognized as a beloved modern classic.
You can play NieR: Automata on PS4/5, Xbox One/Series X|S, and PC — there are two definitive editions as well, subtitled Game of the YoRHa Edition and Become as Gods Edition.
What makes it like FFXIV? The obvious answer is that NieR serves as the foundation for the YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse alliance raid series in Shadowbringers. But the more important aspects, however, are the heartfelt and heart-wrenching narrative arcs and themes about humanity, sacrifice, and finding meaning in a world that has (and continues to) face catastrophe.
Why is it worth playing? NieR: Automata is straight up one of the best games of all time. Aside from the standout story and gameplay, it takes on an unconventional structure to subvert your expectations. If strong characters, tear-jerking moments, and sad sexy androids are your thing but you haven’t played NieR: Automata, what are you doing?
The Emet-Selch Mod for Stardew Valley
If you’re not aware, a fan by the name of Kriiva made a mod for Stardew Valley that replaces an NPC with a self-made version of Emet-Selch. It’s not just a visual mod either — there’s a fully-written storyline and romance route to go along with it. The mod includes seven heart events, eight portraits, a custom spouse room, and over 150 lines of dialogue, all of which is unique to the mod. That said, it is only available on the PC version of Stardew Valley.
Fanbyte’s own Natalie Flores has a featured story on the Stardew Valley Emet-Selch mod, which includes insights from the creator. This was a genuine labor of love and it’s worth experiencing if you found Emet-Selch to be a fascinating character.
What makes it like FFXIV? Emet-Selch…in Stardew Valley form. C’mon.
Why is it worth playing? Everyone’s favorite (fictional) war criminal humanized further in the context of Stardew Valley? And you can marry him? Hell yeah. The Garlean Empire was built on Emet-Selch’s emotional vulnerability and penchant for agriculture.
Tales of Arise
Tales of Arise took the long-time action RPG franchise to a new level with a significant overhaul of the series’ core. It feels like a JRPG for the new generation with a fantastic blend of detailed environments and anime aesthetics, as well as a much-needed overhaul to the traditional Tales of combat system.
It’s available on PS4/5, Xbox One/Series X|S, and PC. But beware of its microtransactions — there are items you can buy with real money to make things easier in-game, which is kinda wack. Don’t do it.
What makes it like FFXIV? Tales of Arise has the political intrigue and group dynamic in its narrative to compel you throughout. If you find the stories of uprising and overthrowing oppressive regimes in FFXIV interesting, Tales of Arise delivers as well. It also stars a protagonist who is just Heavensward-era Thancred. I mean, look at him!
Why is it worth playing? As one of the standouts of 2021, Tales of Arise brings JRPG traditions with modern sensibilities. It’s a solid, streamlined, and lengthy experience with a ton of challenging battles and exciting gameplay mechanics. Get ready for an overwhelming amount of character banter in battle, though.
Final Fantasy XI
Final Fantasy XI is definitely a game stuck in the early 2000s, but that’s why it’s sustained a dedicated playerbase. It has the charm of old-school MMOs with continuous content updates to keep players going; there’s just no current game like it. As someone who has recently dipped into FFXI, it’s been fascinating to see where the franchise came from with regards to its MMO prowess.
FFXI is only available on PC and takes some archaic steps to get started (the game still requires the extremely dated PlayOnline service). There is a 14-day free trial available — unfortunately, that means there is a restriction on playtime in which you probably won’t hit level 60 or make it to an award-winning expansion like Heavensward.
What makes it like FFXIV? It’s a Final Fantasy MMORPG, of course. You’ll immediately see the similarities in its worldbuilding and character designs, which undoubtedly influenced the direction of FFXIV in the early days. FFXI also gives you an idea of how FFXIV 1.0 was, for better or worse.
Why is it worth playing? To be honest, it’s a hard sell for those who aren’t MMO diehards at heart. But if you love FFXIV, I think it’s worth seeing how the franchise has evolved in the MMO space. We wouldn’t have FFXIV without FFXI, and seeing the similarities (and stark differences) between the two is fascinating. I wouldn’t say it’s worth dumping hundreds of hours into, but giving it a shot will deepen your appreciation for FFXIV. Its mechanics are heavily based in menus, and the game doesn’t give you the direction or intrigue off the bat — you have to put in a lot of work to figure out its systems. But hey, it’s worth seeing for yourself!
World of Warcraft
This one’s probably a no-brainer for recommendations, given that World of Warcraft was the modern MMORPG pioneer. For those who either dig the combat or RPG systems of FFXIV and haven’t touched WoW at any point in its 18-year history, it might be worth a try. There’s a generous amount of content in the free version of WoW, and more than enough for you to find out if it’s in your wheelhouse or not. WoW is only on PC but runs well on low-end specs.
However, you should be aware that publisher and developer Activision-Blizzard still faces allegations of some truly horrendous things like workplace discrimination, harassment, and sexual assault from within the company, which we’ve consistently reported on. Bobby Kotick is still a piece of shit. ABK workers are unionizing, and you should support this cause whether or not you play Blizzard games.
What makes it like FFXIV? Well, it was the MMORPG for a very long time. WoW served as a major influence when FFXIV was rebuilt as A Realm Reborn. Yoshi-P himself is (or was) an avid WoW player and took design inspiration as the team worked on FFXIV 2.0. I can’t say much about its narrative chops (mostly because I’m not too familiar with that aspect of WoW), but it’s certainly the game that plays most like FFXIV.
Why is it worth playing? While we’ve seen an exodus of WoW players coming over to FFXIV, the former still has a lot to offer today. It’s even gearing up for another expansion called Dragonflight. Newcomers can also expect a more streamlined beginner experience, which was recently overhauled to account for the massive backlog of content and expansions in WoW’s history.
The Elder Scrolls Online
The Elder Scrolls franchise runs deep with lore, worldbuilding, and its own unique systems and mechanics. If you have a gaming system, chances are you have Skyrim on it. But the series’ MMORPG, The Elder Scrolls Online, brings the expansive worlds you’ve seen from all previous entries into one deep RPG experience.
ESO is available on PS4/5, Xbox One/Series X|S, and PC — it’s also playable through Game Pass on Xbox and PC. There is a free version of ESO and a version you can purchase, then there’s an ESO Plus subscription option mostly for additional features. Its microtransactions aren’t great, but hey, at least there aren’t loot boxes.
What makes it like FFXIV? It’s an MMORPG, for one. But you’ll find some of ESO’s systems and mechanics similar enough to feel comfortable jumping in. Elder Scrolls lore gives you a lot of story content to chew on, but don’t expect it to be as sharp as FFXIV. If deep RPG systems are your jam, ESO delivers.
Why is it worth playing? ESO is probably the one mainstream MMO that gives you the most freedom. Broadly speaking, you can go wherever you want in the world whenever you want since things aren’t level-gated. If there’s a certain piece of content you want to experience, you can do it without worrying about level requirements, which might feel liberating compared to the structure of FFXIV.
Star Wars: The Old Republic
Continuing down the comparisons to traditional-style MMORPGs, we have Star Wars: The Old Republic, which I’m partial to. As a big-time Knights of the Old Republic fan, BioWare scratched that itch in MMO form with sharply written stories and solid RPG mechanics that feel true to the Star Wars universe, regardless of which class you choose to play as. And it’s largely playable as a solo experience.
SWTOR is only on PC but runs decently on low-end systems. There’s a free version that includes a ton of content. The game is still going quite strong with regular content updates and a recently released expansion.
What makes it like FFXIV? Of all the aforementioned MMORPGs in this list, SWTOR features the best narrative design. If that’s what really gets you going in FFXIV, and you have some appreciation for the Star Wars universe, you should really consider trying SWTOR. And you’ll find a ton of similarities in the gameplay mechanics, which will make it easy and fun to jump into.
Why is it worth playing? You have classic Star Wars stories with Jedi Knight and Sith Warrior classes, and more unconventional yet provocative storytelling with the Imperial Agent class. The dungeons and instances are a blast to play through even if you want to go solo. The Star Wars universe is a great fit for the MMO format, and SWTOR makes good on that. It may not be the hottest one on the block, but SWTOR has no shortage of worthwhile content.
While not an MMORPG, Genshin Impact has come onto the scene strong for its enjoyable gameplay loop, expansive and colorful world, and roster of collectable anime boys and girls. The game is without a doubt inspired by The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild’s mechanics and aesthetics, but Genshin Impact has taken on an identity of its own.
It’s a gacha-style game at heart, so be aware of its monetization practices and reliance on RNG pulls to get the things you want. If anything, I like popping in for short periods to do quests and see what’s new for a quick RPG fix. Genshin Impact is playable on PC, PS4/5, and mobile devices.
What makes it like FFXIV? If you like tinkering with optimal attack rotations, Genshin Impact might satisfy — you create a squad of characters, all with unique elemental abilities, who you cycle through in real-time to make short work of your enemies. It has some neat pieces of story and likable characters as well — just don’t expect anything near the narrative depth of FFXIV.
Why is it worth playing? It’s not exactly an MMORPG, but it’s one of the premiere ongoing games today. It’s still going strong with new updates and seasonal content, and just put out a new character named Yelan. Beneath the gacha nonsense is a genuinely fun game with an inventive combat system, paired with a great sense of exploration.
Nekopara: Catboys Paradise
If you need more little meow meows, the otome visual novel Nekopara: Catboys Paradise might scratch that itch. FFXIV gives us plenty of Miqo’te boys to love and appreciate, but sometimes it’s not enough. Listen, G’raha Tia has brought me to tears multiple times, I take him on all my Trust dungeon runs, he eats burgies, and he saves worlds. I love him to death, but he very much satisfies my catboy needs. I’m just looking out for the rest of y’all.
You can get Nekopara for free on PC through Steam or on mobile devices through iOS or Android.
What makes it like FFXIV? Catboys. That’s all. If FFXIV’s catboys have a special place in your heart and you want more, this is probably up your alley.
Why is it worth playing? Nekopara is kinda wholesome, actually. If you’re sucio gang and want something more adult, then this probably isn’t what you’re looking for. Nekopara is quite heteronormative, however, as all characters automatically refer to you (the main character) using she/her pronouns, so at least be aware of that.
Fire Emblem: Three Houses
Intelligent Systems already had a history of making some great strategy RPGs, but then they implemented a deeper social sim element for this Fire Emblem and knocked it out of the park. With fascinating characters, tons of interactions, and multiple factions, on top of a lengthy tactical-RPG campaign, Three Houses is arguably the best Fire Emblem yet.
What makes it like FFXIV? If you like the more classic fantastical aspects of FFXIV, then Three Houses will likely be for you — especially when it comes to character development over the course of a long story. Also, you can’t tell me Ser Aymeric wouldn’t be a perfect fit as leader of the Blue Lions.
Why is it worth playing? Fire Emblem: Three Houses is one of the best games on Nintendo Switch, period. Its balance of thoughtful strategy gameplay, character interactions, and planning how to spend your in-game time Persona-style makes it a unique and well-executed experience.
Persona 5 Royal
Outside of FFXIV, Persona 5 Royal is quite possibly my favorite game of all time. The more I think about it, the more similarities I see between the two games and understand why I’m so drawn to both. At their core, these are games about the human condition and how hard we’re willing to fight for our own people when we have nothing left to lose in a tragic world. They go about telling their respective stories in very different ways, but hit the similar emotional notes that will get you in your feelings. If you finish P5R on my recommendation and it doesn’t deliver on that front, I will personally refund you. Maybe.
P5R is a PlayStation exclusive you can play on either PS4/5. Sure, the spin-off/semi-sequel Persona 5 Strikers might be on PC and Switch, but if you think you’ll get the original game on those platforms, keep dreaming.
What makes it like FFXIV? The power of friendship. Attacking and dethroning gods. Fighting for what’s right. Disrupting oppressive systems and power structures. The type of shit that’ll have you ready to fight everyone in the street shirtless. And some of the best music in all of video games. Ya know, just JRPG things.
Why is it worth playing? It’s often regarded as the pinnacle of JRPGs, fusing social sim elements, exciting turn-based combat, lavish anime style, and a captivating emotional story. It’s not the most sophisticated when it comes to storytelling, but it’s bold and confident in the broader message it tries to send. Each of its core elements complement each other so wonderfully to create an experience like no other.