Final Fantasy XIV is a tremendous game. So much to do, so many people to meet, and so many adventures to be had. Perhaps one of the best elements of FFXIV is a simple staple of MMORPGs, its Free Company section, known in other circles as the “guilds.”
Free Companies can be as large or as small as players wish and can be brought together for facing off against bosses, hunting, and the occasional raunchy parties, but for me, it was to keep in touch with my friends as we all traveled across The First. You see, I came into Final Fantasy XIV during the pandemic. My friends and I were constantly searching for ways to stay in touch while also satiating our gaming needs. We played Among Us, and that worked for a time; however, we yearned for something with more oomph. We tried playing Neverwinter, which, unfortunately, wasn’t deep enough for us. Then we found Final Fantasy XIV. It was a revelation.
For two whole years we partied up and went out on Trials and Raids, and eventually, we became a Free Company. We bought a house; it was nothing fancy. We then tended to our chocobos in our stables and even celebrated holidays. Christmas was a special treat. I even received gifts for my birthday. We would wait for each other when work was bogging down progress for any of us.
The concept of a Free Company was truly a wonder for me. I had almost exclusively stuck with single-player games. During my college years, I did experiment with online shooters, but that was a flash in the pan and I wasn’t particularly adept at them. With the Free Company, I could do so much and I was actually good at it.
We stayed up until the wee hours on Discord chatting as we took on Trials and Raids. We’d spend hours in the Gold Saucer spending tons of fictional coins trying to get all the cards available in the game. It is a connection that I’d like to think helped us grow closer as friends during a tough period in our lives. After all, we were scattered to the four winds and spent several months trying to stay in touch. Creating this virtual band of brothers was a healing process for me if I’m being honest.
Now heading into 2023 and with no concrete new content for FFXIV in the foreseeable future, my friends are sadly disbanding the Free Company. As someone who connects with people through unusual means, I genuinely am at a loss for how to further my adventures with my friends.
This is an especially tough issue as I am a non-PC gamer. As a non-PC gamer I always felt disconnected from my friends in that aspect of our friendship, and Final Fantasy XIV gave me the opportunity to join them. There were many LAN parties I was sadly never a part of that I wish I had been to. Now with life returning to some semblance of normality, it is becoming apparent that my friends and I will be losing this particular element of our friendship.
Several of the lads have found solace in Satisfactory. Unfortunately, I do not have the technical mind to enjoy that particular title. One friend has tried to entice me to PlateUp!, a title not dissimilar to Overcooked!, but I have sadly found no interest in this. As our Free Company house lies empty and I know I have to return to it to ensure it doesn’t get demolished, (Final Fantasy XIV housing rules can be quite cutthroat.) I realize that I have lost something that I never thought I wanted, a guild.
When I was young and World of Warcraft was at its height, I saw many gamers talking about the delights of partying up and forming a guild. I never took notice of it due to the lack of titles on the PlayStation that capitalized on it. So imagine my shock when I had formed an intimate, adventurous, and familial Free Company in FFXIV and I adored it. I loved the sense of camaraderie, of building a home together with my friends and actually going out and adventuring. It became a kind of addiction, one that I don’t want to let go of.
Now I sit in an empty house, not sure if I’ll stay or I’ll go.