Final Fantasy 14 is literally the best videogame in the world

And I do not say this lightly.

It is a game about adventuring in a fantasy setting. There is a great long storyline where you save the world a whole bunch of times, hundreds of things to collect & a bunch of different play styles. It's one of those massively multiplayer online games which means theres always a bunch of random people about to adventure with and always something to do.
FFXIV did not start out as being the best game of all time, in fact version 1.0 was a catastrophic failure. Then Square-Enix brought in a guy called Naoki Yoshida (Yoshi-P) who sorted it out and made it what it is today (the best videogame in the world) and its now on like version 6.0
Theres a really cool 2 hour documentary on the making of FFXIV 1.0 - 2.0 which deep dives into all of that if you're interested.

Let me explain the entire story.

There will be spoilers below, so read if you want and avert your eyeballs as necessary. Close your eyes and scroll down the the What Else section if you need to
A story in six parts

1.0 - A game no one really played.

As mentioned, it had all sorts of problems like a shitty interface, technical issues, unbalanced and boring game play. They were trying to do something nobody else was doing at the time, which had worked in their favor in the past (FFXI). Rather than scrapping the game, Yoshi-P developed version 2.0 alongside in secret. The Plot of 1.0 involved Garleans (colonizers) invading the land and with the aid of the Ascians (Evil Magic Bad guys) they want to crash the Moon into your land. But inside the Moon is a Dragon. The Dragon starts to destroy the world, but Grandpa Scion (Scions are the Good Guys) does something to the dragon and makes the good guys (you) disappear.

2.0 - A Realm Reborn.

The 1.0 servers are shutdown. Version 2.0 is released. All the bugs and problems with 1.0 are fixed. The Realm truely is Reborn
You reappear several years after the events of the dragon moon apocalypse thing. Garleans are still invading & the Ascians are getting the Beast Tribes to summon their Gods (Primals). But Since the Ascians are kinda dicks, they are actually getting the Beast Tribes to summon corrupt manifestations of the Primals.
Why? Because they are Evil and they worship this Evil God named Zodiark, thats why! You beat up the Primals. The crystal spirit of planet, Hydaelyn, thanks you personally because you are the chosen one, the Warrior of Light™!

3.0 - The Estinien expansion.

I dont remember much about the storyline in this expansion, but it involves a war with Dragons - who are actually from outer space but thats not important. The main badguy is a dragon called Nidhogg, you try to broker a peace but hes not having any of it. The story features Dragoon Knight Estinien Wyrmblood, I just think he's neat.đź‘Ť

4.0 - The Weeb expansion.

The Garleans are still being dicks. The main antagonist is the son of the Garlean Emperor - Commander Zenos Galvus, he likes to fight and falls in love with you because you are so strong. He thinks you are besties❤️ He's kinda crazy!
You travel to the East to make friends with ninja, samurai and dragon people. There is a big old Samurai called Gosetsu who is pretty cool I guess, but thats not important.
You help them liberate their lands from the Garleans, then they come and help you liberate some land on your side of the world that the Garleans took over in 1.0. The Ascians are always in the background meddling with things too. Zenos becomes a dragon but then dies, but manages to come back somehow with Ascian Magic™. He's still got some fight in him and he's saving it allll for you.

5.0 - The High Fantasy and lore bomb expansion

So all along, the world you are from is known as The Source™ and there are 13 reflections of the world, each a different aspect/element. You and your pals (the Scions) get whisked away to the reflection of the "Light" element and things are pretty fucked up there because of them pesky Ascians. They are trying to merge all of the reflections back into The Source™ and have successfully done so for some of them throughout history. Each merge destroys the reflection and causes a massive cataclysm in The Source™.
Why are they doing it? Who knows? - Ascian Emet-Selch does! He befriends you and tries to make you see his point of view.

Anyway, in this realm of Light theres some kind of horrific infectious disease of 'Light' going around which turns living things into monsters. You bring Darkness to the world (which is ironic because you are the Warrior of Light™) which foils the Ascians plans, and then you and your pals return home.

6.0 Moon's Haunted and MEGA lore bomb expansion

Zenos Galvus kills his dad, the emperor, and the Garlean Empire falls. Zenos doesnt really care about anything other than fighting you ❤ ️ hes kinda obsessed!
He teams up with one of the last remaining Ascians, Hermes AKA Fandaniel, and goes to the moon to free Zodiark - The 'Evil' God of the Ascians (remember?), just to get your attention. You follow but they succeed. You also make friends with rabbits that live on the moon but thats not important.
You kill Zodiark. Game over? I dont think so!
Oh no - Zodiark was actually holding back The Final Days™. Fire starts falling from the sky and people turn into monsters when they feel stressed or depressed.
So, why are The Final Days™ happening? Well you go BACK IN TIME to before The Source™ was fragmented to find out. You discover that the Ascians are members of the prehistoric civilization and they are trying to make their home world whole again, that makes perfect sense - remember what they were trying to do in the world of Light?
Back then they lived in Utopia and Fandaniel/Hermes made a Humanoid Bird Child and sent it into space to explore and find life. But it just found suffering and got super depressed and all that sad juju psychic energy was getting sent back to the planet and the rest of the universe, which caused The Final Days™ to begin. To stop it, they sacrificed 1/2 the population to create Zodiark, but oops, it was too powerful and its going to wreck the world. So the other half sacrificed themselves to make Hydaelyn to keep Zodiark in check - this event splits the ancient utopia world into The Source™ + those 13 reflections that I mentioned earlier.
Back to the present, you fight Hydaelyn as a "final test" and take the crystals energy to transport you and your pals into SPACE in a SPACESHIP to defeat the depressed bird girl. Things are looking grim for you but then your best friend Zenos shows up as a dragon! and helps you finish the fight. Once the sad bird girl is defeated you are free to fight Zenos in a place beyond space and time which is pretty romantic if you ask me. After the fight you head back home. The end.

What an adventure, right?! 10/10
I mean the story continues with ongoing adventures such as finding a friendly dragon in the darkness fragment or fighting the Gods of the realm etc

What else

Well other than the main story, there's also like a billion side stories and quests to adventure through in a rich and beautiful environment brimming with detail, and excellent music enjoy. There is a bunch of other games within the game also like mahjong or racing to play.
In the main part of the game you can also drastically change your play style through the different "jobs." As in, damage dealing jobs, some healing jobs which keep the party alive and some tank jobs which are sturdy and absorb lots of damage. Usually you adventure in a group consisting of a mixture of different job roles, such as 1 healer, 1 tank and 2 damage dealers. In larger instances there 24 people playing together to overcome gigantic foes.
Each "boss" monster has different abilities to overcome it can take a lot of strategy and co-operation to defeat them.
As an example, see this 90 page document which details several phases on a difficult battle.

There are also several jobs dedicated to just crafting things like weapons, potions and furniture. There are houses and apartments to place your furniture. There are also jobs dedicated to gathering materials and fishing also.
You are rewarded with all sorts of things as you progress and repeat different content in the game. Rewards range from fantastic creatures that you can fly across the lands, pets that look cute, unique clothing and rare items.
Most people like to run through the latest and most difficult content to get "the best" armor. Some people like to just accumulate wealth by crafting things and selling them.
Me? I like to gain experience and level up each job to the maximum which is a long long journey. I also like to make cookies and hand them out to strangers, I've received some nice random gifts in return.

You have a lot of control over how your character looks. There are several different races in the game which vary from humans, to anthropomorphic bunny/cat/lion/dragon humans, elves, strong ladies and small little potato people called lalafel. You can "dress up" your character in so many different and unique pieces of clothing also to express your own creativity and individualty. No two people look the same.
My character is a lalafel and these are some of my various outfits for the different jobs of the game.

Getting Personal

Other than the incredibly immersive story line, memorable characters, player customization and the tons of other things you can do in the game, I find FFXIV appealing for personal reasons.
I played version 1.0 briefly and was disappointed. By the time 2.0 was released I was interested in giving it a go and wondered if it had addressed the issues of the previous version.
I was also going through a period of my life where I was completely burntout and depressed. I felt as though I had no purpose in the world and that the world had no purpose for me. I was exhausted all of the time, detached from my emotions yet felt hopelessness in my situation. I noticed that I was having difficulty with attention, recall and problem-solving abilities AKA my executive functioning was in pieces. This made it make it extremely challenging to do anything, including recovering from the situation I was in. Needless to say I was also socially withdrawn.

FFXIV, A Realm Reborn, provided me with a structured and predictable environment, which helped me regain a sense of control. Unlike the real world, the rules of the FFXIV were clear and could be easily referenced, this gave me a sense of stability. It also provided clear goals and objectives which provided a sense of purpose and direction. I didn't need to deal with the stress and mental drain of face-to-face communication. I could communicate via text and expressive character animations, or not at all should I choose.
It was a non-stressful, therapeutic and ultimately beneficial experience. In time, I had the capacity to seek help for my mental health. The help I received was extremely poor, but thats another story.
Towards the end of my time in A Realm Reborn I had all of the jobs at maximum level (50), I enjoyed helping people out by crafting them the best equipment, fighting alongside them in the hardest content or just by being a walking knowledge base. I felt proud and confident in my knowledge of the game and accomplishments. I had mastered the game.
The expansion, version 2.0, was released and I lost that sense of control as the game had expanded beyond the bounds that I had mastered. By this time I didn't need to depend on the game anymore and I stopped playing.

Around a decade later, I decided to revisit the FFXIV as I had heard the game was going from strength to strength, there were rave reviews and it spiked in popularity. I had several expansions to play through and loads of new content to enjoy.
The final storylines theme of existence and its relationship to suffering, despair, and the logical conclusion to end life were particularly close to home.
But anyway, I've been having a great time leveling up my characters jobs to the new maximum of level 90. My favorite thing to do is content with the other weird little potato people in the game. I'm not as engrossed with it as I used to be and that is fine, I've got a much better grip on mental health stuff these days also.
I'm grateful to Yoshi-P and the whole development team of FFXIV for the hours and days I've spent in their realm.🥲