This game is in beta. They have like less than %10 of it released. All it is right now is one starter city and the surrounding landscape. And a level 30 cap(which takes like 2 weeks of hard core 12+ hour days to acheive). Expect it to take much longer in retail, they gave us an XP boost of almost 500%
Everything is a seamless transition, you walk from outside directly inside the dungeons with no loading or pause.
Way to early to be asking about endgame.
But as far as gearing up goes.....
Everything is rendered in absolute detail...you put on a ring or an earing... you see it on your finger or ear!
The games economy is completely player generated, during early alpha they had NPC vendors selling weapons and armor. But they removed, and replaced them with materials for crafting. Now the only weapons you get are from a crafter(sometimes armor is a mission reward...but mostly obtained through crafting). They haven't made up their mind if they will keep it this way...or provide at least the first dozen levels or so with NPC buy-able weapons/armor. Well know in 4 weeks when retail hits.
A for levels...yes it does have levels. You level up like any other MMO, the differance is you can switch your class on the fly by changing your equipment.
Another cool thing is you can mix and match skills and abilities from classes. So were going to see some really creative combos out there. Like a mage that can take a bit of a beating, or a melee class that can do some debuffs.
You pick your starter job and that determines your starting gear. But a quick trip to an NPC vendor, and you can buy all the level 1 starting gear and have any class you want.
You better have a beast of a Rig.
Phenom II 955 BE @3.2
GTX 275 w/1gig
4gigs OCZ DDR3
I barly run this game at low to medium settings.
720p resolution and can get about 27-35fps.
The interface is meant to play with 720p minimal, but 1080p would be ideal.
Oh, and crontroller FTW! This game is a dream with a controller. Get one if you plan to play with any reasonable skill. To keep botting and cheating to a minimal, SE has a software mouse implemented.
So unless you have a high end rig, the mouse/keyboard method will not be comfortable.
I will give you a counter argument against the game since you asked about it from a WoW perspective.
I've played WoW for 4+ years fairly hardcore. Never bothered with the new games as I've always been pleased with WoW. Although I was going to give FFXIV a shot. I was actually rooting for it. So I grabbed a beta key and dove in. Here is what I've found so far ( keeping in mind it IS early ):
- they purposely do not give player characters the ability to jump which drives me mad since it is such a huge component to movement. The play just does not feel real without it.
- fighting is very very slow and choppy and does not have that same fluid feeling that you get from WoW.
- UI is very basic and non-intuitive. Very little ability to customize anything. Cant' adjust mouse speed, very few camera options, macro's are limited as are keybinds, etc. My understanding though is that UI has always been a major complaint of FF games.
- I found myself contstantly being reminded that I was playing a video game instead of losing myself in it due to invisible barriers all over the place. You cannot fall into the water in the city ... it limits what parts of stairs you can go up ... etc etc. Felt very much like an old game in this respect where a lot of the world was illusion only and not something you could interact with.
- Music was great sometimes, and attrocious other times. During my starting quest on a ship at sea ... they have this awful guitar solo that immediately reminded me of a bad 1980's after-school-special. I have never been able to understand why devs put modern music into an old-world RPG fantasy game. It's very out of character with the world.
On the positive side, the graphics are absolutely stunning. Both the character graphics and the environment. But if you are looking for a game that moves and feels like WoW ... or can be customized like WoW ... you will be very disappointed. They've got WoW beat on the graphics hands down ... but the gameplay experience will probably see me uninstall the game and wait for Cataclysm to come out with the new Blizzard graphic engine.