I wanted to like Final Fantasy XI, I really did. With four copies bought over the lifetime of the game, I've found myself flat out rage-quitting each time I tried to play. With a lack of friendly players, welcoming new-player-experience, and punishing penalties for death and failures, this game is nearly impossible for new players to get involved.
Sure it's an older game, and I don't blame veterans for sticking where they are, some fabled city that I've only heard through NPC rumor and the occasional slip of a rare player's tongue, but overall the existing areas new players will see are devoid of player contact. Hell, I saw absolutely zero players in the capital city of Windurst for most of my tenure in my most recent attempt to play.
Combat is slow, but I appreciate the chance to plan and the focus on timing abilities with casting times between incoming attacks. The problem is that the game's combat is (more or less) balanced for party play and there's almost no way to really set up a party in "modern day" Final Fantasy XI since nobody's around. Level up to 10, die, level down. The frustration from this cycle was maddening enough that I just couldn't continue.
While I was frustrated about the balancing of the game, I really wished that I could have spent some time on the story. There's a lot going on, albeit buried in text, that could easily keep your attention for a long time, but the game just seems to want to hide it from you. You get a mission or quest to do something, but the instructions are vague, requiring an outside resource to explain each step. You want some work so you can afford to buy slightly better equipment from NPCs since the auction house is laughably expensive, but NPCs don't look like they actually have a job for you to do.
"Frustrating" is the only word I can use to describe this game. I want to love it, but the complexities of it, the age of it, the progression of it's core playerbase, and the difficulty it's account management system uses all makes this impossible to recommend except to existing players.