I feel like ffxiv is missing something to keep players playing, casual and hardcore alike. I played ffxi for 6 years as a casual player( all per abysea, and that game made me want to come back and play every time I took a small break. I'm not sure this break from 14 is making me itch to come back, yes I'm going to play, and yes I like much of the game it just doesn't have that driving factor 11 had.
Things I liked in 11:
Difficulty: even as a casual the challenge of that game is what made it great. You strived to do your best in every xp party to maximize your time. V 1.0 was just to easy, every part of it was easy, leveling, individual mobs, dungeons, instances. what initially got me hooked on 11 was how smart you had to play just to get to cap. In v1.0 I slept thru cap on every combat job solo. I have died less in ffxiv than probably my first month in 11. I do like how easy the first few level were in 1.0 it helps new players get into the game without discouragement, but each level bracket should get gradually tougher. And by tougher all I mean is more challenginging to dispose of the mob in front of you. Party leveling should yield higher xp than solo leveling and it should take more to kill a mob, this "spam move while running oh shit I didn't even touch that mob" leveling is the most boring thing I've ever played in my life. Plus the speed at which you run thru mobs leaves absolutely no time for chat.
Solo play: I think many people have thought v 1.0 is more solo friendly than 11 but I feel that's completely backwards. Yes you can solo 1-50 and do most everything but instances on your own, but you could do alot of that in 11 also. I solo'd all the time in 11( being a fan of the least sought after jobs) I would find a spot which dropped items I needed for crafting and solo, slowly but solo it was. I think soloing should be easier but not as pitiful as it was in 1.0. But the best part of solo play in 11 was NM hunting, there was so many low level NM's to hunt which still dropped decent gear and it was hard.
I think writing this has discouraged me even more about xiv but I'll save my judgement for when the servers come back up