On a side note: You've mentioned they have much better PR this time compared to 11. How is their PR coming compared to Bioware or Blizzard, who often discuss the big/important issues on a fairly daily basis?
It's nowhere near as good, but then again they are a Japanese company who have a history of being overly secretive. The cultural difference is pretty significant as Bioware and Blizzard are both North American companies whose primary market is North America. Square Enix is trying to have a global outlook, but they need to take a page from Capcom in that regard. Interestingly enough, they are hiring a community manager for FFXIV for each territory, so we *may* see the door open up a little more. If they actually have an official forum and have one of their bilingual PR people who are very close to the project communicate with the player base regularly, there's no reason they can't reach that level of intimacy with the community. I know for a fact that they have such people within the company, but they aren't directly involved in FFXIV at this time. The landscape of the MMO has changed dramatically since the heyday of FFXI, and it's probably a huge culture shock for them to adapt - but I'd like to give them the benefit of the doubt for now. After all, they do have a Twitter account, a Youtube channel, a Facebook page as well as a pretty hyperactive official beta forum - so they have the tools in place, they just need the charisma to use them properly.
On a side note, after spending alot of time reading community reactions as well as my own experiences - I think I finally "get" what they're trying to accomplish with FFXIV, but I dont know if players are really ready and willing to play this way. I think anyone who has played XI will know that there were so many things you could do, but you had to ration your time. If you wanted to XP, you could, if you wanted to play Ballista (I know, don't laugh, but still) you could, there was chocobo raising and raising, if you wanted to hit up Assault, or maybe do some Campaign you could. There was also, Salvage, Dynamis, Fields of Valor, you name it - you had a plethora of activites to choose from. Granted the min-max crowd could care less about half of them, but they were still there. I think what SE is trying to do this time around is to have a structure that encourages (forces) you to look at the game as a lifestyle.
I mean look at how the game is built - you have the Armory system that allows you to mix and match abilities across a shitload of classes - its basically a glorified version of the Support Job system. However, in XI you had to actually take time off of your main to level your SJ so that you could have access to those sweet abilities. In FFXIV its the same concept - they don't want you to blow to endgame with one class and be missing a massive chunk of your toolset. By having people fatigue in leveling one job, as heavy handed as it seems, it gets people to look at other jobs as well as gets them to craft, which is the center of the economy. Also, the guildleve system is fine as it is. Solo players who don't have much time to play can log in for 1-2 hours and finish their combat leves one day, then log in the next day and do their 8 local leves, then have them reset the next day. Hardcore people, who would be grouping up anyway can share their leves for massive party sessions. If they run out of them, there's behest and later on when they have enough faction credits they can purchase faction leves that they can do solo or as a group.
Alot of it is time management, but in the post-WoW age, people expect the standard to be bum rushing to endgame - and what they want you to do is stop, look at the world and lore they have created and actually enjoy the growing process. It's all about options within time-management, something all MMO players feel insulted when its dictated. Let's not forget the fallout they had with Pandamonium Warden - I think that was also something that influenced alot of the anti-timesink mentality they have with XIV. While they say there's no endgame for retail - what MMO had any endgame at retail? One thing Square Enix is good for is stuffing content into their games, my only concern is that its timely. I enjoy the combat in XIV alot, and the Fatigue system does rub me the wrong way, but I found there's other classes that are actually pretty cool. In fact, you only really need to level up 1-2 other jobs to make the Surplus and Fatigue a non-issue.