Footsy - as already answered, you can play with PS2 and PC players (hella bots on some servers because of it) but no voice chat. Therefore, a USB keyboard is really the only way to go.
Anyway, I kinda agree with Devil Jin. The only thing that separates a Level 75 from a Level 10 is the amount of time invested into the game, really. There’s no element of competition and skill isn’t really a factor (besides finding a cute party configuration and ensuring there are no idiots amongst your group). It’s a nice game to play while chatting shit with friends but that’s about it. I hate the grinding in FFXI, it’s far too long and repetitive, even with friends.
Still, I started again as a white mage after beta, and it’s hella fun running around the server healing random people.
final cut - what’s Ballista like? I don’t think I’ll ever level up enough to try it but it sounds interesting.