Final Fantasy XIV. These words alone set off a deep rooted sense of dismay in the hearts of many gamers. This is arguably justified, however, as the game was widely considered nothing short of a disaster upon its initial release back in 2010. It was absolutely riddled with flaws: a plethora of recycled textures, clunky combat, poorly designed interface – you name it, this game did it wrong.
As it turns out, the few strong points the game did have to offer, which included the storyline, graphics and soundtrack, were apparently worth expanding upon. So what did Square do? Well, to synopsize the entire ordeal, they fired the original medley of ‘game designers,’ passed the crown on to the quirky yet passionate Naoki Yoshida (more commonly known as Yoshi-P), and then proceeded in having a blood red moon, which loomed overhead for months in game, inch ever closer to the world of Eorzea. They continued in patching the then free-to-play game over the course of several months, until the time of decimation was to eventually beset the realm’s inhabitants. And the day did indeed arrive when, in November of last year, Yoshi-P and his cohorts brought a spectacular end to what is now known as ‘Final Fantasy XIV 1.0′.
Following the game’s shutdown, it was revealed that Dalamud was not in fact a moon, but instead a prison for the Primal God Bahamut who, as you can see in the video above, ends up destroying everything even remotely close to it. The good news is that mere moments before Bahamut’s final Megaflare impact, NPC Louisoix teleports the Eorzean protagonists out of harm’s way. It was later confirmed that this was five years into the future, where the story of A Realm Reborn will pick back up.
This leads us to an important question: where does the game stand as of today? After having a select number of players test out the ropes, the development team has kept the community updated regularly about the game’s progress, and it definitely appears to be headed in the right direction. They seem to have fixed nearly everything that was wrong with 1.0, and in doing so have virtually scrapped the old game in its entirety. They’ve remade all of the zones into lush, detailed landscapes that actually urge the player to explore them, and in the process have sacrificed little to no performance quality. In fact, A Realm Reborn retains the pleasing aesthetics of its predecessor while running just as smoothly (if not more so), and is even less demanding in regards to its system requirements. The gameplay has also been significantly changed, most notably the combat. It has essentially been completely overhauled, and there are quite a few interesting additions that came about as a result. One major feature is the Global Cooldown system, a 2.5 second wait between using any action. This, according to Yoshi-P, “is in place to give players time to think about what their next move is going to be.” This idea applies to a larger concept, and the name of the game is strategy.
The development team has stated that they’re working tirelessly to balance each detail in hopes of uniting the base damage provided by auto-attacking with the tactical use of the two skill pools, MP and TP, so that the player has to actually consider what their next move is going to be if they want to be as effective as possible. They hope to avoid the button-mashing that’s so prevalent in the genre, and for many this a welcome approach. One thing most curious onlookers should pay special attention to is Yoshi-P’s objective in revamping the game: he has stated that his intention is not to forcefully push boundaries, but rather incorporate all that is great across the multitude of games that have donned the mantle of the MMORPG. Many loved and familiar features of the genre are sure to be found in A Realm Reborn, such as the revered ‘holy trinity’ of combat, F.A.T.E. System (reminiscent of Rift’s eponymous dynamic events), and even the Job System that was so renowned in Final Fantasy XI. In that regard, it can be safely assumed that the game will most certainly be relevant, understandable, and enjoyable (if you’re a fan of the genre as it stands today, of course).
This does not, however, mean that there are no interesting and unique features hitherto exclusive to Final Fantasy XIV. In fact, there’s a ton of nifty ideas the development team has been flaunting. Aside from the Chocobo companions, which can actually assist the player in combat in various ways, Yoshi-P has also said that you can “build your own ship or airship with your own guild,” and it is rumored that they may perhaps serve as a sort of Linkshell (guild) hub. While it’s a bit too soon to say what is and isn’t coming, the fanbase can rest assured that there are still plenty of surprises left in store.
After all, a new Job was unveiled to the community just last week with little to no notice. For those of you who aren’t quite caught up with the Jobs, there are nine to date, including White Mage, Black Mage, Monk, Dragoon, Warrior, Paladin, Bard, Summoner and the most recent addition: Scholar. And although the latter does seem to be a bit of an eccentric choice, considering some of the series’ core staples aren’t even present in the roster (we’re looking at you, Thief), it will more than likely be a welcome addition to the arsenal. And those are just the combat Jobs. Crafting Jobs, known as the Disciples of the Hand & Land, are an entirely different beast in XIV. Players won’t even have to play the combat section of the game if they’d rather just ‘live’ in the world, be it by the trade of the blacksmith, alchemist or even a good old fashioned fisher (wo)man.
Beyond character customization, there’s the game’s content itself, which many people are still pretty skeptical about. Yoshi-P has attempted to reassure the fanbase several times, though, stating that he wants to achieve a balance for “both casual and hardcore players.” He’s also promised that there will certainly be extremely difficult content “if 1.0 is any indication.” There are to be at least sixteen dungeons, several large scale raids, small and large scale PvP, as well as more individualized end game content that serves as an ode to the series – namely the Crystal Tower and Bahamut’s Lair, which are both rumored to be pretty challenging.
There are ton of other new features in store as well, including a fleshed out player housing system, customizable mounts, unique companions (such as the series’ infamous finger pointer), and there’s even going to be an entire area dedicated solely to mini-games (a la VII’s Gold Saucer). All of these components and more are coming together for what may or may not be an amazing throwback to the entire series – something that hasn’t been done since Final Fantasy IX.
The game is on the verge of entering Beta Phase 3 in a matter of days, and the watchful eyes of the NDA are finally going to be lifted (for the most part). As such, there should be a voluminous amount of information released very soon, especially since Square recently announced that an “epic new trailer” for the game is headed our way in the near future (hint, E3). This phase also marks the first test on the PS3, so we should soon be seeing some detailed information on how the game is going to hold up on Sony’s console as well. Beyond that, the game will then enter the final Beta phase before its eventual release late this summer. So go ahead and mark August 27 off your calendars (and perhaps a few weeks afterwards), because the game is inching ever closer to it’s worldwide drop for PC and PS3, which are confirmed to be cross-server.
Wanting to know more? Here’s a few resources, and if you have any more specific questions about the Job System, game mechanics, lore, or anything else, feel free to ask in the comments below – we’ve got your back.