Hands-on with Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

Hands-on with Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

With the Phase 3 closed beta drawing to a close, my Lalafell Lancer reached the dizzying heights of level 25 in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Version 1.0 of this game was, to put it politely, a mediocre experience at best with several elements puzzlingly difficult to the point of agonising trials with so many broken mechanics. In 2011, Yoichi Wada, the then CEO of Square Enix, openly admitted that the failures in Final Fantasy XIV tarnished the Final Fantasy franchise; the game was simply not ready for prime time. To that end, FF XIV was given a massive overhaul to produce something that Final Fantasy fans have been longing for. With A Realm Reborn, the game world has been changed so drastically that it can barely be recognised but the changes are a welcome one.

ffxiv_01I was pleasantly surprised by how many Final Fantasy fans wanted to give this another crack of the whip. Squeenix knows that failure is not an option, there are only so many second chances. Upon stepping into the world of Eorzea once again, it is immediately apparent that this time around, they have put their heart and soul into the project. From the towering cityscapes of Limsa Lominsa to the arid desolation surrounding Ul’dah, Eorzea looks stunning. The devil is in the details and the producers have certainly delivered. What’s more, 1.0 characters will be imported into Phase 4 Open Beta and beyond, carrying on your progress from where you left off including your Gil accumulation and items. Some legacy objects such as tools, weapons or armour may not function correctly in the new build, but these can be discarded since the stats for all objects have changed. It is worth noting that all progress from Phase 4 onwards will be kept, unlike the previous wipes from closed beta phases.

The backdrop story begins with an event called The Calamity, whereby the world of Eorzea was destroyed and rebuilt. In real terms, this was when Square Enix pressed Alt F4 on the game and started from scratch. There are now new threats on the horizon, and it’s up to adventurers like you to take on these challenges. Everything here is new. New game engine, ffxiv_02new story, new interface, improved server capability, new everything. The new server side features incorporates cross-platform PS3 and PC players that can play together in any realm they choose. It works rather well and I was impressed with how transparent the experience was. In terms of the interface, some tweaks need to made in terms of sizing. On the PS3 is takes up too much space, while for PC owners like myself who have 2560 x 1440 resolution monitors, the UI is too small. It is highly customisable however in terms of positioning and some text sizing, but some overall sizing flexibility would be welcomed.

The game itself plays beautifully. It feels and sounds like a Final Fantasy game; the orchestral pieces accompanying each area is reminiscent of every Final Fantasy you have ever played… well it would be considering one of the composers for the game was Nobuo Uematsu. On top of your normal Leves (quests), there are also on-the-fly missions known as FATE. Similar to how Guild Wars 2 works, FATEs can be activated by talking to NPCs and any player within the vicinity can take part. It’s an interesting way to play, as it will attract random players to work together to complete each FATE mission. Some FATE missions are quite engaging, such as defending Highbridge from beasties, ffxiv_03only to find there was an Act II whereby you went to the monster’s lair to finish them off! In terms of instances, they form part of your Duty list and certain dungeons can only be unlocked via quest activation.

The Duty feature itself is convenient to use; you can add yourself to any instance queue and carry on questing around Eorzea until a group has been formed. Groups are assembled across realms automatically if you have not formed a party yourself, thereby negating the need to hunt down a healer or a tank before readying up. I absolutely love this system and it takes away a lot of stress especially when playing solo. The three dungeons I got to play were Tam Tara Deepcroft, Satasha and Copperbell Mines. All these are classed as “Light” parties, I.E: only four players are needed for these dungeons. A full party would consist of eight or more players. These dungeons were rather challenging, with plenty of loot to collect and final bosses to defeat. Without spoiling too much, they are a lot of fun even with strangers.

You will be pleased to know that the Market has been redone entirely (thank god). In 1.0, selling items was a painful experience. The need to hire a retainer to sell your wares and then having to click on each, and every, retainer just to see what was being sold was nightmarish. The Market can now be searched and listed based on various categories such as character class, weapons, materials and so on. ffxiv_04Retainers are still used for selling once instructed to do so, and he/she can also keep your items and Gil safe. Think of Retainers as a safety deposit box. There are many forms of transport to not only find different markets in each city, but also the location of class guilds. Every city has a different set of class guilds, which was why my Lancer is a resident of Gridania where the Lancer guild is. If you want to join other guilds, you will need to travel to the appropriate city to do so. Travel however is eased via Chocobos hires, the airship which is unlocked later on and Aetheryte teleportation once an Aetheryte has been visited. Of course, the easiest way is to get your own Chocobo whistle via collecting Grand Company seals to complete that particular quest. Each city has a Grand Company that can be joined during the main quest chain, these provide benefits to members but you can also create a Free Company of your own which is essentially your own guild.

The surface has only been scratched in this article and the game has so much to offer. Yes there will eventually be a paid subscription and yes there are plenty of Free to Play alternatives that would make you drown with choice. But the key here is this, if you want a faithful representation of a Final Fantasy universe that is incredibly fun to play, then this is it. There’s even an area called Costa del Sol for heaven’s sake! Since all the closed betas, the addiction within me has been growing ever since and I for one cannot wait for the open beta to arrive. The option to enhance your character further via Jobs means that my standard Lancer can turn into the epic looking Dragoon which is enough for me to keep on playing. The jury is still out until the full release, such as economy balance and how well crafting can generate income. But I’ve not had this much fun in an MMO in a very long time. Did I mention you get to fight Ifrit? Awesome right?

Final Fantasy XIV Producer Discusses the Duty Finder and the Community, Denies Same-Server Matching

Final Fantasy XIV Producer Discusses the Duty Finder and the Community, Denies Same-Server Matching

In every MMORPG there’s a rather reactionary area of the community that tries to resist change, and especially during betas gets very vocal against anything that could be seen as a feature that makes a game less of a chore. One of the most common controversy sees the traditionalists shaking their angry fist at any features that automates the creation of parties or that blurs the borders between servers. That kind of features are normally accused of “destroying the community” or similar drivel.

Quite obviously Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn‘s quite sleek Duty Finder (the game’s own version of a group finder you can find in other MMORPGs) has become the natural target of that kind of criticism: not only it makes finding a party considerably easier, but it works across servers, automatically earning the silly label of “community destroyer”.

The game’s Producer and Director Naoki Yoshida decided to take some time off his busy schedule to write a quite lengthy post on the official beta forum and address the problem. Suffice to say, the Duty Finder isn’t going anywhere, and the same-server matching demanded by some isn’t going to come.

Yoshida-san also went quite in depth on his idea of what forms a community, and on the philosophy behind the duty finder. Normally I’d just summarize a post like this, but it provides extremely interesting insight in the development philosophy of the game, so I’m going to report it in its entirety. It’s a very good read anyway.

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This is Yoshida, Producer/Director for FFXIV: A Realm Reborn.

Thank you for the feedback and concerns for the recently implemented Duty Finder.
Sorry that it took so long for me to respond, in part because of Japan Expo and the time it took to read over the comments on the forums. My post will be focusing on different things, including responses to the feedback we’ve seen so far.

First off, the duty finder is a feature that many Japanese players are trying for the first time, and I’d like to report that thanks to everyone’s help, it has been going very well so far. There seems to be a few things that people are worried about, so I will be posting the answers for each feedback along with explaining the concept of the duty finder.

As usual, my post is going to be quite long, so please read it over whenever you have time.

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■ The Idea of Duty Finder ■

MMORPGs are in a genre that has the stigma that “it’s difficult to form parties, and you can only really play it by forming parties.”
As a result, MMORPGs are often forced into a very niche genre.
Even when looking at the global market (excluding China and Korea), this belief is very rampant. Especially because Japan has a very few locally created MMO games.

While it’s impossible to do everything while solo in an MMORPG, I really wanted the average gamer to experience the fun a player can experience in an MMORPG. With the FINAL FANTASY and DRAGON QUEST series, many users think “Well, I guess I’ll try it at least” feeling because of their strong connection to the brand. What better way for us to spread the fun of the MMORPG experience than with FFXIV: ARR?

The first thing that popped in my head was the necessity of a party matching system. To be honest, when I first took over FFXIV version 1.0, the first thing I did was check to see if it’s possible to implement a cross-world matching system with our server team.What I found out was very disappointing. Not only were we not able to implement a cross-world matching system, we could not even implement a matching system within the same world. I felt that this feature was so important that I was willing to toss all of the server source code for FFXIV version 1.0 and completely rebuild the server structure for FFXIV: ARR.

Simply put, when I first took over FFXIV version 1.0, I felt the following was necessary if I was to release a numbered FF title in the current day and age.

– A sense of being able to play the game solo.
– Have the players go through the casual party experience while progressing through the main scenario.
– Players will learn the basics of a party play by the time they complete the main scenario.

I created documents and specifications and then checked what we could and could not implement. After a thorough investigation, we decided to create “FFXIV: ARR.”
While we considered the idea of being able to complete the main scenario without being in a party, we knew that players would then have trouble with end game content because they lack any prior party experience.

Therefore, I believe the duty finder is a “necessary feature for the players new to the world of MMORPGs.”

I would like new players to think “Hey, that was much easier and fun that I thought it would be” after their first party experience.
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■ Communication and the Formation of a Community ■

As I sated before, the implementation of the duty finder is something I wanted since I took over FFXIV version 1.0. I even think I mentioned the word “Finder” during some of my early interviews. We worked hard on balancing the difficulty, information that can be obtained through the UI, the number of times you can wipe to a boss, being able to re-challenge in case you fail, for “party content that can be played using the duty finder.”

Therefore, players will be able to solo their way through level 1 to 15 as a battle class. From level 15 to 35, the players will “learn the basics of party play.” After level 35, we expect some players to really start talking about the mechanics and strategies for boss battles.

Even with the 2.5 second global cooldown, from a newbie standpoint, it’s almost impossible to have a conversation during battle. Therefore, we intentionally left some extra room during the content (i.e. at the start, before a boss battle, when opening a treasure chest after the boss battle, etc.) to make it easier for players to say converse and to strategize (not including the battles that occur during the main scenario after defeating Ifrit). We would like new players to start using the chat after they are comfortable with the game.

Therefore, we’re not expecting players to chat during battle until they reach the high-level content. Chat should mainly take place “in between battles,” “in between content,” “in the city/field,” and “during FATE.” Of course, we expect players to form a party through /shout to have a better chance of beating battle content. While shouting may take some courage, I personally love seeing the conversations that take place via say and shout. I look forward to players talking about item stats, strategies, linkshell/free company recruiting, and general Q&A. We’ll do our best to support the players from the system-side and the through the Lodestone. However, please note that no matter how fulfilling the system is, it’s up to the players to utilize the system to communicate with other players.

We plan on actively supporting the community by enhancing the linkshell/free company features, invite features, implementation of a mentor system, etc. What would an MMORPG be without friends?

If this is your first time playing an MMORPG or an online game, take the first step and say hello!

As for the experienced players, please spark up a conversation in between battles and quests whenever you have the opportunity. That is the key to starting conversation within the community!

Of course, for high-level content, simply relying on the Duty Finder alone could make clearing some content difficult, and there will be cases where you need to partner up with those around you. We understand the importance and necessity of communication. If you’re worried about the potential loss of communication because of the duty finder, please do not worry.

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■ Cross-World Matching ■

The main purpose of the duty finder is to “be able to experience party play immediately after logging into the game.” In other words, the “matching speed” is a key factor of the feature.

Nowadays, people are generally very busy and don’t have as much free time to play games as much as they used to. We would like our players to continue enjoying our MMORPG for a long time. In order to make that happen, we feel it’s important to provide an environment where the players always have something to do when they log into the game. It’s difficult for certain players to enjoy an MMORPG when it takes an hour to form a party (while there are some players that do have that free time).

I feel it’s important to “maximizing the demand.” Therefore, instead of just matching players within one World, we have designed it so that players are able to match with players on the same data center. As an extreme example, with this system, even if there are only 500 players logged in per World (across 15 Worlds), that’s 7,500 players you can potentially be matched up with. Of course, the class ratio of the logged in players will have a huge impact on the matching system. However, we believe we will be able to avoid situations where a player is unable to enjoy the game because there are not enough players logged in when the play.

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■ Matching Options ■
We received an inquiry regarding the implementation of the option to only match with players within the same World, but we currently do not have any plans to implement that option.

While I understand the idea of “How about we initially get matched up with players on the same World, and if that does not work out, match up with the other Worlds,” this actually leads to a huge decrease in the matching frequency.

For example, let’s say there are four players on the Worlds A, B, C, D, and these four players are wanting to defeat Ifrit.

– Player A (TANK) selects the “Match with players in the same World” option.
– Player B (DPS) selects the “Match with players on all Worlds” option.
– Player C (DPS) selects the “Match with players on all Worlds” option.
– Player D (Healer) selects the “Match with players in the same World” option.

Player A will enter the queue in the state of “Waiting for a DPS/DPS/Healer in the same World.”
Player D will enter the queue in the state of “Waiting for a TANK/DPS/DPS in the same World.”
Player B and C will enter the queue in the state of “Waiting for a TANK/DPS/Healer in all Worlds.”

The problem is apparent right away. If all players were looking for matches in all Worlds, these four would immediately be grouped together to defeat Ifrit. However, due to this option, there’s a delay in the matching process.
While player A and D can switch to all Worlds if they do not find a match in the same World, every player has their own level of patience when it comes to waiting.

Let’s say player A waits for 5 minutes and player D waits for 7 minutes. In this case, all players will have to wait for 7 minutes until they are matched. During these 7 minutes, player B and C will wait while they wonder when they are going to be matched. Everything works out as long as these players are willing to wait, but let’s say player B gets tired of waiting and decides to join another party that was looking for an additional member via /shout, changes their role to a healer, or logs out. In this case, the match becomes invalid because one of the players decided to do something else.

Therefore, if it was just one player switching from one option to another, the only impact is making the remaining players wait. However, if every player has the option, it hugely decreases the matching frequency.

On the other hand, let’s say we set the waiting limit of the matches to 5 minutes (automatically cancels if no match is found for 5 minutes) and prevent players for waiting for an extended period of time. Every player registers for the duty finder at different times, so unless the players registers at around the same time, they will never be matched up.

While my example was a little extreme, if this happened with all players or if the majority of the player selected “All Worlds,” it would still decrease the matching frequency by a large amount as long as there are players selecting different options.

Of course after launch, we will take a look at the overall matching speed and the split between all the roles, and it’s possible that we will do things such as ease up on the role restrictions and allow for multiple role requests (tank and DPS, for example).

However, the main thing we want to guarantee is that you can play in a party when you want to and create parties comfortably, and I feel that the most important thing is to see to it that this goal is accomplished.

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■ Matching Algorithm ■

In regards to the algorithm used when matching take places, this is an algorithm that places priority on matching speed, and thus same-world matching priority is not a function that is performed intentionally.

If it were to do this, each person would have to go through multiple matching groups, and even if this were constrained to just a single confirmation, there would be variations between the matching search and search targets of the second round and the previous round, ultimately causing a longer wait time. (I’m simplifying the technical explanation.)

Of the roles, DPS is often the most popular in MMORPGs.
When forming a 4-person light party, there are 2 matching slots for the DPS classes (pugilist (melee), lancer (melee), archer (ranged), thaumaturge (ranged)), which is double the number of slots than that of tank and healer. Two important things the algorithm determines are to make sure that two of the same class/job are not in the DPS slots as well as that they split between melee and ranged.

Various situations can be enjoyed with parties if they are matched with 1 tank, 1 melee DPS, 1 ranged DPS, and 1 healer. The programmers have done a great job making this so the system does not need to go through multiple matching search loops. (Though, if players cannot be found, the process will be simplified.)

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■ Additional Features for Launch ■
Currently the Duty Finder is in the midst of stress testing in Beta phase 3, and we will be addressing feedback and adding the following features in time for launch:

・A feature to kick players who have gone offline or who have been disconnected after being matched.
・A status check when entering (entered by mistake, etc.)
・Announcement when there is a player that is challenging the content for the first time in the party, as well as a reward bonus upon clearing the content.
・Feature to retry content with the same party.

In other games there is a poll-based kick feature, but this system can be used inappropriately to kick people right before receiving loot, so we are thinking about this very carefully. We are also prioritizing discussions for how to address players that leave parties right after being matched. (This is also a countermeasure for harassment.)

We will of course continue to add features as necessary while the game is live.

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■ In Closing ■

Lately I have been seeing a lot of people posting that “FFXIV: ARR feels more like an instanced-based game.” Everyone feels things in different ways, so I’m fine with that.

However, from Alpha all the way up to the third test of Beta phase 3 I barely saw any talk of this.
(Not to say it was non-existent, but it was much, much less.)
Dungeons are all instanced dungeons, and the arrangement of content has not really changed.
With the implementation of the stress tests for the Duty Finder in the fourth test, it’s true that the number of party recruitment shouts has dropped and the amount of conversations being held within instanced dungeons has also fallen. (I too noticed this when I’m playing in the beta.)

I think it’s easy to run through instanced dungeons using the Duty Finder (That’s why we made it.).
However, in Beta phase 3, the main quests that have been released are only up to level 20, and there are only three instanced dungeons up to level 20: Sastasha, Tam-tara, and Copperbell. The only time you are required to go to each of these dungeons is when you are progressing through the main quest line. (there will be side quests released in the release version for level 15 to 20.)
In addition to this, the main quest line will also have instanced battle content for Ifrit, and releasing more dungeons wouldn’t really fit the flow for the official release.

In phase 3, main quests and class quests are locked, and there are really no other efficient choices besides going around to dungeons above level 20. Since testing time is also limited, leveling has a tendency to be prioritized.

Naturally, repeating dungeons over and over would get played out, and once you get used to them it just becomes work and conversations will drastically be reduced.

I understand the fearful feeling that if you are only meeting someone once it is difficult to form relationships.

However, this is just a matter of having the finder or not having the finder, and in actuality, the tests up until now and the content have not changed. On the other hand, there are a lot of people who went and tried out the dungeons for the first time because the finder was finally implemented.

I’ve played many MMORPGs and online game in my time, but I’ve had a lot of friends quit in the beginning of games because they couldn’t make parties, or it was hard to play with people they didn’t know, and felt they cause problems with party play.

“All you need to do is shout ‘anyone want to go to a dungeon?’”
“You can still play without having to talk as much as you think you do!”
“Everyone is nice to new players, so don’t worry about getting in the way!”

I’d often respond to my friends in the above manner, but I was sadly told “it’s impossible.”
As a result, MMORPGs up until now have become games that can only be played by people who can play them a lot and have a lot of skill.

I have a lot of friends from all the MMORPGs and online games I have played. Just like me, they all chat, form parties, and go do content. “That difficulty is the good thing about MMORPGs. You are able to overcome it with everyone.” I understand this well.

However, naturally they accomplish things because it’s a gathering of people who know how. My job is to see to it so that those that cannot do this are also able to play.
I will also be preparing things for the hardcore players, as well as a community features, and areas for release, so please rest easy about this.

From a technical standpoint, there aren’t many differences between MMOs and instanced-based games.
The only differences are that you have large fields, a large amount of items, large scale updates that change the world, and a world where thousands of people can run around at the same time. However, an enormous sandbox where there are small things happening in the fields, boss fights are at the end of the dungeons, you can explore uncharted lands while riding your chocobo, and you can spend time talking to your friends – that’s an MMORPG.

FFXIV: ARR is about to start anew as an MMORPG.
And I’m not just talking about the release. We plan on continuing to update the game as an FF series title and as an MMORPG. This also holds true for events that take place in fields.

A wealth of players sharing the same world, a Free Company partying at Costa del Sol. A solo player fishing by the sea, a player fighting a colibri during a levequest. Two real-life friends riding side by side on chocobos and exploring the world. A player that dropped by to see a Miqo’te in their swimwear and check out the party as they sew waiting for the Duty Finder to make a match.

There are many types of players doing various things at every moment. You may just pass by them but there are times you will stop and make friends with them. That is what I think of when I hear MMORPG, and I want to create that type of Eorzea with everyone.

I’d appreciate it a lot if you think of the Duty Finder as a tool that increases the population of people playing and also as something that serves to increase the opportunities of meeting people

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There you have it: once again Yoshida-san proves to have very clear ideas on the development philosophy behind the game. I’m especially in agreement with the last point that mentions that the Duty Finder is an opportunity to meet people.

As a matter of fact, I can’t wait for the time in which separate servers for MMORPGs will go completely the way of the dodo. It’s always extremely annoying to have to chose between friends playing on different servers, and being unable to play with some of the people you meet online. The Duty Finder allows us to meet a wider variety of people more easily. That’s not what destroys a community. That’s what helps building it.

Final Fantasy XIV Might Not Be Coming to Xbox 360 or Xbox One

Eorzea’s world looks to be completely open. Ranging between the PC and Mac lovers, to your PS3 and PS4 players. However, it looks like it’s missing another key platform, the Xbox 360 and Xbox One.
Why Not The Xbox Consoles?

Due to Xbox Live’s policies, their services do not allow the support of cross-platform play. Therein nullifying the ability to play your games with your friends who have purchased the game on a different platform. In a recent interview with Naoki Yoshida, on RPGsite, he states:

 

The main reason from our side is that I don’t want the community to be divided; to be split into two or more. For example, one player might be on the PC version, another might be on the PS4 version, and I’m playing the Xbox version – but we’re not able to join the same game servers. That is just… I just don’t like the idea. I disagree with it…”

With the thoughts of a divided user base on the table, an MMO game that is split up isn’t really an MMO. Instead of the eight characters that you would see in the picture below (normal), you would probably end up being in a party that is half of that!

After a few other questions, Naoki Yoshia proceeded with a follow-up statement.

.

To be frankly honest with you, there are now so many mobile devices, smart phones, everything — why would you ever just stick to one platform from the hardware aspect? Just — make it open to everyone? That’s my opinion.

I would love for as many players as possible to enjoy the game worldwide, so from a business point of view it could make sense to have it on the Xbox platforms. But as I mentioned earlier, that would bring about the tragedy that somebody might have to give up their existing character. Then players might get frustrated, and then they ask us – ‘Square Enix, can’t you do something?’ and then… yeah. Unless that happens, we can’t really do anything.

 What are your thoughts, do you support it should come to the Xbox consoles for the cross platform capabilities, or do you agree to have your own servers? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below!

Last Beta Test for Phase 3 Begins Tomorrow on FFXIV: ARR

Hands-on with Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

Rise, brave heroes. Heed the crystal’s call! Eorzea awaits your return. Will you be there for glory, for riches, or are you in it for the power? Dive into your Final Fantasy once more and explore a brand new world!
Beta Participation

From SquareEnixs’ official twitter page for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.

The final test for Beta phase 3 has been announced! NA: July 10, 2:00am to July 15, 2:00am (PDT) EU: July 10, 9:00 to July 15, 9:00 (GMT)

@FF_XIV_EN

If you’ve been one of the lucky heroes to obtain a beta key from an e-mail or through the explosion of codes given away through Twitter, and have not tried Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, get to it! Starting tomorrow (July 10th), the final test for beta phase 3 begins and will end on July 15th. As we inch ever closer towards release, this is the perfect time to try the game out before shelling out your hard earned money.

I close my eyes, tell us why must we suffer
Release your hands, for your will drags us under
My legs grow tired, tell us where must we wander
How can we carry on if redemption’s beyond us?

When darkness falls. Will you stand alone, or will you fight united as one?

 

Final Fantasy XIV: One game to bring them all and in the darkness bind them?

RPG Site spoke with Naoki Yoshida at the Japan Expo in Paris. Yoshida made a big announcement about the addition of Lightning into Final Fantasy XIV. Lightning, for those who don’t know, is the main character of Final Fantasy XIII. She is also the push out the door for the Final Fantasy XIII-2 story, even though she isn’t actually a playable character in the natural story line.

When asked about details on how she will be incorporated and why she will be added, Yoshida sidestepped giving any exact details of Lightning’s role in Final Fantasy XIV. The excuse Yoshida gives is that since most of the fans haven’t played XIV yet, they won’t understand what he is talking about. Yoshida did say he would probably make a long forum post about it once he got back to Japan, so for now we’ll just have to wait.
Why even bother including her at all?

Yoshida goes on to talk about how Square Enix wanted to bring its teams together. Any good company would want its employees to work together, and what better way to do that then to intermingle the games the employees are working on? I mean it sounds good on paper right? Is this what fans want though? I’m not sure, but I think it sounds interesting personally.

Future links to the past of Final Fantasy?

So far Final Fantasy XIV has seen a few nods towards previous games; the limit break system gets its base design and some of the attacks from Final Fantasy VII. Yoshida has made off handed comments about how you could see characters like Sephiroth and Cloud appear in the game, but at the same time maybe not.

   “As a company and as a group, we wanted to make sure that the FF projects have a strong relationship between the dev teams of the numbered titles. We’re not necessarily planning to bring back all the characters.”

So whether we will see some more iconic figures from the past resurface in Final Fantasy XIV is yet to be seen but the possibility is there.

Final Fantasy XIV two betas ending this week.

As of the 17th of July, Final Fantasy XIV’s The Lodestone beta version is scheduled to be shut down. It will be wiped and reinstated at some unknown point in the future. If you have anything you wish to save on the site, I recommend you go in and and save it to a document as soon as possible. Upon the launch of the beta, Square Enix had shared the plans to wipe the beta version once the testing was done. As it stands it probably won’t be re-opened until phase four of the actual game’s beta.

In conjunction with The Lodestone being unavailable, Final Fantasy XIV A Realm Reborn’s beta phase 3 is ending today at 5am eastern time. Expect the game to be unplayable for at least two weeks, but up to a month. All Legacy characters will revert to the pre-phase 3 save data that Square Enix had, other characters will be wiped. Any progress made once phase four begins should be carried over into the live version. Legacy character server transfer requests will be processed before phase four begins as well.

All of this is leading up to the full launch on August 27th. While fans will be annoyed at their inability to play the game during the downtime, they can rest assured that Square Enix will be putting their best efforts into finishing all the necessary adjustments in time for launch. So if you are reading this before 5am est, please enjoy what’s left of the Final Fantasy XIV phase three beta and be patient with Square Enix while they improve the quality of the game for us to enjoy.

For more updates on this and more gaming news, reviews, guides, and culture please check my team out on Facebook. We will link all our GameSkinny articles there. You can also follow theFinal Fantasy XIV Twitter for updates on the beta specifically.

Final Fantasy Go There

Final Fantasy Go There
by GabrielKross 6 days ago

Square Enix has unveiled their crossover campaign website in Japan. The website is called Final Fantasy Go There. Due to the way the site is setup I cannot translate the information on the site so I hope there will be an english version soon. The following is the most current information I have to date on the crossover campaign.
Final Fantasy XIV

Recently, Naoki Yoshida talked about Lightning’s appearance in Final Fantasy XIV. He told fans about Square Enix’s the desire to get the Final Fantasy teams working closer together. When he discussed these things at the Japan Expo in Paris they showed images of gear created for introduction in Final Fantasy XIV that would belong in the Final Fantasy XIII world. Yes, there will be several Lightning and Snow lookalikes running around. The way in which Lightning will be integrated into the Final Fantasy XIV world according to Yoshida, will be natural to the game.
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII

Earlier this week, a new costume for Lightning was revealed for Lightning Returns. This costume consists of turning Lightning into a Mi’Qote and gives her the race specific starting gear look. I think this is just another attempt to continue to build Lightning’s popularity. Lightning Returns is starting to feel a bit like Final Fantasy X-2 in my opinion. Dress Spheres anyone?
Final Fantasy X|X-2

Speaking of Final Fantasy X|X-2, Final Fantasy Go There also includes that logo on their front page. There is nothing revealed yet in connection with X or X-2 but the fact that it is included on the site is pretty big. I hope to see big things come out of this, but only time will tell.

LightningSexyCostume

The Lightning Returns/Final Fantasy XIV Crossover is Perfectly Fine, Please Stop Overreacting

The Lightning Returns/Final Fantasy XIV Crossover is Perfectly Fine, Please Stop Overreacting

At E3, Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII Producer Yoshinori Kitase announced that the game would feature a special costume reproducing the racial starting gear of a miqo’te from Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. A month later, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Producer and Director Naoki Yoshida retaliated, by letting us know from the stage of Japan Expo in Paris that Lightning herself would appear in the game with an extensive questline, while players would receive Lightning and Snow’s costumes and weapons from Final Fantasy XIII.

The last chapter of this saga happened yesterday, when we broke the news on the fact that Lightning will perform a rather sexy victory pose while wearing the miqo’te costume. At every single stage of this tale of collaborations and crossovers, heads exploded in the name of immersion, character integrity and simple hate for Lightning herself.

The reactions (or better yet, overreactions) to this whole crossover affair are mainly irrational, so it’s time to take a nice step back and think about it (if the explanation offered by Naoki Yoshida himself wasn’t enough for you).

So, what’s so wrong with part of the internet going up in flames like it was personally slighted by those evil Square Enix developers? Nothing, really, but let’s get one big misconception out of the way first:

FinalFantasyXIVLightningCrossover (1)“Everyone hates Lightning!”

As a matter of fact no, not everyone hates Lightning. For instance, I don’t hate Lightning (I’m not head over heels in love with her either, but still), and I’m definitely not the only one. This is the main argument I see every time Square Enix announces something related to her. Those that hate the character for some mysterious reason just assume that their sentiments are shared on a global scale, only to be immediately proven wrong by a number of comments that state the contrary.

”Ok, not everyone hates her, but I’m sure the majority hates Lightning!”

This is another popular misconception that basically applies to every argument on the internet. People seem to love to mistaken their own opinion as a statistic, either just out of some personal delusion or weakly backed up by what their hear from their friends/family/acquaintances or in the local forum or chatroom they use to hang out. Guess what? It turns out to be radically false.

While in the west Lightning is a quite polarizing topic of discussion, the west isn’t the only market that matters. As a matter of fact, the most relevant market for Final Fantasy titles is still Japan, and in Japan Lightning is quite loved by the gaming community.  In a poll held by Famitsu in 2010 she ranked 34th between the most loved video game characters ever, bating quite a few other Final Fantasy protagonists and other prominent characters from other series.

Since then her popularity has grown, and in another poll held by Square Enix that ranked all the female Final Fantasy protagonists at the beginning of this year, Lightning managed to win by a hair, beating even the almost universally adored Aerith.

If you go to a Japanese discussion environment and talk about Lightning, reactions are a lot more positive than in the west. So, if you find yourself asking the question: “Why does Square Enix continue to make games starring Lightning?”, the answer is pretty simple. She’s very popular and has a sizable fanbase at least in Japan. Maybe your friends don’t like her, but you and your friends aren’t a statistic.

“Ok then, she isn’t universally hated….but she’s out of place in Final Fantasy XIV!”

No she isn’t. As a matter of fact, between the Final Fantasy protagonists she’s the one that has the best chance of finding herself in a different world, considering that traveling through time and dimensions is part of her backstory in Final Fantasy XIII-2.

FinalFantasyXIVLightningCrossover (4)

“That might make sense for Lightning’s backstory, but what about Final Fantasy XIV? It doesn’t make sense with the lore of the game!”

Yes it does. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is the numbered Final Fantasy where finding characters from other worlds makes the most sense. At the beginning of the game all the old characters from every veteran of the original FFXIV return from a nice five year-long trip through space and time, on which they were sent by the archon Louisoix to save them from the rage of Bahamut. If they can go on that kind of trip, so can Lightning.

“But Lightning’s clothes! They’re totally out of place in Eorzea. They’ll ruin my immersion…”

Final Fantasy XIV‘s world is not your typical pure high fantasy world. Like many other Final Fantasy worlds it has a technological component, and the Garlean Empire is industrialized and advanced. There’s an enormous variety of fashions and styles in Eorzea, and Lightning’s clothes (or Snow’s) aren’t more outrageous than the schoolgirl outfit that serves as the scholar job’s artifact armor for instance, or the bikini sets. As a matter of fact they don’t really look particularly hi-tech or modern compared to most outfits already present in the game.

“But… a Gunblade!

Final Fantasy XIV had gunblades from the very start. They’re a widespread weapon between officers in the Garlean Empire.

Final_Fantasy_XIV_TSSF_Episode06_02

“I hate Lightning and I don’t want to see her in Final Fantasy XIV“

Then don’t. The questline will be optional. You can simply skip it. On the other hand, those that like her or aren’t blinded by hate can play it and have fun with it–everyone wins. As a matter of fact the Final Fantasy XIV team has demonstrated to be very good with storytelling, so I’d say they deserve to be given a chance. They might create a story featuring Lightning that could improve her standing even between those that normally don’t like her.

“What about the miquo’te costume and that horribly sexualized victory pose? They sure don’t fit Lightning at all!”

Sure they don’t, pretty much like half the costumes in Lightning Returns. The pose makes sense with the costume, as it’s the racial /pose emote done by female miqo’te characters in Final Fantasy XIV. Ultimately, if you don’t like it, you can simply…avoid wearing the costume!

No one at Square Enix is shoving that costume or that pose down your throat. If you like it, you can have Lightning wear it. If you prefer the usual stoic lightning there are plenty costumes that’ll fit your taste. Options are a good thing, not a bad thing.

The gist of the issue is really pretty simple. If you hate Lightning, you can completely ignore her presence in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. If you love her but you don’t like to see her wearing a skimpy costume or striking an alluring pose, you’re fully empowered with the option to avoid that kind of content in Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII. It’s fully optional.

FinalFantasyXIVLightningCrossover (5)

This crossover, like all fanservice, is obviously targeted to those that love both games. That’s how crossovers work. Fanservice is nothing new to the Final Fantasy series, and especially to Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, that is specifically designed to be a place where fans of the whole series (including Final Fantasy XIII) can feel at home by being exposed to a whole truckload of cameos and easter eggs.

Whether you like it or not, Square Enix made it optional. If you’re so offended by Lightning’s presence in a game in which her appearance actually makes perfect sense, or by her wearing a skimpy outfit and striking a “nyan nyan” pose with cat ears and a tail, you can completely ignore those elements and they won’t affect you one bit.

The power of options is a marvelous thing. Maybe more people should embrace it instead of getting offended by something that no one holds them at a gunpoint to enjoy.

Want to to Play the Open Beta of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn? You Better Hurry up

Want to to Play the Open Beta of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn? You Better Hurry up

In August Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn will go in open beta, but as it turns out there are a few caveats to have a chance to play from the first day.

Of course those that took part to the previous phases of testing will be able to participate in the open beta automatically, the same goes for those that registered or will register a beta code before July the 30th at 9:59 PM PDT.

Those that don’t have a beta code will have to register before Monday, July the 22nd. After that date the beta registration site will be closed and won’t reopen until the beginning of the open beta. It’s unclear if everyone that registered before that date (without a beta code) will automatically be invited to the test from day one.

In any case, whether you have a beta code or not, you better hurry up if you want to play from day one of the open beta, or you might miss your chance. You can register here (Europeans go here) and if you have a beta code you can use it here (here if you’re in Europe).

 

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn PS3 Beta Impressions

When Final Fantasy XIV released, it met very underwhelmed audiences. Subscriber base quickly plummeted, and years of development time suddenly seemed like they were going to go waste. Square Enix‘s plan was to talk to the community, find out what the problems were, and fix them in the form of a huge game update.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is that long awaited update, and it brings to the table so very much, it could probably be called a new game entirely.

ffxiv ps3 beta

After a long wait to download,  finally I was able to launch Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and of course, as expected of most RPGs, I was presented with the Character Creation screen. The options here are extensive, everything from iris size, to the length of your tail (if you have one) and size of your breasts (if you have those) is here. I went with my weird cat-woman type of person, naming her Felicia Breens. During character creation, you can select different backdrops and make your character do an odd pose, if you’re so inclined. Straight away the graphics looks quite lovely, although of course it can’t quite match the splendor available on a powerful PC.

Stepping into the game, I find myself riding the back of a wagon with a merchant. It only takes a minute for some guards to stop the wagon and attempt to arrest my new merchant friend for carrying “illegal herbs”. That’s when I can’t help but notice a slight framerate drop occasionally, but this is a beta, so I’m going to try and put framerate issues and minor bugs to the back of my mind; judgment can be reserved for launch.

Travelling with my merchant friend Brendt to Ul’dah, I discover that the town is apparently run by Sultana in name, but the Syndicate is actually running things behind the scenes. I don’t know why people would think a raisin holds any power anyway. Typical of playing a JRPG for the first time, the game throws terms and names that a player can barely recollect or pronounce at that point, let alone understand… Nonetheless, I’m intrigued.

After arriving in Ul’dah, I’m immediately urged into joining the Quicksand guild; they insist I can’t go anywhere until I join. From a distance, the city looked bleak and unattractive, but up close it’s actually quite beautiful. Momodi, the owner of Quicksand tells me that everything in Ul’dah is for sale if you have the gil. I tried, but there was no option to buy the chair Momodi was sitting on. I felt lied to.

The first hour of the game required grappling with using a console game controller with an MMO’s UI, whilst running about Ul’dah doing random fetch quests. Take this here, deliver this there, go get me some of that… The NPCs in FFXIV unfortunately have similar problems to the NPCs in almost every other MMO. Finally the quests take me back outside the walls of Ul’dah, where plenty of low-level mobs are waiting for me.

The battle system of a PC MMO has translated surprisingly well onto the console, with battle commands being issued with the face buttons and directional pad. There are different sets of commands that can be changed with R1, each set having all eight face buttons used for two different actions, meaning you have 16 actions available to you at any one time. To anyone new to MMO titles, this may be overwhelming, but it can be organized quickly and easily into a set you use in towns, a set you use in battles, etc.

Here we see 8 commands set, 4 accessible VIA the face buttons when pressing the R2, and another 4 set to the directional pad when holding L2. Using both D-Pad and face buttons means 16 actions, including attacks, items and even emoticons can be set at once.

Here we see 8 commands set, 4 accessible VIA the face buttons when pressing the R2, and another 4 set to the directional pad when holding L2. Using both D-Pad and face buttons means 16 actions, including attacks, items and even emoticons can be set at once.

When it comes to audio, the game performs as well as any Final Fantasy game. We can find some classic remixes, including everyone’s favorite victory fanfare, and some brand new tunes that make FFXIV’s soundtrack just as good, if not better, than many RPGs. And of course, menu and battle sound effects are all more than acceptable; one area where some may be disappointed is the lack of any voice acting, but to fully voice act an entire MMO is a tall order, so it is understandable.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is clearly a game built first and foremost for PC. Playing with a PS3 controller is difficult, and definitely a learning experience, but having said that, FFXIV is still a fun game, difficult controls or no. Clearly a PC version would be preferable to the PS3 whenever possible, but if you’re a big Final Fantasy fan, or you just really want to try the game and don’t have a compatible PC, then this is definitely the best solution.

All in all, it was an enjoyable experience. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn doesn’t have any major innovations to bring to the genre, but nonetheless it clearly shows an improvement over the first release, and I believe that fans of the franchise should be rather pleased at the offering. But you can tell us yourselves just below – did you try A Realm Reborn PS3 Beta? If you did, was it enough to convince you to invest in it?