Final Fantasy XIV Release and Gameplay Details
Announced to much surprise at this year's E3 event in Los Angeles, we know that Final Fantasy XIV is coming. We also know a few more details about gameplay mechanics, thanks to information shared by the game's two principal designers, Hiromichi Tanaka and Nobuaki Komoto. First of all, the basics: Square Enix has revealed that Final Fantasy XIV is slated for a 2010 release, which means that it is still a ways out. It is confirmed to be a massively multiplayer game exclusive to the PS3 and PC platforms (does that still make it exclusive?). However, the PC version will require monstrous system specs and the company hasn't even begun to share information about what kind of muscle gamers will need to get the most out of the game visually (we suspect Direct X 11 and Windows 7 will be involved). Subscription will be paid on a 30-day billing cycle through Square Enix, although no price has yet been established. Servers will also be cross-region and cross-platform compatible, allowing players to connect with friends no matter where they are in the world. Right now, supported languages at launch are confirmed to be English, Japanese, German and French.
The game is principally set in the region of Eorzia, which is just one part of a larger world called Haiderin. Denizens of this world have mastered technologies like flight, which give it a science-fiction setting more closely matching Final Fantasy XIII. The basics of the world are still founded on fantasy elements of magic, summoning, and monsters, however. Although the world of Final Fantasy XIV is different, the races we have come to love in Final Fantasy XI are strangely all going to be present in this game as well. Presumably the designers wanted to keep some continuity in the "online" experience.
Playable Classes in Final Fantasy XI / XIV:
Elvaan--strong melee fighters, reasonably good healers but weak in black magic.
Hume--a race resembling humans, with overall average capabilities.
Galka-- an all male race resembling bears. They reproduce through reincarnation, in case you were wondering. Strong and tough, but weak with magic.
Mithra--cat-like humanoids, agile and dexterous, but lacking in charisma
Tarutaru--tiny humanoids with incredible power over magic, but physically weak.
Square Enix says that it wants to make Final Fantasy XIV more accessible to new players and those with limited amounts of time. That means emphasis will be taken away from grinding as a means to increase player levels, and in fact the leveling system as we know it will be completely absent from XIV. According to designers, levels will now be earned in a variety of unique ways, allowing players to interact with the world in their own way and at their own pace. The job system that was so popular in Final Fantasy XI will make a triumphant return here as well, and players will be able to switch jobs much more easily.
Presentation will also be amped up, providing hours of single-player story content accompanied by fully-voiced cinematic cutscenes. Players who prefer to quest alone will be able to do so without incurring much of a penalty, while those who like to hunt in groups will be able to do so as well. Tanaka says that they want to make battles in the game as epic as possible, by pitting players against large numbers of foes at a single time. There will be no robust PvP system in the game, although the designers are considering implementing player combat in certain circumstances. Battles will be turn based, and much more strategically deep according to the developers.
Based on this early information, it seems that Square Enix has stumbled upon the perfect MMORPG, or at least they think they have: attractive to casual and hardcore alike, easy for beginners and captivating for advanced players, addictive and yet simple to pick up. We hope that these ideas are not just wishful thinking and that they translate well into the final game design. After all, there might be more than a year before we see the finished product.
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