I’m surprised there doesn’t seem to be any discussion about Final Fantasy XIV here. Hopefully Advanced Search didn’t let me down. I thought this was a gaming site!
So yeah, FFXIV! Square Enix has revamped and is relaunching the MMO Final Fantasy XIV. The game is undergoing a Phase 4 “sort of open” Beta in early August. Early access (for preorders) is going to be around August 20, and the game will officially (re)launch on August 27.
The official name of the game is “Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.” Their website is at the obvious place. It’s an old school MMO in that you’re going to be paying a monthly fee. Yeah, you heard me! As a result of the monthly fee, there’s no cash shop, no F2P elements, no nagging you to pay to add a few bags, increase inventory space, or selling ponies. Depending on how you feel about paying monthly for an MMO, you may see this as a good thing or as a strike against the game. While I’m sure this will hurt the subscriber numbers, my friends seem to think it’ll keep the trolls away (well, except the rich trolls, I guess!).
Another interesting turn of events is that FF XIV has already been out a while - the new version (FFXIV:ARR) is a re-launch of what’s being called “version 1.0.” I’m not entirely sure what happened with 1.0 but my impression is that it was a big mess and failed miserably (at least in North America). I vaguely recall Square Enix stopped charging for the game, and after a while they shut the game down to revise it from the ground up. FFXIV:AAR is the result of that revision. From what I understand they reworked the game from the ground up. And whether they did or not, the game now is beautiful. The world is great looking, character models look really nice, animations seem great - and performance on my two year old machine is peachy. If you played the 1.0 version, though, you’re not being left behind: toons from 1.0 (now called “Legacy”) are still there, and when AAR relaunches at the end of August, Legacy toons will have one chance to freely change their appearance and transfer to a server of their choice.
I played a bit in Phase 3, which just ended in mid-July. The game seems like a high-quality blend of FF games and MMOs (note that I’m certainly not an expert in FF lore or gaming so take that for what it’s worth). You pick your race, and you pick your class, and you run off doing quests and saving the world. And, as with all FF games, you can specialize your class into a job as you get to higher levels. For instance, you can create a character who’s a Conjurer, which is a spellcaster with a focus in healing. The specialization of Conjurer is White Mage (WHM). To become a WHM, you have to get to 30 as as Conjurer, plus you have to get to level 15 as a Gladiator, and then do the White Mage job quest. Then, presto, you’re a White Mage, which all sorts of cool White Mage-y healing spells. Jobs can use (limited) skills from other classes. For instance, the WHM can use some Gladiator and Pugilist skills (that seems weird, but that’s how it works right now). And I’m pretty sure you can go back to your base class. And the reason you’d want to do that is that Jobs are a specialization that is very good at some part of the game, but is really geared for group play. Classes are more useful for solo activities. So even when you become a WHM, you still might want to be a Conjurer if you’re out on your own, questing or whatever.
FFXIV jobs definitely follow the age-old trinity model, as you’ve got your tanks (Paladin and Warrior), your healer (White Mage, Scholar), your buffer/debuffer (Bard) and your DPS (Black Mage, Monk, Dragoon, Summoner). Summoner and Scholar aren’t out yet, so their places here are speculation.
In addition - and this is a very interesting facet of the game - you can change your class simply by changing the weapon you wield. That is, if you create a Conjurer, you can switch to, say, Archer, simply by equipping a bow! Yeah, your Archer will start out at level 1, but you could, in theory, level all of the classes to max level on one toon simply by changing what you’re holding. To me that means you could decide you wanted to play a White Mage, but you could decide when you’re off on your own you want to play an Archer - and you can do it on one character. That’s a neat idea.
The game does (will?) offer the standard PVE types of activities : questing, a main storyline (one for each of the 3 starting cities, depending on where you start), factions you join with quests (here they’re called Grand Companies), a hunting log which provides Xp and rewards for killing specific numbers of certain mobs, daily quests, dungeons, dynamic events (called FATEs), raids, and … uh… lots of each of them. PVP is a bit murkier - they’ve said there’s going to be a coliseum type battle (4v4 and 8v8) and there is also going to be a PVP zone (which I assume will be like Wow’s Battlegrounds).
Oh yeah, there’s harvesting, and crafting and I believe just as with classes, you switch your profession simply by equipping a different tool.
So I’m sure the interest in this will be less than typical, given it’s a MMO and given that you’re going to pay monthly, but even so, I think it’s a high quality game that’s going to keep me busy for a few months at least.