FFXIV Updates/News: A shallow look at what was a deep seeded problem! Obviously developers and game design want to keep the best secrets to themselves but recently they have released information on various aspects familiar to the MMO world, it’s fans and some painstakingly missing from their 1st try, back in 2010. Currently the game is in closed BETA and is being planned to be in open BETA for PC and PS3 sometime this year.
Hearing that it is coming out for PS3 is somewhat concerning to me though. Originally, for those that remember, I think it was sometime in May 2010 when SquareEnix promised 14 would come to console and well, it was indefinitely delayed and since then has existed as a free to play PC disaster, albeit with promise for better days.. seems they are soon here.
Before we get started I want to let you know that these things being added/changed are not ground breaking, actually they are more of game play choices that are being made to bring the game back to MMO par, in that it is a common mechanic previously left out in v1.0. Lets begin!
Auction House: I am sorry for using those words but it is still unclear as to this at least to me. Previously the only way to get items in FFXIV was to craft them or buy them from vendors or from another players Bazaar and searching through all of them was horrifying. However to remedy this, at least a little bit, Square is implementing a search feature, to allow you to quickly look through items being sold for what you want. This is really important, maybe not as fan friendly as a full fledged auction house but it could be the beginning of a new start in the world of MMO’s and here is why: imagine a game that actually forced you to play a role? Weird huh? Well instead of being spoon fed, for your $14.99 fee, Square makes you work for your advancement and one of those ways is gear upgrades. That means real people get rewarded for crafting and spending the time to equip their faction with sweet gear at any level they have proficiency at. It’s good as a thought and one I hope creates waves because developers need to put the “R” back in RPG, especially in JRPG’s and MMOs!
Graphics: This wasn’t as much of a concern as the way the game played but we have been told that graphics were a big concern because of the way the engine was drawing the world. Small millisecond delays here and there add up and re-working this complex system has allowed more fluid movement and execution of tasks making the world feel more natural and real. This also allows them to show just what a beautiful world they created by altering a little more the landscape, adding more uniqueness to each zone and some finishing touches while making it accessible for PS3 and not just for PC. Now I imagine this game will also be available for PS4 - (insert real name here), whenever it comes out, it only makes sense given the business plan on an MMO.
User Interface: Probably the most talked about item from Final Fantasy XI that players did not enjoy, was this, the UI. Reason being is the way commands were selected, apparently searching through menu’s in a fast paced action sequence isn’t preferred to be able to execute commands from and I don’t blame players for feeling this way. It’s hard to be a hero when it takes you a couple seconds to figure out what manner you shall exact your heroism! The new interface displays your health/mana etc at the bottom middle and has 2 “blocks” of buttons neatly above them which resemble commands and actions you can take. I like this new system because it openly shows how a controller (console) will be playing this game. It also appears to be easy to use and will require almost no practice or learning curve. A very good step in the right direction indeed. Other smaller changes but important ones are available as well, like targeting specific items or people versus the way it was being done, the new system either on controller or PC is way easier and more intuitive.
Gameplay: Quests now have a different feel, now you can simply walk next to a quest giver and be automatically involved in the quest along with whoever else is doing it. When I read that I don’t know what I felt but it is infinitely better than what we were faced with before. And auto clicking quest options isn’t the best either, duh you wouldn’t be there if you didn’t want to do it. There are plans for the future to include random dungeon finders into the game. This is a big one and as Blizzard captivated millions with this same mechanic first, I really had hoped they would have followed suit faster but to see that it is coming is still kinda making my eyes tear up, hopefully we see this soon. Really important for faster dungeon play and easier access for casual gamers or those that do not have the time to devote to more drawn out options. Hopefully they plan to include dungeon travel (teleportation to the zone in question).
You will also be able to macro skills/spells or emotes to the toolbar for easy use. Thank god! I loved macros from FFXI but must admit it could have been easier to use.
The game is 100% cross-platform, so players using whatever device, PS3-4 or PC will be able to enjoy playing with their friends regardless of the machine they use to access and play the game. Huge move and a must have!
In closing I am surprised by the move as a whole to be happening as it is, versus where they started and the utter devastation this must have caused at the corporate office. This is purely my opinion, but it is fairly obvious the original game was released before it was ready. This is when lead game designers need more power and company executives need to execute long term planning better and take a step back to look at quality. I don’t know if share holders/investors were the source of the overly-hasty release but it was a negative one and everyone paid the price, SquareEnix most of all. This new release is still going to require a subscription which I think is the right move. Like I said in a past article on MMO’s, “if it’s worth it, people will be happy to pay” and that is true of any game. So a challenge has been set, the game is improving, many anxiously await the rebirth of a fallen legend, will enough people jump in? I know I am going to give it a try! And with that I have one last speculation. SquareEnix is going to pump what it needs to into this game to make it successful, they HAVE TO! So much money has been tied up making this into what it should have been 3 years ago and if it fails it is more than just a sucker punch to the face of SE. It’s early retirement. If enough people jump in and celebrate the new release and subscriptions remain at the level they were hoping for, we will most likely see it come to PS4, if not… they may cancel plans for that.. you can’t remake a game twice can you? Tune in for more updates!