Final Fantasy XIV was announced at last year’s E3 shocking the crowd at hand. I would know since I’m probably one of the people you can hear yelling “What!” when they announced it. I was shocked that they were announcing XIV before the release of XIII. Then it all made sense to me when it was announced that this game would be the followup to Final Fantasy XI, and a MMO as well.
Before I get into details on the game, let me explain the background on the title and who is actually making it. Nowadays at Square Enix it is always good to know which team is working on Final Fantasy since each team brings something new to the table. The game is being produced by Hiromichi Tanaka (Final Fantasy I, II, III, and XI), directed by Nobuaki Komoto (Final Fantasy IX, XI), art direction led by Akihiko Yoshida (Vagrant Story, Final Fantasy XII), and music by the one the only Mr. Nobuo Uematsu. Basically, this game is more along the lines of what we saw with the NES Final Fantasy games, Final Fantasy IX, Final Fantasy XI, and Final Fantasy XII. This is going to be a very different game from the titles like Final Fantasy X and XIII.
One thing that I’m very happy to see is that Nobou Uematsu (the greatest composer in gaming history) has a big hand in this games soundtrack. This is exactly what this game needs because his music makes these worlds and these stories come alive. People say that the series is great because of it’s cut scenes and while that is true, I believe the music in these games are just as important.
The art style is not the steam punk we have seen from Tetsuya Nomura (Final Fantasy VII, VIII, X, XIII), but rather that of Nobuaki Komoto. Komoto has worked on Vagrant Story and Final Fantasy XII. He brings a much different feel to the series, and something that is more remincient to the old school Final Fantasy games prior to the Playstation era. The game will be much more focused on fantasy and less on futuristic. This will be evident in the world, the environments, and the character models.
Now onto the game itself. I’m going to jump right into the background of the story of the game. Let me first note that this is not a direct sequel to Final Fantasy XI, so story and the world are different. Final Fantasy XIV takes place on a world called Hydaelyn, and more specifically a region called, Eorzea. At a time when Eorzea was untamed men and women came to the area, and tried to build up Eorzea. During that time, the deities of the area saw the resilience and resourcefulness of these men and women and took it upon themselves to watch the welfare of these people. These deities became known as “the twelve” and under their rule the people of Eorzea strived.
That unfortunately came to a halt when the Eorzea villages became several city states. These city-states went to war with each other, and divided the people of Eorzea. Then things got worst when invaders from the West came and took down the mightiest city state of the time known as Ala Mihgo. The invaders from the North used tech and heavy machinery to have their way with the divided Eorzea. Finally, Eorzea saw that they needed to unite to take down their common foe. Fortunately, or unfortunately, the invasion never came from the Empire. This left the people of Eorzea uneasy and unsure what to do with their military forces during the “Age of Calm.”
This is basically where you start up with the game when you get it. That is a little bit of a background to the backstory of the game. You are in this world with multiple city-states unsure of looming darkness over the corner. Preparing to stop any future attacks that may come in the future.
So far what has been announced to the public is that Final Fantasy XIV are details about three of the six major city states in the game. There are six total which include, Ala Mhigo (still under control by the Empire), Gridania, Limsa-Lominsa, Ishgard, Ul’dah, and Gravania. The three with the most current information include: Limsa-Lominsa (a marine-like city), Gridania, and Ul’Dah. Most likely these will be the start point city-states for characters making new games.
There are 4 types of disciplines in the game, each which have their own subcatergories with unique flare and substance:
Disciplines of War: Archer, Marauder, Pugilist, Gladiator, Lancer
Disciples of Magic: Thaumaturge, Conjurer
Disciples of the Land: Botanist, Miner
Disciples of the Hand: Alchemist, Culinarian, Tanner, Blacksmith, Weaver
Each discipline is basically what you would think about when you think of different RPG character types. Some will specialize in magic, attacks, healing, and and making goods. Each will have their own specialty like the archer is good at long range attacks, and the gladiator will be more up close. When you create your groups in XIV, you will obviously want a well balanced team.
Now those are just the type of abilities your character will have, there are also different races in the game each with a deep character customization team. The Hyur (basic human-like race) they are the largest race when it comes to population and are said to be more individualistic than the other races in Eorzea. The Elezen (elf-like race) were the original inhabitants of Eorzea and because of this have a high amount of pride and honor. The Lalafell (cute little guys) have great agility and are very friendly with all races of Eorzea. Roegadyn (large mini-giants) are from the seas, and seem very familiar to real world Vikings in both stature and lifestyle. Finally, there are the Miqo’te, who are cat-like humans who seem to only be female.
Now you got an idea on the backstory, the races, the disciplines, and the world, but what about the gameplay? Well, the backbone of Final Fantasy XIV is the armory system. This system is different from most MMO’s where leveling up and changing abilities is based on what you equip yourself with. You can start off the day as someone very strong with magic abilities and have a staff equipped, but then want to change to a blacksmith with a hammer and make better armor and weapons. Players will have their one specialty class, but will also be able to get the complete experience by trying all the different disciplines by changing equipment. This allows the developers of Final Fantasy XIV, to make the game more individualistic and allow players to have both solo and group experiences. How strong your character is depends on how good your equipment is.
The rest of the gameplay seems very similar to your typical MMO-style gameplay. Do not expect the game to play in real-time this is still a MMORPG. Expect something very similar to Final Fantasy XI, but I will say that the production team has come out and said they have taken inspiration from the likes of World of Warcraft, Warhammer Online, and Age of Conan. Expect the team of FFXIV to have taken some inspiration from these revolutionary MMO’s.
Graphically, I am blown away by how beautiful the game is. This looks like it could be one of the best looking MMO’s ever made. It doesn’t even look like what you would expect from a MMO at times. The game is being developed on the Crystal Tools engine which was also used in the development of Final Fantasy XIII, and the upcoming Versus XIII. XIV is currently slated to only be released on the PC and PS3. The cool thing about that though is that both versions will include cross-platform play. Meaning that players of both versions will be able to interact with each other, so instead of being divided by the different versions. Both will be interconnected. One concern is though over the monthly costs. It is still undecided whether the game will be free to play or have monthly fees. Most likely it will have monthly fees, but how much is the question?
When it comes to the beta, there is currently a link to a sign up page on Square Enix’s site. Sign up to participate in the upcoming beta. Invites are already being sent out to a very limited number, but expect that number to grow over time.
The game which is set to come out later this year is looking fantastic. It has a great new look on a classic franchise. They are bringing people back (Uematsu) who have made the Final Fantasy name great. This game has the classic Final Fantasy look and seems to be appealing to a large number of Final Fantasy fans. Hopefully, the beta will give us a great idea on the upcoming fourteenth installment in the classic franchise.