Since being unveiled at E3 2009, details on Final Fantasy XIV, the new MMO from Square Enix, have been scarce. In typical Japanese fashion, the developers only offered vague, elusive theories on what XIV may or may not feature, further fanning the flames amongst speculative fans.
But now, the coverings are being swept off, and concrete details on Final Fantasy XIV can finally be obtained, as Japan’s premier gaming magazine, Famitsu, has an exclusive scoop on Square Enix’s World of Warcraft challenger.
No Experience Points, No Levelling
Perhaps the biggest surprise uncovered in the Famitsu article was Square Enix’s revelation that Final Fantasy XIV won’t feature experience points or a levelling system, staples of the MMO genre. Instead, the developers want players to focus on their job and class systems, which proved popular in the last Final Fantasy MMO, XI.
Replacing the levelling system will be a skills-based feature, where player’s weapon, class and job determine their style of play. XIV allows players to mix and match their classes with their jobs, in order to create highly personal avatars. The jobs, which range from Fighters and Sorcerers to Gatherers and Crafters, each have two sub-classes, such as Archers and Swordsman for Fighters, and Cooks and Blacksmiths for Crafters.
According to the Famitsu article, Final Fantasy XIV will feature the four races from XI, albeit with name and feature changes. The humans from XI are now called Hyuran, the Taru are Lalafell, the Elvaan are Elzen, and the Galka are Roegadyn. Those not well-versed in Final Fantasy mythology may find themselves overwhelmed by such neologisms, but for ardent fans it’s an interesting, and perhaps confusing, feature.
The article contains images of the four races, with distinct and varied faces even amongst the same species, which suggests a degree of customisation may feature. Recently, Square Enix games have had a major focus on clothes customisation, so it wouldn’t be surprising if you could modify your avatar’s attire, too.
Guilds and Quests
For quests, players must visit a Guild and receive a work-pass from the resident guildmaster. Whether these guildmasters will be NPCs or eventually players of a high enough rank is unclear, but Square Enix have revealed that quests can be anywhere from half an hour to an hour long, and are flexible enough to support varying amounts of players.
So far, you can glean much of Square Enix’s focus on Final Fantasy XIV is on maintaining a broad appeal, so newcomers to the series won’t feel overwhelmed by reams of text and menus. Whether or not the hardcore fans will like these changes remains to be seen.
Final Fantasy XIV’s new location is Eorzea, a collection of islands circling a small continent. The weather is now variable, with inclement skies giving way to sunny backdrops, and an entire day-night cycle features.
In Final Fantasy XI, the game read your clock and adjusted the time of day in-game accordingly. Considering most MMO-players are nocturnal by nature, a lot of their time spent in XI was underneath a night’s sky. XIV has stripped away this system entirely, replacing it with days that progress by the hour, regardless of what the actual time is in your location.
The Upcoming Gamescom Reveal
Square Enix will be revealing more on Final Fantasy XIV at Gamescom in Germany later this month. Their focus on a more accessible MMO is obvious, but the new races, complex job and class system and improved time of day features suggest they haven’t forgotten the fans who’ll be lining up in their droves once the game is released, some time in 2010.