The magazines just keeping rolling on in recently! Today we have a special collection of information from Connect!On that features questions answered by Final Fantasy XIV Producer Hiromichi Tanaka and Director Nobuaki Koumoto along with some new comments and analysis. Connect!On is a monthly magazine dedicated to online gaming in Japan. Now that Final Fantasy XIV made its grand debut at E3, Final Fantasy XI had to scootch over a bit this month and lend some of its pages to promote the new MMO.
Basically, what we have here is a collection of what Connect!On editors felt were the most important facts from interviews and articles from E3 until now. There are also a few original tidbits thrown in there, so if you need a refresher, read on and check it out.
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I was a bit worried that with all the news and interviews flying about, Connect!On would not really have anything new to share. It comes out only once a month and mostly contains articles, artwork and experiments submitted from players. When I picked it up at the bookstore, however, I was warmly greeted by the Final Fantasy XIV logo.
That's what I like to see!
But will it have new information, or just recycled stuff from E3?
Well, a little bit of both, it seems. What the article contains is a recap of all the information we have received thus far, with a special focus on some things that may have been overlooked. There are also a number of clarifications that may help us all get on the same page regarding FFXIV news. I will run down the article for you and show you what Connect!On has diligently collected on FFXIV since the trailer first hit.
After the first lines of text rolled in the E3 trailer, the movie panned across an expansive land filled with trees and waterfalls. This was introduced to us as "Eorzea," but it seems there will be more meaning to the name than simply labeling a single region of land. In addition, we have discovered that the name of the entire world will be バイデリン (ha-i-de-ri-n). Koumoto has stressed that this world will have a new feel compared to Vana'diel and bring a different kind of fantasy environment, one that is a little more "hi-tech" perhaps. The peculiar flying pods battling monsters in the sky are said to be an example of the new direction they are looking to take.
Also, it seems that the admittedly strange pronunciation of Eorzea, エオルゼア (e-o-ru-ze-a), has evoked some reactions amongst the Japanese media as well. Game reviewer "Hamamura Tsuushin" came up with his own theory, commenting that it sounds like something that would come out of 高知県 (Kou-chi ken) the Kouchi Prefecture of Japan, where people speak in 土佐弁 (to-sa ben) Tosa dialect. This is because words in Tosa dialect often contain "ze" and "ya" and the speech pattern is also influenced by 関西弁 (kan-sai ben) Kansai dialect, which is well-known for being amusingly jumbled and rowdy.
The E3 Presentation
Tanaka stated that he wished to unveil FFXIV at E3 in particular to highlight their intention to release the game simultaneously across all supported regions. E3 was the perfect place to find foreign media from around the world gathered together. This certainly would indicate Square Enix is ready to fully support all players right from the start, and could give some hope to players in North America or Europe who may have felt snubbed in the past.
As an funny side note, it is reported that the announcement of FFXIV caught some people really off-guard. Apparently, the instant Jack Tretton, President of SCEA, uttered the words "Final Fantasy Fourteen," some people took it as a joke and could not believe their ears. However, that feeling was quickly dispelled once the trailer started running, and the room soon erupted in applause and shouts of joy.
In order to entice FFXI players over to the new game, Tanaka said they designed avatars to be similar in style. This way, there would be a connection that could make people feel comfortable transferring over, and let them know they could continue with their preferred "virtual self." However, while the races are the same on the surface, they will be given new names and some other cosmetic changes. Furthermore, eagle-eyed forum-goers have spotted what Connect!On refers to as a "horned elf" behind the counter on the far left, that could hint at the addition of new races. Unfortunately, there is no official confirmation of this as of yet. When pressed on the number of races planned, Koumoto has been hesitant to say if anything is decided.
According to Koumoto, battles in FFXIV will involve more thinking and strategy than FFXI. While FFXI was about timing and quick action, FFXIV is going to take a new approach that will provide a comfortable learning curve for new players, yet allow for the challenge that hardcore players also crave.
The keyword is "growth" and FFXIV will be sold as a game that allows improvement without unnecessary hardship. Koumoto references FFXI, saying it is a game that relies too exclusively on defeating enemies over and over to advance, and that FFXIV will bring new avenues of facilitating character growth, such as quests.
In addition to partying, solo play will also be possible, but instead of focusing on boosting one or the other, Koumoto has said FFXIV will be a game that, above all else, aims to meet the needs of the users, no matter what style they choose to play. One day you might want to adventure with a friend, and another day you might want to go it alone. FFXIV will allow you to choose your path as you please and find enjoyment in your unique play style.
For the Job System, Koumoto has expressed interest in taking aspects of FFXI's flexible style but expanding greatly upon it in new ways. In the end, it will be completely different from what we are familiar with in Vana'diel. The keyword here is "weapon," which we have heard was also the theme of the FFXIV logo. Somewhere in that wheel of adventurers lies a hint as to how jobs and leveling may change. Speaking of which, we have also heard from Tanaka that the traditional experience points and level system will not be used this time around. While he was more than eager to divulge that bit of info, there has sadly been no clarification as to what system will replace it.
Probably the first thing everyone noticed was that the trailer was exceptionally beautiful. It is said that there was actual in-game footage mixed in as well, which is quite impressive. According to reports, the scenes with a Mithra-looking mage casting a magical barrier and the tail-less Galka wielding a great axe could very possibly reflect the level of quality we can expect during actual gameplay. A giant sea serpent leaping over the ship has been speculated to be Leviathan, but there is no such confirmation from official sources. Another part of the trailer that viewers focused on was the Chocobo at the end. Koumoto has mentioned that the Chocobo caused more of an uproar than he had anticipated. This is attributed to the fact that the Chocobo was a symbol that let everyone know: "This is a true Final Fantasy game."
Analyzing the boat scene again, questions were asked regarding whether it was hinting at a party vs. party style battle system. Koumoto admits that limiting the game to parties simply bludgeoning a single enemy to death would lack variety, and the team is looking into large-scale battles as well. Also, it may not always be against an enemy. PvP content is also being considered, but it seems they are stopping shy of allowing unrestrained dueling and player killing. Tanaka adds that they are maintaining the same stance against griefing through PKing and kill stealing as they have in FFXI.
To FFXI Players:
In closing, Connect!On reprints some of the final thoughts that Tanaka and Koumoto had for existing FFXI players.
Those of us who continue to enjoy FFXI have heard Tanaka tell us time and again that Vana'diel will live on for years to come. There is a team of people who continue to work solely on FFXI, so they should not been disrupted or slowed down even after the release of FFXIV. Not only that, but FFXIV will be designed so that one can balance their play time between the two games without having to upset their daily lives. FFXIV will be a game that is kind to the casual player, and not demand copious amounts of time to make progress.
With great care being paid to the existing FFXI community and the media attention MMO addiction has been receiving throughout Japan recently, it seems we can really expect a game that will deliver without being demanding. Personally, I think this is an excellent concept, and hopefully Square Enix will find that a more relaxed atmosphere will encourage people to keep active accounts for longer.
Final Fantasy XIV will go live around the globe in 2010, and a beta is still guaranteed to precede the start of public service. The ZAM FFXIV Team will continue to keep our eyes and ears open so be sure to check back often! In the meantime, feel free to discuss this article or join in any of the hot topics circulating the FFXIV forums.