Producer Naoki "Yoshi-P" Yoshida seems determined to whip Final Fantasy XIV into shape. Can he pull off the comeback?
How many people here are fans of the Rocky movies?
I'm a big-time fan of "Rocky," my favorite movie. And I bring this up because, right now, Final Fantasy XIV reminds me a bit of the Italian Stallion. Remember that scene when Sylvester Stallone stumbles out of bed at 4 a.m., chugs a glass of raw eggs and then starts jogging his way into shape? In my imaginative mind, that's Yoshi-P, taking a game that the gaming world had left for dead and whipping it into a winner -- or going down trying.
Yoshi-P has put on his gloves and climbed into the ring. His daunting opponent – a merciless Apollo Creed embodying all the bad reviews, Internet flaming and player mistrust surrounding FFXIV – stands before him.
Will Final Fantasy XIV go the distance?
Discuss this in the ZAM forums.
This could be the beginning of FFXIV's rebirth, or it could be the beginning of the game's end. Starting Wednesday, we'll see a series of small patches aimed at filling out this game to where it should have been in September. These patches are supposed to occur about every two weeks, a frenetic pace that could be attributed to the Jan. 1 player’s poll. The poll results indicated that rapidly occurring updates was important to the playerbase. I credit the development team for being receptive to that priority.
If this first patch is any indication, these minor updates won't be as sweeping as the giant November and December updates. However, this week’s patch has enough good news to smile about, such as:
- Revised skill point rewards for party combat
- Stack sizes increasing from 12 to 99 for several items
- The listing of low prices in the market wards item search feature
- Frame rate changes to speed up gathering
Although small, let's not underestimate the importance of these patches. This series of updates could determine whether this game lives or dies. Unless Square Enix is planning another giant update to happen sometime in the next few months, then these patches could set the stage for the game’s PS3 launch. That date will be Yoshi-P’s rematch with the gaming world. If what he does between now and then doesn’t knock gamers off of their feet – inspiring a round of glowing, feel-good reviews – then FFXIV could be down for the count.
(I guess that makes this "Rocky III," when Sylvester Stallone gets knocked out in the beginning of the movie by Mr. T and then has to find his eye of the tiger to win back his belt, but I digress.)
If Yoshi-P is going to prevail in this heavyweight battle, he’s going to need to keep doing business as Square Enix has never done business before. So far he's been working like a southpaw fighter boxing right-handed (Rocky II). He needs to keep delivering updates faster than we expect them, and he needs to give us more changes than we'd hoped for. Meanwhile, he can’t be silent. The only mistake he's made since taking over was not talking for the first few weeks of January. If he keeps talking, and if he keeps producing, this game has an excellent chance of surviving.
It all starts with these patches. Yoshi-P has said more quests would be coming in early February, and whether that content will be included in Wednesday's patch remains unclear. This game needs quests badly. As I showed with my small feature on Aleport last week, there’s a surprising amount of lore available to players willing to go the extra mile to find it – but why should we have to go so far out of our way to find lore for this land? Hopefully the issue of quests and lore will be solved soon enough.
Then there's the battle system. I'm a huge fan of auto-attack, which opens up the game to be far more social. Just about everyone wants to see the combat system be more meaningful than 111111111111111111111111111. Again, there’s the start of a decent system in place, but serious revisions are in order. Yoshi-P has stated this as a priority, too.
So many other elements have yet to be added to this game. Airships, chocobos, low-level notorious monsters and other features would significantly add to the depth of Eorzea. Adding the high-level NMs was a good start, but many players don’t have rank 40 or rank 50 jobs. Many are like me; they have a couple battle classes near level 20, but haven’t spent time grinding out skill points with no goal in sight. Eorzea needs activities to keep everyone busy, and adding more guildleves won’t cut it.
That said, I’m excited to learn all the details of this week’s patch, and I’m already eager to see which changes will be coming next. By setting up this update schedule, Yoshi-P’s development team will be providing us with things to look forward to for the indefinite future. That’s a pretty nice change from a few months ago, when it seemed the development team was completely oblivious to the many problems destroying their game.
I've said it in forum posts, and I'll state it here now: I believe Yoshi-P will take this game the distance.
The launch of Final Fantasy XIV was a big deal to us. When the launch failed, it was like a part of us died. But now, Yoshi-P, you're the one. You're the one that’s gonna keep this game’s spirit alive. You’re the one that’s gonna make sure that we didn’t level our crafts for nothing. Now you’re gonna have to go through hell. Worse than any nightmare you ever dreamed. But in the end, I know you’ll be the one standing.
You know what you have to do. Do it.
And yes, that’s from "Rocky IV."