1

Final Fantasy XI: A New Hope

A look ahead at Square Enix's plans for FFXI

As a self-proclaimed fan boy of Square Enix, it has pained me to rake my favorite gaming company through the coals while openly questioning the direction of Final Fantasy XI.

I made it clear in a January editorial that what the game needed was a full-scale expansion, and that anything less just wouldn't be good enough. I inferred that FFXI's developers had already moved on from Vana'diel, and that they hoped their loyal players might do the same.

I might have been wrong.

We're not getting a full-scale expansion, at least not this year. What we are getting is Abyssea, a three-part add-on series that will include new areas, common lore, job-specific armor, new battlefields and more. Like the other add-ons, the Abyssea mini expansions are expected to retail for approximately $10 per installment.

The bigger bombshell of the day was the development team's announcement of the level cap being raised to 99. For years, the development team has said the level cap would remain at 75, and that increasing the level cap would be far too difficult to integrate with the rest of the game.

Slight of hand, or change of heart?

Regardless of SE's motivations, I've got to give credit where credit is due. Square Enix is taking a big chance to keep the game exciting.

Discuss this editorial in the ZAM forums.

Let's talk about Abyssea. The last thing I wanted to hear from SE was the unveiling of new add-on scenarios, but I'm willing to be optimistic about these add-ons. I really like the fact that these mini expansions will be connected by new land and lore. The previous add-on scenarios failed because, when trying to tell an epic story, unfortunately size does matter. A lot. If handled correctly, these Abyssea expansions do not need to leave us wanting more.

I'm also intrigued by the description of Abyssea on the PlayOnline Web site, which reads: "In Abyssea, concerns such as the over-population of battle areas and the need for large time investments will be a thing of the past." This leads me to believe that the Abyssea expansions will introduce new endgame elements that are actually playable with small groups of people -- hopefully not in the same way that Einherjar was originally "playable" by small groups.

The level cap has generated far more buzz than the announcement of Abyssea, and this is where Square Enix is really going out on a limb -- which is why I’m giving the development team props.

Who knows whether raising the level cap is a good idea? There's a lot of room for error. I'm sure the last thing developers want is to alienate their most hardcore players by rendering all of their hard-earned gear completely obsolete. We’ve been told we'll be able to upgrade our current endgame gear, so that it retains some use beyond looking good on our mannequins. We've also learned to take a wait-and-see approach when SE promises to implement something new.

I also don't know how much I care about re-leveling my jobs, and I've always considered myself to be someone who enjoys the level grind. Sure, I'll be capping off my red mage, and possibly even my black mage. I'd have to be very, very bored -- meaning Final Fantasy XIV would have to suck -- for me to take any other job to level 99. In fact, I can't possibly imagine taking a new job from level 1 to 99 unless SE drastically reduces the experience points requirements.

On the other hand, raising the cap to 99 will breath life into the jobs we love the most. It's been years since I hit level 75 on red mage, and now I'll be able to take my beloved job to new heights. We'll be able to experiment with new sub job combinations and battle strategies. Also, monsters that were once only beatable with full alliances may now be conquerable with just one party of rugged adventurers.

Perhaps the most important function of the level cap increase is to get people excited again about Final Fantasy XI -- to send a message that big things are happening, and that the development team hasn’t stopped thinking outside the box.

Message received.

I still believe the only way to guarantee a bright future for Final Fantasy XI is with a full-scale expansion. I know many players will agree with me on this. However, the development team has at least given us good reasons to be hopeful. They've also reignited interest in the game by promising to implement such a huge, sweeping change that nobody saw coming.

The development team needs to keep being innovative. They need to keep thinking of ways to implement enjoyable and rewarding content that carries forth the story of Vana'diel. They need to remember that the golden days of Final Fantasy XI are gone -- which I believe they understand, given the upcoming world mergers -- but that the game's future is still as bright as they want it to be.

Seems like only yesterday that we were comparing Final Fantasy XI with World of Warcraft. Those days are long gone.

It's time to start chasing EverQuest, which proved a game with a strong following can only be as tired as its developers. This year will be pivotal for Final Fantasy XI. I, for one, am cautiously optimistic.

Tags: Editorial

Comments

Post Comment
Oh Really
# Mar 16 2010 at 6:50 PM Rating: Default
*
193 posts
Quote:
They've also reignited interest in the game by promising to implement such a huge, sweeping change that nobody saw coming.


I saw it coming 3 years ago but everyone told me SE would never raise the level cap above 75.

Shows what they know.
____________________________
I've found that when a Goblin is going to use Bomb toss. I remember Lethal Weapon 3, "Roger... Grab the Cat!!" (runs away!!!)
Oh Really
# Mar 17 2010 at 5:21 AM Rating: Default
Avatar
*****
12,810 posts
Actually, for years, I've said that the only reason they'd ever raise the cap would be as a last hurrah for the game, since it will fundamentally break the game unless subjobs get hit with the nerf bat to prevent every mage getting Convert, Refresh, and now Accession and Manifestation.

That's what will be interesting to see: Will they pull a DRG gimp on subjobs, preventing the unique spells and skills from becoming free to use as subs?
____________________________
Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/pawkeshup
YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/pawkeshup
Viddler: http://www.viddler.com/explore/pawkeshup/
UStream: http://www.ustream.tv/channel/pawkeshup-s-gaming-stream
Blog: http://pawkeshup.blogspot.com
Olorinus the Ludicrous wrote:
The idea of old school is way more interesting than the reality
red mage gear
# Mar 16 2010 at 12:40 PM Rating: Default
***
1,624 posts
I for one want to see some new hybrid type stuff for red mage. I'm sick of seeing a bunch of pure mage gear come out for it.
____________________________
Deedlitchan-Bismark server
Female Elvaan 90 rdm/(drk, pld, war, blu, dnc)
75 drg/(rdm, blu, war, sam, drk, pld)
90 drk/(sam, blu, rdm, war, dnc)
San d'Oria-Rank 10
red mage gear
# Mar 16 2010 at 12:39 PM Rating: Decent
***
1,624 posts
I for one want to see some new hybrid type stuff for red mage. I'm sick of seeing a bunch of pure mage gear come out.
____________________________
Deedlitchan-Bismark server
Female Elvaan 90 rdm/(drk, pld, war, blu, dnc)
75 drg/(rdm, blu, war, sam, drk, pld)
90 drk/(sam, blu, rdm, war, dnc)
San d'Oria-Rank 10
adf
# Mar 16 2010 at 10:33 AM Rating: Good
Sage
*
111 posts
Good point on bringing up a more viable comparison to EQ for FFXI. That game has done well at generating enough interest and profits to remain relevant. I think SE will totally be able to keep FFXI around in a similar fashion. Also, alot of people initially left EQ for EQII and then returned after finding EQII not to their liking. I'm thinking we might see that with FFXI and FFXIV as well. Quite honestly, the game that has more doubt in my mind is FFXIV. Will it be a hit or miss? Only time will tell...
Add on vs Expansion
# Mar 16 2010 at 7:42 AM Rating: Decent
Scholar
Avatar
21 posts
I remember reading in another post, (forget who wrote it or where it is) but this person said a very interesting thing.

Add on now because PS2 players for the most part can NOT get any expansions in a store due to the fact that most stores no longer carry any NEW PS2 games, the PS2 games they currently have in stock if any are old games that never sold.

I personally like add ons also for another reason. I don't have to drop the whole 30 bucks all at once, I know a lot of players have that kind of money to drop all at once, but as a family guy with kids, its not a hard blow to drop 10 at a shot vs 30.

Anyway, there's my 2 gil.
____________________________
Terrial - Tarutaru
Windurst Rank 7
Cerberus
About the gear issue
# Mar 16 2010 at 4:06 AM Rating: Decent
***
2,886 posts
Quote:
Who knows whether raising the level cap is a good idea? There's a lot of room for error. I'm sure the last thing developers want is to alienate their most hardcore players by rendering all of their hard-earned gear completely obsolete. We’ve been told we'll be able to upgrade our current endgame gear, so that it retains some use beyond looking good on our mannequins. We've also learned to take a wait-and-see approach when SE promises to implement something new.


The other alternative ... not releasing a piece of gear that is in any way shape or form better then current ancient gear. I just don't get why people make this point, if your gear serves as some sort of social badge, then maybe its time to stop playing MMO's. I'm pretty sure SE will be upgrading Relics to still be the best weapons available, they about said as much. But I for one WANT better gear to be available, I'm tired of everyone using the same three to five year old stuff at 75 because SE didn't want to release anything stronger.
____________________________
RoTZ: Complete DM: O
CoP: Complete AN: O
99 SAM, RDM, BLU, WAR, PLD, DRK

lolgaxe wrote:
Nothing in this game is impossible if you set yourself to the task of actually doing it. Even dumb people can only hold you back for so long.


Lucinus wrote:
when you're hefting something that deadly, you don't miss - mobs get the @#%^ out of the way instead...
About the gear issue
# Mar 16 2010 at 9:15 PM Rating: Good
Scholar
***
1,105 posts
saevellakshmi wrote:
But I for one WANT better gear to be available, I'm tired of everyone using the same three to five year old stuff at 75 because SE didn't want to release anything stronger.


And gear isn't as tied to level as it should be, either.

For example, bounding boots. Level 7. Way high stats for that level, and they have a lifespan of dozens of levels. The only stat that truly scales with level is the defense stat, and that's so irrelevant people ignore it.

Empress Hairpin, and even Scorpion's Harness have this problem. While yes, these all have upgrades later on, the fact that they totally stomp a lot of 75 gear that you find on AH is just odd.

Typically, if you get gear that is 10 levels higher than another pieces, it should (so long as it's proper melee or caster pieces) always be better than the older one, with only a few exceptions. You shouldn't see level 75s sporting any gear lower level than 70, really.

I don't want to advocate the random stat system of WoW at all; I like having fixed gear. But they need to be better balanced for levels, and there just needs to be more.
____________________________
Arbau - Asura
San d'oria / Elvaan / Rank 8 /
Mains: 75WHM 72THF
37: NIN RDM BLM RNG WAR PLD SAM BLU DRG DNC
Post Comment

Free account required to post

You must log in or create an account to post messages.