Thursday, August 06, 2009

FFXIV News: ORLY? YARLY!

I love it when people with no real working knowledge of FFXI make commentary about it, but it is even better when people with limited working knowledge work for the "online gaming media" and post articles about FFXIV and compare it to FFXI.

It is usually a feeding frenzy whenever new information appears, at least in our very small pond. I can not reset to dive in, but how about we add a flip and a half twist to that dive? Let's take a look at 1UP's coverage of the new FFXIV information and add a little bit of Ring spice to it.

If you aren't interesting in my spice, I understand, but I have some new pictures of FFXIV that I will put at the bottom of the column after the cut, so then you will HAVE to click and maybe you will even read my comments! :)

1UP: Why is this peppy young swordsman looking so smug? Probably because he's found himself in the land of Eorzea, a wild place filled with squabbling city-states, plundering barbarians, and all kinds of other enemies, natural and unnatural. He's made it, in other words.

Ring: Yeah, he really has made it. He has made it directly from the FFXI teaser from about 10 years ago. And Eorzea looks more and more like Vana’diel from what I have seen so far. Similarities? Parallel Universe? Lazy Developers? Failed Attempt at FFXI-2? Which do you think is more likely, hmm?

1UP: Eorzea's nations used to be constantly at war with each other, but the advent of airborne battleships and other shockingly powerful weapons has created a state of d├ętente throughout the land. The resulting peace has led to a wide swath of soldiers and mercenaries suddenly without a job, and so they're now forming guilds and calling themselves under a new name: adventurers.

Ring: Wait… what? Nations at war, but airships are the ultimate weapons that stop them from fighting? Soldiers and mercenaries becoming “adventurers”? Stop me if you have heard this before!

1UP: That's the very basic plot behind Final Fantasy XIV, the PS3/PC online RPG that Square Enix revealed at this year's E3. Now Square Enix is ready to reveal more of the goods, and in this week's issue of Famitsu magazine, game director Nobuaki Komoto offered some of the first really concrete details behind the MMORPG's gameplay. Here are the details:
- Eorzea, the continent where players begin their game, is a small continent with several surrounding islands. Time passes, and weather changes, on a regular basis in this world, with one in-game day currently set to be about an hour of realtime. This exact figure may change, but as Komoto puts it, "it won't be like Eorzea will be night for hours because it's nighttime in reality... I want FFXIV to be enjoyed even by those who can play only a short time out of the day, so I'd like the sort of time schedule such that it's always a different experience timewise when you login to Eorzea."

Ring: More and more emphasis on casual play? What about us psychos? What is in there for us? But really, this again shows that FFXIV will be following in FFXI’s footsteps in the way the world works.

1UP: Eorzea is home to five races which, although they have different names, look quite a bit like the races in Final Fantasy XI. You have the Hyuran (Hume in FFXI), Miqo'te (Mithra), Lalafell (Tarutaru), Elezen (Elvaan) and Roegadyn (Galka), and as you'd expect, you can fully customize the look your character no matter what race he or she's a member of. Hyuran are further divided into "midlanders" and "highlanders," and Miqo'te are divided into the diurnal Sunseekers and the nocturnal Moonkeepers, though how this affects gameplay is still under wraps.

Ring: Five races exactly like FFXI, of course. Seriously, are we really supposed to believe that this isn’t FFXI-2? They are just giving us features that we have wanted in FFXI for a long time. They probably decided that it was just easier to reboot the whole thing than rework the entirety of FFXI. And why do people care about Manthras anyway? Seriously, who wants Mithras with dicks?

1UP: FFXIV's "armory system" is what defines your character's growth. The game has four broadly defined "job skills" -- Fighter, Sorcerer, Gatherer and Crafter -- each of which has a variety of more specific classes (Swordsman, Blacksmith, Caster, etc) attached to it. You can change your class instantly simply by changing your weapon and armor, and as you fight and complete quests with that equipment, your character will advance in that class. You're free to concentrate entirely on one class, or try to balance yourself out among all the job skills.

Ring: Ok, so the new job system that “isn’t a job system”. Sure, whatever. This job system may not be like the FFXI one, but it’s not that new or innovative or anything. Many other games use a branching leveling system. Yes, right, I forgot… FFXIV has no levels! Ok, the character has no “levels” but their skills have levels, and you will have to build up some kind of points to increase these levels. Calling a spade a heart doesn’t make it any less a spade. Not saying that a job system is bad or anything, I love the new idea; I just wish the marketing packaging of this whole thing was a little more honest.

1UP: This armory system isn't exactly like the "job" concept that most Final Fantasy games work under. "The way I see it, the player can define how his own job works," says Komoto. "For example, if you have the Swordsman skill, that's enough to let you play by yourself, but if you've also raised your Sorcerer skill enough to unlock that skill's healing magic, that'll make solo play a lot easier for you. You can carry enough equipment around at any given time to change your style freely, and the system makes this easy by letting you change sets of equipment all at once."

Ring: Sounds like the subjob system, but what matters is if you can do this really on-the-fly. Does that mean you kill a mob, then change gear to heal yourself, then change gear again to fight the next mob, or does it mean you are fighting the mob, take some damage, change gear to heal yourself while you are fighting the same mob then swap back to kill the mob? Are we going to still fucking lose target? This all sounds nice for the casual player, but I am much more interested in how specialization is going to work. Where is the hardcore player, end-game info?

1UP: This skill and class system largely replaces the traditional RPG concepts of levels and experience points in FFXIV. Instead of worrying about EXP, "I think the main thrust will be raising the skills you have at hand," as Komoto puts it. You'll probably still have to engage in good old-fashioned MMORPG grinding to improve your character, though.

Ring: If by “replaces”, you really mean “renames”. It’s going to be easier to level and level a variety of different jobs without much downtime, but grinding is still there, and from things I have read else where they are going with a durability system instead of an XP loss system as death punishment. Changing the name of something does not make it “new”.

1UP: FFXIV's quest system involves visiting Eorzea's guild and receiving work passes from the guildmaster. Other players can cooperate with you, and everyone can put their passes together to involve the entire gang in a sort of mini-campaign. The available passes change at regular intervals, and completing a single quest from one of these passes will be a relatively short process -- Komoto estimates it at around half an hour or so. "You don't need a set number of people for each quest," he said. "That you can work out by yourself with the other players in the guild, since they're all there for the same goal."

Ring: Content you can enjoy because SE didn’t make it! This is like a combo FoV and MMM combo. Sounds like they are totally abandoning the party system, which is good and bad. The party system created a minimum level of interpersonal decency in FFXI, which is not replicated in many places where solo play is emphasized (*coughWoWcough*). Though this system doesn’t sound like a bad idea, I just wish that there was some self-correcting anti-douche mechanism like the party system in FFXI. And I want to know how end-game is going to look…
And there you have it, my coverage of 1UP’s coverage. You might see a few consistencies in my comments. And some more pictures to prove my point. These are a few of the "new" cities in FFXIV.

Jeuno?


La Thiene Plateau?


Konschtat Highlands?


Pashhow Marshlands?


Sarutabaruta?


Here is a bonus shot of a Sorcerer in a city. This at least looks interesting. More "high-fantasy" themed as they have said.

And finally a picture of a page with several different cities on them. Click on the picture for the full size version. You might see a little familiarity there too. Castle city? Forest city? Bastok, San d'Oria and Windurst all have themes like this.

2 comments:

Treubond said...

I'm sorry, I totally disagree with you...

Your Pashhow Marshlands looks more like Lufaise Meadows. :P

Ringthree said...

LOL It is kind of dark though so it is hard to see.