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*EXPECTED RELEASE DATE (updated 11/11/12): Q1 2013-- All regions Alpha around Nov. 26; Beta in Jan*
It seems that from a lot of the posts here that there is some confusion regarding what exactly has changed from XIV 1.0 to 2.0 (ARR), and what makes it worth actually playing. I’m going to make an attempt to summarize these changes, and explain why I think ARR will be a title you won’t want to overlook. In short, there’s a reason this game is currently hyping at close to an 8, despite the tragedy that was its first iteration; ARR is essentially a brand new game based on the original XIV.
This post is aimed primarily at those not familiar with XIV/ARR, and the items below will be outlined very broadly so as to prevent the initiated from getting mired in the details. To those XIV veterans out there, feel free to point out anything major I may have forgotten, and I will include it in my post.
This is meant to be a discussion thread of what ARR promises so I won’t acknowledge those who are trying to derail it with negativity. Fair warning.
Major changes:- New maps for close to the entire XIV world (Eorzea), with the exception of main cities. (At launch)
- An entirely new graphics engine, optimized to run on a range of differently spec’d PCs. Includes new animations, countless virtual assets, etc. (At launch)
- Entirely new server infrastructure designed to support massive open-world content (similar to Guild Wars 2). Zones will now be indepedent, meaning there will be zoning points between areas (improved latency). This is similar to FFXI, GW2, and lots of other MMOs. (At launch)
- Regional data centres tied to specific servers (in order to reduce latency, although a player is able to play on whatever server he or she wishes). (At launch)
- A new game client. (At launch)
- PS3 release— PC and PS3 players will be able to play together on the same servers. (At launch)
- Two new extremely well designed UIs, one for a mouse/keyboard setup and the other for controller users. (At launch)
- An entirely overhauled system of character creation, which includes much greater options and both sexes for all races. (At launch)
- New race(s). (TBD— if the player poll is used as a basis for developing the next race, expect a viera type race first)
- New classes/jobs (so far Arcanist/Summoner is the only one confirmed for launch, but there is a strong indication that we will see one more at that time)
- The Free Company system. Think of these as Linkshells (FF equivalent of guilds) taken to the next level. The details are scarce at this point, but things such as company bases, company summons, and other large, cool stuff of that nature has been hinted at. (At launch)
- Mailing system (welcome back, mognet!) (At launch)
- Chocobo raising/companion system (your Chocobo can be called to fight in battle with you!). (At launch of shortly thereafter)
- New mounts (including awesome things such as drakes, magitek armour). (TBD)
- Instanced housing (with the ability to furnish, decorate, renovate, garden, and do a whole host of other domestically related activities, lol). (At launch or shortly thereafter)
- New summons (including Titan and Odin!). (At launch)
- New quests/quest based level progression. (At launch)
- Rebalanced/new class abilities and traits. (At launch)
- Redesigned combat (including an awesome ass looking Limit Break system). (At launch)
- New notorious monsters (rare enemies; small and large varieties) and new enemies/monsters. (At launch)
- CROSS-SERVER dungeon/content finder (Automatically matches you up with those that are seeking the same content). (At launch)
- PVP (this will be contained to two main areas; one for small-medium scale encounters and other for much larger, objective based encounters). (At launch)
- New dungeons and raids, including the Crystal Tower mega-dungeon (Nyzul Isle 2.0, anyone?) (At launch)
- New story. (At launch)
- Even further improved crafting/gathering system(s) (I’ve played a lot of MMOs; XIV has my all-time favourite crafting system even as it stands) (At launch)
- DX11 support. (shortly after launch)
- All of the changes being carried over from the final version of 1.0 (including changes the market wards, removal of surplus experience points, the job system, the materia system, overall game balance to name but a FEW). Like, a year's worth of solid updates. (At launch)
- Not so much a “change”, but… everyone who bought XIV 1.0 will be able to download ARR free of charge, and enjoy a free trial period as well (length of the trial is TDB)
- Last but certainly not least, INCREDIBLE NEW MUSIC. I heard some of it leaked footage from the Alpha test… and wow. (At launch)
*For the items listed as being implemented “shortly after launch”, I think it’s fair to expect these 4-6 months after full release.--
Why you should check out ARR (these are opinion based):
- After failing hard with XIV 1.0, SE is determined to make ARR a great game and restore the reputation of the FF brand. No expense has been spared in making ARR; a considerable amount of time, money, and human capital have all gone in to making sure this game is a success. We’re talking about 1.5-2 years worth of development time… with a team of 300+ people, including SE’s top talent. The bottom line is that even if this game never sees a large player base, SE has to make sure it’s a great game so they can say it is up to par with the standard for the series. They simply cannot allow it to crash and burn.
- Related to this last point… the production value. Everything we’ve seen of ARR now screams high quality. The engine, the graphics, the music… and a determination from the game’s developers to ensure that the end product is top tier.
- The new team. After 1.0 tanked, SE cleaned house and brought in new, youthful vision for the game. The new director, Yoshi-P, has demonstrated an understanding of what MMO players want, and has taken great strides to dramatically improve communication between SE and their fans. Nothing but positive things to say about the man who will likely die an early death as a result trying to revive a fallen title. I read an interesting post not too long ago that discussed how XIV and the 1.0 story is an allegory for SE and the state of the FF franchise… in short, Yoshi-P may in time come to be known as the man who saved Final Fantasy. But I’m getting ahead of myself. ?
- The game itself has already drastically improved. Yes, it took 2 years, but XIV 1.0 as it stands is a fairly solid and enjoyable game (especially considering the turd it was polished out of). Moreover, this was done essentially with a relatively small crew of staff: the vast majority of resources allocated to this project were focused on development of ARR, not improving version 1.0 And so if this level of improvement was achieved with a fraction of the total staff, just imagine what an undivided team will deliver under the game’s present direction.
- While FFXI, XIV’s spiritual predecessor, was heavily based on EverQuest’s systems and approaches (XI was by no means a unique, delicate flower, sorry), XIV is shaping up to be largely based on WoW’s design mentality. Is this a bad thing? No, not at all. WoW was (is?) a great game in its own right, with a breath of content that catered to players of all skill levels and time commitments. By emulating and modernizing these systems, SE is aiming to deliver them in a way that’s superior to any other title. And if XI is any indication, this company has the capability to improve upon systems borrowed from other games while at the same time instilling them with a unique flavour. Early alpha footage shows us that XIV has managed to maintain its individuality even with these changes— it still feels like XIV… actually, that’s not entirely true. The overall “feel” (aesthetic, pace, environments) reminded me of XIV married with XII.
- More gameplay options to allow for a larger and broader playerbase. Not everyone who plays an MMO is a disgruntled neckbeard with countless hours on their hands to farm for items with miniscule drop rates, so this time around SE is a designing a game that has many casual/solo play options. SE has already proven that they can deliver on this very effectively with Dragon Quest X (a game more of you have probably never played, but feel free to check reviews). But don’t fret hardcores! At the end of the day this is SE we’re talking about, so expect to see time consuming (and sadistic) content also. As for challenge itself, 1.0 had a LOT of very challenging (and fun!) fights for the player base… so you can 100% expect more of the same in 2.0.
- It’s a Final Fantasy game. That means you get to enjoy all of the canonical elements throughout the FF franchise with a new distinction— everything from jobs (the classics), to races (mostly the same as XI), to enemies, to bosses, to locations, to dungeons, to characters, to systems (such as materia, which is already implemented, and limit breaks). This is a series that has come to define countless RPG staples and ideas, and you have the potential to experience them from the people who deliver them the best. Leaders come to be leaders for a reason.
- The game is subscription based (9.99/month for 1 character slot; 12.99 USD/month for 8 character slots). Some people may see this as a negative, but I see it as a positive for 3 main reasons: (1) it means that by paying this fee, you have access to all content the same as anyone else (rather than F2P/P2W/nickel-and-dime bullshit content); (2) it promotes a cohesive community (players are less transient and more likely to stay for longer periods of time, given their investment— just look at XI); and (3) it tends to eliminate some of the more toxic behaviours (reputation matters!) and negative players/children who dominate some F2P online titles.
- The game should have an open beta. If that’s the case, then you have no reason not to try it out. Then you can decide for yourself if it’s what you want.
I’m not trying to say that ARR is the second coming, but what I’m getting at is that overall I believe the game will be a really solid and enjoyable title for years to come. The fact that MMORPG.com deleted the old FFXIV game from its game list proves how substantially improved ARR looks, and the potential it clearly holds. Beyond that, all evidence points to the fact that it’s one of the most promising AAA fantasy MMORPG titles coming out over the next while, so there really isn’t a good reason to ignore it.
Thanks for reading and feel free to ask any questions (I’ll try my best to answer).
Hope to see you in Eorzea!
Bonus material for those who may want to see a little more of ARR:
ARR CGI trailer: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oYMrFXcqvk4
ARR gameplayer/limit break trailer (the music here gives me goosebumps, so epic): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bxJt3UOBhU8
ARR character creation (alpha version): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oR7ZfIyuHp0
Short alpha gameplay from one of the starting cities, Gridania. Although this is only alpha, I still think it looks pretty damn good: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AQb_t5zkfoY&list=UUpx2BZg8ABgaDV50sGJtWAg&feature=plcp
*MUST WATCH* The end of FFXIV 1.0:
[Explanation: *Don't read until you've watched*
in XIV 1.0 theres an empire, which is a nation of anti-deity fanatics, and this one crazy general who leads them. he summons to earth this meteor to kill the deity worshiping nations who oppose the empire (everyone else, basically). at the end of 1.0 you kill the general but it's too late, the meteor is still coming. this gandalf like guy named louisoux (a recurring character) tells you that your only hope of stopping it is to pray to the 12 gods (deities) in hopes they will save you. so everyone did for like 1 month leading up to the end, and there were quests/events focused around that.
in the video: there was this final confrontation between the good guys and empire before the meteor hit. a last stand of sorts. right before the meteor hits, turns out it was a prison for bahamut who then proceeds to nuke everything basically. gandalf guy tries to summon the 12 gods (the blue symbols) and reseal bahamut using the accumulated power of prayer, but this fails. using the last bit of prayer power he transports those good guys on the battlefield to safety/or to 5 years in the future (gandalf guy is closely aligned with the deity of time and space). the world is basically left in ruins with survivors in the cities, but a lot of people died. as for what happens next... well, we'll see! ~FIN~]