It is no question that the launch Final Fantasy XIV was a nothing short of a failure for Square-Enix. Reviews of the game were lackluster at best, scathing at the worst, commenting on the game’s long list of flaws and incompleteness. Square has apologized for the game, even saying that the brand was “greatly damaged” by its release.
Even under all of this scrutiny however, Square is attempting to pull the game out of the grave with a new update, which is essentially their shot at a “re-do” for the MMO. The 2.0 update is under the direction of Naoki Yoshida, and he talked with the Official PlayStation Blog about the update along with the PS3 version of the game. Emphasized by Yoshida early on was the sheer magnitude and size of the version 2.0 update.
“We believe that Final Fantasy XIV 2.0 can be considered the next real Final Fantasy game in the series.”
The re-launch of Final Fantasy XIV is clearly a great step in the eyes of Square, and they are aiming to make the game more approachable for both their core Final Fantasy audience, along with the ever-growing MMO-addicts of the world. The addition of the PS3 version of the game should greatly help the former, considering how many people were willing to play Final Fantasy XI on an Xbox 360 and even PlayStation 2, like I did years ago.
Yoshida said that one of their first goals is to mold the game into more of a traditional Final Fantasy experience. He wants all of the classic staples of the series such as Chocobos, Moogles and summons to play an active role within the game, and appropriately fit them within the game’s already existing story and scope.
The PlayStation 3 version is being treated with great care, as they are trying to make a full MMO playable on a gamepad. Yoshida says that they want to appeal to the console audience by making the game accessible at any level. If someone wants to play it like a traditional Final Fantasy game, then they can.
“We’ll also be adding in-game tutorials and quests that will help players that might not be comfortable with MMOs, and when they play the game, they will feel like they’re playing a console game that just happens to be online.”
As a former Final Fantasy XI player, the reliance the game had on partying up played a large part in its eventual demise. It used a system where the experience for fighting was negligible until you were fighting overleveled monsters (“Very Tough” or “Incredibly Tough”), and gaining over 300xp per battle. Soloing was either too difficult or not worth the effort for the overwhelming majority of classes, and was still incredibly time consuming for classes that could handle it like the Beastmaster. Yoshida addressed this issue, saying that the next version of XIV will have a more refined battle system, creating a balance for soloing and partying.
He also mentioned that cutting down on the time of partying up with others is important for retaining a player base, because many players don’t have the time to sit around for hours just to get into the action. A new Content Finder tool will be implemented that will match you up with players looking to accomplish similar objectives. A similar system was used in Final Fantasy XI, but it only split into categories such as Missions, Quests, and Experience, and didn’t get into specifics. It is assumed that the new Content Finder will apply to more specific situations, and will work better than the former Auto Party system.
The final announcement in the interview confirms that there will be a public beta for version 2.0, presumably for both PlayStation 3 and PC. This will be an important test for fans of Final Fantasy, MMOs, or even just XIV to see if Square took the right steps to turn around one of their biggest blunders since The Spirits Within. Final Fantasy XIV is currently available to play for PC, if you really need to know what it is like before 2.0.