Well played, Naoki Yoshida. Well played.
Metacommentary aside, we've actually gotten some useful bits, chiefly in the form of a fully translated Letter from the Producer LIVE and an update on what's happening with items and money when the relaunch happens. There's a lot of information to hit there, so I'm just going to take it piece by piece and cover what I see as the highlights. I wouldn't say that this information really fixes some of the communication concerns I've had, but it certainly mollifies me for the moment.
All right, good. This is good.
I'm fond of several of the ideas at work here, especially the fact that the game is going with both an instanced and shared form of housing in neighborhoods. While we'll have to see the actual implementation, the new plan avoids the problem of having ghost houses out in the open while still giving players the feel of being part of a larger community. I look forward to getting myself a nice little plot of land; in fact, the wording seems to imply that you can buy multiple plots, which would sweeten the deal significantly.
Cost may be an issue, but I suspect that it will be affordable for most players now, especially since the game will likely price lots within reach of newer players. The introductory ones, anyway. We may wind up with veterans building large clusters of mansions around small newbie homes.
The biggest thing we haven't yet seen is a point to housing. For me personally, that's not an issue; having a virtual dollhouse is reward enough. But the best housing systems give you both the option to build a house and rewards for doing so. Final Fantasy XI certainly did, albeit in a rather limited fashion, and I'm hoping that Final Fantasy XIV follows suit.
Changes to dated items
On the one hand, making these old items unique and untradable is the right move; these pieces of gear will become cosmetic little souvenirs. But removing the "recommended" part of equipment? Significantly less cool. These items are already useless for much beyond RP costuming; making them less able to perform their sole remaining function is not a good idea. Considering the existing penalties for equipping something outside of recommendations, I'd say it's not like leaving in the option is game-breaking in any fashion.
What we've heard so far about these changes is good, but we don't know much. We've essentially been told once again that both Hand and Land classes are getting their own resources, crafting is being streamlined to be more accessible, and gatherers will have more control... but we're long on ideas and short on hard examples.
To be fair, we've also seen more of these processes in action now, and the inclusion of a place to store all our recipes is massively welcome. I'm going to assume that it operates along the same lines as the present system, so looking up recipes in the first place will be a bit of a bear, but being able to recall these things at the drop of a hat is more than welcome.
There are holes in what we've been told. Obviously, crafters will be involved in housing, but which crafts? Woodworking is obvious, and Goldsmithing seems likely, but beyond that it becomes increasingly questionable. And the roles of these crafts in the future is worth explaining -- will Alchemy still be a useful middleman with a dearth of unique recipes for its own consumption? How many Cooking recipes will we be looking at? You get the idea.
When it comes to the gathering changes, it's a bit more ambiguous. I'm fond of gathering now, but I can see how some of the additions would be very useful. I do hope that the current flow of harvesting isn't too badly disrupted by the changes. Making the process more involved is definitely worthwhile, however.
And you can't start as a non-combat class any longer. That's a bit disappointing, since I've long touted that as one of the features of the game to recommend it over others. There's that "attracting people not currently playing" bit again...
This is pretty universally worthwhile. It's a minor change that will be largely transparent, and quite frankly values for money right now are absurd even when you take into account that the game doesn't feature decimal currency. It kind of stings to be dropping to a tenth of my current wealth, but the long-term benefits are worthwhile.
One thing on this answer really stood out to me: Yoshida's statement that guildleves won't change much. This isn't really in line with other things that he's said, up to and including statements that leves will be familiar but obtained and used in a different fashion.
The problem here is that people either tolerate leves or actively dislike them. Making it clear that they aren't changing much gives me a sneaking suspicion that the total quantity of quests will get you through two, maybe three classes. For all those times when you don't have content to consume? Hope you like leves -- the ones that quests were supposed to be replacing.
That's all speculation. But I do feel a small twitch in one of my eyes at the thought.
As always, feedback is welcome in the comments below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, wasn't there a Final Fantasy XI expansion coming out? Did we hear about that? Whatever happened to it?
From Eorzea to Vana'diel, there is a constant: the moogles. And for analysis and opinions about the online portions of the Final Fantasy series, there is also a constant: The Mog Log. Longtime series fan Eliot Lefebvre serves up a new installment of the log every Saturday, covering almost anything related to Square-Enix's vibrant online worlds.