E3 2013: Final Fantasy XIV's A Realm Reborn returns the game to its roots

E3 2013 Final Fantasy XIV's A Realm Reborn returns the game to its roots
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn stays true to its name and its lineage: What was originally a failed title, at least according to some players, will soon be revamped into an MMO that harkens back to its hardcore Final Fantasy roots. At this year's E3, Massively nabbed a hands-on experience of the game's reboot in the Square-Enix booth, and as the owner of those very hands, I can say it was a thrilling experience.

My demo allowed me to choose between DPS, tank, and healer units. I myself am a lumbering tank in real life, so it felt natural to refill my virtual shoes in an epic battle against Ifrit. Action was quick, incredibly responsive, and a treat. Unfortunately, Ifrit rose into the sky and torched us all, but that's not the end of the story.

The press were invited to listen to Producer Naoki Yoshida as he spilled umpteen cans of beans on what's new. His first order of business? Sorting out the PC vs. console wars. Since the game is cross-platform, you might think PC players have a control advantage over console gamers. Not so. "Players who are used to console-based RPGs can use the controller at the same level that someone on a PC game would with a mouse and keyboard," Yoshida-san said with the help of a translator. "What we think is revolutionary is what we call the cross hotbar. Keyboard and mouse players can perform actions with one click; we have now made it so that players can perform the same type of actions with the controller with just one button."

The FATE system was fully functional in my demo and incredibly interesting. For those not familiar, here's the skinny: FATEs are active world events in which characters can interact in random adventures. Perhaps a gigantic boss crushes through the ground and the adventurers nearby are thrown into another epic battle. "[FATES are] quests that will just happen, and players will have the opportunity to play them or not play them. The world has come alive, and the player can be a part of that world," Yoshida remarked. "Whether its helping out an NPC or defeating some type of enemy, you are rewarded automatically." Fast-travel isn't enabled amongst the FATE systems to eliminate the impression that the world is built from nothing but "teleport points."

E3 2013 Final Fantasy XIV's A Realm Reborn returns the game to its roots
Level syncing was active during my demonstration game; it's a huge feature for all players regardless of level. In fact, you can actually drop your character's level to compete with other lower-level players. You won't just be flicking a level 6 enemy across the map to oblivion without any effort; the level drop will ensure that lower-level content remains a rewarding challenge for all players. The experience and rewards for your true level are retained, however, so you won't be stuck with a measly one point of experience for your participation.

Another bit of good news? Limit breaks are seeing a return! "In order to activate a limit break, you need to be in a party of four," Yoshida told me. "Depending on the actual content, there will be limits to what kind of limit break you can undertake." A limited limit-break? Yep. "If you're in a party of four in the field, you're limited to a level one limit break," he explained. "For some instanced dungeons, maybe you'll have level two unlocked. It will depend on the content." You can even get hidden limit break bonuses by winning challenges (and beating the aforementioned Ifrit, provided he doesn't conjure a mass of hellfire to scorch your face). These hidden bonuses and boosts just keep the environment alive and engaging for everyone. As Yoshida said, "It's all about being able to play efficiently and find these hidden ways to fill up the gauge." It's difficult to coordinate use of limit breaks in battles, so if players are up against a behemoth enemy, communication is the key to timing out limit breaks and using them together to inflict maximum damage.

Yoshida-san also revealed that there's a new housing system releasing with the first large content patch. Instead of occupying housing "instances," players can actually purchase land and build upon it in "community-style" housing areas. Readers, if you're interested in purchasing land for a house early, heed this advice: Save as much Gil as you can.

Unfortunately, the Scholar job information won't be revealed until the last day of E3! Did thousands of voices suddenly cry out in terror? Stay tuned!

Massively's on the ground in Los Angeles during the week of June 10-13, bringing you all the best news from E3 2013. We're covering everything from WildStar and Elder Scrolls Online and ArcheAge to FFXIV's inbound revamp and TERA's latest update, so stay tuned!
This article was originally published on Massively.