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The breakdown of Final Fantasy XI's VanaFest 2010 announcements

Eliot Lefebvre

After a month of heavy anticipation from the fans, VanaFest 2010 finally has come and given us all the information that we could want about where the game is heading from here. And the show did stay focused upon Final Fantasy XI -- the only mention of Final Fantasy XIV was the announcement that its first wave of beta testing will start on March 11th with a limited number of participants. That left quite a bit of show left to detail all of the changes coming to the game.

And there was certainly a lot of news to be shared. An increase in level cap, new add-on zones, job reviews, conclusions to existing content, server merges, new seasonal gear -- there was no shortage of surprising announcements. Continue on past the cut for the short version of what came out during the show and what players can expect.

The announcement that probably first jumped out at several players was that the level cap, at long last, is being boosted up to 99. Starting in June's scheduled update, we're going to see a slow march up by twenty-four levels, something players have been awaiting for quite a while. Since the entire game is still focused around 75, one of the major components of the level increase will be the introduction of Abyssea, a high-level zone designed to address the problems several players have long noted regarding the leveling process. There's an official site for the add-on zones, but it's currently devoid of information.

Wings of the Goddess is also steadily marching toward its conclusion, with the March update being the first half of the ending arc and the conclusion due in September. There are also promises of expansion to the Campaign battles and the individual nation quests at the same time. If that's not providing enough for your high-level character to do, there's the Trial of the Magians quest line, opening up the opportunity to put enhancements on weapons and armor. We don't have many details on this yet, although it seems like a more controlled implementation of the bonuses than that put into place via Fields of Valor.

Oh, yes, and Summoners are getting Odin and Alexander as summons. This is another long-awaited change, although there's no clear picture just yet of how useful they'll be as summon spells. Puppetmasters are also getting a sizable boost to their hand-to-hand combat skills to improve their viability as fighters on their own.

Lastly, the dreaded announcement of server merges. It's not overwhelming, despite what many have suspected -- the list of servers being merged only covers 16 servers being merged down to 8, and considering the game's age and population base that's hardly a surprising change. Since the game needs a high population to reach critical mass, it's probably for the best overall.

All of the information, as well as an excellent timeline, can be found on the VanaFest 2010 website. It promises to be an interesting future for Final Fantasy XI even as we ramp up to Final Fantasy XIV, so take a look to see if there are any new details that speak to you specifically. And stay tuned for next Saturday's installment of The Mog Log, as you can bet we'll have things to say about all this.

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