Final Fantasy XIV press event in San Francisco didn't just mean a chance to sit down and play the game amidst a lushly decorated room, although that was certainly on the agenda. It also meant a chance to ask director and producer Naoki Yoshida some questions about the game going forward and the plans for development down the line, diving beyond what we see and into more fine details about the game's mechanics.
While players will have access to a sizable chunk of the revamped game when the beta goes live on February 25th, there's still a lot that's hidden behind a veil of secrecy. Yoshida's answers help illuminate more details about what's going on in Final Fantasy XIV that might not be playable right now but will be in the near future. And even beyond the foundation that's visible from the beta, the promise of more expansion only adds to the game's overall quality.
Some of we've learned, of course, is merely a matter of filling in details that players might have expected anyway. Vanity pets are in the game already, for example, and the development team is planning on making a surfeit of them in the game available through a variety of methods. The game will also feature a more streamlined title display on a character's nameplate, as compared to the first version, which showed titles only when you were inspected.
Somewhat less expected is the game's inclusion of a reputation system akin to Final Fantasy XI's. Performing quests for a given region improves your reputation and gives you access to new quests, which seems baffling considering the sheer number of quests available even to a new character. No need to worry about the various NPC checks from FFXIV's predecessor, though, as your reputation will be viewable directly from your user interface.
Legacy players will still have to build their reputations from the ground up, of course, but they'll be starting at a slightly different point compared to new players. Yoshida impishly hinted that the full cinematic trailer offers a clue as to what Legacy characters will experience. He also told me that Legacy characters will have their home nations determined by their Grand Company affiliations, but this can be changed during the course of the main scenario (going into further details would be spoiling the plot).
Of course, unless you're starting as a Legacy player with everything at maximum level, you're going to run into the problem of having several classes to level and potentially not enough quests to see them through. That's not to say that the game doesn't already have many forms of content for leveling characters, but the development team is looking into making things even easier via a system allowing you to split your experience gains using the Armoury system. The last thing the developers want is for players to be forced into the same content every time they're leveling a new class.
Not every new system is up for discussion. When asked about Materia, Yoshida confirmed that it will be implemented for testing in phase 3 and will be very different from the previous system, but he would not comment further. Jobs are also coming in the future, although they will retain much of their prior functionality.
Fishing, however, will not be retaining its previous functionality. I asked Yoshida whether fishing will have more tradeskills using its harvested items in the revamp, and he replied that the team actually went in the opposite direction by making fishing focus on the experience of fishing. If you like to fish, you can enjoy it as a hobby with its own merits rather than simply feeling it's necessary for a crafting class.
Unfortunately, this does mean that we can give up on the idea of fist weapons made from live sharks.
Of course, the in-game gathering log will provide players with a wealth of information about where to get what they need from the two gathering professions that still focus around crafting classes. Some items will be obtained through other means. And then there's the Lodestone site and the game's upcoming mobile app...
What, you didn't know about the mobile app? Nobody did, so that's understandable. At launch, it'll serve as a database more than anything, but there's the possibility of additional features in the future, including some paid features such as access to auctions and the like. It will also be available for both Apple and Android devices, good news for anyone accustomed to being the also-ran in the mobile device market.
Chocobos are also receiving improved functionality, serving as player companions whenever you need a second person to complete some difficult task. Your personal chocobo takes on a role similar to the companions of Star Wars: The Old Republic -- you can customize the bird's role as well as a basic AI script based off of the Final Fantasy XII Gambit system. Chocobos also take up a party slot, so you could conceivably try to take on a four-person dungeon with two players and two chocobos.
Some of the chocobo's abilities will be influenced by your choice of chocobo costume, which will be available in several styles right from launch (about 15 to start with). There are also plans for a chocobo vs. chocobo system, so you can pit your stalwart companion and mount against those of another player.
Not that bird fights are all that the revamp will have in terms of PvP. As it stands now, there will be two types of PvP areas. The first is the Coliseum, a structure built by all three Grand Companies to serve as a training ground for their soldiers. Players will join teams and be matched against similarly skilled teams in a classic arena format. The other option is zones designated as free PvP areas, warzones that carry increased risk for players and will make that clear when you're entering them.
Hoping for more open-world stuff? You'll be slightly disappointed. Yoshida and the other developers don't feel that open-world ganking fits the feel of FFXIV, so there will not be free-for-all rules in general.
Needless to say, there will be special armor awarded to players skilled at PvP. But if that's not your thing, you can also earn yourself rewards through the FATE system, including company seals from most events and special rewards from endgame events. Some of these special rewards could include new mounts for players to enjoy.
Once you've gotten all of these rewards, you'll probably want to put some of them in your house, but you will need to wait a little. Housing will be tested during the beta, but it's on the schedule to be implemented about three months after the launch. Part of that is simply a matter of figuring out the right price and giving players a chance to save up the money necessary to buy property; having a house is not an automatic thing.
It's not meant to be ruinous, either. Initial offerings will be expensive, but one of the ideas the developers are toying with is having higher prices for first-run buyers, with the cost of property starting high and shrinking with every 12-hour interval. So if there's a piece of land you must have, you'll pay dearly for it... but if you're less picky, there's more opportunity to snag something on the cheap.
We also briefly discussed the Arcanist, the newest class being added to the game in the revamp. Arcanists will fulfill the role that Yoshida felt was most sorely missed from the original version: a buff and debuffing role with added crowd control. As the class also makes use of summoned pets, some elements of the role will change based on which pet is active. Veteran players needn't worry, however, as the designers are trying to ensure that every class needs to be raised to only about 30 for you to have all the important abilities for cross-class skills.
There's a lot to explore even in the game's current beta build, but the fact that there's still more on the near horizon should keep players excited. The original launch left a bad taste in players' mouths by promising more to come and not delivering, but the new game seems to promise more and then deliver even more than expected.
Be sure to check out our other coverage from this event!
Final Fantasy XIV's Yoshida on PvP, chocobos, and mobile apps
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