Six reasons I’m excited for Final Fantasy 14 (FFXIV)

I got my PS3 for one main reason: Final Fantasy 14. The funny thing is, when I’ve told people about this, a lot of them think I’m crazy. On friend even asked me if I hated myself that much. Considering the reputation FFXI earned, I’m guess I’m not surprised people would be skeptical. Yet, at the same time, when I consider everything 14 promises to be, I’m a little baffled.

FFXIV is a whole different beast than XI. A lot of what makes people skeptical from the first game is gone and almost all of what made the game great, and more, is being put in. XIV is up with the times and looks to push us even further into the future.

We spend a lot of time focusing on what games do wrong or could do better around here. Today, I thought it’d be nice to look at what has me excited for this game. It doesn’t get a lot of press (not helped by their glacial pace of releasing news in the US), but here are some things you may not have heard about that I think are pretty cool.

1. It’s designed for the times

Final Fantasy XI was designed with Everquest in mind. That’s not the case with FFXIV. Since the game has been in the works, numerous releases have come out to show not only Square Enix, but the whole industry, that there’s a whole market of casual players out there. Not only would it be crazy to ignore these players, they’ve said numerous times that the game will have many options for those of us who don’t or can’t group. We’ve moved past Everquest design, so we don’t need to be afraid of the antiquated in FFXIV.

2. No Classes/No Levels

Just like FFXI, players aren’t going to be tied down to a single class. Instead, your “job” will be based on what weapon you choose to use. Want to be a tank? Wear your greatsword. A blue mage? Grab your staff. Along with this, they’ve done away with the experience system. We don’t know exactly what’s going to replace it but it’s safe to say it’ll be based on a skill system.

I’m a big fan of this, first, because open classes are are dynamic and give depth your game and character, and, second, because it’s another move towards making it casual friendly. It will be that much easier to find a group, compared to other MMOs, when you’d like to do a dungeon or raid.

3. Player driven economy

All items can degrade. Even the best piece of dungeon gear will need repairs or else, eventually, it will fall apart. That’s where your fellow player comes in: repairing, and yes, making excellent gear. Square has said that they plan to give certain NPCs repair abilities, in case a player isn’t around, so you’re not disadvantaged. Actually, like EQ2, crafting and gathering are their own distinct jobs in FFXIV, so if you don’t want to be a fighter, you don’t have to.

I like it when game companies give players options. Not having to fight to be successful is a good one. Fallen Earth has also shown me that making crafting a distinct path all its own can result in a lot of fun. This type of set up helps create a good community too, since a jerk might just find themselves blacklisted if they make themselves known.

Moveable interface

Moveable interface

4. Seamless, persistent, and beautiful, world

The game is being designed with an “open” philosophy. Loading screens will only occur when changing between major regions (think Kalimdor to Eastern Kingdoms), with everything else being seamless.

Not to mention, this will be the first MMO to be capable of HD output. At release, the game will have the ability to output at 720p. If you’ve seen any of the visuals, you’ll know that this game already looked great. HD will only make it better.

5. Global servers

Call me crazy, but I like the idea that we won’t have to be separated by continent anymore. Players from all around the world will be connecting to the same servers, allowing us to come together in ways rarely seen in AAA releases. The game is coming packaged with an auto-translator (of which, I’m still skeptical), so we can all communicate.

I’m excited about this change because it exemplifies what it means to be a global community. I’m worried about bigotry, but I’m keeping faith in we as a community. There are bad apples in any bunch but this is the type of move that will help level the horizon from East to West and let us see each other for what we are.

6. It’s the first, and biggest, current-gen console MMO

With the bevy of MMOs being developed, FFXIV being the first big one to make an attempt at consoles makes it an important game. Not only does it open the MMO door to a whole new generation of gamers, it can also set the precedent for future games to appear on home consoles. In my opinion, having this game release on consoles is only a good thing.

Plus, I can play it from my couch. Wireless keyboard and lap desk? You better believe it.

This is all really just the tip of the iceberg. In all actuality, we know very little about the game. The above generally comes from translated magazines from the excellent teams at FFXIVcore and Eorzeapedia. If any of this intrigues you, I encourage you to check out either of those sites and join in the community. Square is the sleeping giant of MMO design and they’re giving us just enough to keep us salivating until the game’s 2010 release.

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