Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
|Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn|
North American cover art featuring Gaius van Baelsar, a general of the Garlean Empire
|Developer(s)||Square Enix Product Development Division 3|
|Release date(s)||Microsoft Windows, PlayStation 3
August 27, 2013
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (Japanese: ファイナルファンタジーXIV: 新生エオルゼア Hepburn: Fainaru Fantajī Fōtīn: Shinsei Eoruzea , lit. Final Fantasy XIV: Reborn Eorzea) is an upcoming massively multiplayer online role-playing game for Microsoft Windows personal computer, Sony PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4. It is currently being developed by Square Enix's Product Development Division 3, with Naoki Yoshida as producer and director, and is scheduled to be released worldwide on August 27, 2013. The game will support Japanese, English, French, and German at its release.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn takes place in the fictional land of Eorzea, five years after the events of the original release. At the conclusion of Final Fantasy XIV, the primal dragon Bahamut escapes from its prison inside an artificial moon to initiate the Seventh Umbral Era, an apocalyptic event which destroys much of Eorzea. Through the gods' blessing, the player character escapes the devastation by time traveling five years into the future. As Eorzea recovers and rebuilds, the player must deal with the impending threat of invasion by the Garlean Empire from the north.
The original Final Fantasy XIV was released in September 2010 to widespread criticism. As a result of this negative reception, Square Enix President Yoichi Wada announced that a new team, led by Yoshida, would take over development of the title. This team was responsible for generating content for the original version as well as developing a brand new game which would address all of the previous release's criticisms. Initially dubbed "Version 2.0", Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn features a new engine, improved server structures, revamped gameplay and interface, and a new story. The alpha test concluded on December 27, 2012 and the third round of beta testing is currently underway.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is an MMORPG and features many of the trappings of the genre. Players create and customize their characters for use in the game, including name, race, gender, facial features, and starting class. Unlike in the original release, players may only choose a Discipline of War or Magic as a starting class—Disciplines of the Hand and Land are initially unavailable. Players must also select a game world for characters to exist on. While servers are not explicitly delineated by language, data centers have been placed in the supported regions (i.e., North America, Europe, Japan) to improve the communication latency between the server and the client computer and players are recommended to choose a server in their region. Regardless of server or language, the game features a large library of automatically translated game terms and general phrases which allow players who speak different languages to communicate.
The user interface and game controls are different between PC and PlayStation 3 versions. PC players have the option of using any combination of a keyboard, mouse, and controller to play, and the system is navigated via point and click widgets. PlayStation 3 players may use a controller by itself, or a controller and keyboard combination. Navigation on the PlayStation 3 version of Final Fantasy XIV is accomplished via an XrossMediaBar-like interface, called "Cross Hot Bar", due to PlayStation users' familiarity with the set-up. This bar is used to access all menus, maps, logs, and configuration options. The head-up display for both versions includes a message log, party status menu, mini-map, and action bar. The player may customize location of all of these elements.
The action bar and battle command input method differs slightly between the PC and PlayStation 3 version. The PC version supports both point and click and number pad selection of commands or macros from the action bar. Macro commands are customizable sequences of actions that allow players to execute complex maneuvers with precise timing. The Cross Hot Bar on the PlayStation 3 version instead maps the action bar and macros to shortcuts located in four horizontally arranged icon sets in the lower part of the screen. These are the grouped and accessed through a combination of the L2 and the R2 buttons and the directional pad or the face buttons. Using each shoulder button to cycle through the cross sets, players have quick access to commands. This interface is also available to PC gamers who play with gamepads.
Players are able to improve their characters by gaining experience points (EXP)—when a set number of experience points are accumulated, the player's character will "level up" and gain improved statistics which further enhance performance in battle. The four primary sources of experience points in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn are through completing quests, exploring instanced dungeons, participating in Full Active Time Events (FATE), and slaying monsters which exist in the game world. Quests, including the "main scenario" questline, are generally short, specific tasks given to the player by non-player characters which reward items and EXP. Completing main scenario quests progresses the overarching plot of the game. Levequests are a type of repeatable quest which may be undertaken using leve allowances. These allowances are limited but regenerate over time. Instanced dungeons are confined locations with specific objectives that must be achieved within a time limit. These dungeons require multiple players to form a party before entry is granted. Some dungeons are for lower-leveled players to gain EXP quickly while others are for experienced players to collect rare items and equipment. FATE is a new gameplay mechanic where a large number of players may participate in the same event, regardless of party status. These location-specific events include Hamlet Defense, where players cooperate to defend a small village from invading beastmen forces. Finally, slaying monsters in the world is still a viable source of EXP.
In addition these player versus environment (PvE) challenges, two forms of player versus player (PvP) combat are available in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. The first type is an arena featuring structured one vs. one and team vs. team battles and tournaments. The second type consists of designated areas in the world where PvP combat is allowed. These PvP features have not been revealed in full and will be implemented during phase 4 of the beta test.
Battles and party system
Players fight enemies using a combination of physical attacks, weapon skills, and magical attacks. To initiate combat, players must first "claim" the enemy by using an offensive action on it, though some monsters are aggressive and will attack any players that it detects. An enemy that is claimed by a player or party will bestow EXP and items to those players when defeated. Party play revolves around the concept of "enmity", which is an indication of how hostile an enemy is toward a particular player. Enmity is generated by performing offensive actions and lost using certain abilities. Each enemy will focus its attacks toward the player with the most enmity and management of enmity is important for successfully completing tougher encounters.
Parties in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn can support up to eight players. Certain content in the game requires parties of a specific size, including instanced dungeons and boss battles. The "Duty Finder" is a search feature that allows players to form parties for instanced content across different servers. Members of a party usually fall into classic MMORPG roles like tank, healer, support, and damage dealer. The tank must draw the enemy's attention away from other party members who generally have weaker defense by generating large amounts of enmity. Teamwork and strategy are required to defeat the strongest enemies. Under certain circumstances, parties may perform "Limit Breaks"—massive attacks that require all members to contribute.
Armoury and Job System
Under the Armoury System, a character's equipped weapon determines the character class and players may change their class at will by changing weapons. Classes are divided into four disciplines: Disciplines of War, masters of physical combat; Disciplines of Magic, practitioners of the magical arts; Disciplines of the Hand, crafters and handymen who synthesize and repair items; and Disciplines of the Land, gatherers who collect resources from the environment. Certain abilities learned under one class may be equipped and used by other classes. The Job System builds upon the Armoury System for Disciples of War and Magic. In exchange for restricting the range of equippable abilities from other classes, players gain access to powerful skills, magic, weapons, and armor exclusive to the Job corresponding to that class. These Jobs, based on classic Final Fantasy character jobs, are more suited to party-based combat.
|Armoury and Job System|
|Disciplines of War||Class||Job||Weapon||Description|
|Gladiator||Paladin||Sword||Gladiators (GLA) are melee combatants in the Coliseum who wield the classic sword and shield combination. Paladins (PLD) are holy knights of the Ul'dah sultanate who specialize in defense and have limited healing magic.|
|Pugilist||Monk||Hand-to-Hand||Pugilists (PUG) act as bodyguards, enforcers, and debt collectors for the Ul'dah merchant class using their physical strength and hand-to-hand combat skills. Monks (MNK) are masters of martial arts passed down from the fallen state of Ala Mhigo.|
|Marauder||Warrior||Great Axe||Marauders (MRD) are Lominsan pirates who rely on brute force to wield mighty battle axes. Warriors (WAR) call upon the spirit of the inner beast to unlock their true strength.|
|Lancer||Dragoon||Polearm||Lancers (LNC) form the corps of Gridania's Wood Wailers, a militia tasked with defending the city-state using their long spears. Dragoons (DRG) are the sworn enemies of the dragons who threaten Ishgard and call upon their legendary jumping ability to protect it.|
|Archer||Bard||Bow||Archers (ARC) represent the Gods' Quiver, a Gridanian police force which guards the forest from outside intrusion. Bards (BRD) are expert marksmen who have developed songs to invigorate their allies in battle.|
|Disciplines of Magic||Class||Job||Weapon||Description|
|Conjurer||White Mage||Wand||The conjurers (CNJ) of Gridania's Stillglade Fane are healers tasked with interpreting the will of the elementals. White Mages (WHM) are master conjurers with access to the most powerful healing and support spells.|
|Thaumaturge||Black Mage||Scepter||Thaumaturges (THM) follow the path of Thal, the god of the underworld, to weave destructive magics. Black Mages (BLM) sacrifice their souls to delve deeper into the forbidden arts, magnifying their magical power exponentially.|
|Arcanist||Summoner/Scholar||Book||Arcanists (ACN) call upon magical creature called Carbuncles, who serve as their pets. Summoners (SMN) are able to bind the essence of the mighty Primals and bend them to their will. Scholar (SCH) was officially announced as the 9th job during the Live Letter from the Producer VII on May 30th, 2013. Gameplay footage was released on June 13, 2013.|
|Disciplines of the Hand||Class||Tool||Secondary Tool||Description|
|Alchemist||Alembic||Mortar||Alchemists can create potions and curative ales from a range of ingredients.|
|Armorer||Raising Hammer||Pliers||Armorers treat and work the malleable metals into all forms of armor.|
|Blacksmith||Cross-pein Hammers||File||Blacksmiths can craft and create mighty weapons.|
|Carpenter||Handsaw||Claw Hammer||The foremost workers of wood, carpenters craft numerous wooden items including utensils and furniture.|
|Culinarian||Skillet||Culinary Knife||Culinarians are able to cook up meals that can boost performance of players.|
|Goldsmith||Chaser Hammer||Grinding Wheel||Goldsmithing is the practice of working precious metals and stones into a multitude of accessories.|
|Leatherworker||Headknife||Awl||Leatherworkers' skills encompass those of an armorer and clothier, creating colorful garments of quality.|
|Weaver||Needle||Spinning Wheel||From fiber to thread, thread to cloth, cloth to dress, a weaver tailors from basic beginnings to extravagant ends.|
|Disciplines of the Land||Class||Tool||Secondary Tool||Description|
|Botanist||Hatchet||Scythe||The botanist's profession encompasses the procurement of resources from all forms of plant life, including grains, vegetables, and lumber.|
|Fisher||Fishing Rod||TBA||Fishers are the harvesters of the realm's marine and freshwater animal resources. Lucky fishers may also acquire precious pearls.|
|Miner||Pickaxe||Sledgehammer||Miners excavate Eorzea's mineral wealth, be it ores, fossils, precious stones, or otherwise.|
The virtual economy of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is mostly player-driven. The exchange of items is facilitated by a system of Market Wards where players may set up a storefront. Players may peruse the items other players have put up for sale through their retainers, stationed in the wards. A small transaction fee for all sales serves as a gold sink to regulate the inflation of prices in the economy. Players in any class may contribute to the supply of the economy: Disciples of the Land acquire raw materials from gathering points throughout the game world; Disciples of the Hand craft the materials into useful items and equipment; and Disciples of War and Magic slay monsters for rare materials not available to Disciples of the Hand. Players are also able to contribute by creating materia from well-used equipment. Players may sacrifice equipment that has gained enough "Spiritbond" to generate a piece of materia, which can then be used to improve the statistics of other equipment.
The mechanics of crafting and gathering have changed between the original release and A Realm Reborn. Most of these changes are geared toward reducing the randomness and guesswork involved in these processes. For Disciples of the Hand, all recipes of the appropriate level are unlocked by default in the Crafting Log. Crafting abilities have been rebalanced to allow successful high-quality synthesis without requiring multiple mastered Disciplines of the Hand. For Disciples of the Land, players are allowed to select which item they would like to attempt to collect at a gathering point, whereas before, the results of gathering attempts were randomized. The Gathering Log also records the names and locations of items that have been successfully gathered in the past.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn takes place in the fictional world of Hydaelyn, specifically in a region called Eorzea. The four major city-states in Eorzea feature a wide variety of climates and biomes: the forest nation of Gridania is surrounded by a dense thicket called the Black Shroud; Ul'dah is a sultanate with a predilection for commerce situated in the Thanalan Desert; the thalassocracy of Limsa Lominsa finds its home on the island of Vylbrand; and Ishgard is a theocracy built in the snowy mountains of Coerthas. Eorzea is connected to a larger continent to the northeast which has largely been conquered by the Garlean Empire. Other political entities include the beastmen tribes who perennially assault the civilized nations; Sharlayan, a scholarly city to the northwest; and Ala Mhigo, a city-state which was occupied during the first Garlean invasion twenty years prior to the events of the game. The four nations formed the Eorzean Alliance to repel this invasion but Ishgard abruptly withdrew, leaving the remaining three allies in name only. This conflict also resulted in the desolation of Mor Dhona, a once-vibrant region in the center of the continent that is now a barren wasteland.
Eorzea's history revolves around a series of Umbral and Astral Eras. Umbral Eras are periods of great calamity—the First Umbral Era marked the end of the age of gods. The guardian deities of Eorzea, known as the Twelve, retreated from direct involvement with mortals during this time. Umbral Eras are followed by periods of enlightenment and cultural growth called Astral Eras. Each Umbral and Astral Era pair corresponds to one of the six basic elements, wind, lightning, fire, earth, ice, and water. The Sixth Umbral Era of Water was believed to be the last and the civilized races hoped the Sixth Astral Era would last forever. However, five years prior to the start of the game, the Garlean Empire catalyzed a series of events that would lead to the Seventh Umbral Era.
Through their research into Project Meteor, the Garleans discovered a way to call down the lesser moon Dalamud and use it as a weapon. The plan, spearheaded by the Imperial Legatus Nael van Darnus, was to crash Dalamud into Eorzea, annihilating the beastmen tribes and their primal deities and conquering the smoldering remains. In response to this threat, the three nations of the former Eorzean Alliance reformed their Grand Companies and reforged their pact. A band of adventurers defeated van Darnus but could not stop Dalamud's continued descent. During a major battle between the Grand Companies and the leaderless Garlean invasion force in Mor Dhona, Dalamud revealed itself to be an ancient man-made prison for the primal dragon Bahamut, who promptly escaped to initiate the Seventh Umbral Era. The Sharlayan scholar Louisoix attempted to recontain Bahamut using the Twelve's power but, failing that, sent a group of adventurers "beyond the reach of time" to reawaken when they were needed again.
Races and characters
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn features five humanoid races for players to choose from when creating a character. Each race has two stylistic variations and males and females of all clans are available, unlike in the original release.
- Hyur (ヒューラン Hyūran )
- A human-like race, the Hyur are divided into Midlanders and Highlanders. Midlanders place a heavy emphasis on education and are considered to be the most cultured people of the world. Highlanders are physically larger than their Midlander cousins. After the Garlean occupation of Ala Mhigo, Highlander refugees survive in other cities as mercenaries and adventurers.
- Elezen (エレゼン Erezen )
- An elf-like race, the Elezen are said to be the original inhabitants of Eorzea. An intense rivalry exists between the Wildwood and Duskwight clans. Wildwood Elezen live in the forest and their keen sense of sight contributed to the development of archery as a tool of war. Duskwight Elezen are a reclusive clan who dwell in caves and caverns, giving them a heightened sense of hearing.
- Lalafell (ララフェル Raraferu )
- Lalafell are diminutive humanoids with great agility and intelligence from the southern regions. Plainsfolk Lalafell are a crafty race which has earned them a reputation as both successful businessmen and thieves. Dunesfolk Lalafell are a nomadic people from the desert who built their dwellings on the backs of beasts of burden.
- Roegadyn (ルガディン Rugadin )
- Roegadyn are a physically large and muscular race from the northern seas. The Sea Wolves once led a maritime lifestyle as sailors, pirates, or fishermen. A rare offshoot clan, the Hellsguard, dwell in a volcanic region and are said to be masters of the magical arts. Female Roegadyn are a rare sight in Eorzea but their numbers are increasing.
- Miqo'te (ミコッテ Mikotte )
- The Mi'qote are a feline race of hunters who generally lead reclusive, solitary lives. Few females and even fewer males have integrated into Eorzean society. Mi'qote fall into two religious sects: the diurnal Seekers of the Sun are dedicated to the sun goddess Azeyma the Warden and the nocturnal Keepers of the Moon are dedicated to the moon goddess Menphina the Lover.
In addition to these playable races, the beastmen races feature prominently in the story. The bird-like Ixal race have a stronghold in Coerthas from which they launch attacks on Gridania and the Black Shroud. They worship the primal Garuda, a narcissistic master over the winds. The Amal'jaa are a race of ritualistic lizard-men who worship Ifrit, a master of fire. They are based in Thanalan and harry the Ul'dah trade routes. Kobolds are burrowing mole-like people who have constructed a series of mines in La Noscea, Limsa Lominsa's territory. The Kobolds' primal is Titan, an earth spirit. Sylphs are leaf-sprites who have tried to foster peace and trade between beastmen and the civilized races. Goblins are mechanically-inclined beastmen and Qiqirn deal in the black market. Finally, Moogles are forest-dwelling beastmen who commune with the elementals. They also run a postal service in the city-states.
The player's character takes on the role of an adventurer in Eorzea under the Seventh Umbral Era who joins one of the three Grand Companies. The Order of the Twin Adder, Gridania's Grand Company, is led by Elder Seedseer Kan-E-Senna, an even-headed child of the forest who is blessed with the power of prophecy. She returned to Gridania to reinstate the Twin Adders, sensing the elementals' unrest. Ul'dah's Immortal Flames are led by Flame General Raubahn Aldynn, a Highlander from Ala Mhigo. Raubahn climbed out of poverty to become one of the wealthiest individuals in Ul'dah through his martial skill while fighting in the Coliseum. The Maelstrom of Limsa Lominsa is led by Admiral Merlwyb Bloefhiswyn, a cunning female Sea Wolf. Once a pirate captain, she instituted a harsh conscription service to bring the pirate fleets under her command. Other allies include Louisoix Leveilleur, a mysterious Elezen scholar who leads the Circle of Knowing, and Cid Garlond, a Garlean defector who now produces technology to aid Eorzea in the war. From the Garlean Empire, Gaius van Baelsar is the Legatus of the XIVth Legion, now stationed in conquered Ala Mhigo. Nael van Darnus, Legatus of the VIIth Legion, was the primary proponent of Project Meteor and led the invasion force from five years previous. Bahamut is the primal of the dragons who was imprisoned inside the red moon Dalamud. After initiating the Seventh Umbral Era, he constructed a labyrinth for himself and retreated inside.
The original release of Final Fantasy XIV began development under the codename Rapture in 2005. The game was officially announced in 2009 and developed using the Crystal Tools engine, which had previously been used for Final Fantasy XIII. This version was directed by Nobuaki Komoto and produced by Hiromichi Tanaka, who was also serving as the producer of Final Fantasy XI at the time. Akihiko Yoshida was the art director and Nobuo Uematsu composed the soundtrack for the retail launch. Alpha testing ran from April to June 2010 and beta testing ran from July to August. An open beta was conducted in early September, the two weeks before release. The game spent 3 months in beta, less than the 4 months previously announced as the minimum testing period. News sources expressed concern that the game was not in launch condition, with "critical bugs" present throughout beta. The game premiered on September 22, 2010 to near universal negative reception. After two extensions to the initial free trial period, Square Enix President Yoichi Wada issued a formal apology to players and fans in December 2010. In the letter, he announced a dramatic overhaul of the development team as well as the suspension of monthly fees for the game until further notice. Naoki Yoshida took over the producer and director roles from Tanaka and Komoto, among other sweeping changes. The upcoming PlayStation 3 version was also indefinitely delayed.
In attempting to improve Final Fantasy XIV, Yoshida quickly discovered a number of key tasks. First and foremost, he had to restore trust in the player base while bringing the original release up to a playable quality. To address this, Yoshida began writing "Letters from the Producer" which would discuss design direction, upcoming changes, player feedback, and increase transparency in the development process. However, outdated and cumbersome programming choices in the game code prevented the more radical changes necessary to improve the game. Thus, planning for a brand new game built from scratch began in January 2011 and development began in earnest by April, with work on a new game engine and server structure. Meanwhile, the team's efforts on the original release first began to come to fruition with patch 1.18 in July 2011, which included major changes to the battle system, implementation of auto-attack and instanced dungeons, removal of the controversial "fatigue" system, and the introduction of the Grand Company storyline which would supersede the original main scenario questline. Subsequent patches would further refine the gameplay as well as set the stage for the Seventh Umbral Era events.
On the anniversary of the game's release, Wada claimed that the initial launch of Final Fantasy XIV had "greatly damaged" the Final Fantasy brand. Thus, Wada and Yoshida announced the brand new version of Final Fantasy XIV in October 2011, dubbed "Version 2.0", which had been in development since January, along with a tentative roadmap for future progress for both PC and PlayStation 3. Current players would be provided copies of the new PC client at launch, free of charge, and their character data and progress would be transferred as well. Along with the roadmap, they announced that monthly fees would be instated in order to offset the cost of redevelopment. Billing for the original release began in January 2012. To encourage players to stay with the game while paying subscription fees, Yoshida revealed the "Legacy Campaign" which rewarded players who paid for at least three months of service with permanently reduced monthly payments, an exclusive in-game chocobo mount, and their names featured in the credits of Version 2.0. At Electronic Entertainment Expo 2012, Square Enix debuted "Agni's Philosophy", a tech demo for their new Luminous game engine. Though members of the Final Fantasy XIV development team worked on Luminous, Yoshida admitted that both Luminous and Crystal Tools were optimized for offline games and could not handle an online environment with hundreds of on-screen character models. Though Version 2.0 uses a "completely different engine", he called the Luminous engine and the 2.0 engine "siblings" due similarities in structure.
In July 2012, Square Enix revealed that Version 2.0's official title would be Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. As development for A Realm Reborn ramped up, Yoshida made the decision to shut down the servers for the original release on November 11, 2012. This date served as the "grand finale" for the old game, culminating in a cinematic trailer for A Realm Reborn called "End of an Era". The alpha test for A Realm Reborn began shortly after the finale and ended in late December 2012. During this period, Yoichi Wada revealed that the development of A Realm Reborn was a cause of delay for many Square-Enix titles being developed at the time. Yoshida published an updated roadmap for the beta test through launch, indicating four phases of beta beginning in mid-February 2013. The PlayStation 3 beta will start in phase three. He claimed that the team is "adamant the game not be released until it is ready" and that launching too early "would be like at the level of destroying the company". In May 2013, Square Enix revealed the release date for the game, along with details about pre-order bonuses and the collector's edition.
On the whole, previews of the game have been positively received. IGN's Charles Onyett said "So far it seems like Square’s doing the right things to fix the many mistakes made with Final Fantasy XIV’s original design". GameSpy's Leif Johnson noted that Square Enix was taking an impressive gamble revamping the game, citing several other efforts that had resulted in costly failure. In his preview, Official PlayStation Magazine's Phil Iwaniuk said that the flexible character design and high level of classes added depth, though it still seemed to lack something to make it stand out. DualShocker's Giuseppe Nelva was highly impressed by the many innovations, though ended by saying "Ultimately Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn won’t be for everyone. [...] What it’s shaping up to be is a completely new (compared to its predecessor) MMORPG characterized by a very solid and competent traditional gameplay". GameSpot's Jonathan Toyad was less confident about the game, praising the changes but commenting that many features would seem overly familiar to players of modern MMOs.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn won Destructoid's "Gamescom community choice award" after the pre-release version was showcased in August 2012, stating, "we’ve seen the considerable changes made to the engine, HUD and combat system, transforming it into a far cry from the game that disappointed so many."
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