Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

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Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn
Final Fantasy XIV, A Realm Reborn box cover.jpg
Developer(s) Square Enix
Publisher(s)
  • Square Enix
  • CN Shanda Games
  • KOR Actoz Soft
Director(s) Naoki Yoshida
Producer(s) Naoki Yoshida
Designer(s)
  • Naoki Yoshida
  • Nobuaki Komoto
Programmer(s) Hideyuki Kasuga
Artist(s)
Writer(s) Kazutoyo Maehiro
Composer(s) Masayoshi Soken
Series Final Fantasy
Engine Game specific engine
Platform(s)
Release date(s)
  • Microsoft Windows
  • August 27, 2013
  • CN August 29, 2014[1]
  • KOR TBA 2015[2]
  • PlayStation 3
  • August 27, 2013
  • PlayStation 4
  • April 14, 2014[3]
Genre(s) MMORPG
Mode(s) Multiplayer
Distribution Optical disc
Download

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (ファイナルファンタジーXIV: 新生エオルゼア Fainaru Fantajī Fōtīn: Shinsei Eoruzea?, lit. Final Fantasy XIV: Reborn Eorzea) is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) for Microsoft Windows, Sony PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4. It was developed by Square Enix with Naoki Yoshida as producer and director, and was released worldwide on August 27, 2013. The game is currently available in Japanese, English, French, German, and Mandarin Chinese; a Korean version is in development with a planned 2015 release date.[4][2] 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 lunar prison 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 largely negative reviews. As a result of this poor reception, then-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 game released to largely positive reception; reviewers praised the game for its solid mechanics and progression, and commended Yoshida for turning the project around. The first major content patch—"A Realm Awoken"—was released on December 17, 2013, and introduced player housing, player versus player arena battles, new quests, and the first 24-man raid, Crystal Tower.[5] Subsequent content patches have been released every three months. Square Enix executives attributed the company's return to profitability in part to the MMORPG's strong sales and subscriber base in 2013.[6] A Steam version of the client was released on February 14, 2014.[7]

Gameplay[edit]

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is an MMORPG and features a persistent world in which players can interact with each other and the environment. 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 to be a Disciple of War or Magic as a starting class—Disciples of the Hand and Land are initially unavailable.[8] 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.[9] 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.

Interface[edit]

A Realm Reborn's PC interface, navigated by a point and click widget system.
A Realm Reborn's PlayStation 3 interface, navigated by a cross-bar system.

The user interface and game controls are different between PC and home console 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 windows. PlayStation 3 players may use a controller by itself, or a controller and keyboard combination; PlayStation 4 users may also connect an external mouse via USB. Navigation on the PlayStation versions of Final Fantasy XIV is accomplished via an XrossMediaBar-like interface, called "Cross Hot Bar", due to PlayStation users' familiarity with the set-up.[10] 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.[11]

The action bar and battle command input method differs slightly between the PC and PlayStation versions. 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 versions 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 players who use controllers.[10]

Character progression[edit]

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.[12] 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. Guildleves 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.[13] 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 battles with notorious monsters, defending a location from invading forces, culling hostile local wildlife, and assaulting enemy fortresses, among other types.[13] Finally, slaying monsters for EXP is aided by the Hunting Log, which tasks players with defeating specific enemies in exchange for EXP bonuses. Upon reaching the level cap, currently 50, character progression shifts to improving item level by acquiring new and better equipment. This equipment can be gained through a variety of sources including endgame dungeons, crafting, raids, primal battles, and elite mark hunts.

In addition to these player versus environment (PvE) challenges, two forms of player versus player (PvP) combat exist in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. The first type, the Wolves' Den, is an arena featuring structured four versus four battles; players may queue into a battle with up to three teammates to challenge another four person team. The second type, Frontlines, is a large battleground instance in which players form teams of up to 24 characters. Teams are delineated by players' allegiance to one of three Grand Companies and the team which reaches the target number of points first wins the match. Points are accrued by occupying contested locations, defeating neutral enemies, and defeating opposing players. Currently, only one Frontlines map is available—Carteneau Flats, the location of the lunar impact crater that initiated the Seventh Umbral Era. The Grand Companies are contesting the land in order to recover valuable magical artifacts and have recruited adventurers to jockey for dominance of the region through Frontlines, ostensibly an organized set of military exercises between the three nations.[14]

Battles and party system[edit]

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. However, unlike in the original release, EXP will also go to other players who contribute significantly to the monster's defeat.[citation needed] 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 an automated matching feature that sorts players into parties for selected instanced content across different servers.[13] The "Party Finder" is a server-specific bulletin board where players may recruit other players for any kind of content including dungeons, raid battles, FATE parties, and more. Members of a party fill traditional 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. "Limit Breaks" are special abilities that can only be performed if members of the party excel at their roles.[15]

Player-run guilds come in the form of Free Companies, organized bands of adventurers under the auspices of one of the three Grand Companies of Eorzea. Free Company members may gain access to a shared company chest, a private chat channel, and Company Actions which are 24 hour buffs to certain aspects of gameplay, such as increased EXP or reduced travel costs. Free Company members may also pool their resources to purchase a house in one of the three main cities' residential districts. In addition to decorating the house, players may use the grounds to grow unique items through the gardening system, train their chocobo companion, and purchase a private room for personal use. Linkshells are another form of in-game networking; whereas players may only participate in one Free Company, they may join up to eight linkshells which also act as private chat channels for interested sub-groups.

Armoury and job system[edit]

Under the Armoury System, a character's equipped weapon determines the character class and players may change their class at will by changing weapons.[16] Classes are divided into four disciplines: Disciples of War, masters of physical combat; Disciples of Magic, practitioners of the magical arts; Disciples of the Hand, crafters and handymen who synthesize and repair items; and Disciples 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.[17]

Armoury and Job System
Disciples of War Class Job Weapon Description
Gladiator Paladin Sword and shield 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.
Pugilist Monk Knuckles Pugilists (PGL) 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 Axe Marauders (MRD) stationed at the Coral Tower 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 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 and arrows 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.
Rogue Ninja Dual daggers Rogues are nimble thieves and expert scouts. Ninja are stealthy assassins from the East who employ mudras and ninjutsu in combat.
Disciples of Magic Class Job Weapon Description
Conjurer White Mage Wand Conjurers (CNJ) of Gridania's Stillglade Fane are healers tasked with interpreting the will of the elementals. White Mages (WHM) are master conjurers, chosen emissaries of nature.
Thaumaturge Black Mage Scepter Thaumaturges (THM) study at the Arrzaneth Ossuary in Ul'dah, a temple for Thal, the god of the underworld. Black Mages (BLM) draw power from the land itself to magnify their magical arts.
Arcanist Summoner & Scholar Tome Arcanists (ACN) act as the customs agents for Limsa Lominsa and call upon magical creatures called Carbuncles, who serve as their pets. Summoners (SMN) use ancient Allagan magicks to bind the essence of the mighty Primals and bend them to their will. Scholars (SCH) call upon fairies, using techniques from the once powerful city of Nym to provide healing and support for their allies.
Disciples of the Hand Class Tool Secondary Tool Description
Carpenter Saw Claw Hammer The foremost workers of wood, carpenters (CRP) craft lumber into weapons, shields, and clogs.
Blacksmith Cross-pein Hammer File Blacksmiths (BSM) forge mighty weapons from their metalwork.
Armorer Raising Hammer Pliers Armorers (ARM) treat and work the malleable metals into heavy plate armor and mail.
Goldsmith Chaser Hammer Grinding Wheel Goldsmithing (GSM) is the practice of working precious metals and stones into a multitude of accessories and jewelry.
Leatherworker Headknife Awl Leatherworkers (LTW) fashion armor and clothing out of animal skins and hides.
Weaver Needle Spinning Wheel From fiber to thread, thread to cloth, cloth to dress, a weaver (WVR) tailors outfits of all types.
Alchemist Alembic Mortar Alchemists (ALC) can create potions and curative ales from a range of ingredients.
Culinarian Skillet Culinary Knife Culinarians (CUL) are able to cook up invigorating meals and snacks.
Disciples of the Land Class Tool Secondary Tool Description
Miner Pickaxe Sledgehammer Miners (MIN) excavate Eorzea's mineral wealth, be it ores, fossils, precious stones, or otherwise.
Botanist Hatchet Scythe The botanist's (BTN) profession encompasses the procurement of resources from all forms of plant life, including grains, vegetables, and lumber.
Fisher Fishing Rod None Fishers (FSH) are the harvesters of the realm's marine and freshwater animal resources. Lucky fishers may also acquire precious pearls.

Game economy[edit]

The virtual economy of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is mostly player-driven. The exchange of items is facilitated by retainers, non-playable characters who assist in selling items on the Market Board, gather items through ventures, and provide additional inventory storage.[13] A small transaction fee for all sales serves as a gold sink to regulate the inflation of prices in the economy. Players of 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 Land. 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.[8] 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 displays the names and locations of items that can be gathered in the world.[18]

Synopsis[edit]

Setting[edit]

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn takes place in the fictional world of Hydaelyn, a planet filled with multiple environments and climates covering three large continents. The continent on which the game is set is called Eorzea.[19] Ancient lore states that Eorzea was the land occupied by The Twelve, Hydaelyn's guardian deities, who themselves sprang along with all Hydaelyn's life from the Mothercrystal, a sentient crystal that is one of the focal points of the story.[20] Eorzea is split up into multiple city-states, three of which the player can start from: the Nation of Gridania, the Sultanate of Ul'dah, and the thalassocracy of Limsa Lominsa. Alongside these are the theocracy of Ishgard, the scholar's city of Sharlayan, the barren lands of Mor Dhona, and the occupied city-state of Ala Mhigo.[21] The continent to the north of Eorzea is home to the Garlean Empire, a militaristic state which sees the people of Eorzea as backward and ripe for conquest, and acts as the main antagonistic force of the game.

Eorzea's history is dominated by the alternation between periods of prosperity and civilization — the Astral Eras — and periods of destruction and calamity — the Umbral Eras,[22] each of which bears the characteristics of one of the world's elements.[20] The Twelve vanished after the First Umbral Era, ushering the age of Eorzea's current residents. The Sixth Astral Era was ended during the final moments of Final Fantasy XIV, when the Seventh Umbral Era was initiated.[20]

Characters[edit]

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn features five humanoid races for players to choose from when creating a character. Each race has two subdivisions and males and females of all races are available, unlike in the original release.[12]

Hyur (ヒューラン Hyūran?)
A human-like race from beyond Eorzea, the Hyur are divided into Midlanders and Highlanders. Midlanders are the most common tribe in Eorzea, having settled in every established city, but living primarily in the lowland areas of the land. The Highlanders are a physically taller Hyur clan, previously hailing from the mountainous region of Ala Mhigo and now primarily settled in Ul'dah.[23]
Elezen (エレゼン Erezen?)
An elf-like race, the Elezen are said to be the original inhabitants of Eorzea, and thus were originally combative with the other races. They are divided into the Wildwood and Duskwight clans. The Wildwood clan live primarily in the Black Shroud, where the cities of Gridania and Ishgard are located. The Duskwight clan are a cave-dwelling tribe that shun the normal settlements of the woodlands.[23]
Lalafell (ララフェル Raraferu?)
Lalafell are diminutive humanoids with great agility and intelligence from the southern regions. Their two tribes are the Plainsfolk and the Dunesfolk. The Plainsfolk are a casual sect who primarily live as farmers and fishers in Gridania and Limsa Lominsa. The Dunesfolk are an energetic tribe who founded the city-state of Ul'dah and live primarily in the city and the lands around.[23]
Roegadyn (ルガディン Rugadin?)
Roegadyn are a physically large and muscular race from the northern seas, both fierce and compassionate warriors. They form two distinct groups: the Sea Wolves and the Hellguard. The Sea Wolves are former pirates and now the principal inhabitants of Limsa Lominsa. The Hellguard are a clan mostly devoted to the mercenary arts, living principally in Ul'dah.[23]
Miqo'te (ミコッテ Mikotte?)
The Miqo'te are a feline race of hunters who generally lead reclusive, solitary lives. They are split into the Seekers of the Sun and the Keepers of the Moon. The Seekers of the Sun primarily live in Sagolii Desert and among the people of Limsa Lominsa. The Keepers of the Moon are a nocturnal clan, formerly considered a pest in Gridania before many managed to make peace with the natives.[23]

In addition to these playable races, the Beastmen tribes (many of them monsters and creatures from the rest of the Final Fantasy series), and their deities, the Primals (themselves inspired by summoned monsters from previous entries in the series), feature prominently in the story, both as antagonists and neutral forces.[24] The players' allies mostly come in the form of the Scions of the Seventh Dawn, a society made up of two groups from before the Seventh Umbral Era, whose goals are to repel the Garlean invasion and deal with the threat of the Primals.[25] The main antagonists are key figures from the Garlean Empire, an invasion force led by Legatus Gaius van Baelsar and his subordinates. They in turn are being manipulated by the Ascians, a mysterious cult determined to awaken an evil deity that threatens all of Hydealyn.[26] Other characters include the agent of inquiry Hildibrand and familiar characters from the Final Fantasy series like Gilgamesh, Ultros, Xande, and the Cloud of Darkness.

Plot[edit]

During the events of Final Fantasy XIV, the Garlean Empire launches a campaign to subdue the beastmen and city-states of Eorzea.[27] To this end, one of their Legatus, Nael van Darnus, uses ancient magic and technology to summon Hydaelyn's second moon, Dalamud, so it would fall on Eorzea and cleanse it. Though the Legatus is defeated, the damage is done and the moon continues to fall. The Garlean Empire and the Eorzean Alliance finally clash on the Carteneau Flats in Mor Dhona, the impact site of Dalamud. As they fight, Dalamud breaks up in the sky and releases the ancient Primal Bahamut, who proceeds to start laying waste to Eorzea, instigating the Seventh Umbral Era.[28] After the attempt to reseal Bahamut fails, the Archon Louisoix sends the remnants of the Eorzean Alliance's army, including the Adventurers (player characters), forward into the future while remaining behind to face certain death.[29]

Five years later, the Adventurers reappear, their memories blurred by the journey, during a time of reconstruction of Eorzea. The story of A Realm Reborn revolves around old and new players piecing together the intervening events between the unleashing of Bahamut and the present, and helping with the rebuilding of Eorzea, which brings them into conflict with the Beastmen tribes, the Garlean Empire and the secretive Ascians.

Development[edit]

The difference in battle interfaces between the final patch version of the original game (top) and A Realm Reborn

The original release of Final Fantasy XIV began development under the codename Rapture somewhere between late 2004 and early 2005,[30] and was officially announced in 2009.[31] 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.[32] After a bug-laden, shortened test period[32][33] the game released to near-universal negative reception.[34] 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, as well as announcing a dramatic overhaul in the development team, most prominently the removal of Tanaka from the project, demotion of Komoto from Director to Lead Designer as well as the suspension of monthly fees for the game until further notice and the cancellation of the previously planned PlayStation 3 version.[35] After the change in development team, Naoki Yoshida, who had worked as planning chief on Dragon Quest X,[36] was brought in to supervise the project as both producer and director.[37]

Speaking in an interview with Polygon, Yoshida said that, in his opinion, fans had been treated badly, He also said Tanaka and the team were "conceited", saying: "We had server troubles, technical troubles, a lack of international marketing and research, a lack of communication with gamers. There were many problems, but they were all caused by the general idea that 'we're okay, it's the [Final Fantasy] brand, we made [Final Fantasy XI] work."[38] In the same interview, he said that the game's sales were a secondary concern when faced with restoring faith in the franchise.[38] In a different interview with Kotaku, he stated that he felt the production team had not been enough in touch with the modern MMO community, that their primary goal of making XIV different from XI was unrealistic, and that it would have been better if they had followed the production model of XI, playing current MMOs for inspiration: in one of his remarks, he said that "[Square Enix] should have said, 'Hey you, go play [World of Warcraft] for a year [for inspiration].'"[37] He also stated that the game would not release until it was ready, as that would be "at the level of destroying the company."[37] 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.[38] 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.[39] 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.[11]

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.[40] Subsequent patches would further refine the gameplay as well as set the stage for the Seventh Umbral Era events.[41] 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.[42] 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.[11] 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.[43] Along with the roadmap, they announced that monthly fees would be instated in order to offset the cost of redevelopment.[11] Billing for the original release began in January 2012.[44] 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.[45][46] Speaking to Siliconera about his experiences on both Dragon Quest X and Final Fantasy XIV, Yoshida commented that the difference between the two games: while the idea for the Dragon Quest series was to be a hybrid between MMOs and single-player games, his goal for Final Fantasy XIV was "to get into the hands of hardcore MMO players [and] reach out to players that have never played them before. We wanted to reach out to those Final Fantasy fans, knowing that a lot of Final Fantasy fans have never played a MMO before, perhaps because they are very intimidated by the genre."[47] In creating the scenarios, Yoshida was mostly inspired by the work of Yasumi Matsuno, the scenario writer for Final Fantasy XII.[48]

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.[31] Though Version 2.0 uses a "completely different engine", he called the Luminous engine and the 2.0 engine "siblings" due to similarities in their structure.[49] In July 2012, Square Enix revealed that Version 2.0's official title would be Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.[50] 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.[51] 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".[52][53]

Testing and release[edit]

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.[54] Yoshida published an updated roadmap for the beta test through launch, indicating four phases of beta beginning in mid-February 2013.[55] 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".[37] In May 2013, Square Enix revealed the release date for the game, along with details about pre-order bonuses and the collector's edition.[56] In June 2013, the company revealed a PlayStation 4 version was in development and due for release in 2014.[57] When the fourth and final beta phase started on August 17, a record 150,000 users logged on, causing problems for the game including congestion of the beta forums, connection cutouts and an error in the servers which caused several connections to crash, though characters were still logged into the game.[58] Square Enix created several new servers to deal with the congestion,[58] extended the beta test period, and issued a fix for the server error.[59]

Early access began on August 24, 2013, with players able to play continuously through to the August 27 launch. Players throughout this period noted continued server issues.[60] The congestion problem grew bad enough post-launch, due to an "overwhelmingly positive response", that Square Enix temporarily suspended digital sales of the game, promising to fix the issue.[61] In lieu of these and the many other issues, during the game's launch event at Pax Prime 2013, Yoshida issued an apology to fans for the game's "rocky" launch and reassured them that fixes were in progress and new servers would be created.[62] A week after launch, the game received a ten-hour maintenance and fresh patches, and all players were compensated with a week of free play time.[63]

A Steam version of the client was released on February 14, 2014.[7] A beta for the PlayStation 4 version of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn debuted on the same day as the Japanese release of the console, February 22, 2014.[64] Owners of the PlayStation 3 client were able upgrade to the digital PlayStation 4 client for free.[65] The Mandarin Chinese version of the game is being published and administrated by Shanda Games. It features separate servers from the other language versions of the game and premiered on August 29, 2014 featuring content through patch 2.16.[1][66] The game will launch in South Korea in 2015, published by Actoz Soft.[2]

Patches and expansions[edit]

Square Enix plans to release a major update every three months after launch. Each of these content patches includes a continuation of the main scenario as well as new raids, features, battlegrounds, and dungeons. Minor updates that come in between major updates focus on quality of life changes. In addition to regular updates, Square Enix plans to release full expansion packs for the game.[67] At the Pax Prime interview, Yoshida confirmed that the story for the first expansion was already written.[62]

Patches and expansions
Patch Title Release date Notes
2.0 A Realm Reborn August 27, 2013 Initial release of the game. Main scenario quests depict the Garlean invasion and the players' involvement in the expulsion of this threat. The Binding Coil of Bahamut serves as the most challenging raid.
2.1 A Realm Awoken December 16, 2013 "A Realm Awoken" was delayed by one month owing to time needed to fix the launch troubles. The main scenario continuation involves the summoning of a new primal, Good King Moggle Mog XII. The Wolves' Den PvP arena is released. Labyrinth of the Ancients, the first section of the Crystal Tower 24-man raid is released. Housing for Free Companies.[67] Treasure hunting, "extreme" versions of Garuda, Titan, and Ifrit primal battles, beast tribe quests for Amal'jaa and Sylphs.
2.2 Through the Maelstrom March 27, 2014 Leviathan is summoned as part of the main scenario. Gardening is added to Free Company houses. Beast tribe quests for Kobolds and Sahagin are added. The Second Coil of Bahamut, a continuation of the Binding Coil raid is released. The "relic weapon" questline is expanded.
2.3 Defenders of Eorzea July 8, 2014 Ramuh is summoned as part of the main scenario. Mark hunting, a system inspired by Final Fantasy XII, is introduced. Frontlines, a 72-man PvP battlefield is added. Syrcus Tower, the second part of the 24-man Crystal Tower raid is released. Chocobo raising is added to Free Company housing. Desynthesis expands the crafting system.
2.4 Dreams of Ice October 28th, 2014 Shiva is summoned as part of the main scenario. Conclusion of the Binding Coil of Bahamut storyline. Addition of the Rogue class and the associated Ninja job.
2.5 TBA TBA Conclusion of the Crystal Tower storyline.
3.0 Heavensward Spring 2015[68] First expansion pack. The Holy See of Ishgard opens its gates to adventurers. The main storyline of the expansion pack deals with the Dragonsong War, a thousand year conflict between Ishgard and Dravania, the home of the dragon beast tribe, which is also available to be explored. Free Companies can craft airships and use them to discover floating continents above the clouds. The level cap is increased to 60. A new playable race is introduced.

Reception[edit]

Reception
Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings PS4: 86.08%[69]
PS3: 78.71%[70]
PC: 78.54%[71]
Metacritic PS4: 86/100[72]
PC: 83/100[73]
PS3: 78/100[74]
Review scores
Publication Score
Edge 6/10[75]
Famitsu 39/40[76]
GamesRadar 4.5/5 stars[78]
GameSpot 7.0/10[77]
IGN 8.6/10[79]
Polygon 9/10[80]
USgamer 5/5 stars[81]

Pre-release[edit]

On the whole, previews of the game were positive, and of a notably different tone than those for XIV '​s original release. 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."[82] 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.[83] 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.[84] DualShocker's Giuseppe Nelva was highly impressed by the many innovations, though ended by saying that "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."[85] 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.[86]

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."[87]

Post-release[edit]

Reviews for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn have been generally positive. Aggregating review websites GameRankings and Metacritic gave the PlayStation 4 version 86.08% based on 24 reviews and 86/100 based on 35 reviews,[69][72] the PlayStation 3 version 78.71% based on 17 reviews and 78/100 based on 25 reviews[70][74] and the PC version 78.54% based on 13 reviews and 83/100 based on 32 reviews[71][73] Forbes contributor Daniel Tack awarded A Realm Reborn with a score of 9.5 out of 10, praising the game's content depth, graphics, and traditional Final Fantasy feel.[88] USgamer awarded A Realm Reborn with a score of 5 out of 5 stating, "Square Enix has pulled off the seemingly impossible: rescuing a disastrous flop of an online game without going free-to-play, and creating an incredibly addictive, satisfying experience for both MMO and Final Fantasy veterans in the process. A Realm Reborn is a triumph for Naoki Yoshida and his team."[89]

The Collector’s Edition of Editing Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn contains an 80 page “Art of Eorzea” hardcover concept art book; “The Waning of the Sixth Sun,” a history of the Eorzea Realm; the soundtrack of the games scores, “Sound of Eorzea”; five collectable character art cards; a themed security token to reinforce the security of an account; and several in-game bonus items including Helm of Light, Behemoth Barding, Baby Behemoth Minion, and Coeurl Mount, all included inside a Collector’s box designed by the legendary Final Fantasy artist, Yoshitaka Amano.[90]

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn was named Best MMO of the year by Game Informer, ZAM, and Joystiq's Massively.[91][92][93] AbleGamers honored it as the most accessible mainstream game of the year for 2013.[94]RPGFan named it not only the best MMO of 2013, but also Game of the Year.[95][96]

Sales and subscriptions[edit]

By the end of the first week, the PS3 version of A Realm Reborn was placed second in Japan's sales charts, with 184,000 physical copies sold.[97] By the following day, after the promised maintenance period, the game reached a record of 325,000 concurrent connections, with an estimate of roughly 7,000 per server.[98] Naoki Yoshida announced, in a Letter from the Producer at TGS, that the game had gained one million unique logins.[99] As of February 2014, 1.8 million players have created 6.7 million characters and logged over 400 million hours of play time.[100] On April 16, 2014, Square Enix announced that more than two million people have registered an account for the game.[101] It was the 16th best selling computer game of 2013.[102]

Among the Famitsu 2013 Top 100, a listing of the top 100 Japanese retail software sales for the year of 2013 from data collected by Famitsu's parent company Enterbrain, the PS3 version of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn ranked number 32, with 244,574 physical retail sales within Japan.[103]

See also[edit]

References[edit]

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External links[edit]