Final Fantasy XIV (ファイナルファンタジーXIV, Fainaru Fantajī Fōtīn), also known as Final Fantasy XIV Online, is the fourteenth installment in the Final Fantasy series, due for release on September 30, 2010 for Microsoft Windows and March 2011 for PlayStation 3. The game is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game and is developed and published by Square Enix. The game takes place in a land called Hydaelyn, mainly in a region named Eorzea, which will have a contemporaneously aesthetic blend of science fiction and classic fantasy elements. The game will be released in Japanese, English, French, and German.
The first stage of alpha testing began on March 11, 2010. This was announced at VanaFest 2010, an event to commemorate the eighth year of Final Fantasy XI. The second stage of alpha testing began on June 10, 2010. The PlayStation 3 release of Final Fantasy XIII contained a key for a chance to access a beta, to be held later in the year. Beta testing officially started on July 13th, 2010.
The "Standard Edition" PC version is due to be released on September 30, 2010, while the "Collector's Edition" is set for release a week earlier, on September 22, 2010. The PS3 version is dated for March 2011.
The battle and job systems will be different from the one previously used in Final Fantasy XI, which utilized experience points and level-based progression. Final Fantasy XIV is being designed to utilize a skill-based progression system similar to that of Final Fantasy II. Character races will resemble and allow players to create avatars similar to ones in Final Fantasy XI. Group play has been de-emphasized, and now solo and group play have been balanced. Weapon use will alter "character development".
The North American official website was updated October 7, 2009 and explains about the Job System, also known as The Armoury System. By wielding different weapons and even crafting tools, players will be able to take on the role of their choosing such as Gladiator or Thaumaturge. In general, the different roles are divided into four disciplines: Disciples of War (masters of combat arms), Disciples of Magic, Disciples of the Land (gatherers of material resources and students of the natural order), and Disciples of the Hand (crafters who invest their creative ingenuity in synthesis and industry). The crafting system will be a part of the Armory System; when a player decides to wield a Blacksmith hammer, their appearance will change and they will become a blacksmith. The same goes for harvesting tools; a player will be able to equip them and their appearance will change. They will then take on the role of a resource gatherer.
Square Enix is looking for a way to allow users to transfer their game names to the new MMORPG. The developers say that, in addition to Final Fantasy XI, games that have also influenced Final Fantasy XIV include World of Warcraft, Age of Conan, Diablo and Warhammer Online; however, they have also stated that their most important influence is player feedback. Chocobos will also return, but in a different role than in Final Fantasy XI.
In a DVD included with the September 2009 edition of Famitsu magazine, Nobuaki Komoto announced that while Final Fantasy XIV will include XI's job system, it will return to focus on weapons and skills, and will not have experience points or a leveling system. This would have been the third time since Final Fantasy II that the series had seen this kind of change. However, as revealed by game-play footage during the first open Alpha tests, players will accumulate experience points towards a player "Physical Level" and skill points that will accumulate toward a particular disciplines "Rank Level". The players physical level will affect attributes such as HP (health/hit points), MP (magic/mana points), while attribute points accumulated with each Physical Level can be used to adjust character attributes such as strength, intelligence, dexterity and other similar basic stats. There are no specific job-levels though, as seen in FFXI. The setting will also be changed from that of XI; while still set in a "high fantasy" world, the setting will be more modern than that of its predecessor and will include higher technology. The game will also include races "familiar" to players of Final Fantasy XI, but with new names and "other changes."
Eorzea's nations used to be constantly at war with each other until fifteen years ago when the Garlean Empire, a mysterious nation from the east, razed the mightiest of the city-states, Ala Mhigo. The nations decided to band together if they were to repel the invaders, but the Empire never came, leaving a state of détente throughout the land. The resulting peace has led to a wide swath of soldiers and mercenaries suddenly without a job, and so they are now forming guilds and going by a new name: adventurers.
The soundtrack has a mixture of the three genres, Rock, Ambient and Orchestral composed by Nobuo Uematsu, consisting of 82 tracks in total. Two Volumes of the entire soundtrack has been announced:
* Final Fantasy XIV/Field Tracks - which consisted of all the field and background themes, it will also include the prelude and the main theme 'Ansers' Sung by Susan Calloway.
* Final Fantasy XIV/Battle Tracks - which contains all battle tracks and all combat themes, it will also include the Final Fantasy Theme Song (also known as 'Prologue').
The Classes will be divided up in to 4 "Disciplines". The Crafting Professions such as Gardeners and Blacksmiths have been included as classes, and the character will change into that job if it has the specific item equipped (i.e. If the character equips a hammer, he or she will become a blacksmith).
Final Fantasy XIV, previously codenamed Rapture (ラプチャー), was first mentioned in August 2005, when Square Enix announced they had begun working on a new MMORPG, but neither confirmed nor denied that it was a sequel to Final Fantasy XI, or that it was Final Fantasy-related. Hiromichi Tanaka, producer of the MMORPG Final Fantasy XI, stated in April 2006 that developers were working to make Rapture a worldwide release for the PlayStation 3 and Windows Vista, before announcing in February 2007 that the game was being developed for the Xbox 360 and for personal computers, and that it might be brought to the PlayStation 3 at some stage as well. Square Enix announced at GDC 2008 that the new MMO was being targeted at all aforementioned systems and hinted that Mac and Linux clients would not be out of the question.
On June 2, 2009, at the Sony E3 Conference, Final Fantasy XIV was officially announced for the PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Windows through a trailer mixing pre-rendered CGI and actual in-game sequences running from the Crystal Tools engine. The game will be produced by the same team working on Final Fantasy XI, including Hiromichi Tanaka, and will be directed by Nobuaki Komoto. Akihiko Yoshida is the art director, and Nobuo Uematsu is composing the music (marking his return to the game series since he departed Square Enix after Final Fantasy X). The game will have cross-platform servers between PlayStation 3 and Microsoft Windows, making all servers accessible from any country. The game will be beta tested for longer than the 4 months that Final Fantasy XI was. The PlayOnline system will not be used for the game, but a solution is in the works for those wishing to easily switch between FFXIV and FFXI.
An Xbox 360 version of Final Fantasy XIV was considered, being announced to be in talks with Microsoft to bring the game to the system. However, in an interview with Eurogamer, Tanaka stated that, "The main reason why we couldn't go with Xbox 360 was the Xbox Live system. [Live is] different to the normal internet environment, so when we wanted to introduce this game in the same environment as Windows PC it had to be PS3, so that was our choice. Microsoft has a different point of view: they want to have a closed environment for Xbox Live. We're still talking to... We couldn't come to an agreement on Xbox Live." FFXI was only allowed by Square Enix onto Xbox Live as it only required a Silver Xbox Live membership, therefore was not considered closed as did not require any additional fees to play. Tanaka has recently reaffirmed that development on the Xbox 360 is considered "on hold" and that there are "no plans" to continue development unless the situation with Microsoft and Xbox Live changes.
The PlayStation 3 version of the game will be released later than the PC version, owing to the limitations on system memory, the adaptation to which Tanaka described as taking longer than originally expected.
In April 2010, Final Fantasy XIV entered into its alpha testing stage, which involves players from different parts of the world logging on at different times and testing what the development team at Square Enix had created. Square Enix had said that about 10% of the game was playable during the alpha phase. The alpha test ended on Saturday, June 19, 2010, after 11 weeks; the beta testing is being conducted in phases for developers to adjust game-play and technical issues reported by testers. Phase 1 began on July 10, 2010, and phase 3 ended on August 25, 2010. Open beta was announced to start on August 31, 2010; however, it was postponed due to "critical bugs" that needed to be fixed. Square Enix later announced that Open beta would commence September 1, 2010 at 19:00 (PDT).
Source: Wikipedia, "Final fantasy xiv", available under the CC-BY-SA License.