You wouldn’t think this was something that would frequently slip one’s mind, but somehow I manage to repeatedly forget that Dancer was made in no small part as a job to settle people tired of dealing with Final Fantasy XI’s nonsense. It seriously has a bit of everything. Want to dual-wield? Great, it gets that slower than Ninja but it’s still perfectly capable of handling it. Curative magic? Yes, and it doesn’t cost MP. Movement speed boosts? Naturally. Sneak and Invisible in one ability so you can stealth without items? By all means.
This comes up as a relevant fact whilst doing missions because FFXI has a weird approach to handling missions. It has no level requirements for any mission, just progress requirements… but it also barely needs level requirements, as several of them will absolutely murder you below a certain level. And that’s just in the process of getting to where you need to go for those missions, much less the challenges involved in the missions themselves.
Some weeks you have more time or less to do stuff. I managed to get a fair chunk of time in for Final Fantasy XI for my first week with the game, but circumstances conspired that I just didn’t have as much time for my second. So I had to reluctantly admit that I would only be able to get up to around level 20 on dancer after I unlocked it.
It would have been higher, but you know, there was some rigamarole that had to be done ahead of time to unlock the job; you understand, I’m sure.
There’s a very different feeling to the game at this point just because of the differences in leveling process, because historically FFXI has often been a game in which progress was slow and laborious. It was reliable past a certain point, yes, but it always carried a certain risk with it. Nowhere is that more evident than when you’re dealing with the advanced job quests, which could sometimes feel like balancing on the edge of a knife back in the day.
Why do you play MMORPGs? What keeps you questing through these ever-growing worlds? I think a lot of us might answer like Zyrusticae in Blade and Soul here, as we enjoy inhabiting and exploring virtual fantasy worlds.
“See, this is the sort of thing I play MMORPGs for,” Zyrusticae writes. “That sense of ‘place.’ Being somewhere else, even if it’s only behind a computer screen. Old shots, yes, but still some of my favorites just for that. It’s a very pleasant feeling, really.”
Will you find your sense of place in the following player screenshots? Let’s find out!
This is actually a Choose My Adventure that I was somewhat reluctant to do for a long time, simply because… well, in some ways, it goes against the entire spirit of Choose My Adventure. Or at least the spirit that I’ve always used as a guiding principle for these columns, for however much it matters.
The goal of Choose My Adventure has always been to take someone who is either wholly unfamiliar with a game or at least not an expert at it and throw them into a game with as little support as possible. There’s no way that I can realistically hit the level cap and make major headway into the endgame, of course, but I can at least try a game with fresh eyes and see how it plays, while presenting those thoughts in a non-tedious fashion.
And then we have Final Fantasy XI, which I cannot possibly look at with new eyes because I know this game very well. If I had to list the MMOs I know best, FFXI would probably be third or fourth on the list. Which is why for a long time I didn’t bring it up, because… I know all of this stuff, right?
For what amounts to a PlayStation 2 game from 16 years ago, Final Fantasy XI looks really good, even now. But… well, that’s the caveat right there, isn’t it? The game was designed for a PlayStation 2 in 2002. It has aged very well, but it’s still an older title with older models and animations and textures. What a good thing, then, that one fan has decided to overhaul all of the textures in the game with an HD texture pack to draw out all of the game’s potential.
You can check out a trailer for the pack just below; the modder, Amelila, had worked on an adaptation of Ronfaure into Skyrim before he realized that the same skills could be used to make FFXI more attractive. Modding the game has always been something that enterprising fans have engaged with, but it’s good to see that even as time has marched onward, fans have continued to find ways to make the game that much prettier.
Nexon posted a strong first quarter in 2018, with its earnings call reporting that the game publisher raked in $827M in revenue (a 21% year-over-year increase). The company did most of its business on PC (84%), although mobile (16%) continues to be a significant factor in its success.
Most of Nexon’s focus continues to remain in the east, as both China (67%) and Korea (22%) pull in a vast majority of its earnings. The company singled out the the performance of Dungeon and Fighter, MapleStory, and Durango: Wild Lands for praise.
Coming down the pipeline in North America this year and beyond is MapleStory 2, Durango, MapleStory M, and Final Fantasy XI Mobile. Speaking of the mobile version of FFXI, purported screens were leaked on Reddit that showed this still-beautiful game in action.
Want to explore everything, destroy everything, and cut everything in half? Want to do all of that while riding around on a boss airship? Then you’re going to need to pick up Wild Mage at some point.
Wild Mage: Phantom Twilight is an open-world ARPG set in a gorgeous-looking world that has thousands of those impractical floating islands and was somewhat inspired by Final Fantasy IX. Combat and environment interaction sound like the key hook: “The environment in this game is completely destructible. Monsters can be sliced into pieces (think Fruit Ninja). Fire propagates dynamically. Terrains and structures can be altered and destroyed (think Minecraft).”
Right now, Wild Mage is running a small but strong Kickstarter campaign. It’s already blown through its $10,000 target goal and has been hitting a few stretch goals in the first few days (such as bringing it to Nintendo Switch). If it reaches $60,000, the title will offer a multiplayer co-op mode with between four and six players exploring a world together.
It occurs to me that it is very difficult to find MMOs that I have literally never played before in some capacity. There are titles on the list, of course, but it’s a short list. Which amuses me, since anyone who listens to me on a regular basis knows that I have a small number of games that I consider “my” games, and usually there are just two that are fairly consistently on that list. But it’s part of the job; back when I first got this job in the time when dinosaurs roamed the Earth (the late aughts), my lifetime game count was at four. Maybe four and a half, if you want to count the Champions Online beta that talked me out of playing it at launch.
Of course, that’s one of the interesting elements not just of this job but about MMOs in general. You react differently depending on how many MMOs you’ve played, and considering that these games are big, long-term time commitments, that can produce some interesting dynamics. So let’s go ahead and take a look at what your personal lifetime count says about you and your understanding of the genre.
With 30 years of history, Final Fantasy
as a series has had lots of riffs on the same basic ideas. It’s the only thing tying the series together in the first place, after all, and I look forward to getting ever more surreal takes on the various nuts and bolts of the franchise as I get older. Final Fantasy XIV
exists as a part of this, naturally; it has yet to have any jobs which are truly unique
to it, as everything in there has showed up at least once before in some capacity.
That having been said, of course, some of that “showed up before” happens in very different contexts. There have been a lot of Dark Knights, after all, but it’s hard to compare the tanking job of FFXIV to, say, the status-based job of Final Fantasy X-2 or the prestige job in Final Fantasy Tactics. The games have very different design goals from the outset.
But we can compare these jobs to their equivalents in Final Fantasy XI. After all, most of the jobs we have now were in that title! So let’s take a look at how the jobs worked in the older game, how they work now, and what consistency might be there if any.
It’s been a little under a week since the Eureka launch in Final Fantasy XIV
, and opinions about the content are pretty universally strong. Some might argue that they’re downright entrenched. Most of the vocal ones consist of a whole lot of griping, and a not insubstantial number of those gripes also dovetail with people who are still playing the heck out of it anyway. Heaven knows it’s not exactly what I had expected, either.
So what do I think of it? I like it. But then, I’m kind of just the right person to like it.
I think there’s a lot of stuff to unpack around it, and I think it’s something where not liking it is both wholly understandable and also suggests a course of action. So let’s talk a little bit about the overall experience, what parts work and what parts don’t, and why it’s important, if you don’t like it, to at least have a realistic understanding of what it’s going to be and what it wants to be in the first place.
I think Naoki Yoshida has severely overestimated how much I wanted to chase after a Scorpion Harness again.
One of the things that I mentioned way back when about the Diadem was that it felt like a Final Fantasy XI zone in Final Fantasy XIV. We don’t know all of the details about Eureka yet, but what we’ve learned so far definitely seems to indicate that it’s meant to be a similar experience. Heck, the visuals alone are doubling down on that; you can’t add in gear that’s specifically meant to look like the Scorpion Harness without inviting comparisons to the original Final Fantasy MMO.
We don’t know nearly as much about Eureka as we might like to know, but we do know something, at least. So let’s review what things we do know, speculate about the stuff that fills in the gap, and start considering what the experience of exploring this new zone will feel like, yes? I’m excited, at least.
Last week, a reader named Chris, who is writing a paper on the MMO industry and revivifying sunsetted games, dropped an intriguing question into my inbox. It’s about bots – but not the sort of bots EVE Online is constantly fighting. The good kind.
“Do you think people would be interested in coming back to ‘closed’ MMO games if they were populated with AI bots instead of real players (to make them feel alive/populated)?” he asked me.
Let’s ponder that for today’s Overthinking. Certainly we’ve seen bots put to work in games like Camelot Unchained, which uses them to test massive numbers of players on the battlefield. Would you want to see them in live play? Would they help the feel of the world in ways that default NPCs simply would not? Is the AI even doable? Could AI bots take our place to make MMORPGs even better – or even to keep them viable and save them from destruction?
For those of you who were wondering when Final Fantasy XI started supporting add-ons… it didn’t. The game has never supported add-ons, and using Windower and its associated add-ons is totally not allowed and could get you banned. Except that it won’t, and functionally no one is particularly concerned about it. So you have players who use the software and its various functions to do awesome stuff like turn the game’s interface into the interface from Final Fantasy XIV.
Obviously, it’s not a perfect translation; FFXI is a very menu-driven game and FFXIV is not, there are lots of different mechanics at play, and the hotbars alone are a rather experimental bit of additional coding. But it’s pretty neat to see the older game gussied up to look like its newer cousin. And if you want something to slightly ease the adaptation curve, you could do worse.
This is what add-ons exist to do.