Here we are, then, at the end of this particular road. We’ve had enough time to look back over Heavensward
as a whole, the things it did well and the things it did less well, and where do we stand? Was it a good first expansion for Final Fantasy XIV
? A pedestrian one? Or did it make the game significantly worse than when it launched?
All right, the answer to the last question there is pretty transparently a “no,” but let’s not derail the opening preamble here too badly. We’re considering here.
The biggest problem with evaluating any expansion at this point is that until Stormblood releases, we don’t really have a great deal of context, just the base game and what came afterward. Context matters a great deal, but it’s easy to speculate about whether Heavensward will go down as being one of the best or one of the worst expansions. But we can at least look at it in relation to the base game, and what it changed.
For those who’ve somehow missed it, Final Fantasy XIV
producer and director Naoki Yoshida
regularly does live letters for the community. We don’t usually liveblog them because, well, most of them take place at a time of day many people are aware of only by rumors. But this time the letter is in English and happening right now, so we’re going to go ahead and liveblog it for your viewing pleasure.
We’ve included an embed past the break, but if you can’t watch the video or would prefer not to, worry not; we’ll be updating you on the progress of the letter right in the comments. This is the first time we’ve done the liveblog with the new comment system, so we’re eager to put it through its paces. What things will be revealed? (Stuff related to Stormblood. We all know it.)
Ever since the tone-deaf SOE proclamation that nobody wanted to play Uncle Owen in an MMORPG, contrary me has consciously fought that very stupid idea. A whole lot of people wanted to play Uncle Owen, then and now, there and elsewhere. Star Wars Galaxies was a game half full of Uncle Owens. I spent a lot of time literally becoming a moisture farmer as my own form of rebellion. And yet, as I realized while debating with my husband a few weeks ago, the person I really wanted to be was freakin’ Lando. And most MMORPGs don’t allow that either — it’s Luke or GTFO.
Such is the argument made by a recent PC Gamer article, which in its own precious mainstream way argues that “MMOs need to let you be an average Joe” to get out of the clear “creative slump” they’re in.
“With their scale and permanence, MMOs give us the chance to be citizens in a make-believe world we create with the help of our fellow players. When it’s left up to us what kind of role we want to fill in that world, everybody’s immersion benefits from being surrounded by all types of characters with vastly different stories.”
For this week’s Overthinking, I asked the staff to chime in on the concept of Uncle Owen in MMORPGs. Do you play this way? Do you wish you could? And is it the way forward?
So, Age of Conan players. Let’s talk. I know this year has been kinda rough on you. You found out, as we did, that your game was going to be maintenance-moded just a few months ago in a tiny aside in a financial letter to corporate investors. That hurt. And your baby brother, Conan Exiles, has sucked up all of dad’s attention. And money. You could rant at the unfairness of it all, or you could be grateful that at least you’re not being sunsetted like so many great MMORPGs before you. I won’t judge you for either.
But if you are playing, or think you might someday again, maybe take a peek right now as the elder Conan game turns nine years old. Yes, nine years ago this very month, we all logged into Tortage… no, actually, let’s not talk about Tortage. It’s birthday time. And Funcom is trying to make it worth your while with a free level 80 character boost and a free character slot, as long as you had an account before today, and as long as you log in before May runs out.
After a lengthy maintenance to facilitate the North American data center relocation, Final Fantasy XIV
is back online and ready to play once more. Unfortunately, if you were planning to make your first post-maintenance activity a quick server transfer to Gilgamesh, you’re out of luck
. The development team is making changes to facilitate the fact that certain servers (Gilgamesh, Balmung, Bahamut, Chocobo, Shinryu, and Mandragora) are heavily congested now
in the hopes that those servers may be slightly less crowded for Stormblood’s
Character creation on the listed servers is disabled for the time being, as are server transfers to the affected servers. In addition, the total amount of gil which can be brought across servers has been upped significantly to 10 million gil on a character and up to 5 million gil per retainer. The EU data center will also be adding additional servers after the expansion launch, with special incentives to encourage transfer and leveling on the new servers. Plans are in motion to also facilitate transfers with plots of land so that moving servers need not mean relinquishing your house.
A new Final Fantasy XIV
expansion means a new theme song for the game, and while we’ve had the new theme teased before, you can finally listen to the whole thing just below. As with the previous two themes, the song “Revolutions” was written by Nobuo Uematsu and sung by Susan Calloway; unlike the previous songs, however, this is not a mournful dirge or a lament. No, this is a call to action, to stand up and fight for liberation against a powerful enemy.
Of course, the accompanying video does include some scenes that one might construe as spoilers; if you want to avoid any visual hints of the expansion, you should probably put it on play and then switch to another tab. (The song itself has vague hints about the story, but don’t they all?) Stormblood releases for the PC and PlayStation 4 on June 20th, for those who have forgotten.
If you’re worried about the future of Final Fantasy XI being available, you can rest assured that the 15th anniversary letter by producer Akihiko Matsui is quite confident in it. Matsui mentions that the team is small enough that no new major content can be rolled out, but the team did add Omen and Ambuscade to the game while rolling out monthly update. And players can celebrate 15 years of the game even further beyond the anniversary events with the upcoming “One I Can Trust” campaign, allowing you to create your own Trust NPC for the next year.
Players simply need to name an in-game NPC who currently lacks an alter ego and what effects said alter ego should provide; this can differ from player to player. Once you’ve specified your preferred companion, you’ll have a year to adventure with your companion at your side, so pick someone you want around for a while. That’s in addition to the many, many other events, including discounts, the Return to Vana’diel campaign, anniversary quiz rewards, and… well, everything you could ask for as a fan of the game, whether you’ve been playing for 15 years or just a few months.
Conan Exiles performed beautifully for Funcom, at least during the first part of this year, the company’s investor report for the first quarter revealed today. The survival sandbox’s early access launch in February helped propel Funcom’s once-beleaguered revenues to five times their state this time last year, making it the “most profitable quarter ever” in the history of the studio. The Xbox One and PlayStation 4 releases are on track for Q3 2017 and Q1 2018, respectively.
The company reiterates that the reboot of The Secret World as Secret World Legends will make its recently announced June 26th debut, but the Steam launch will be delayed until July 31st as a result of “crowded market conditions with multiple MMO releases in May/June on Steam” — those being Black Desert’s Steam launch, Elder Scrolls Online’s Morrowind launch, and Final Fantasy XIV’s Stormblood. Seriously, nobody else should even try launching that month.
“The Company expects the majority of players after launch to be newcomers to the game, but is also working to make it worthwhile for as many veterans of The Secret World as possible to continue playing Secret World Legends. Due to the high uncertainty regarding a Free to Play business models the Company expects the development team to need to tweak the monetization mechanisms of the game in the months following launch. Paid User Acquisition will gradually be tested and introduced in tandem with the monitoring and tweaking of the game’s monetization KPIs.”
By the time you read this, I’ll be up in the air flying across the country. Assuming you read it on the day it publishes, anyhow, and odds are that you will do so since you certainly won’t be playing Final Fantasy XIV
today. Which makes for a good day to take a closer look at the odds and ends of Heavensward
, doesn’t it? I sure hope so, because that’s what I’ve got lined up, it’s going to cause problems if this is a bad time.
We’ve covered the majority of the game’s battle content, but there’s still a bit more stuff to cover, and I could probably go into more depth on a few areas if I wanted this to be even longer. But let’s start by covering the content that, arguably, flopped pretty badly on launch, to the point where the whole system got yanked, revised, and returned in a much more tolerable form. Which has its own problems, but hopefully provides a good template moving forward.
The MMO industry moves along at the speed of information, and sometimes we’re deluged with so much news here at Massively Overpowered that some of it gets backlogged. That’s why there’s The MOP Up: a weekly compilation of smaller MMO stories and videos that you won’t want to miss. Seen any good MMO news? Hit us up through our tips line!
This week we have stories and videos from MapleStory, Heroes of the Storm, Ingress, Wurm Online, DCUO, Hellion, Life is Feudal, Skyforge, Overwatch, H1Z1, Final Fantasy XI, all waiting for you after the break!
As we all well know, MMORPGs are a Serious Business indeed. We must treat them reverently and with our utmost due diligence as we perform tasks vital to saving the world. No frivolity and mirth-making is allowed within these virtual worlds; we toil, we strive, we forge the future in sharp lines of progress.
Oh what am I kidding: We’re totally goofballs. If you can’t cut loose in an MMO and have fun with your friends, what’s the point? I feel that Kenji Takeda has it right with this week’s headlining picture from Final Fantasy XIV, as you can sense the high spirits and laughter that were driving this moment.
Next week, we’ll get totally serious again. Probably. Maybe. Possibly. Well, there’s an outside chance, you never know.
The group pose screenshot tool in Final Fantasy XIV
is pretty darn powerful, since it lets you change color filters, add lighting sources, add frames and borders, loop emote animations, and spin the camera all over. About the only thing it can’t do is allow a perfect loop of your character using a battle action to get that perfect cool shot of your character raining doom upon a target… at least, it can’t do that yet
. When Stormblood
launches, actions are being added to the command
, and you can pause the animations as well to capture that perfect shot.
The tool is also adding new color filters, frames, and overlays to allow your shots to look like everything from a quick instant camera shot to a carefully rendered cinematic still. In short, players will be able to be the perfect in-game shutterbugs they always knew they could be. Who doesn’t like dramatic poses for battle as a screenshot option?
If you’re worried about the overall health of Square-Enix, a glance at the company’s most recent financials should assuage any concerns, since the past financial year was quite good for the company. That’s with an extraordinary loss in the company’s yearly evaluation, even. But if you’re worried about the company’s health when it comes just to online games, that’s… also just fine, according to the same report. It’s not as good as it could be, but it’s fine.
The report states that ongoing revenue from the company’s online titles (Final Fantasy XI, Final Fantasy XIV, and Dragon Quest X in Japan) was steady and reliable, although actual sales and operating income were lower due to the lack of an expansion disk during the year. Considering that the point of comparison was the previous financial year and the release of Heavensward, this would fall under the “unsurprising” header. With Stormblood on the way later this year, it’s good for fans to see that the company continues to post solid results for its various online offerings.