It's all over for Final Fantasy XI. Or it will be, anyhow.
It was hard to imagine that the big Final Fantasy XI conference was going to end in a whole bunch of good news for the game. The game has been running for half of forever, and it's not as if it coincided with a big event that would make an expansion or the like sound reasonable. So what we actually got was...
Well, all things considered, it was intensely positive.
Don't misunderstand me; I'm sure that pretty much everyone who still plays the game and several people watching from the sidelines would prefer that FFXI continued getting big updates and improving forever. But realistically, this is what's best for the health of the game and the playerbase. Yet I've already seen more than a few people taking umbrage with it, complaining and raging that this is some betrayal or that it shows Square-Enix has no idea what it's doing, accusations that are almost comically misplaced.
The last part of Final Fantasy XIV
's pre-expansion storyline is going live on March 31st. That's about two weeks away. And while you'll be able to do such things as "no longer worry about the weekly lockout on World of Darkness" and presumably "buy those Ironworks weapons from the CT weekly," you'll also be facing the last dose of content from the game until the expansion drops on June 23rd -- or June 19th if you have it pre-ordered, which will almost certainly be the case for the people who are reading this column with the intent of actually playing the game. But that's still nearly three months without much new to do.
I'm going to assume that no one needs any suggestions about finishing the content that's already available in the game; if you haven't done the Hildibrand story yet, well, there's enough content to keep you occupied for a week or so right off the bat. But let's assume that you've kept up with the story and within a week of the second half of this patch, you'll know what there is to be done. What can you use to fill in the gap other than grinding?
After a madcap week, I got to come home to the Gold Saucer. Traveling to Seattle on short notice was a mixture of the good and the bad, and I was certainly happy to be back home, but I was all the happier when I had Final Fantasy XIV
's den of gambling-but-not-really to look forward to upon arrival. What could be better?
Well, a system that was actually ready to account for the vast influx of people who wanted to take part in the minigames would have been a good idea, but let's not get crazy, hmm?
Thematically, the Gold Saucer comes at a highly inappropriate time, since Eorzea is kind of tearing itself apart at the seams while people gamble ceaselessly. But it's also something that's both fun and almost infinitely expandable, a feature that will fit well into the game after the initial rush has worn off. So let's take a look at the Saucer, the many games therein, and how everything shakes down on the average.
All right. The end of last week's column
did not, in fact, finish starting new in Final Fantasy XIV
. It brought you up to the point where you could no longer really be considered starting
, but there's so much more to do. So while I could leave it there, I think we should at least learn how to unlock Jobs before the expansion.
So let's keep rolling on, assuming that you've been progressing along in the main story to unlock the other two "intro" dungeons. These three dungeons are all a bit on the tedious and tutorial side, but they at least unlock your low-level roulette (immensely valuable) and start you down the road to understanding the game's dungeon mechanics. It's a game of easy enemies and hard bosses, and the next leg of the journey demonstrates exactly how much emphasis is placed upon the boss battles.
Starting out fresh in Final Fantasy XIV
can be pretty intimidating, I freely admit. I find it all old hat at this point, but I'm coming at the game as someone who has leveled every single available class to 50. It would be more surprising if I were still starting out and wondering when I can get my first mount or when I'm allowed to completely ignore the story and just craft forever if that's more my speed.
The answer to both is largely level 20, for the record.
Let's assume, then, that you're starting the game new for the first time. Once you've made your character (and your birthdate and starting deity have minimal effect upon your character, so don't sweat them) and watched the far-too-long opening cutscene, you're dropped into a quick series of tutorial quests. What do you do from there, where do you go, and how do you make the most out of your time in Final Fantasy XIV when we're on the cusp of the game's first expansion?
Don't call it a comeback; I've been here for years.
Last week, I wrote a farewell, and I wasn't happy to be doing so. I knew that I would still be playing and thinking about Final Fantasy XIV, but I also knew that I was done writing about it for the same reason that everyone else was done. I certainly didn't imagine that a week later I'd be preparing a new column with a new name and a new lease on life on the same topic after you wonderful folks smashed the hell out of our Kickstarter goal.
But here we are, and I'm happy to be here again. I've got a new column, I've got a new lease on life, and it seems that today is the best possible time to talk about Final Fantasy XIV's fantastic endurance, and not just how it's managed to take a game that was widely panned and bring it back as a surprise hit; that much is a given. No, I'm talking about how the game keeps winning converts, entrancing new people, and pulling players back time and again.