Square Enix has always conducted really excellent media tours and often the ensure personal attention with only one or two media attendees, and this tour was no different. Smooth transitions, no accidental training of zones when you pass through, waiting around while someone figures something out that they want to show you, etc. etc. It’s always a very smooth affair, exciting when you enter battles and raid zones, a critter or two snapping at your heels to show you the zone dangers, but no real dangers as you are conducted through.
Today’s tour was a look at the highlights of Vision of Abyssea, the first of a series of three new add-on scenarios based on a new story arc and area – Abyssea, for Final Fantasy XI. This is not so much a story heavy update as the Chains of Promethia, Wings of the Goddess, etc. series was, but one of combat, adventure and loot. There’s always that! Abyssea is a high level update geared toward levels 75+ and gives players a nifty new set of good looking armor, new skills, new spells, job adjustments and new areas to adventure in.
Even thought this is not a story heavy update, we still start off with a great cut scene when we enter the Port of Jeuno. Which like all FFXI cut scenes, starts your own character, and introduces you to the colored lights you see in Abyssea starting off in this cut scene, with a pink light which only you observe. After speaking with the story giver, we obtain a Traverser Stone – which acts as our key and anchor to Abyssea. Each stone grants us 30 minutes of play time in Abyssea and players can stack up to three of them, gaining 90 minutes of continuous play time in the zone. More stones can be gained as you do quests.
We started off the tour by entering the Walk of Echoes – an area where you entered campaign style battles – equivalent to public or open quests. Picking a gateway which gives you a description of the battle ahead, we entered the zone which was populated with new and unique mobs. One of the neat things about the campaigns entered here was that the mobs you killed re-spawned just a little stronger the next time.
Depending on the strength of your party, gauged by how quickly you could kill the introductory mobs, new ones spawned, increasingly faster and stronger. Up to 36 can enter a battlefield, and mobs are not locked by the person or group who first engages, but rewards are awarded depending on the amount of damage done. We dispatched a great many, testing out combinations of new abilities in the group, enjoying the new animations and spell effects. The rewards also grew greater until we obtained a Treasure Chest, before we moved on.
Although there isn’t a storyline progression, completing battles will unlock further battlefields with more planned in the future. Each battle is also time limited. The clock starts ticking at first engagement and victory ensured if players dispatch all the mobs that spawn within that time. Players are also warned to complete their loot distribution post haste, as you will be kicked out some five minutes after the last Treasure Chest is opened. Regular drops are rolled, but Treasure Chests rolls only awarded to players who have contributed a certain amount to the victory. No free rides in these battles!
Next, we visited our favorite fiendish maze makers, the Moblin Maze Mongers. Of course, we chose to take a quest not from any of the other guys, but from one by name of Sadistiq which spawned the Gumdrop Phlegm Monster. Ew, yuck and ouch. The greater the risk, the greater the reward, and to prevent farming, players are limited to attempting the quest once every 24 hours. Anyway, thank goodness for max level buffs and a great team or my poor warrior would have died at least a dozen times during this tour. Once again, the quests are progressive and completion of one will unlock others.
Another neat feature in Abyssea are the “lights” Remember the pink light at the beginning cut scene? Well it seems that there are other “lights” in Abyssea – and I noted that especially during the increasingly tougher Campaign battles after we defeated mobs. There are seven of them and they basically provide mini treasure chests that provide boosts or just provide straight boosts. They are best described in a developer Q&A in the FFXIclopedia.
The level limit was raised to 80 in June. With Abyssea comes new spells, loot, abilities, equipment and adventures. I enjoyed the new creatures, the way the challenge increased in the Campaign battles of the Walk of Echoes and the Moblin Maze Mongers are always a favorite with its subtle and not so subtle humor. With yet more to come in two more Abyssea add-ons. What’s not to like about it?