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Final Fantasy XIV - What can one expect from this Square-Enix's next-gen MMO?

In this blog I talk about SE's new upcoming MMO 'Final Fantasy XIV (Online)'.

Author: Hyanmen

An early comparison between the popular MMORPG's and FFXIV

Posted by Hyanmen Tuesday June 23 2009 at 4:38AM
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 First I'll look at how other MMORPG's handle the progressing of the character- these days often called leveling.

1. The difference between soloing for experience

Most of the time you can solo all the way to the level cap with ease. The difference between grouping and soloing isn't massive. Soloing is done in the same manner as grouping: killing monsters alone most of the time, and doing simple quests.

It is very possible that FFXIV might break from this trend, and try something quite different instead. Where do I base my assumption? For the answer to that we need to look at FFXI and how it has developed from a 99% grouping game to a more solo friendly one.

For one, FFXI has implemented the so called Fields of Valor system- basically a renamed event for "questing" in other MMORPG's; you kill a few mobs and get extra experience. There isn't much difference between this system and other MMO's questing systems.

However, what I think SE will use later instead of the oh so popular quest system is something they implemented in their 3rd expansion pack, Treasures of Aht Urhgan and continued in the 4th expansion: Large scale battles that are always available and where one doesn't need to group up to get decent experience.

In FFXI the event could be better; Ps2 limitations are holding it back from being something mindblowing. However, that's where FFXIV comes in: with the PS3 capabilities it could become something really epic. Especially if the game is actually designed around it, instead of trying to implement it into a system not designed for that kind of encounters.

There is one more reason for me to assume this; the development team has always been a fan of grouping up. It might not be unreasonable to say that they want to keep the grouping aspect as strong as possible, while making it possible for players to get experience (or whatever it is called in XIV) by themselves, although they'd still be a part of something bigger. 

2. The different emphasis to grouping and soloing

As mentioned above, the FFXI (and XIV) development team likes players to team up and play together. That's why the grouping aspect in FFXIV might be given more emphasis than in other MMORPG's.

It won't mean that the grouping will be 'forced' like it is in FFXI. It is very likely that it will play a bigger role in XIV than in other MMO's however. How big the role will be is unknown, but expect to see a clear difference.

3. PvP

The biggest difference will most likely be in the amount and type of PvP you are going to see in XIV compared to titles like WAR and WoW. 

As the development team has said in the Q&A session few weeks ago, PvP in FFXIV will most likely shape up to be similar to what it was in FFXI. Let me explain how it was done there:

There wasn't any open PvP, and the event was very friendly at heart. Grouping was important, and soloing wasn't nearly as effective. The main purpose wasn't to kill the opposing team, but it was more like a "Capture the flag" type encounter.

It was a fun minigame to do and not really a big part of the game itself. That is how it will probably be in FFXIV too, although it could be  a part of the main game this time.

4. The world, the graphics and the classes

The graphical style in FFXIV seems to continue in the same trend as in FFXI: realistic 'anime' look. More similar to the korean MMO Aion rather than western MMO's like WAR.  

Nobody knows if the world will shape up to be zone-based like FFXI or an open world area like WoW. Knowing SE's track record, I'd probably say that they will keep zones around, however make the loading times smaller and the zones bigger in size, as well as more open.

A significant difference between other MMO's and FFXIV will be that you can change classes with the same character, and that there won't be race/class limitations like there often are in MMO's these days.

5. Endgame and gear progression

One big difference in the endgame structure will be that there will be less events released, but they all add up because nothing gets replaced. The drop rates will be lower than usually, but because there's so many events you can do after a while it won't be much of a problem. The events will vary and there won't be just one type of event to do. Gear progression at level cap will be horizontal, and full of sidegrades.

6. Communicating

The dev team doesn't communicate with the players as much as the western developers do. They like to hide things as long as possible, and answer to questions with "We cannot tell you at this time." They do take feedback from the players, but often implement their suggestions in a way nobody would have expected: they're still developers after all, just copying ideas isn't good enough!

 

That is all about the differences between the MMO's for today. Next time I'll talk about the director of FFXIV - Nobuaki Komoto and his last work, the "Chains of Promathia" expansion for FFXI.