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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

FFXI=>FFXIV Endgame: Part 1

Posted by Hyanmen Friday June 26 2009 at 6:49AM
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 The subject today is the endgame structure found in FFXI and later, perhaps in FFXIV as well. There are many types of events in FFXI, so I'll go through them in order; by looking at the more current events we can also find out what the FFXIV endgame might consist of later. 

 From Sky Gods to Zeni Notorious Monsters

The 'sky' system was one of the first endgame events in FFXI. It consisted of tiers of strong monsters you needed to kill to progress. For the first tier the monsters had to be camped, since they would repop only after several hours had passed since they were last killed. Each of them would drop an item needed to pop the next tier, the four sky gods. These four gods would, when killed, drop a seal needed to pop the final monster in the system, Kirin, as well as fairly good equipment and synthesis items. At first, to beat these monsters you needed at least 18 people, and for Kirin having at least 25 people was almost mandatory.

The 'sea' system was the second tier-based system implemented in FFXI. In this system, too, you had to kill harder and harder monsters to progress to the next tier. The system is considered to be inferior to 'sky' in many aspects however. Monsters did no longer drop synthesis materials, and while the equipment was fairly good still, the monsters could only drop one to two of them compared to 'sky' gods' several pieces. The drop rate is quite low for the first tier, but got better as you progressed further. 

However, there is one very significant difference compared to the sky system. 

Absolute Virtue.

Absolute Virtue (AV) is the Kirin of sea: the final tier monster in the system. Unlike Kirin, AV has never been killed the 'right' way. As it is right now (even after several adjustments), no group can survive against his attacks while dealing enough damage. The development team has said that there is a trick to killing it, but nobody has found it as of today (even after several hints were given, and a video made by the dev team was released). 

Al'taieu, or often called the 'sea'.

The two systems have some similarities though. Both events require you to progress through the story to unlock the main area where the monsters are fought. The way monsters are popped requires camping in both events, which can be very time consuming.

In these aspects the third tiered system differs quite a bit from it's predecessors. Zeni Notorious Monsters (ZNM) are popped using different items you get by trading pictures of normal monsters to an NPC. The NPC will then give you 'zeni' points based on the quality of the picture (level/hp/type of monster, and from which angle the picture was taken). Every monster gives some amount of points, but the NPC has a preferred monster type that changes every few hours. That monster type usually gives the most points. Usually for about ~15 pictures you get enough zeni to pop a tier 1 monster. You can only trade 10 pictures per a RL hour to the NPC though.

The system requires no camping whatsoever, and once you get the required item to pop the monster using zeni, you can go to the designated pop area and start fighting as soon as everyone is ready. The first tiers don't require many people to clear them; most of the time less than 6 players are enough to kill the monster, and in some cases even one player can succeed with relative ease.

Unlike sea monsters, ZNM's drop equipment like their sky counterparts, and the higher tier ones some synthesis materials as well. However, the pop items required to proceed to final tier do not have 100% drop rate like the sky gods do. The drop rate is about 10%~, and it can take a long time to get all 3 pop items. 

Unlike sky and sea monsters, ZNM's are scattered around the expansion areas and there is no mission requirement to be able to do it. It is linked to a minigame released earlier though, the Pankration, which you may have to do a bit first before you can start gathering the points.

The final tier monster in the system, called Pandemonium Warden, has similarities to AV.  At first, SE thought that both monsters should take around 18 hours to kill. However the negative reaction from the playerbase made SE change the monsters to have a 2 hour time limit in which you have to kill them. Unlike AV, PW has been able to be killed by many groups, but it is still quite a challenge to most of the playerbase.

Pandemonium Warden, the final monster in the ZNM system.

So, what conclusions can we draw from this?

If FFXIV endgame will have a tier system, it will most likely become a mix of sea and ZNM. Popping monsters might be point based instead of time, the lower tier monsters could be killed with only few players or solo, and there will most likely be a monster similar to AV or PW; let's hope for the latter. SE might create an artifical limitation as to how often you can kill the monster (be it time or limitations to how many points you can get in a day, or something else). We can never be sure when it's SE  we're talking about though. They might not go back to this system and try something completely new, but right now anything is possible.


Next time I'll talk about the world spawn system that many current and ex-FFXI players might remember as the weakest link of the endgame systems. 

BadSpock writes:

I'd imagine they'll get rid of the camping. At least I hope they would. Allow players to work towards popping the monsters whenever they/their group is ready instead of having to wait for the repops and contend with other camping groups.

Still, to me this just sounds like grinding smaller mobs to grind on big mobs... is there any strategy to the boss fights? Are there different phases to them? 

I guess I just don't know enough about FFXI end-game, so thanks for the great write up, but any additional info would be great so I/we can at least know what kind of system to (maybe) expect.

Fri Jun 26 2009 9:46AM Report
Hyanmen writes:

 That would be the most likely scenario, heero. I don't think that they would go back to how sea and sky work, especially since ZNM's had quite a positive reaction from the players.

While I think that SE will most likely invent some new, more strategic method of combat, I could give some insight as to how the monsters work (there are phases for example, and without some kind of strategy your group will wipe very fast.) I'd say that the fights aren't as complex as, ex. some WoW raids can be, but there are some neat features to them and especially the events themselves are surprisingly complex, even if the monsters always aren't.

I'll talk about the monsters and the strategies in more detail in my next posts, if you want. 

Fri Jun 26 2009 12:49PM Report writes:
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