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Ryahl Smith Posted:
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As we continue to look forwards to Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, many of us wonder what lies ahead in the new game.  As I indicated in the last column, part of what makes writing about ARR interesting is that it is a story equal parts existing game evolution and new game development.  This means that we can learn a good bit about what is to come by examining what we have already seen.

Final Fantasy XIV launched in Q4, 2010 and ended in Q4, 2012.  Over that time there were 23 version builds and a number of sub-builds.  Many of the initial customers dropped out of the game early on and many other potential customers simply avoided the title given the weak reviews.  Many missed out on seeing the evolution of Yoshida’s vision for A Realm Reborn.  For the next two columns, I am going to look backwards to better assist us in moving forwards.  In this column, I look at features added to Final Fantasy XIV prior to the End of an Era event. 

New Systems for Player Characters

While many of the changes to player characters manifested with alterations of the armory system, a number of completely new systems were added to the game.  The primary new changes involved:

Achievement Log – The Achievement log was added in the 1.20 patch.  This system added a series of unlocks for various character achievements.  Some of these unlocks added titles while others provided appearance gear.

Combo System – Also added in the 1.20 update, the combo system created a new layer of complexity for the battle system.  FFXIV uses a tactical point (TP) system similar to that of FFXI.  The player starts out with 0TP and gradually builds TP through their auto attacks.  Once an appropriate amount of TP is accumulated, weapon abilities could be utilized.  The combo system extended the battle system in two interesting ways.  First, combo abilities required 0TP if they followed in appropriate sequence.  Second, if executed in the proper manner, a combo ability could add additional effects to your attack.  For example, in the accompany image you see an early Pugilist combo.  The Concussive Blow ability (usually 1500TP) becomes a 0TP ability if it follows Pummel.  Further, properly executed, Concussive Blow gains a damage bonus as part of its chain.

Materia System – The Materia system made its first appearance in update 1.19, but was tweaked a bit in subsequent updates.  This system added customizability to gear and added an item sink to the economy.  Essentially, as you wore gear it became attuned to you.  Once attuned, you could deconstruct it, obtaining material to augment future gear.  Materia added to gear increased stats and you could layer on material (at a higher risk of failure) to increase those stats.

Job System – What would Final Fantasy be without White Mage, Black Mage, Paladin and Dragoon you ask?  I believe it wouldn’t be Final Fantasy.  Apparently Yoshi-P agrees, FFXIV added the iconic job system into patch 1.21.  The initial release saw the jobs listed earlier along with Warrior, Monk and Bard.  Each job was built to extend off of two of the armory system classes – for example, Paladin used Guardian and Conjurer while Monk uses Pugilist and Lancer.  The job system restricted some of the flexibility of the armory system, but provided greater role specificity while playing in a job as opposed to just an armory class.

Housing – Inn rooms made their first appearance in update 1.21 as well.  Each of the three cities had an inn; you could unlock access to the inn by completing a basic quest.  The inn had three primary functions.  First, it was a place to rest and recover rested experience.  Second, an armoire system added in update 1.22 provided a location to store no drop gear.  Third, a rather interesting book called “The Undending Journey” allowed you to go back and revisit story cut-scenes.

Grand Companies - The Final Fantasy XIV Take on Factions

Beginning in update 1.18, FFXIV added in Grand Companies.  Each primary city had a distinctive grand company, the Maelstrom, the Order of the Twin Adders and the Immortal Flames.  Once you became level 22 in an adventuring class, you could begin the process of joining one of these factions.  Joining a faction opened up a number of game activities and item merchants. 

Through completing activities for a Grand Company, players would promote through a series of ranks.  Additionally, the Final Fantasy Lodestone tracked daily and weekly leaderboards for each faction – players who earned the most seals (completed via Grand Company activities) had the distinction of being recognized on a leaderboard.  Various activities were added to Grand Companies, including:

  • Company Leve’s – an extension of the leve quest system
  • Caravan Security – escort missions
  • Provisioning, Supply and Expeditionary Missions – solo delivery missions

In addition to these activities, the Grand Companies were the gateway for a number of the group based game elements discussed later in this article.  Grand Company membership was also associated with chocobo ownership and certain item buffs.

Iconic Final Fantasy Travel

While FFXIV launched with a form of fast-travel via their Aetheryte system, Final Fantasy wouldn’t be Final Fantasy without its staple transport systems.  Airships and Chocobos made their appearance in game update 1.19.  As a harbinger of things to come in A Realm Reborn, Yoshi’s team experimented with some optional mount choices as well.  For example, in update 1.20, players got a limited time opportunity to gain a rather large mount.

Party Based Content

The core game element of Final Fantasy is the party.  While FFXIV launched a bit light on party content, Yoshida’s team did an admirable job of adding group-based content and rewards. 

In update 1.17, the developers reduced maximum team size from 15 down to 8 persons.  From that point forwards, content was designed for either light parties (4-7 players) or full parties (8 players).  Party content categories added in FFXIV include:

Strongholds – the FFXIV take on dungeons.  Natalan, U’Ghammaro Mines, Zahar’ak, Shposhai and Castrum Novuum all had their denizens, notorious monster bosses, and hidden treasure chests.

Instance Raids – these were tied into the Grand Company system.  The lower level Toto-Rak (level 25) along with the higher level (45+) raids in Dzemael Stronghold, Aurum Vale and Cutter’s Cry offered opportunities to test your mettle in timed PVE play.

Skirmish – another Grand Company feature, Skirmish placed you and your party on an island populated with hostiles.  Locke’s Lair and Turtleback Island were each available for light parties.

Hamlet Defense – Hamlet defense was a rather ambitious undertaking, with players contributing to the defense of the Aleport and Golden Bazaar hamlets.  Each Hamlet Defense consisted of a 50 hour preparation phase and a 25 hour defense phase.  The preparation phase was largely designed for the gathering and crafting classes.  All classes, adventuring, crafting and gathering, were involved in instanced based defenses during the defense phase.

Primals – Chocobos and Airships are not the only staple to Final Fantasy.  Battles with primal summons are another common theme in FF.  Here also, Yoshida’s team did not disappoint, adding three primal battles during the life of FFXIV.  Ifrit was added in the 1.19 update, with Good King Moggle XII coming in update 1.20 and Garuda joining in update 1.22.

Closing Thoughts

At this point, we can expect to see all of these features making their way over to A Realm Reborn.  Some of them will change a bit, for example Hamlet Defense is going to be incorporated into the F.A.T.E. system.  A few will go away; the Goobbue Mount was a limited opportunity.  Similarly, one of the boss battles (not listed here) is gone as its backstory is directly linked to the End of an Era event.  But, the rest of these elements will join in with revised elements of original FFXIV and new elements unique to A Realm Reborn. 

In a future column, I will review some of the origin systems for FFXIV that went through significant revisions during the FFXIV rebuilding period.  I will also address some of the projected features (like F.A.T.E.) we anticipate seeing in A Realm Reborn.  What were some of your favorite parts of FFXIV?  What are some of the things you are hoping to see changed?  What new features are you most excited about?  Join us in the Eorzea Reborn comments below and let’s talk A Realm Reborn!


Ryahl Smith

Ryahl / Ryahl is a columnist for MMORPG.Com. He is also the host and primary author for Eorzea Reborn and TSWGuides. He has been playing MMO’s since 1999 and remembers when the holy trinity didn’t involve DPS. You can follow him on Twitter @EorzeaReborn or just argue with him in comments anywhere he posts.