Instead of the regularly scheduled FFXIV or Everquest Next column, I thought we might take a bit of a detour, as a new announcement rocked the realm of Vana’diel earlier this week.
It’s bittersweet news, in some ways, as we’re seeing Final Fantasy XI go into a sort of maintenance mode, with one three-part extravaganza to send off the game… well, that isn’t exactly accurate.
Final Fantasy isn’t going kaput a year from now… but they are taking some interesting steps to keep the game going while introducing new ways of revitalizing the once-great MMO cash-cow (gil-chocobo may be more accurate?). Let’s delve further.
Sunsetting on TV Boxes
Perhaps the most logical step to mitigate any losses, Final Fantasy XI is saying goodbye to its PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 versions in March of 2016.
As the Final Fantasy XI team explained, “Going forward, the team will renew its focus on providing an enjoyable FINAL FANTASY XI experience on the Windows platform.”
To maintain an enjoyable experience for the PC, they’re going to need to do away with hardware that just won’t cut it in the impending Windows 10 era. This might even be a boost for them, since it’s likely that a small subset of the people playing FFXI still even use those two consoles for their MMO fix.
Rhapsodies of Vana'diel
One of the bigger announcements out of The Vana’diel Project is the “three-part extravaganza” I mentioned.
Known as the Rhapsodies of Vana'diel, this is the first of a three-chapter final main scenario for the game, which the company says aims to “serve as the ultimate compilation of all we have accomplished to date, with major characters from throughout the game's history making appearances –a feat that only a game as storied as FINAL FANTASY XI can offer.”
These three chapters will show up in the May, August, and November version updates, respectively. After the three updates come out, Final Fantasy XI will essentially only have minor updates for bugfixes and balancing.
While various campaigns throughout the years will also be returning thanks to a new event called The Goddess's Gala, Square Enix doesn’t say much more than that right now.
I’m hesitant to call it a formal end, as I’m still fervently hoping Seekers of Adoulin won’t be the last expansion – unless this is also called a main scenario. I’m likely expecting a miracle here, but you never know.
FFXI: The Massively Multiplayer MOBILE RPG?
Speaking of miracles, have you heard of the miracle of technology? Technology lets us shrink or magnify things with the power of doohickeys, and they’re planning to do the same to Final Fantasy XI!
Specifically, Square Enix is partnering with Nexon to make a Massively Multiplayer Mobile Roleplaying Game (MMMRPG) that takes everything that was awesome about FFXI and makes it… portable!
If that sounds delicious to you, you’ll likely want to know that Vana’diel will be adjusted to better suit tablets and other touch-screen interfaces, meaning an easier experience of playing a much-loved game. Along with 13 years of game comes 2015’s accoutrements meant to improve the experience, such as improved partying systems, solo activities, and dynamic events.
Square Enix goes on to say, “We plan to extend service to Japan, Korea, and North America, as well as Europe and the rest of Asia, with an eye toward release in 2016. Be on the lookout for a renewed FINAL FANTASY XI as a massive multiplayer mobile role playing game combining MMOs with mobile devices.”
Grandmastering the Smartphone RPG
Along with this comes a Japan-specific (at least for now) “full-scale online RPG for smartphones that shares the characters and world setting of FINAL FANTASY XI.”
According to what’s been said so far, players would be able to combine jobs and equipment to make a custom character in the Final Fantasy XI setting. Square Enix is partnering with another company, Crooz, for this one.
Not much else is known, though I think I have to chalk it up to Square Enix to want to diversify a 13-year old world into extensions and spin-offs. I’m hoping the results won’t be cheap cash-grabs (at least, not as cash-grabby as other super cheap cash grabs).
Moreover, I’m hopeful and ecstatic that they’re taking some technological liberties here. Imagine: they invested in FFXIV and brought it back as a blockbuster MMO. I’m actually willing to pay Square Enix a subscription up front if they can actually successfully pull off the FFXI world on an iPad as a sort of redemption for Final Fantasy: All the Bravest.
That said, I have to know. What’s your take on these developments? Are you excited for a AAA-MMMRPG on your tablets? Would you be willing to play a casual FFXI hero-sim on your smartphone?
Most importantly, will you still love Square Enix and Vana’diel after this singular direction has been set for the game? Let me know in the comments, and if you have questions regarding FFXI’s direction, send them to the official forum thread on the FFXI forums here!