A Crystalline Prophecy - An Ode of Life Bestowing is the first of three scenarios, or mini-expansions, launching in Final Fantasy XI. Masato Kato, who oversaw the initial plot conception and event direction for the original Final Fantasy XI and the Rise of the Zilart expansion had been approached to write continuing storylines and the three new scenarios are a result of that. These mini-expansions aren't about new maps, but are strictly storyline expansions expanding on the history and myth of Vana'diel via missions and cutscenes... and of course cool loot.
Launched on April 9th, 2009, the storyline of A Crystalline Prophecy revolves around a giant crystal that appears in the sky above Jueno. It explains some mysteries of Vana'diel's past and leads to some inexplicable happenings in the land. This is conveyed in the cut scene (more like a short movie) which involves your character, triggering as you enter Lower Jeuno. There, you see the Crystal appear in the sky and hear its song, which fades into an ethereal echo. Aldo and Emeline, the children featured in the opening movie of Final Fantasy XI, feature as adults in the cut scene. When the Crystal disappears, the town folk seem to have no memory of what had just occurred and a child asks you if that were not unusual. You discover it is the young Aldo. Just what is happening? This puzzling scenario begins the quests or missions in A Crystalline Prophecy.
From there, I was brought to the Fields of Valor where the Devs showed me one of the short training quests and we received a Treasure Casket - a new item that yields regular items such as potions and elixirs, as well as regular and rare gear. Speaking of gear, A Crystalline Prophecy and the accompanying update brings Augmentation to FFXI. Some equipment gained in this mini-expansion will carry a random effect. We jaunted also to the Ru'Aun Gardens and Behemoth's Dominion where I received an augment for my robe as a mission reward. Players are restricted to one mission per day for these augment missions for balance issues.
The end rewards in A Crystalline Prophecy are three new pieces of armor that aren't just stats and eye-candy. The Mirke Wardecors, Nuevo Coselete and Royal Redingote have player customizable effects. Players who complete the missions of this expansion will be rewarded with one of these garments and may choose two out of 20 effects available. These effects run from Accuracy of +10 to Pet bonuses such as Magic Accuracy and Magic Bonuses of +7.
In A Crystalline Prophecy and the current version updates, the FFXI developers addressed the White Mage as part of their ongoing "looks" at the jobs in FFXI. The White Mage has some nice new spells. Auspice reduces the rate at which your enemy gains Tactical Points (required for weapon skills) and Sacrifice removes a negative effect from your target and transfers it to yourself. Oh how I immediately wanted that for my other games as well. Imagine being able to transfer a "Slow" or other detrimental effects from your main tank to yourself.
At Fort Karugo-Narugo, a Mithra stronghold, I was treated to another cut scene movie with my character featuring in it. I quipped halfway through the movie that it would probably be on Youtube by Monday to which the team fervently hoped not! Go check the door to the fort, I was told after I buffed my party at the end of the cut scene. Ouch! I had triggered the quest and got thumped for my troubles, but the tanks efficiently took over the aggro while I sorted through my skills and threw a few slows, blinds and repeatedly cast Sacrifice on my main tank throughout the course of the battle.
Square Enix also introduced a new security feature in April, a physical security token that when linked to your account, adds a new level of security by generating a random one-time password when you log into your account. An MMO player's worst nightmare is having his or her account hacked. If you think about it, this also prevents sharing of accounts and the inherent problems that often arise from that. To entice players to participate - as the security token costs $9.99, included with the security token purchase, is an in-game item, the "MOG Satchel" which essentially doubles your inventory space. A feature I was told, that was received well by the players. Both for the higher level of security and the doubling of inventory space.
What I gathered from the media tour is that indeed, A Crystalline Prophecy is all about furthering the Final Fantasy story. Square Enix is rather proud of the fact that they managed to entice Masato Kato back to write these storyline scenarios for FFXI Online. Each cut scene I viewed was not a short 30 second clip, but rather long and involved. All involved my character being in the movie and although I had no control over the character, he nevertheless was addressed by NPCs and participated in the action. The Fort Karugo-Narugo cut scene was particularly well done, showing the epic battle that took place there. A pity that Square Enix did not choose to do any voice-acting for these cut scenes as that would have been the cherry on top. It would have added immensely to the immersion and enjoyment of the cut scenes as a lot of thought and work obviously went into them. Players who are really into the myth and story-telling aspect of Final Fantasy XI Online will probably enjoy this scenario as well as the next two in the series; A Moogle Kupo d'Etat and A Shantotto Ascension
Below, find images of the three armor chest pieces in the following order: Mirke Wardecors, uevo Coselete and Royal Redingote.