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Wayback Wednesday in Vana'Diel

Robert Lashley Posted:
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Welcome to this week’s Wayback Wednesday recap. Last week I spent time in the world of Vana’Diel playing Final Fantasy XI with my cohost for the day Josh aka Daggart.  I have a lot of fond memories from my time spent playing FFXI.  FFXI and Dark Age of Camelot are the first two MMO’s I ever played, and I played each for entirely different reasons.

FFXI is the first MMO from Square Enix based on their popular Final Fantasy franchise.  Like all other numbered Final Fantasies that came before it this game is not a direct sequel to any previous entry in the series, nor does it take place in the same world as any of the other Final Fantasies.  FFXI was released in North America on October 28th, 2003.  This is a year after it launched in Japan but the North American release also came with the first expansion, Rise of the Zilart.  This expansion increased the level cap to 75 and added in 3 new classes; ninja, samurai, and dragoon.  Since then the game has had three additional full expansions, Chains of Promathia, Teasures of Aht Urhgan, and Wings of the Goddess; with a fifth expansion on the way, Seekers of Adoulin. 

The biggest draw for most people to FFXI is the PVE experience.  FFXI was not launched with a PvP system but at the request of the community it was finally added.  The Ballista battle system was something I never really bothered with.  If I wanted to PvP there were better games on the market for that.  Some of the features that really defined FFXI PVE were:

  • Notorious Monsters
  • Sub Jobs
  • Skill Chains and Magic Bursts
  • Experience Chains
  • Epic story lines
  • Complex crafting and fishing system

While named or rare monsters are commonplace in today’s MMORPGs at the time Notorious Monsters (NM) were very unique and something that really intrigued me.  With their long timers and complex conditions to spawn, time of day, elemental influence in the zone, whether or not they felt like it (OK I made that last one up) NMs were that much more rewarding when you finally found and slayed them.  The first NM I remember killing was Spiney Spipi in East Sarutabaruta and my perseverance was rewarded with a Mist Silk Cape.  Because I was a warrior with no plans on picking up a caster job the cape was not useful for me other than to sell for gil, but the hunt was the real reward.  There are also Hyper NM that are designed for groups that could take hours for parties to kill. 

Next to notorious monsters skill chains were my favorite part of FFXI.  To say FFXI involved a lot of grinding would be an understatement.  You would spend most of your time in parties while leveling in certain camps grinding on mobs. Based upon the group composition you could perform special attacks in certain orders that would result in skill chains.  These skill chains could then be capped off by a caster for a magic burst.  There were graphical effects to these skill chains and magic bursts and it was a fun and rewarding experience to see them go off.  It was also that much nicer because it increased the speed with which you killed your target and would allow you to chain more mobs for higher experience chains.

The graphics in Final Fantasy were also spectacular in 2003; however, this once great game is finally starting to show her age.  Even though FFXI has Seekers of Adoulin on the horizon I cannot recommend this game to new players.  If you already play FFXI and enjoy it by all means keep playing it, but for any new players I would recommend that you hold out for FFXIV’s relaunch.  While FFXIV is suffering through a catastrophic release the changes forecasted for 2.0 hold a lot of promise. Also, some of the nuances that many considered to add charm to FFXI over the past decade, such as waiting up to 15 minutes to ride an airship or boat, would only be seen as inconveniences today.

I may visit Vana’Diel again in the future but I do not think it will be anytime soon. I do look forward to future FF MMO adventures in Eorzea though.  This week on Wayback Wednesday we start our new adventure in Dark Age of Camelot as a member of the Midgard Realm.  Go Zeus, or something.  You can find and kill me on my Runemaster Grakulyn on the Ywain server.  We will be battling out tonight in Thidranki.  As usual I’ll be joined by Kai, Talal, and John from Mythic.  Questions, comments, or complaints please leave them in the space below.  You can also get in touch with me through Twitter or on Facebook.  Thanks for watching.


Robert Lashley

Rob Lashley is a Staff Writer and Online host for MMORPG.com. Rob's bald and when he isn't blinding people from the glare on his head talking in front of a camera you can chase him down on twitter @Grakulen or find him on YouTube @RobUnwraps.