It's something that has been said a million times before by a million different people but I'll say it again: in all the ways that matter, Final Fantasy XIV failed. However, a bad game isn't always unforgivable. They happen, after all. What made Final Fantasy XIV so abhorrent to the fans was, quite simply, the fact that the game had the potential to be so much more.
And that's where Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn comes in. After a multitude of attempts at salvaging the situation, Square Enix eventually made the decision to rebuild the game from scratch.
At E3 2012, we began exploring the changes that Final Fantasy XIV 2.0 would bring to table. At Gamescom 2012, we found out a little more about the story, the battle system, and some of the changes to the controls. Much like before, Naoki Yoshida (and his ever-present translator) chaired the roundtable discussion.
Besides showing off the introduction and a brief look of what life would be like in the new title, Square Enix also displayed a glimpse of the new Limit Break System. While the phrase 'Limit Break' generally evokes images of long-cut scenes and incredible amounts of damage inflicted by a single individual, such is not the case here. According to Yoshida, the Limit Break system will be a party-based system where the party will collectively fill up a limit guage. Once the meter is full, one member of the party can then initiate the limit break. The effects will, naturally, differ depending on the class and discipline of the user.
"The current battle system that we have right now is based on TP and the TP fills as you fight. The biggest thing that is going to be different here is that the TP guage will be full when you start combat so you can use skills and weapons right off the bat. And so, in addition to that, the combo system will change and the battles will be more action-oriented because you'll be able to use all of these things from the beginning."
"Because of that, the battle tempo, the speed with which you fight things, and the speed from one battle to the next will be significantly increased."
So, what else is different? "The biggest difference is that we're going to give the new version a more Final Fantasy feel to it. We're going to bring things like Chocobos, Moogles, Summons, high-quality, deep story - things that will give it that final fantasy feel." Of course, one of the other big changes was the inclusion of a female Roegadyn and a male Miqo'te, something that offered a better sense of gender equality in the game. Additionally, the user interface appears to have been revamped as well. With but a stroke of a button, players will be able to modify their HUD to suit their settings. Interestingly, while little has been revealed about it just yet, it looks like there will be a separate interface for the PS3 version. In fact, according to Yoshida, there is an entirely different team working for the controls on that.
"There will be three major storylines included in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. The first is a large, overarching story, one not alike what you find in World of Warcraft. Basically, it covers the Garlean Empire and how they've invaded and how the people of the Realm are attempting to get their Realm back." Yoshida began.
He continued, moving on to detail the second story. "The second story is going to be a story surrounding the Primals which are the summons in Final Fantasy XIV and how there are many different Beast Tribes that worship these Primals and how these Primals, when summoned, drain the lifeforce of the planet. Whenever they're out, they weaken the place. Thus, the second story is going to revolve around how the people of the Realm are fighting the Beast Tribes and how they're attempting to stop the Beast Tribes from bringing this threat to the planet. There's also a bit on how the Garlean Empire is kind of involved in this as well. “
"Finally, we're going to be looking at a continuation of what is going to happen at the end of the current version. A giant entity in the sky, Dalamud, is coming towards the planet and it's threatening all life there. Basically, what's going to happen at the time Dalamud comes and the period after that, we have the story solve all those mysteries that were left untied at the end of the story.
“Of course, the story will be told through many, m any different quests. We have a large number of questions that we will be implementing and these will range from very short quests that will only hint at the background story to very Final Fantasy-esque high quality cutscenes with lots of dialogue and exposition. “
Personally, I'm still a little leery of the proceedings but there's a slight glimmer of hope nestled in my cynical heart. While we were leaving, I turned to one of the many Square Enix representatives that thronged the presentation and asked, off-handedly, 'Any idea of when the relaunch is going to be will be?'
“Next year! We're still figuring that out. You know, we want to get it right. I think it'd be earlier rather than later. I don't think we'll go as late as Christmas or anything like that but we want to get it right. Obviously, the first time we put out the game, it wasn't … ready so, this time around, it has to be right.”
Will they pull through? We hope so.