The state of the Onion Helm

 

Being unemployed has its perks, I suppose.  For one thing I was able to wake up nice and early yesterday and watch the live letter from the producer as it was live.  Me and about 20K other people.  I was able to watch the Q&A thread populate in real-time.  I was able to follow the community on the Lodestone as they commented about what as going on, and I was able to watch Yoshi-P and Foxclon fiddle with different settings as their live stream went out a few times and they had to switch channels. I did enjoy being on the front lines of the media and watching everything as it happened, it was fun.

I didn’t understand a word they were saying, as I don’t speak Japanese and have never had a chance to learn, but I did pick up on some of the body language so that I had a good idea what they were talking about by what was on the screen at the time.  I remember seeing the chocobo fighting on screen and knowing they were talking about fighting companions.  I could see when they were talking about the new hair styles and the changes to the character creator.  I could see the new maps and mounts and UI Changes.  And I was watching at the exact moment they were talking about the Scholar class – watching Foxclon point to the picture behind them with the Scholar and Yoshi-P giving his nod of confirmation.

Overall the live video did answer a lot of the burning questions we had – some news better than others (such as beta phase 3 not starting until mid-June) but also give us a lot of questions going into E3, which of course will be when beta testing resumes, a bunch more information comes out to the public, and when the next live letter will be held.  Having played many other MMORPGs since FFXIV went down I really think ARR is going to deliver in all those places that other MMORPG’s are missing.

 

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The things I look forward to the most in FFXIV 2.0:

  1. The community
  2. The lore
  3. The UI
  4. The variety of content
  5. Graphics

Community:
It’s been said that a P2P model keeps out a lot of the riffraff, which may very well be true.  But for FFXIV the community is not just limited to people who can afford a monthly fee.  Sure it requires a certain kind of dedication and devotion to a game to play one where you pay each month, but let’s not forget that a majority of the players will either be fans of the Final Fantasy series, people migrating from a long-term standing in FFXI, or people who genuinely are interested in playing a top-quality MMORPG.  From what I’ve learned of the FFXIV community it is that we are fun, respectful, helpful, and easy-going for the most part.  Even those I’ve met who are “elite” players are able to take a break once in a while and parade around in their swimsuits and get a few laughs from their friends.

The Lore:
It is refreshing to have a lore based around something other than the generic “dragons and castles” lore we see in a lot of other MMORPGs.  And to have a lore that is as long standing as the Final Fantasy lore – that doesn’t require having to make everything up on the spot for just one game, it establishes itself deeper than something like TERA or RIFT or any other new game out there.  The lore of Final Fantasy dates back to the 1980’s when the first title was released.  It has had a lot of time to grow and mature and refine itself along the way.  Certain items, jobs, monsters, summons, creatures, buildings, names – they all carry a weight to them.  We know what airships are, what Ifrit means, what a Moogle is, who Cid is, and what a Phoenix down does long before we ever step foot into this title.  We know the names of legendary weapons and why we should fear the Tonberry.  Anyone who is a fan of the series will feel comfortable going into FFXIV 2.0 because it is based on all the refinement that came before it.

The UI:
One thing I can’t stand about a UI is when it is in such a way that it doesn’t do what you want it to do.  If you can’t put a box where you think it should go, if you can’t read a map like you think it should be read, if you can’t tell what items you own, how much money you have, and what you are doing and where to go next – then the UI has failed.  FFXIV 2.0 is doing a great job with their UI.  They took ideas from WoW, GW2, TERA, and put it all in a way that makes sense.  They’re also adding options to re size every object on the UI.  And unlike WOW, they actually got the chat box down in the corner and the action bars can be moved freely and don’t get in the way of anything.  I feel with this UI I can actually manage and customize things to the way I want to play and not the way the game forces me to play.  The development team listened on this, and it will always remind me on how they listened.

Variety of Content:
One thing that irks me to no end in other MMORPGs is never being able to take a respite from adventuring, questing, and leveling up.  You’re either fighting and gaining experience points, or you’re wasting time.  Not true in FFXIV 2.0.  First of all they are adding a housing system so you have a place to display your achievements, a place to return to regularly, and a place to work on improving.  There is a great crafting system to the point where you can craft anywhere at any time (no need to find a town with a crafting station).  There will be mini-games, chocobo breeding, a great market system, and a variety of places to explore, quests to undertake, and maps to unlock.  The fact that any player can switch to any class at any time means areas have a lot of replay value and you always feel like you’re connected to a living and breathing world and are free to do any single thing in it.  You can be one crafting class, or all crafting classes.  You can be a healer one minute, and switch over to being tank the next.  You can spend all day gathering materials from nature and crafting items to sell and fill your pockets with gold.  You can hang out all day and RP with your friends – heck you can craft with your friends, while you RP.  The sky is the limit.

Graphics:
The single main reason I gave FFXIV a chance when 1.0 came out was the graphics.  Up until this point most games were clunky such as WoW, FFXI, the original Guild Wars, Star Wars Galaxies – just a bunch of low-quality avatars and walls of text to read, crummy UI and very difficult game play.  When FFXIV came out I finally felt like they had gotten it right.  When I played the game it didn’t feel like a typical clunky and dated MMORPG, it felt like a professional, top notch RPG that added other players into it.  The characters and world was detailed, the cut scenes pulled me in, the world just felt so real and lifelike.  I was hooked.  Looking at even the more modern MMORPGs now such as TERA and GW2 – even though their graphics cleaned up nicely, when I played Beta in FFXIV 2.0 – everything seemed to run so much smoother, with so much more detail and life to it.  It was like sliding on a new pair of socks and gliding on the kitchen floor.  (yeah, that’s how it felt – don’t judge me).

ImageI’m hoping at E3 we will see many more developments and hear about even more content for FFXIV 2.0.  I’m excited for Beta 3 as I can’t wait to step back into the streets of Ul’dah again and see all of my friends and see what new abilities I have and what the new fighting feels like.  I hate to say it, but I think with all the announcements heard recently I’m about ready to stop hoping for more and more news and just be able to play with what news we have.  I know there is so much more content planned and so much more people are asking about, but with Scholar now coming along with Summoner, all the new maps, items, story lines and new players coming on board, I think we have more than enough to keep us busy.  I hope they finish up what they are working on soon and that everything gets ready soon because I want to dive in.

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