Square Announces ‘FINAL FANTASY XIV Version 2.0’ and Provides a Slew of Details and Artwork
Holy. Sh*t. Alright, as many of you know I’ve been a FINAL FANTASY XIV player since the alpha testing: I’ve been there for the bad beta, the rocky launch, and I’ve seen the massive improvements the new development team has made over the last year. But this…even I didn’t see this one coming. Square announced today their plans for FINAL FANTASY XIV 2.0, a relaunched version of the game to release next fall (with free upgrade software for existing players) on both PC and PS3 with a new graphical engine, and a lot of new features. Hit the jump to hear all the news.
The official announcement, courtesy of The Lodestone:
Allow me to thank you all for your continued interest in FINAL FANTASY XIV.
One year has passed since the game’s release, and despite the disappointment surrounding its launch, we have received a wealth of support from you, the players. Your encouraging words and continued loyalty have been a source of immeasurable inspiration to everyone involved with FINAL FANTASY XIV’s development.
In the ten months since the FINAL FANTASY XIV team’s restructuring, we have put forth the utmost effort into not only improving the game’s existing features, but also creating a concrete plan to outline the game’s new direction. Today, I am pleased to announce we can confidently present that plan to our customers. We fully realize this is but a single step towards our ultimate goal, and that to meet the high standards set in the plan, more time is required. In the meantime, however, we will not waver in our commitment to bringing players exciting and engaging content, even as the game moves through its evolution.
With this, it is my hope that we will continue to receive your support as we will need to bring the unbilled period to a close between late November and early December 2011, and introduce our subscription-based billing system. I appreciate that this decision will not be popular, but it is a necessary step in building upon the foundation our fans and development team have made together and to realize the full potential of FINAL FANTASY XIV.
The team will stop short of nothing as they move towards realizing the new FINAL FANTASY XIV, and as they do so, I humbly ask for both your understanding and support.
President and CEO, Yoichi Wada
So the first big bit of news right out of the gate is that the game will resume normal billing with the release of Patch 1.20 near the end of November. You know what? I’m totally okay with that. The game has reached a state where I would gladly pay for it, as it is honestly a lot of fun now and I understand that this new development is going to require some income. We players sat patient while they worked tirelessly and enjoyed our free play, but it’s time for us to do our part. It’s important to note that when 2.0 launches, players old and new will be allowed to play another free trial of the new version on both PC and PS3.
Version 2.0 is scheduled to launch on the PC and PS3 in October/November of 2012. That’s all well and good, but I’m sure you guys want to hear about what’s actually in Version 2.0, right? Of course you do.
Enhanced Graphics Engine
Click to enlarge.
That, dear friends, is a screenshot from the new engine. The first thing you’ll notice is that the graphic engine has been totally revamped. Thankfully, Square has some more details on the matter:
Increased Stability & Expanded Accessibility
FINAL FANTASY XIV boasts some of the highest quality graphics amongst all current-generation MMORPGs. Unfortunately, extremely high-end PCs are required in order to experience those graphics. Our new graphics engine will allow us to maintain a high level of graphic quality while allowing us to optimize the game for play on the PlayStation®3 system.
・Genre-leading graphics on high-end PCs
・Smooth gameplay on the PlayStation®3 system and similarly-powered PCs
・Fully customizable graphics settings to cater to a broader range of PC environments
The new graphics engine will cause certain objects to display differently than they do in the current version. Because of this, we will allow all current players the opportunity to re-customize the race, gender, and appearance of their characters upon the implementation of the new engine.
So yes, the game is going to get a facelift.
New Character Features
Complete redesign of character creation screens and process.
Addition of Miqo’te males, Highland Hyur and Roegadyn females for version 2.0.
Creation of more character customization options (e.g. , hairstyle).
Ability to walk and view character in game environments and use emotes as part of creation process.
Expansion of Armoury, focused on classes and jobs, prior to version 2.0.
Jobs to progress by clearing quests rather than gaining EXP.
Job-related quests, abilities, and job-specific gear planned for patch 1.21.
Along with that facelift comes new character creation options, which we’ll be able to go back and edit. More importantly, Square wants to stress that all characters currently in play will be preserved, from their jobs to their levels to their name, linkshells, and gear. Classy move, very classy.
More importantly, there will be seven new jobs added to the game in February of 2012. Jobs will also be progressed by “clearing quests instead of obtaining EXP” which to me says Cap Quests ALA FFXI. Job related quests, gear, and abilities will be implemented in Patch 1.21 in December of 2011. Which jobs exactly these will be is unsure, but we can glean details from the dev team’s PDFs which point to the following jobs being in the works: Paladin, Warrior, Dark Knight, Bard, Summoner, Beastmaster, White Mage, Black Mage, and possibly Monk. Which seven we’ll get in February is still to be revealed.
Also, launching with Version 2.0 are the long asked-for Male Miqo’te, Female Highland Hyur, and Female Roegadyn races.
I’m sure you guys want to see some concept of art of new characters and jobs coming with that facelift, right? Right?
Click to enlarge.
Along with many of the proposed changes come those related to battle. From what we can tell, the current incarnation of the game’s battle system will remain intact. You will fight the same way as you always did. However, there are some little tweaks being made.
Enemy leader and group systems to be removed before version 2.0.
Enemy “call for help” system released in patch 1.19, causing nearby enemies to link when called.
Release of a system to calculate enemy strength based on party size and member levels. Enemy “call for
help” system to be adjusted in patch 1.20 so only appropriate enemy types link.
New summoning ability available to certain jobs and classes after version 2.0.
New taming ability available to certain jobs and classes after version 2.0.
Release timing of the above abilities is to coincide with addition of new jobs and classes.
Summoned and tamed pets will not count as party members, and will develop over time. Release of a
“companion” system for these pet NPCs to fight alongside PCs.
Incapacitation of body parts for boss fights, encouraging party members to focus on single targets for more
Enemy claiming system done away with, and new system released that gives loot rights to first attacking
Above system and new battle algorithms in-game as of patch 1.19. Future algorithm balancing to continue
for version 2.0.
Balance and release of crowd control system with firm control of status timers (e.g., sleep, paralysis, blind)
after stabilization of battle algorithms.
Two PvP venues, Coliseum and Frontlines, to be released after version 2.0. Unique zones to be created so
as not to affect non-participating players. Release of PvP-specific abilities, gear, and ranking.
Support for multi-party alliances for large-scale content to be released together with the above.
There are a few important new additions we can read from this. First off, it once again points to Summoner and Beastmaster (summoning and taming abilties) but those were expected. More interesting is that it appears they’ll be putting in a system so player pets, such as the recent added chocobos, can fight alongside their masters. This can be seen in the screenshot at the top, as a chocobo is helping fight in battle without its rider on it.
The addition of PvP was always going to be implemented, but it looks like they’re finally getting around to it for Version 2.0.
The main Battle Content being added is as follows:
Below are the main content additions planned for after version 2.0. New content announcements will be
made via patch notes.
New primal battles.
Summoning system that awards the ability to summon primals to Free Companies that defeat them.
Campaign of battles against the dragon horde in the defense of Ishgard, with participation possible as any of
the four Disciplines.
Two forms of PvP, the Coliseum and the Frontlines, to be released sequentially.
Large-scale instanced raids of the Crystal Tower and a vast labyrinth. Further expansions planned for
Wandering Odin primal, who grows in strength and drops greater treasures with each defeat.
Further details on all of the above to be released in the days leading up to version 2.0 release.
So it definitely looks like they’ll be ramping up the scale as far as large battles are concerned in the new release. I’m definitely looking forward to fighting off a dragon horde. Check out the new Primals below:
Along with the facelift comes a redesign of the existing maps:
The current maps in FINAL FANTASY XIV are not only massive, but allow for seamless passage across wide expanses of the realm. In order to maintain this seamlessness, however, we were forced to heavily reuse assets, resulting in static, repetitive areas. To provide our users with areas that feel fresh and dynamic throughout the extended lifespan of the game, we are both revamping and redesigning area maps. We hope that this, in turn, will equate to increased opportunities for adventure.
・Abolishing seamless areas to allow for more dynamic map design
・Implementing at least three unique themes to each area
・Complete overhaul of enemy and object placement using revamped development tools
We will continue to balance and improve existing maps to ensure an exciting, stress-free experience while playing during the months leading up to the unveiling of the new Eorzea.
Although I’m sad to see seamless zoning go, I admit an overhauled map will be nice. We’ll see where it goes. Among the other changes are:
Redesign of all non-instanced areas for version 2.0.
Planning to convert all dungeons into instanced raids. Release of content finder (see below) to help players
find groups quickly and easily.
Two new dungeons to be added in patch 1.21. More dungeons to follow after version 2.0.
Release of treasure maps to be discoverable by Disciples of the Land. Planned for after version 2.0.
Maps to reveal location of chests and dungeons. Dungeons to be new content designed for a combination
of classes from all Disciplines. Planned for after version 2.0.
I’m not going to cry foul on the map redesigns yet or the new dungeons. Let’s see how it looks before making judgments, I say. Speaking of which hey, look at that we’ve got some concept art:
Complete redesign of user interface for version 2.0 currently underway.
Customization of both gamepad/keyboard and mouse/keyboard configurations.
Global standard for MMO UI when using mouse/keyboard to navigate in-game windows. Will not require a
manual for explanation.
Drag and drop functionality, item name/icon display toggle to be added to gear interface.
Release of a “mannequin” system for one-touch changing of gear sets.
Gear equipped to mannequins will not take up inventory space.
Mannequins available can be increased via certain quests and battle content.
The thing I find most interesting about this is the mannequin content, which according to additional notes allows you to set up gear sets for each job, so when you change jobs your equipment automatically changes as well. That’ll make changing jobs on the fly a lot easier. The additional info about the UI also drops another bomb:
From a programming standpoint, the multi-tiered code used in the current UI system has become overly complex, preventing us from making the improvements we have planned. Therefore, we have chosen to completely rebuild the UI system
core in conjunction with the server system updates. Not only will this allow us to implement new features, but also significantly improve response times and open the door for user-made add-ons.
*What are Add-ons?
Add-ons are user-generated UI content created by fans from around the world for use within a company-developed game. Addons are customizable, and help to enhance the overall gameplay experience.
It seems that this time around, Square is supporting 3rd party developed content. It’ll be interesting to see how that plays out.
The Player Community
This is where some of the biggest, and arguably most important, changes are being made. Ever since the new development team took over, they’ve really made player input and important factor in the design process. From what I can tell by these changes, they’ve really listened to us:
Location, Search Features, & Functionality
Improvement of search function, release of auction house features, measures to stimulate in-game economy after patch 1.20.
Complete redesign of markets into a system incorporating retainers and auction house elements. Planned for version 2.0.
Looks like we get our Auction Houses. Interested to see how they’ll keep retainers and the wards around while still having the AH.
Legacy FINAL FANTASY Items
Examination of a system to introduce legacy FINAL FANTASY items.
Legacy items will have unique graphics and stats.
Obtainable only by players fulfilling certain attribute requirements after first “applying” for them.
Requirements for obtaining classic items, as well as their graphics, to be altered in future updates.
Appearance of items already obtained will change.
Planned for after version 2.0. Further details to be announced at a future date.
It seems to be that Artifact Armor-type items will be making a comeback. I’m all for that, add a little bit of the FINAL FANTASY touch.
Release of a feature to replay cutscenes.
Planned for after version 2.0 due to cutscenes requiring retouching as part of overhauls to all in-game maps.
In-game voice in all four languages (Japanese, English, French, and German) after version 2.0.
Seventh Umbral Era storyline to give way to new storyline after version 2.0, and will not be replayable.
The story has gotten fairly awesome lately, and I’m looking forward to being able to replay any cutscenes I might have to race through to keep up with a group.
Basis of new recipes released in patch 1.19. New additions to continue to be made prior to version 2.0.
New high-end recipes to have high levels of difficulty, not only in terms of recipe complexity, but also crafting location requirements (e.g., facilities within a kobold stronghold).
Materia released in patch 1.19, with future plans including release of additional materia slot items, materia to mitigate requirements to equip gear, further system expansions, and additional items.
Release of an item notebook after version 2.0 to log all recipes and crafted items for consolidated, easy viewing.
Release of a “signature” feature for version 2.0 enabling players to put their names on items they craft.
The synthesis changes in 1.19 were fantastic, it really streamlined the whole thing. The only issue is that we essentially have to rediscover all the new recipes, but it seems like they might fix that.
Disciple of the Land Stealth ability released in patch 1.19, enabling gatherers to remain concealed from enemies in the field.
Release of an item notebook after version 2.0 to log gathering level and item information for consolidated, easy viewing.
Release of treasure chests that may appear randomly at any gathering node.
Chests to yield treasure maps that may only be viewed by Disciples of the Land.
A few minor changes to gathering; it essentially stays the same.
Free Company System
Free Company Ranks
Free Company Synthesis
Release of in-game player communities known as Free Companies. Planned for version 2.0.
Free Companies can be formed by as few as 4 players by submitting an application to a Grand Company.
Free Company-specific content to earn points used to improve company rank, gain access to personal estates, perform cooperative synthesis. Planned for four-phase release after version 2.0.
This is what I’m most interested in. I wonder if this will replace Linkshells, or be a separate entity. I imagine it would work better as a separate entity: you keep the Linkshell for chatting with people, but you can have a Free Company for your regulars or members in the shell you fight with the most. I imagine the Free Companies as a core Justice League, while the Linkshell is the reserve roster.
Also awesome is that they are going to go ahead and give us not only the player housing we asked for, but instanced areas just for a Free Company to hang out at. I love it.
Expansion of Chocobos
Other Forms of Transporation
Chocobo mounts released in patch 1.19.
Future plans include chocobo gear, rearing, battle, mounted content, and shared chocobos, to be released sequentially after version 2.0.
Plans to release other forms of transportation.
Chocobo gear will be awesome, raising chocobos is what a lot of people are clamoring for, and battling on chocoback will be a dream come true. Sharing birds is a nice touch.
Release of a delivery system and mail system for version 2.0.
Delivery system to enable sending of items to safehouses and other players.
Items can be sent to other players regardless of their online status.
Mail system to enable sending of short in-game messages to other players.
Messages can be sent to other players regardless of their online status.
PC search function to be completely overhauled, and a search UI added with various functions (e.g., Free Company searches).
Release of a content finder system after version 2.0.
Content finder to allow input of information such as class, job, and level, to find other players across all worlds for groups for dungeons, instanced raids, primal battles, etc.
Further details to be released as they become available.
It’s about time. We’ve been dying for these forever.
Achievements & Trophies
Achievement system to recognize and reward accomplishments in battle, synthesis, gathering, etc.
Release of additional achievements in future patches.
Various types of achievement rewards, such as titles and items.
Planned release of initial achievement system in patch 1.20, with over 300 achievements.
Wasn’t really that interested in Achievements, but it’ll be a nice touch.
Phew. That was a lot of info to dump on us in one morning. It’s great to see that this time around the team is looking to take it slower, announcing this more than a year out and revealing that it’ll be undergoing a LOT more testing before we’re allowed to upgrade to it. I’m sure there will be more info to come in the following year, and you can bet damn sure we’ll have the new trailer that debuts at E3 when the time comes.
In case we missed anything, you can check out the full Lodestone post as well as the PDFs outlining the changes here.
FINAL FANTASY XIV Version 2.0 plans to launch in October 2012 (alright, I got very slight goosebumps writing that).