Everybody loves a comeback story. Especially when it comes from a favored series or company. People flock to it. Square-Enix isn’t new to the comeback scenario, however. There have plenty of times where one bad Final Fantasy game has created mass panic among its fans. Sometimes they get so good that it is insanely hard to follow up to and the hype levels get way too high. Look at BioShock 2, Devil May Cry 2, and Too Human. All three of those games were decent titles but got washed away in the tide of fan expectations. Hey, I hear you making snide remarks about Too Human. Bite me, I enjoyed it. However, really look at BioShock 2 and DMC2. Both of those games apparently “paled in comparison” to the prior games in the series. However, with with the third titles, they make a huge comeback and sold tons. BioShock: Infinite isn’t even out yet but fans are drooling over it. DMC3 was revered by series players.
What does that have to do with Final Fantasy XIV? Well, Square took a lot on the chin during its release. The game was obviously not ready for launch nor was it a very well thought out game. We all know the tale of XIV. I won’t get into it. However, Square-Enix seriously took to the drawing board with an all-new team, new direction, and threw out almost everything they already did. Final Fantasy XIV is now every bit a new game. That was the correct way of going about this ressurection, too. The original XIV was built to be tedious and frustrating. Everything from the movement, city design, combat, interface, options, and… well, everything was just not done right. They focused heavily on the supposed PS3 version which was no where near done and in turn made the interface an absolute nightmare for PC players. XIV was a flop. XIV sucked. Even after all the patches done to it, including this new one meant to get the game and its players ready for the upcoming mega patch doesn’t fix the game. However, what is coming will: Final Fantasy XIV 2.0.
We posted screen shots earlier this week showing off the new interface, NPC conversation style, character creation, and glimpses of combat that will be coming either at the tail end of this year or early next year. XIV’s 2.0 patch is going to be massive. I can’t even imagine what kind of file size it will be when finished and pushed out to the current player base. It is basically overwriting everything done so far and instituting a new game. Nearly everything will be brand new and the systems will be redone completely. Original players of Final Fantasy XIV will have to learn the game all over again along with new players.
I mentioned that everyone loves a comeback story. Square-Enix really needs to take advantage of this with a brand new retail and digital release along with a massive ad campaign. Spend a little time, very brief, on the pre-2.0 game and then shatter everyone’s mind with the incredible looking 2.0. Everyone needs to know that Final Fantasy XIV is back. Not coming out. It already came out. People, at least MMO players, know that XIV bombed. They need reasons to look at it again.
The new Summon system sounds absolutely amazing. The fact that only one of each Summon exist on a server makes for some unique group play. I remember back in vanilla WoW when guilds would rush to the Blasted Lands to take on Kazzak before anyone else. In XIV 2.0, you can do something similar. You find, say, Ifrit in the world and get your Free Company (guild) together to beat him. You can now summon Ifrit once. The cool thing is that when you do summon him, the entire server knows. The sky turns red with fire and once it goes back to normal, every Free Company knows that Ifrit is available again. This is going to make for some really competitive play.
Chocobos will be more important this time around, too. Not only are they your mounts but they will help you in battle. This is to make solo play a bit easier on some jobs. This is a fantastic idea, especially for XIV where some fights could be pretty daunting even at lower levels.
Crafting is getting a major overhaul and it even gets to be more reliant on skill at higher levels. Something that is brand new to MMOs yet we haven’t really heard how this will work yet but it sounds like button presses and timed events.
Gameplay is another great reason to look at XIV gain but something we really haven’t seen yet. Square-Enix has kept 2.0 under wraps pretty well but the screenshots and info that we do get is just too good to be true. We need to see some gameplay! If the combat plays as great as the screenshots look, then we may have a winner here. Square has said that they took World of Warcraft as a base to find out what MMO players want to play and see. We could be looking forward to one of the most stylish and exciting traditional MMOs in Final Fantasy XIV. Guild Wars 2 is attempting to take that side of MMOs but if Square-Enix can backup the amazing screenshots it has release with gameplay, quality, and that Final Fantasy touch, ArenaNet is going to have a hard time doing so once 2013 rolls around.
One of the best things that we have seen thanks to the recent screenshots is the interface for Final Fantasy XIV 2.0. Everything just looks so subtle but informative. They found a really great blend between screen space and information. The original picture released to tease the rebirth of XIV through the 2.0 patch made everything seem so cluttered and everywhere. It’s great to see that they cleared this up. I mean, just look at this thing below. It’s crazy!
The character creation looks fantastic. They put the options and text in such a way that is highly captivating to the eye and allows for many, many options. It doesn’t feel like too much yet it makes me want to enter each option and mess around.
Square-Enix is putting a lot of time and money into XIV 2.0. MMO players and Final Fantasy fans should be excited for this. You can actually pick up XIV for a really cheap price right now, even the collector’s edition. If you jump on it now, you could get 2.0 for a great entry fee and see if you like it when the time comes. Legacy and current players will be invited to the beta first. Your characters from pre-2.0 can be transferred over to the new game but the process will take some time. They are going to do this during the beta cycle to ensure you can play during release.
This patched and rebirthed MMO aren’t due for quite some time, though. Square-Enix laid down the timelime for the alpha and beta tests for both PC and PS3. Sounds like we’ll be waiting for this holiday or maybe even after the New Year’s ball drops. Still, seeing what they have done with the game so far is exciting. They are really trying to right their wrongs here. That alone is worth talking about. Square is not giving up on its investment. They want to turn this around and make it into a beast in the market. I think they have a great chance now to do just so.