The Terrible Troubles of Final Fantasy XIV and How to Fix Them

Gamescom 2012: New visuals, animation, quests, dungeons, and a new user interface make Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn almost unrecognisable. Fortunately, that's a good thing.

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Last year, after a tumultuous time for the company, Square Enix CEO Yoichi Wada conceded that the damage had been done. Its flagship brand Final Fantasy had been "greatly damaged" by XIV, an MMORPG that failed to excite critics, and more importantly, failed to excite fans. The backlash was severe. But as a company, Square Enix isn't one to let a game, let alone one as important as a numbered title in the Final Fantasy series, die a slow death. The PlayStation 3 version was put on hold, the development team replaced. What was left of its disheartened user base were given free passes to roam a world that no one wanted to be a part of.

For many companies, that would be the end of it. Call it quits, burn it down, and cut its losses. But not Square Enix. As producer Nakoi Yoshida puts it, "As a company, we cannot let a title like Final Fantasy XIV end in failure. We let a lot of fans down and lost a lot of their trust--we need to get it back." That's a bold statement for a game that has been so heavily shunned by so many people, but the company's ambitions for the game are perhaps even bolder. Final Fantasy XIV: A Real Reborn isn't an expansion pack, nor is it a patch. It is, according to Yoshida, a complete rebuild of the game, both on the PC and PlayStation 3--modern, slick, and able to compete with any of the great MMOs of the West.

Indeed, it's those great MMO games of the West that proved to be the starting block for rebuilding the game, once the development team had been replaced. "The developers didn't look at what players really wanted," says Yoshida. "We created a 450-page Excel spreadsheet that documented exactly what it takes to be a great MMO. We went over it with the development team, told them to play other games for inspiration." The result is a game that Yoshida claims lives up to the "global MMO standard."

And so Final Fantasy XIV lives on, but the game is almost unrecognizable. The visuals have been greatly improved, powered as they are by a new graphics engine, which Yoshida says needed to be as impressive as possible, thanks to the long life span of the MMO. The animation engine has been overhauled too, with the niggling lag that made the game feel so sluggish now eliminated. The maps have been redesigned, all-new assets have been created, and there are "hundreds" of new quests to complete, and dungeons to explore--a content quest finder will make them easier to find.

More importantly, that sprawling, confusing interface has been streamlined, and seeing the game in action, it immediately looks a lot more user-friendly. Menus have been simplified, icons have been made clearer, and the whole thing can be customized to your own preferences. And that's just the PC version. The PlayStation 3 version will feature a completely separate interface, designed explicitly for a control pad, by an entirely separate team. And yes, the PS3 version will launch alongside its PC counterpart this time, or so they tell me.

In one final flurry of fan service, the Limit Break system--made famous by Final Fantasy VII--is being introduced, albeit for groups rather than individuals. If your party has its Limit Break bar powered up, it can unleash devastating attacks or spells, or even heal itself. It even comes with the requisite over-the-top visual flourishes that the Limit Break system is famed for.

Whether or not that's all enough to change the fortunes of what is, perhaps, the most disappointing entry ever in the Final Fantasy series remains to be seen. Like Yoichi Wada said, the damage has already been done. Convincing people to once again place their faith in Square Enix might be too much to ask. But from what I've seen today, Final Fantasy XIV: A Real Reborn is certainly well on its way to doing so.

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Discussion

1 comments
UltiFlash
UltiFlash

If i had the money or manpower, i would have developed an MMORPG turn based yet fast past game with very flashy limit breaks, not like the FFXI limit breaks which clearly lacked the "cool" aspect.

Its like everyone are begging for that game, but no one would make it!

thalizat
thalizat

I really hope they "fix" final fantasy 14, I really missed FF11 so me too I had preordered the collector. I wasn't waiting for a clone of course :) I do think they should have kept the moon phases, gardening, chains, etc...

 

 I am hoping they will, with time, implement some of the most enjoyable features of 11. Paired with what FF14 can bring, I would gladly pay for the game.

 

 

nedrith
nedrith

I pre-ordered FFXIV and was dissapointed by quite a bit.  It will be interested to see how this turns out. One of the things that I love about SE is that they are willing to admit when they mess up and are willing to go the extra mile to fix it.  I just hope those who were interested in FFXIV and MMOs in general are willing to give SE a second chance on this.  I know I am.

 

as For FFX being the last true FF, I highly disagree.  the FF series has always been evolving and it has evolved into a more real-time battle system.  Like it or not it has, at least for the main series.  However the well made story(even if quite a few couldn't understand FFXIII's), a distinct world, and all the other stuff that has made Final Fantasy Final Fantasy is still there.

Slapz_PM
Slapz_PM

im totally excited to see what they can do this. its nice to know that they are taking our thoughts into consideration and putting in an effort to fix their issues. That shows alot that they can even say "hey we fucked up. Lets do something about it". i love final fantasy so if this works out im all down for it. The problem is is that everyone compares MMOs to the giant that shall not be named, when instead we should look at this new version as a complete stand alone work.

 

Jarek_Cyphus
Jarek_Cyphus

Mark, while I appreciate what you're trying to say and concur with the sentiments of your article, you badly need a better copy-editor on your team.

mbncd
mbncd

It's an alright article but the author needs to make sure he knows how to spell people's names, especially such a prominent one as Naoki Yoshida, saviour of the game.

Kituco
Kituco

Please stop naming the worst ideas you people have in Square Enix as Final Fantasy, that would be awesome. Final Fantasy died long ago with my PS2. And to be honest FF12 was a different Final Fantasy game, but a good one, tiring but good, besides this one the franchise closed in FFX, not even the FFX-II deserves it's name.

AmnesiaHaze
AmnesiaHaze

monthly fees means you can keep your FF14 square , it already flopped on PC ....why would someone buy it and even pay monthly  ?

Lairenor
Lairenor

The a and the o still need to be reversed.  Rofl.  Naoki.  Ah well, you win some you lose some.  

bakagami
bakagami

Lol!  Nakoi Yoshida looks like a Final Fantasy character only 20 years older

Lamachina
Lamachina

how to fix ffXIV? easy, have a Western dev. make it

AdrianJNYC
AdrianJNYC

I'm still looking very forward to playing this MMORPG.

luqmanr
luqmanr

How about some Versus XIII news?

Falru
Falru

I've been following XIV's re-creation from the moment it was released, and I have to really applaud Yoshida. I've kept up with all the patches and news and it really is a huge change from SE, who is notorious for never telling players anything. They even awarded players who maintained subscriptions during this pre-2.0 period with a "Legacy" status which means I'll get a discounted rate ($10/month) for XIV forever now.

 

As for actually playing the game, I only logged on occasionally to check out new patches but I cannot deny I am looking forward to 2.0's release. Time is all that can tell now.

blissloves
blissloves

instead of making new games that has almost nth to do with the FF we remember they should just remake the old games. with the new graphics engine and everything just remake ff 7 or ff 9 those were the best. the turn time fighting maybe old compared to the games now but that was the best. the new ff games now have poor story line i regretted buying ff 13 such a waste of time. 

fend_oblivion
fend_oblivion

They're not kidding about the improvements; just take a look at some of the .pdf files they have on their site. It's jaw dropping how much they've changed the game.

Jestersmiles
Jestersmiles

it still p2p and it has hot key combat, GTFO

PesmergaYuber
PesmergaYuber

Can't comment on FF14 as I haven't played it, but I would try it if it has that FF feel to it.

 

FF needs a return to its roots. FF8 was too much of a change for a lot of fans, and so FF9 regressed back into a more traditional style and feel, ultimately becoming one of their best titles. People relish in nostalgia, give fans a true Final FANTASY.

soulless4now
soulless4now

The damage started before FF14 even came out....lol

 

Make FF15 an action rpg and I'll forgive you, SE. 

kiramasaki
kiramasaki

I still thinking FF 13 did more damage to the franchise as a whole, and Crystal Chronicles is still arguably the worst game in the franchise along with 13. 14 was really a spinoff, there main problem was numbering it , instead of just calling 11 FF Online, and 14 Online 2. Nobody cares as much about the spinoffs unless they are good, ala the original tactics. Take in point Crystal Chronicles. This game is bad, and nearly unplayable. The game is ridiculously difficult on single player, with the final meteor boss being near impossible; and equally as hard to play coop due to the stupid gba system. That does even get into the abomination that is the tele tubby wannabe character designs.

 

FF 13 on the other hand, was a numbered game, that was not a spinoff, that was awful in every facet of the game from gameplay to story to characters; that spawned an equally as bad sequel, with rumor of another sequel; and all likely delaying or costing us games people want to play Kingdom Hearts III, Versus, and FF 7 Remake.

 

In all honesty though, Square Enix along with Capcom have fallen so far from grace with recent moves that it really doesnt matter, does it? With Strong RPG makers like NIS, Atlus, Imagepooch, Aksys putting out fun titles like Agarest, Disgaea, Persona it matters even less.

Tauu
Tauu

FFXI was great back in it's prime. It had a certain charm to it that is absent in other MMOs. The characters, the music, the chocobos and the monsters all contributed to that. I have no interest in spending another four years of my life being addicted to an MMO but if FFXIV is good, I'll at least play it casually.

Master_Vexov
Master_Vexov

Squaresoft is just failing lately like other dev's, its like they only push for a moderate title. FF14 was a bust cause they thought it would sell as the trash it was, ff13 was semi garbage and ff13x2 was likely just as bad. It does sound like putting a lot of effort to revive FF14 thoe, im bored bored bored.. so I would love something great to play.. but im scared of buying even from my once trusted dev's.

Tygraph
Tygraph

Why do so many people cry about FF13? Just cause it isn't the game you wanted doesn't mean it was a bad game. 

Eliaseen
Eliaseen

@Kituco for me final fantasy means attack, magic, item, turn based battle system

Tamasuke
Tamasuke

@AmnesiaHaze

because its a complete different game and you can download the new version for free? they dont give up that easily like other publishers and do it f2p because no one wants it then.

 

no they leave it that way, that the players could play the recent version, which also has been patched regularly. while a whole other team worked on the complete new game FFXIV: A Realm reborn. which is going to be in beta in the end of 2012.

 

so for those like you it'd be better if they have named it FFXIV-2 or even FFXV. if its going to be f2p i and many recent players are going to quit. and i think that 9,99 bucks a month isnt very expensive.

 

i dislike F2P MMO's even games like LOTR,AoC, AION and SWTOR (if its going to be f2p)... these are games which gave up being worth to pay for.. thats my opinion

Lairenor
Lairenor

 @Lamachina Why?  So it loses its unique Final Fantasy flavor?  So the Japanese personality that is so prominent in its humor and quirkiness would be lost?  So that the graphics would lose SE's flair with their animations and over-the-topness?  So that it would no longer be the kind of game that its fans want it to be?  Oh, and lastly, so that it loses the Japanese writers that give Final Fantasy its out there philosophical story-lines?  Yeah, no.  I'll pass on that.  Western devs can produce brilliant games, but they will never produce Final Fantasy.  

Kenshin170880
Kenshin170880

 @luqmanr

It is still in development. You will receive news about it when its at a state ready to be announced :p

mack10
mack10

 @Jestersmiles It'll always be p2p and if that keeps you away it's worth it.  f2p ends up squeezing you out of more cash anyway, Its easy to trick people like you into thinking its any better.

Morokoo
Morokoo

 @kiramasaki 

You do realise they have more then one team working on all of the games right?

The team that creates KH is working on Versus and when it is finished like they have said a hundred times they will start on Kingdom Hearts III.

 

They have also stated that they will NOT make a VII remake unless a new FF game beats FFVII's sales.

 

XIII and it's sequel weren't terrible either, they weren't great but they were by no means terrible either.

The XIII series is really only about the story and it actually has a pretty good story. Most of the characters on the other hand are pretty annoying and the combat system gets boring very quickly.

Though, does anyone remember how people bashed XII? Now most of the time all it gets is praise.

 

I for one am highly interested in XIV now and from what I have seen and read looks quite fun now.

Lamachina
Lamachina

 @Lairenor

 so it actually sells and makes a profit. and so i has a chance to compete in a tough genre. with a few exceptions JP's devs hav'nt been relavent since the 90's

Kituco
Kituco

 @mack10 F2P the worst thing ever, first its not F2P its P2W, second it makes the game player base  random and with no identity. If you want a MMO to keep cool, keep P2P, other than that you'll need an every year new game basis, like the FPS are, or the Sports are, then they can go F2P with the retail sells, since it'll be for only one year or two, the jackasses will not be there for more than some months, then the game can keep it up.

VaanXPenelo
VaanXPenelo

@Morokoo @kiramasaki XIII-2 has an incomprehensible story as the characters clearly have no basis to measure their assumptions (clearly none of them have a PhD in time travel) but seem to find solutions to their problems like they know exactly what's going on. The line "It must be a paradox!" drove me crazy. How they managed to get people to believe that Lightning went from a L'Cie to a warrior of the Goddess is beyond me. To me the whole plot is nonsensical and there should be no XIII-3 if they want to save their audience.

magusat999
magusat999

 @Morokoo 

I beta tested FFXIV and while I had high hopes for it's success it just didn't live up to it. The problems I had was the cryptic map and being force to group up with people way to early to go on mob hunts. Here I am with a loincloth and a twig, and the game was trying to get me into a fight with an advanced monster. Everything took too long, from leveling up to getting simple armor. It was a mess.

 

I played FXII - the only thing that bothered me is the unnecessary move of hiding the method to get the Zodiac Spear - especially when you had bosses with 60,000,000 life points! Other than that I think the game was great.

VaanXPenelo
VaanXPenelo

@tachsniper @Tygraph It wasn't completely awful. The human drama made up to Chapter 7 interesting and it was quite pretty. As for everything else ... it's all been covered before really.

Master_Vexov
Master_Vexov

 @tachsniper

 I only found the end game appealing, and didn't play it much cause its only time consuming not challenging. The whole game was a Joker, making my hurt bone tingle; The game was very narrow and it pressed of boring and terrible cause of it. 1 thing i would love to see is the do away with ppl being able to overpower fights, things should kind of bet set for that chapter (fixed stats and spells, maybe allow me a hardmode!).

Lamachina
Lamachina

 @TriumphantToad       not to me or to most of the market. which is why i point you to check those sales. the JP aesthetic is a niche aesthetic which is taking down the jp games market. it's well known even in the jp market that jp devs have been left behind by western devs. ff14 is exhibit A in that argument 

 

TriumphantToad
TriumphantToad

@Lamachina @TriumphantToad @Lairenor Obviously western games are going to be a bit more popular in the west. But those are all very relevant developers. And no, I'm not retarded, I know that some of those games were made by the same developer. And sales...those games aren't for everybody. But they were all anticipated and very popular games. Maybe not to you.

Lamachina
Lamachina

 @TriumphantToad  @Lairenor

 really thats your list that proves me wrong? some of those games are made by the same dev for starters. secondly look up the sales for those games. when you do you'll see you made my point for me.

TriumphantToad
TriumphantToad

 @Lamachina  @Lairenor Um, false? Japan's developers are still very relevant, Demon's Souls, Dark Souls, Persona, Final Fantasy XIII, the Tales games, and it continues.

Lamachina
Lamachina

 @Kenshin170880

 you may like it but judging by sales few agree. name a j mmo that was 1/4 the success of a NA one.

Kenshin170880
Kenshin170880

 @Lamachina

I prefer Japans way of creating games over western ones. JRPGs are way more fun and interesting. Western game companies seems to make only the same things over and over. COD1,2,3,4,5,6, Battlefields, and also look at all other MMOs made in the west, pretty much flopped.

 

  I am more worried over Yoshidas liking of WOW, and that XIV Realm Reborn will remind me too much of WoWs mechanics. I would absolutly hate that.

iwannagoflorida
iwannagoflorida

 @magusat999 Yup. Yiazmat took me 6 or 7 hours.  I lost about an hour's worth of work in 45 seconds because he started healing himself when i was standing just out of his range. 

Dugular
Dugular

 @iwannagoflorida What?! Is that true?I've only played the first ten minutes and haven't seen any kind of experience to think of, which is making the fights feel pointless to me.