Xbox 360 owners will soon get the opportunity to take a sneak peek at the world of Vana'diel, because the Final Fantasy XI beta testing period for Microsoft's new console has officially begun. Gamers can register for the beta now at Square Enix's PlayOnline Web site, which handles all subscriptions for Final Fantasy XI.
After applying, gamers will need to get their hands on the February issue of The Official Xbox Magazine and its demo disc, which includes the beta versions of the original game and both the Rise of the Zilart and Chains of Promathia expansion packs. The beta period will be free of charge to players, and the game can be logged onto using either a premium Gold or a fee-free Silver Xbox Live account.
When the game goes live in May, Xbox 360 players will be able to rub elbows and swap healing potions with their PlayStation 2 and PC counterparts. But for the duration of the beta test, Xbox 360 users will be kept on their own servers. They will be able to interact with beta testers from Europe and Japan, however. While Square Enix has issued a list of known issues with the beta game, support for USB keyboards and mice has been included.
Originally released in mid-2002 for the PlayStation 2 in Japan, Square Enix's massively multiplayer online role-playing game has since migrated to PCs, the American PS2, and perhaps, finally, the Xbox 360. Square Enix is promising enhanced visuals, audio, and other unique features for the game's debut on Microsoft's next-generation hardware.
Other versions of Final Fantasy XI have been rated T for Teen. The Xbox 360 edition is currently scheduled to hit stores in May. Stay tuned to GameSpot for more coverage.