VanaFest 2010 Report: Final Fantasy XI and XIV News!

VanaFest 2010 Report: FFXI and FFXIV News!
By Joshua Temblett (Dontkillmydreams), OnRPG Journalist


As I write this, it is the 28th February; it is also the day fans of Final Fantasy XI were given a reason to rejoice.  No, the game hasn’t gone Free 2 Play, sorry to instantly destroy one of your many dreams faithful reader, but it’s better that I tell you this now rather than make you read through the whole article only to find the information I just told you in small font at the bottom of the page.


I might as well also get this out the way; there wasn’t a lot of information about Final Fantasy XIV.  There was some, but not a lot.  Although what news there was regarding the game will, I’m sure, be happily received.  No more stalling, let’s down to it!  Just make sure you buckle up first, as there are a few bumps along the way.


Final Fantasy XIV: Alpha Begins!

Let’s start with the good stuff, shall we?  We have finally been given a date for when the Final Fantasy XIV Alpha will begin.  On March 1st, those who have been accepted into the Alpha will be sent an email alerting them of their success.  The test website will then open on March 11th.  So those that do get invited will have to wait eleven days to play the game, what a tease eh?  


Now what’s really interesting about this is that the Alpha will apparently be “exclusive to loyal Final Fantasy XI users”.  What exactly this means, I have no idea.  Apparently, this is just a rumour; all those that were invited to the VanaFest 2010 Event in Japan are in the Alpha.  I don’t know how true this piece of information is but it sounds like there could be some truth to this claim.



Alpha Test XIV


So let’s just clarify this, the upcoming test is not a Beta, but an Alpha.  This can give us some ideas on when the game will be released.  Normally the closed Beta is held around one to three months before the game is launched.  After this, there is normally an open beta which can last for one to four weeks.  If the game is still in the Alpha phase, then that might mean that it may have a December release date, leaving about two to five months for Alpha testing. 


Not much is known about the Beta, apparently more information is going to be released soon. 


New gameplay footage was also shown at the event; however none of this footage has been released outside the VanaFest.  No cameras were allowed at the event either.  There have been some rumours flying around that the attendees were shown the opening cinematic, whether or not this was the gameplay footage, or if this was shown with the new gameplay footage is unknown. 


That’s about it with regards to Final Fantasy XIV.  The whole event leaves more questions than answers.  It also doesn’t help that we’re getting more information from translators who were at the event, as the information they’re giving out seems to be conflicting with some of the information we’re getting from Square Enix. 


Don’t worry though, if we get more information about the Alpha/Beta/whatever, we’ll update this article.  At any rate, I guess we’ll find out what’s happening in the coming days when people get/don’t get their invites.


Final Fantasy XI: VanaFest News!!!

Moving swiftly onwards, let’s look at some of the information that was released about Final Fantasy XI, after all the VanaFest is meant to be about the first MMORPG Square Enix created.  As there is so much information I’m going to break it up into small, accessible chunks.  I’m not trying to treat you like a child my humble reader, it’s just some of the information may cause you to have a heart attack, so it’s better to give it to you in easy to eat bites.  I’m just thinking about you!


Final Fantasy XI: Level Cap Increase

Did you just faint?  No?  So you’re still with us?  Good.  This was probably one of the biggest pieces of news at VanaFest and it’s been greeted with both positive and negative reactions.  In the March update the Level cap will be raised from 75 to 99.  That’s twenty four more levels of goodness, or is it?  What has not been clarified is how some of the subjobs will work, what will happen to all of the endgame content  already in place and whether it’ll be easier to level up to level 75 from level 1. On the Official VanaFest Webpage detailing all of this information, it says:


“New camping grounds are scheduled to be added to cater to the anticipated rise in demand for experience parties. Furthermore, the redistribution of monsters in existing areas is also under consideration. An increase in maximum upgrades is being considered for existing merit point skills and attributes. Preparations are also under way for the introduction of a new type of merit point for players who have reached the new level 99 summit.”


Believe me when I say, I trust the developers with Final Fantasy XI, it’s just level 99 seems so far away!  I’m not too sure if I want to grind all the way up to that level.  Also, the question has to be asked, is this increase in level cap just something to keep players busy and to keep them subscribed whilst Square Enix bring out Final Fantasy XIV?  I personally don’t think so, but it’s something to think about.




Final Fantasy XI: Abyssea

Let’s move onto our next piece of information, new content for Final Fantasy XI which comes in the form of mini expansions which you have to pay for!  Sorry if I don’t sound very excited about this news.


I’m already paying a monthly fee to play Final Fantasy XI.  The reason I am being charged this monthly fee is for “service updates”.  I’m paying for new content, to keep the servers up, and to play the game.  Why the hell should I pay another fee on top of my monthly fee for content that I should be getting anyway as I’m already paying for it in the monthly fee?!  It’s completely outrageous!  What is the point in charging people $8 for a “mini expansion”?  I’m just annoyed because what am I paying my monthly fee for, if I have to pay for new content which is vital for me to get to reach the level cap.  I’m fine with paying for a fully fledged expansion pack that will offer me hours and hours of enjoyment, but after the last mini expansions Square Enix pumped out, I’m completely against paying for some half hearted piece of content that I feel I’ve already paid for!


End of rant.  Sorry about that, it just annoys me to see Square Enix milking Final Fantasy XI and ripping off consumers.  Anyway, here’s the information about the new content:


“Abyssea is a parallel world existing beside Vana’diel. A land fraught with perils, Abyssea is home to savage hordes of heretofore unseen creatures. Ferocious, towering NMs, new-look HNMs-even the garden varieties will confound would-be challengers with their unfamiliar and formidable powers. These and a whole host more await hapless adventurers with open arms and voracious maws. In Abyssea, concerns such as the over-population of battle areas and the need for large time investments will be a thing of the past. The development team is hard at work creating a world where parties can engage in rewarding battles with powerful foes and collect prized equipment with the least of fuss. The expansive realm of Abyssea will comprise several new areas which will be introduced over the course of three add-ons.”


Now there has been some speculation about the developers wanting to focus on smaller groups tackling bigger obstacles, instead of having big groups of peoples.  This line: “The development team is hard at work creating a world where parties can engage in rewarding battles with powerful foes and collect prized equipment with the least of fuss” seems to give evidence of this idea. 


That’s all of the information there is about these new expansion packs, there is an Official Website for them, however no extra information is given.


Final Fantasy XI: The Future of Final Fantasy XI

We have been presented with a timeline detailing what’s going to happen in the coming year, there’s a lot on the timeline; however it should allow you to plan some of your strategies for the year ahead.  Here’s the chart:


FFXI Chart

Click the image for a larger version, or view the original version


One thing I would like to point out is that on the timeline it says that in June the “Level cap increase part 1” will take place, which means that the developers are going to be slowly increasing the level cap, instead of in just one giant go.  I know that I mentioned earlier in this article that the level cap increase process would start in March (that’s what we were told by Square Enix), and that it says on this chart (also provided by Square Enix) that the process will actually begin in June, however I’m presuming that in March they’ll provide the foundations for increasing the level cap.  On the chart there’s also a timeline of when the mini expansions will be released this should be helpful for those who need to plan out their finances. 


Let’s take a look at some more very interesting pieces of new information, shall we?


Final Fantasy XI: 2010 Updates!

First up, there will be some new Wings of the Goddess missions which we have actually been given some information about:


With the San d’Orian hero Sir Ragelise B Baloumat leading the charge, the allied forces march towards the enemy’s heartland, Valdeaunia, in an attempt to beat down the Shadow Lord.  Warriors who battle through the Castle Zvahl will find themselves in the Throne Room, and will finally discover the identity of the dark figure with an imp by his side.  The repercussions of Atomos continual devour of memories will finally be shown, as a comet appears in the skies above San d’Oria.  What will the fate of Vana’Diel be?


Pretty powerful stuff isn’t it?  The Wings of the Goddess will be drawing to a close over the next few updates, with the end of storyline set to show itself in the December update.  Not only that but the Nation missions will finally come to their respectful conclusions in Summer, which will definitely give you lots to play through on those long, hot days, when you really should be outside.


Job Adjustments will also be made, and I think this is yet another thing which has players of the game worried about the future of their favourite MMORPG.  In the March version update, we’re going to see some adjustments to the Beastmaster (which should make the class much more appealing to gamers), the Summoner and the Puppetmaster.


The Summoner will be able to get two new Summons, Alexander, whose purpose is to reduce party damage, and Odin, who will use “Zantetsuken to vanquish all foes within the area of effect in one fell strike”.  If you’re using Odin and you’re up against an NM (Notorious Monster) you will instead deal damage, which will depend on how much MP you have left.





For those that use the Puppetmaster you’ll be pleased to know that the hand-to-hand combat rating will be upgraded from a C to an A, making them strong fighters in their own right.


Now these class changes aren’t so bad, I think what some players are worried about is this line from the developers: “Up until now, most job adjustments have been implemented with ease of party-forming in mind. From this point onwards, we plan to shift the focus towards ease of participation in endgame content”.  This change in method when looking at class adjustment links closely to the point made about how the developers want to shift from having bigger parties to closer, much more tightly knit gathering of friends.  It also seems to me that they may well be streamlining the whole system, and that’s why they’ll be approaching these class changes in different ways.  What I mean by “streamlining the whole system” is that they might be aiming to make it much easier to get straight to the content with a group of friends, rather than fiddle about with a high spec party, which takes a lot of time and effort. 


Final Fantasy XI: Walk of the Echoes

On the timeline you may have also noticed the “Walk of the Echoes”, allow me to explain what this is.  The Walk of the Echoes is a new area to be introduced in the summer updates. This area is the wasteland of memories and time  which has plagued many a players’ curiosity in the Wings of the Goddess missions. 


This new area will also hold an entrance to a new “realm” of high-end content, so that you’ll be able to level your character from 75 to 99 with ease as you face new challenges and monsters.  Walk of the Echoes will also pay an important role in the conclusion of Wings of the Goddess missions.


So basically, this area will be one of the areas that you will be visiting so that you can level up your character.  Other new areas will be available, according to Square Enix, and other familiar areas may be fiddled with to provide new challenges for those who wish to level up their avatar further.


A series of quests have also been unveiled, one particular quest series is called the “Trial of the Magians” and will be designed specifically for level 75 characters.


Now as we slowly draw this article to a close, I have some news that will be perceived by some as great, but many others will probably find this piece of news shocking and certainly won’t be celebrating it.


High Level Character FFXI


Final Fantasy XI: Server Merge

Just by looking at the above title you probably know what this news is, don’t worry I’ll give you a moment.  You okay?  Don’t worry, it’ll be fine!  Besides, it might not even be your server!  At this year’s VanaFest Square Enix announced that they will be reducing the amount of servers from twenty-four to twelve.  No date is given about when this will happen, however expect it to be sooner, rather than later.


Here’s a list of the servers to be merged:


Server Merge FFXI


Obviously there are good things and bad things that will come out of this move.  On the plus side, there will be more players on the server to party up and chill out with, on the minus side, the servers might become too over populated and you may find killing that monster for that quest slightly harder to do as you may have found someone has already defeated the monster.  I think the big question that is on everyones mind is how players with the same name on the merging servers will work out who has to create a new player name for their character.

I think that I’ve pretty much covered everything from this year’s VanaFest.  There are a few more pieces of information that came out of the event which I’ll list below for you.  I’ll try not to go into too much detail, for both your sake and mine.


Other news from VanaFest:

– New Notorious Monsters: “Even the most combat-honed adventurers can expect to have their abilities tested to the limit, so begin steeling yourself for battle today!”
– Two new rewards, furnishing (for your house) for the upcoming Feast of Swords event in May.
– A new set of formalwear will accompany this year’s Adventurer Appreciation event.
– New job specific emotes will be introduced, for example the Thief throws a smoke bomb to the floor and does some cool moves.
– A new battleground: Castle Zvahl.
– New Campaign Orbs.
– “Formidable weapons that allow the wielder to employ devastating weapon skills formerly exclusive to certain Campaign NPCs.”
– You will be able to fight against the Shadow Lord, the loot will be really awesome!
– Black Mages might be able to learn Meteor!
– Earn AF3 in Abyssea with a single party.


That’s pretty much it!  I feel like most of the above are self explanatory, not only that but not a lot of information was revealed about most of the things in the list above.


I think that it’s finally time to bring this coverage to a close!  I really hope that you have enjoyed reading this article, I’ll update it in the coming days if need be.  Thank you for reading my faithful friend!  I hope to see you soon in Vana’diel, maybe we can slay that new Notorious Monster together.  I hope I provided you with a great read, and I hope you thoroughly enjoyed it!  I’ll see you soon, I’m sure.  Happy gaming! 

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