Final Fantasy has fallen upon hard times. Square-Enix’s juggernaut RPG series has, by most accounts, taken some serious missteps and is in desperate need of a White Mage to save it from the brink of death with a quick cast of Curaga. Final Fantasy XIII was quite possibly the most disappointing entry into the series yet and is dogged by uneven pacing and a combat system that looks pretty neat but practically plays itself. Many saw Final Fantasy XIII-2 as an improvement over XIII, but instead of leaving well enough alone, Square is going forward with another sequel Lightning Returns.
In the MMO world, Final Fantasy XIV was an unmitigated disaster upon release which forced Square to kill the game, throw a Phoenix Down and try again. Despite their recent misadventures, I think there are ample opportunities for Square to turn this whole thing around and make us fall in love with their key franchise again. Let’s start with something they may already be doing…
3. Make Sure Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Doesn’t Suck
Final Fantasy XIV Online’s launch was, to put it mildly, less than ideal. The game was unfinished, buggy and many of the interesting things Square-Enix attempted with their newest MMO just fell flat upon execution. The in-game market system sounds kind of interesting on paper: hire a merchant NPC to stand around a market area and sell your goods. However, this made shopping for specific items confusing since there was no indication of what a particular NPC was selling.
Despite this there was hints of a great MMO lying underneath the rubble. A friend of mine who played the beta for a time told me that the character creation system was robust and the game world was quite expansive. The most interesting aspect of the game in my view was the interesting character development. Your equipment determined your “class”. If you equipped a lance or spear, then you were a Lancer. The more you fought with a spear, the more skills you learned for that class. Okay, rad, but let’s say you just watched Marvel’s Avengers and decided that Hawkeye was really cool and you suddenly wanted to bulls-eye Fangs with a longbow. All you would have to do is equip one! Ta da! You’re an Archer now and you get to keep those Lancer skills you learned even though they may be a bit weaker.
Square-Enix is relaunching FFXIV as A Realm Reborn and the word on the street is that it’s much better. A Realm Reborn will also release on the PS3 which is good news for fans who want to play the game but do not have a powerful gaming PC. The market certainly is crowded, but, if executed correctly this time, FFXIV has the potential to really shake up the MMO world with its FF-inspired world and insanely flexible class system.
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