Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Return of the Online Chocobo

There was a big MMORPG sequel announcement at E3, and it wasn't EQ3 or WoW 2. Square is working on Final Fantasy XIV Online.

We know the game will share two things in common with the current FF XI online - multi-platform status on PC and the PS3 (the current version is on the PC, PS2, and X-Box 360), and chocobos. The real questions have yet to be answered. Will the game have mandatory grouping? The current game's job system (which allows one character to level as every one of the game's character class equivalents)? Harsh penalties for death, unsuccessful crafting attempts, or joining a suboptimal PUG that would rather fail and disband than settle for farming mobs the group can actually handle?

I would love to play an accessible solo-friendly FF MMORPG. Fans of the original, understandably, would be less than thrilled with this outcome. There are perils to either approach. A more accessible game that draws in fans of the single player games, which have collectively sold tens of millions of copies, would have a huge potential upside. On the other hand, alienating fans of the current MMORPG with a game that is noticeably less hardcore would sacrifice the new game's most likely market. A failed attempt to split the difference could leave EVERYONE unhappy.

To the best of my knowledge, Square has not gone out of their way to make FFXI more accessible. This might mean that they are happy with the game's current subscriber numbers. Then again, it might mean that they recognize the difficulty in attempting to revamp an existing game, and would act differently with a clean slate on a sequel.

As with any new title, I wish them the best; after all, it's potentially another dish for my salad bar. Square also has the advantage of being an established studio that (hopefully) knows how to budget, build, and ship an MMORPG, lessening the usual concerns of the studio going bankrupt before the game ever launches. Still, there are questions that can't be answered by a pre-rendered trailer. I'm going to want some more information before I start getting excited about the latest MMORPG announcement du jour.

2 comments:

spinksville said...

Yeah, this is an interesting one. Maybe it's because the FF games have often been set in different universes, used different mechanics and so on that it's difficult to know what a FF MMO really means other than that there probably will be chocobo, airships, and spiky hair.

Will it be an evolved form of FFXI or something closer to the single player games? We have absolutely no idea.

Still, it'll be interesting to see what sort of design decisions they make, given that the PS3 will be one of the main platforms.

Thallian said...

I wonder all these things too. I loved the music from the first one they made, that at least was awesome.