Sunday 20 October 2013

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn

Square Enix recently relaunched «Final Fantasy XIV», in an effort to grab a bigger piece of the lucrative MMORPG pie. This marks their third throw of the gauntlet into this arena, but despite being the preeminent maker of traditional RPGs, their online offerings have so far been met with only moderate enthusiasm by fans of the genre.

Their first attempts were orchestrated by Squaresoft veteran Hiromichi Tanaka, perhaps best known as the producer of classics like «Secret of Mana» and «Chrono Cross».

After playing «EverQuest» in the late 90s, he was inspired to make a «Final Fantasy» which focused primarily on player interactions.

This resulted in «Final Fantasy XI Online», which was released in Japan on May 16, 2002. It was brought across the pond to the US the following year, and to Europe the year after that.

It was however quickly eclipsed by «World of Warcraft».

The main reason for this was likely that «Final Fantasy XI» was very much an "old-school" MMORPG, where teamwork was mandatory in order to advance. It was also a little bit too reminiscent of «EverQuest» for its own good. But It was not without merit, and has so far been the biggest financial success in the Square Enix portfolio, due to its dedicated and sufficiently large player base providing steady income from subscription fees.

However, it never quite reached the astronomical heights as the more popular and player friendly «World of Warcraft». «Final Fantasy XIV» was meant to change that, and was originally released on september 22, 2010 in order to beat «World of Warcraft: Cataclysm» to market. This was likely too soon, as the release was an incoherent and unfinished mess, almost universally reviled by critics and fans alike.

Due to its less than stellar reception, the reigns of the project was yanked from Tanaka's hands and given to the somewhat younger Naoki Yoshida before the year was over. Yoshida and his team have since been working hard to turn the game into something worthy of the «Final Fantasy» name, and have practically rebuilt the game from scratch. The result is «Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn».