Archives for posts with tag: Naoki Yoshida

Back in July of last year, I wrote about my return to Final Fantasy XIV‘s realm of Eorzea, after some time away. I thought it was about time to update where I am with the game, but first: a short recap.

I first played FFXIV when it was in beta phase 3, which is when Square Enix let in PlayStation 3 players for the first time. I’d never played an MMO before, though I had been tempted, but being a big Final Fantasy fan, I decided this was the one to break my duck. It also helped that a friend also wanted to play, and though he didn’t get into the beta, we both picked up the game at launch, and I rolled a male elezen archer called Khroma Midgard.

Before long, I’d joined a Eurogamer forum-based Free Company and got through a handful of dungeons, but my friend drifted away from the game as he wasn’t a fan of the ongoing subscription. My other guildies had also rushed ahead of me, and though I’m sure they’d have been willing, I didn’t want to ask for help, as I felt I’d be holding them back. Though I managed to advance him to Bard, I abandoned poor Khroma Midgard at Haukke Manor, never to return, never to run that dungeon.

Though I’d managed to put over a hundred hours into my first ever MMO, it always bothered me that I hadn’t finished the Main Scenario. And I sure as heck missed that world; I’d drop in from time to time – one such time being when I bought a PS4 and received a free upgrade to that version of the game – but I found that everyone else had moved on to other Free Companies or servers. At that point, I basically dropped the game entirely, occasionally casting glances at content patches and update news, but not meaning to return.

So what changed? I returned to the game partly because of Noclip’s excellent documentary series into the game’s turnaround, helmed by Naoki Yoshida, but mainly because a member of the Destiny group I joined last year, who had also played FFXIV in the past, expressed an interest in returning. An interest in starting again. It was the perfect opportunity for me to do the same, only this time on PC. So I re-subbed. And then I created a new avatar, one that would represent a new beginning, while also calling back to my original adventurer in Eorzea. I made a female Miqo’te healer, and as she was a Keeper of the Moon, I named her Khroma Moonsong.

khroma moonsong

So, after nine months back, what have I achieved? Well, I joined a new Free Company right from the off this time – indeed, I think I was the fourth player to join – I’ve become a White Mage, and I’ve long since passed my previous roadblock of Haukke Manor. I’m now less afraid to ask for help from my fellow Free Company members, most likely because they’re made up mostly of members of the Eurogamer Discord community, so I find myself interacting with them daily outside of the game. I’m still far behind everyone else – I’m just slow at games, okay? – but I know I can always ask for help when I reach a dungeon or trial.

My goal for last year was to finally finish the A Realm Reborn 2.0 Main Scenario, which I didn’t quite manage. But I’m almost there now; the last thing I did in-game is defeat Rhitahtyn sas Arvina, one of the main antagonist’s most ardent followers. What stands between me and the end of the game I started more than four-and-a-half years ago is two eight-player dungeons. I’m nearly there! I hope to finally finish this very soon, and will update when I do. After that, I have more quests to do before tackling both expansions. Can I get Stormblood finished before the next expansion comes? Maybe that should be my next goal!

As for our Free Company, Eorzean Gaolers (EG, for Eurogamer, geddit?), we’ve grown a bit since I first joined. We’re now up to 19 members (though a few of those are lapsed), and it’s been really enjoyable for me to help newcomers to the game learn the ropes and get through dungeons; there are plenty of great guides out there, but what I feel a lot of higher-level players forget is that sometimes us newbies don’t really get MMOs. Often it can help to discuss early-game stuff with players who have walked that same path, and it’s really rewarding to help people see how much fun they could be having in Eorzea. Especially as the game now has an incredibly generous trial period, meaning new players are always joining in.

We’ve also since bought our own Company Estate in the Goblet, and after a lot of grinding for Grand Company seals (and having to suffer through the Aurum Vale with a random tank and DPS, ooh lordy never again), I finally managed to get my own room in the house a little over a week ago.

khroma's lunarium

Now I just need to spend tens of thousands of gil decorating it. So far, I’ve changed the floor and walls (as a Conjurer of Stillglade Fane, I needed to bring a bit of Gridania with me to the Goblet, so went with a bit of greenery), and added a Glade Fringed Rug, a few Hingan benches, and a bed. It’s a bit spartan at the moment, but I want to add to it over time, rather than throw a load of stuff in there and then decide I don’t like half of it in a couple of months. Anyway, there’s no rush as I still have tonnes of content to play through, and right now, there’s an in-game event to celebrate Hinamatsuri that awards a Far Eastern doll display. I guess I’ll put that in there when I get it.

Out in the real world, I now have the FFXIV lorebook Encyclopaedia Eorzea, as well as all of the excellent art books, including the latest Stormblood book. I’ve glanced through that and the two Heavensward books (while trying to avoid spoilers!) and I’d say they’re an absolute must for fans of the game, filled with beautiful art and concept pieces from across four years of Final Fantasy XIV. It’s safe to say I’m in deep now, and this time I don’t intend to get drawn away from Eorzea again. (Also, I really want this)

I’ll most likely post another update when I finally finish the 2.0 questline (hopefully this week or next!), but for now, here’s one more shot of Khroma, lazing in her room, with her ever-faithful Relm minion close at hand.

khroma relm bed

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I’m a little more than a fortnight into my new Eorzean adventure, so I thought I’d post a little update on my progress.

In the time since my last post, I’ve joined a Free Company, run the first three ‘beginner’ dungeons of Sastasha Seagrot, The Tam Tara Deepcroft and the Copperbell Mines with a mix of fellow guildies and randoms – god bless the Duty Finder, which immediately put myself and a tanking friend into a couple of instances – and progressed past level 30. Having joined the Scions of the Seventh Dawn, I’m now heading towards a showdown with the Primal Ifrit, and reeeaaally looking forward to getting my chocobo soon. Because sod running about everywhere.

Upon hitting level 30, I was given a million gil and fifteen extra days of game time, which is very handy as I wouldn’t have been able to re-sub until the end of the month. And while waiting for FC members to run Sastasha, I also decided to try out some other classes; on my previous character I was a level 33 Bard, 17 Conjurer, 15 Pugilist and level 9 Weaver, so I decided to try a couple of different classes this time, just to see how they felt. So I’m now a level 31 Conjurer, 11 Thaumaturge and a level 6 Arcanist. If anything, trying these classes out has just reaffirmed that I want to continue on with my Conjurer until she’s ready to progress to White Mage.

Hanging out at Aleport, waiting for a Sastasha run

I’ve also since grabbed the Stormblood expansion, which included Heavensward, from CDKeys for just £15, so I guess I’m in for the long haul now. I’m still really enjoying my time with Final Fantasy XIV, and though I’m still a fair way away from where I was before (I was waiting to run Haukke Manor with members of my old Odin FC at the time), once I get there, I’ve got a hell of a lot of new content in front of me. Of course, it’s been a bit of a different experience anyway, seeing as I’m maining a healer this time rather than ranged DPS – I had played Conjurer to level 17 on my old character, but I don’t think I actually ran any dungeons on that class – and it certainly felt fresh, creeping through Sastasha while keeping tabs on a group’s HP (who am I kidding, I was basically the tank’s pocket healer!).

I’ve got some work to do before I can become a White Mage, however. It used to be that you needed a second class at level 15 to progress to a full job – in the case of White Mage, you needed Conjurer at 30 and Arcanist at 15 – but things have changed while I’ve been away from the game. I’m actually not sure how I progress now, but I know I have to be at least level 30 and to have completed a certain main scenario quest – I think it was a quest to do with the Sylph tribe, and all I can remember about them is endless dancing… /dance

Hopefully I can make White Mage before poor Khroma dances herself to death.

In other news, I’ve also been playing the recently-released Final Fantasy XII: The Zodiac Age, which I just couldn’t get into back on the PS2. I played for about 12 hours, made it to the Imperial Dreadnought after a meeting with Marquis Ondore, and just left it there. Whether it was the story, the characters or the gameplay, FFXII just didn’t grab me back in 2006, yet this time I’m absolutely loving it. I think the fact that it was so different from Final Fantasy X put me off a bit, and the perception that it was an ‘offline MMO’ didn’t help things much. Having actually played an MMO in the intervening years, however, they really don’t have many similarities in my opinion. If anything, FFXII‘s ‘Active Dimension Battle’ system makes me think more of realtime with pause systems seen in western RPGs. I had wondered quite how I’d manage, playing both Final Fantasys XII and XIV at the same time, but I needn’t have worried – it actually feels fantastic to be playing two expansive fantasy-based instalments with plenty of lovely Akihiko Yoshida design work informing the look and feel of both worlds.

Square Enix have done a great job with this remaster.

The Zodiac Age features a ‘speed mode’ option, which allows you to speed up the action by either two or four times, and using that to zoom through the more mundane sections of Final Fantasy XII – like dungeon combat against trash mobs – means that I made it back to the Dreadnought in around seven hours, rather than my previous 12 or so, and I’ve even been taking my time to more thoroughly explore towns and other environments this time out. It’s a fantastic quality of life improvement that has helped me to genuinely fall in love with Final Fantasy XII – something I never thought would happen, and certainly not 11 years after its initial release. I thought at best that I’d feel more favourably toward this most idiosyncratic episode in one of my favourite series, so the fact that I feel this positive about it is an absolutely wonderful thing; having played so little of XII in the past, it may as well be a new Final Fantasy game to me.

One thing that’s still a bit of a mystery to me is the Gambit system. I thought I had my head around it in the early hours, but upon arriving at Bhujerba, hoping to rescue Penelo in the Lhusu Mines, I happened to stop in a Gambit shop and dear god, the options I saw in there. There must have been hundreds of them! I’m going to have to do my homework and figure out more than just useful early-game Gambits, because that shop made my head spin at the potential intricacies of the system. My next stop is King Raithwall’s Tomb, but I think I’ll need to do a bit of housekeeping before I set out, and try to properly wrap my loaf around Gambits. It feels exciting though, rather than a chore; can I get my battle party working like a well-oiled machine without me even needing to intervene? Time will tell!

No you’re not, Vaan. Stop being a silly billy.

It feels good to be so fully immersed in the Final Fantasy series again. I was cautiously optimistic about XV in the lead-up to its release, and I did find a lot to like in the final product, but even though they’re each very distinct within the wider Final Fantasy canon, XII and XIV are giving me all kinds of nostalgic, old-school FF feelings. I’d love to see another Matsuno take on a big-budget Final Fantasy, or to see what Naoki “Yoshi-P” Yoshida could do with an offline instalment. Who knows what the future holds? With Yoshida’s MMO going from strength to strength (and with a Matsuno-penned, Ivalice-themed raid on the way!) and Final Fantasy XII finding a new audience, I’m genuinely excited for the future of Square Enix and their marquee series.


Recently, I wrote about my return to the time-sink that is Destiny after almost two years away from the game, and it seems as if there must be something in the water; just this weekend, I returned to the realm of Eorzea more than three years after I last logged into Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn.

Though there are similarities here – both games are persistent worlds that require a large investment of time and a willingness to group up with others – the situations surrounding me leaving each game were quite different: where Destiny disappointed as much as it thrilled, I loved A Realm Reborn right from the get-go. I took part in phase 3 of the game’s closed beta on PlayStation 3, pre-ordered the Collector’s Edition, bought a PS4 almost solely to play the upgraded version, and even had a small series on here, called ‘Postcards from Eorzea’.

But around April 2014 – not long after I’d upgraded to the PS4 version – I just drifted away from the game. From the official launch on PS3, I’d been playing with a good friend, levelling and running dungeons together, spending hours working on our digital avatars almost daily, and eventually, that friend decided that he didn’t want to pay the sub anymore. I understood, of course: a subscription MMO is a commitment, after all, and if you’ve paid for access you feel like you have to play the game as much as possible. These games have a habit of monopolising your time.

After my friend quit, I tried to soldier on for a bit. I had a group of fellow Eurogamer forumites that I’d chat with in our Linkshell, but they were all far more hardcore than me, and so were much further ahead in the game. It just wasn’t the same. So I stopped, and I’ve honestly missed it ever since. I’d still pay attention to news from the game, I’d sometimes look back through my captured screenshots and reminisce over some of the beautiful landscapes that make up the continent of Eorzea, but I didn’t have any plans to come back. So what’s changed?

My interest in Final Fantasy XIV was reignited in a big way when noclip’s excellent three-part documentary covering the game’s development was released just last week. Most people that follow the game will know that the original iteration of Final Fantasy XIV – what Square Enix now refer to as “1.0” – was an absolute disaster, with then-CEO Yoichi Wada going so far as to claim its launch “greatly damaged” the Final Fantasy brand as a whole. Square Enix embarked on an ambitious plan to not only continue to support 1.0, but secretly make an entirely new version of the game under new director Naoki “Yoshi-P” Yoshida, dubbed A Realm Reborn. The three-part documentary from noclip is an excellent, in-depth look at the death and rebirth of Square’s latest MMO, and I’m honestly quite surprised how open members of the development team were allowed to be in their interviews. It’s well worth a watch even if you aren’t particularly interested in visiting Eorzea.

However, the main reason behind my decision to dive back in actually does relate to Destiny, in a somewhat round-about way. If you read my piece about going back to that game (and I am still playing! I’ve recently picked up Rise of Iron and am currently trying to get my hunter up to the required level to do the Wrath of the Machine raid), you’ll remember that I joined a group on the100 – a good group of chaps united under the banner of Town Called Malice. One of the players there has also dabbled in Final Fantasy XIV in the past, and had also expressed an interest in going back. So now I had someone to go adventuring with! I was heading back to Eorzea.

I considered grabbing the Starter Edition on PC, as it’s currently £7.99 in the Steam summer sale; I already have the PS4 client installed (and it took an entire evening to update!), but I quite liked the idea of splitting my play time between the two platforms. However, I remembered that I’d once bought a Square Enix mystery box which contained a Windows license that I never redeemed – I was fairly sure I wouldn’t be playing the game again, back then. So I searched my inbox, and found the email containing my keys from the Holiday Surprise box bought in December 2015. Sure enough, there was a key for A Realm Reborn, but with it being a year-and-a-half old, I wondered if it might have expired. I headed to Mog Station, redeemed the code, and was granted a Windows license and a thirty-day sub! So I’m back in the game without having to spend a single gil!

As my original character, Khroma Midgard, was a male Elezen bard on the Odin server, I decided to roll something different this time. Please welcome Khroma Moonsong, a Conjurer on Louisoix.

I created a pink-haired catgirl. Yes, I know, I’m a walking cliche.

Ahem. Anyway, on my previous character I had played Archer up until Bard (levelling Pugilist along the way to unlock the Bard job, of course), as well as playing Conjurer up to level 17 and dabbling in a bit of Weaving. This time, I want to focus more on healing, so Conjurer is going to be my main class until I can get into White Mage at level 30 (I’ll obviously have to get Arcanist up to 15 as well!). I think playing supports so much in Overwatch has conditioned me to dish out the heals rather than the DPS!

So far I’m still in Gridania, and it feels like the pace of levelling has been increased somewhat – after just a few hours I’ve already hit level 10, and though the last time I did this was almost four years ago, things do seem to be moving at a much faster pace than I remember. I’m guessing this is done to help newcomers get up to speed for the recently-released Stormblood; now that Final Fantasy XIV is two expansions deep, I suppose the dev team want to offer new players an easier ramp up to the late-game content and encourage them to get into the newer stuff.

I don’t know what’s possessed me recently and made me dive back into two games that demand so much of your time, especially when I’m struggling to get through single players games (I still need to finish Nier Automata, Mass Effect Andromeda and Breath of the Wild) and my backlog continues to grow (Oh hi Valkyria Revolution!), but right now, all I seem to want to do is wander through these populated, persistent worlds. Hopefully this time, I’ll actually be able to make it through the base 2.0 storyline, and then I can think about moving onto Heavensward! This time, I’m planning to stick with it. And who knows, maybe I’ll even revive Postcards from Eorzea!

Gamesradar have posted an excerpt from an interview with Final Fantasy XIV‘s producer/director Naoki Yoshida in which they question the Square-Enix man on the likelihood of a PS Vita version. The answer? Well, read the title again. It’s not looking positive.

Speaking at Gamescom in Cologne, Yoshida talked up the scalability of XIV‘s engine, noting that this is the main reason the team is able to port the game to PS3. The Gamesradar journo followed up this comment by asking if this might mean a Vita port is feasible. “Technically it’ll probably work – you could scale it down and get it running,” he said, following up with less positive words: “The problem is that in an MMO one of the most important things is the network and so, you know, if you’re in a party with a lot of different people in a raid and someone’s on the Vita and they have a very… you know, it’s not a stable network connection then you’re going to be a nuisance to your party members. So global internet networks need to be better.”

I can understand that – the Vita has no ethernet port, after all, and WiFi can be spotty at times. A wired connection makes sense for an entirely online game.  But Yoshida has another concern: “And then also, just more people need to buy the Vita”.

Not a week goes by without some doom and gloom story regarding the handheld’s install base (Joystiq today reported that 2.2 million Vitas were sold, worldwide, as of June 30th this year), and even as a happy owner, the din is often hard to ignore. It’s a valid complaint, too, as developers are unlikely to set aside resources for a chance to sell to a fraction of two million. This comment from Naoki Yoshida further highlights the dilemma.

Stepping aside from the Vita’s predicament and getting back on topic, I must say that the idea of Final Fantasy XIV on Playstation Vita certainly intrigues me. I’ve never played an MMO (even though I’ve read about many over the years, and was initially very excited for Phantasy Star Online prior to the Dreamcast’s launch), but I am planning on dipping my toe into the genre with the PS3 version of XIV – mainly because I have a group of like-minded friends to form a noob party with. But if it was also available on Vita and I could migrate saves between both? I’d likely put in double the hours (and potentially lose whatever semblance of a social life I still have).

Perhaps Yoshida is quietly awaiting the Vita version of Phantasy Star Portable 2 to see how the machine handles an MMO? Maybe he’s waiting for more people to buy the console? Or maybe he hadn’t even considered the idea of XIV on Vita until Gamesradar prompted him. Only one of those possibilities is even remotely positive, and Sony are going to have their work cut out for them to resolve those issues. I hope they can, as I want to see the Vita exploited to its fullest potential.

Read more:
http://www.gamesradar.com/final-fantasy-xivs-naoki-yoshida-says-more-people-need-buy-vita/?comment_ordering=oldest_first
http://www.joystiq.com/2012/08/20/vita-sales-august-2012/