E3 2010: Final Fantasy XIV Hands-On

We were treated to a hands-on tour of Square Enix’s latest massive multiplayer online (MMO) to take place in the Final Fantasy universe, Final Fantasy XIV. This was the first ever beta test of the game, so Square Enix did not have that much to show of the online adventure. I left the presentation feeling not sure of what I experienced, but what I did see definitely was impressive.

They only had the PC version available to play, but there were two monitors available that used Sony’s new 3D technology. So take heart that even if you want to play the PC version, you can still have a 3D experience. As I’m not used to playing MMOs on PCs, I had a little difficulty getting used to the controls, but everyone else around me seemed to be veterans as they had no trouble manipulating their characters.

We were given 10 minutes to create characters and then 10 minutes to battle. Only four races with strange names were available, and after selecting your race and your various features (including skin color, height, eye color, hair color, and facial characteristics) you can select from one of four different classes: warrior, magic, land (farming and mining), and hand (crafting). The character building is quite similar to the character building found in Dragon Age: Origins and White Knight Chronicles.

The battle system is quite typical as to what has been seen in Final Fantasy XI and White Knight Chronicles. Players simply click on the enemy, select the targeting menu, and then choose the desired attack. The unique aspect to the whole system is that the difficulty level is dynamic to the number of members in your party, which allows you to play with others or quest SOLO. Final Fantasy fans who aren’t too keen on the multiplayer aspect of the game will be quite pleased to learn that they can still play the game party-less.

The graphics and environments are as sharp and bright as they are in the Pulse realm of Final Fantasy XIII. When not questing, players are free to roam around, kill things, forage, and just take in the scenery. Since the gameplay is relatively simple, you won’t have to worry about missing too much around you while you focus on your battles.

Since the tour was so short, I wasn’t able to get a grasp on the overall story or my purpose for being there. This was the biggest downfall of the whole presentation, but considering it is JUST in beta testing, this isn’t that big of a deal.

Fans of both MMOs and the Final Fantasy franchise should each find something from this installment that they like, unlike the last Final Fantasy MMO experience. The game is scheduled to release later this year, and hopefully a beta test for the masses will release before then. Stay tuned for further announcements as we receive them.