The Latest on the Final Fantasy XIV Fiasco

A column article by: Amelia Ramstead

Amelia takes a look at some changes Square is implementing in hopes of improving their otherwise D.O.A. Final Fantasy MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV.

When Final Fantasy XIV dropped in September of 2010, eager franchise fans were lined up to log into the highly anticipated MMORPG from Square Enix and get started. Unfortunately, it quickly became clear that the game was not up to snuff, especially when compared to the quality of previous Final Fantasy installments.

The problems were numerous. For some reason the designers had gone with a heavy crafting focus, with fighting becoming almost secondary. End-game content was nonexistent. No auto attack option was available; each strike took another key tap. In general, the game was panned by players and reviewers who had high expectations for the Final Fantasy series, with one website even awarding it the title of “Most Disappointing Game of the Year.” Ouch.

A complete reorganization of the development team occurred, with the rumor mill reporting that the original development team had been fired and replaced with the team from FFXI. The original free trial period has been indefinitely extended until the game is considered “playable” and Square Enix has offered numerous apologies. A major patch, 1.18, has now been in development for months, intended to repair the countless flaws in the game.

On June 14, a letter from the Producers of the game was published on the official website for FFXIV, The Lodestone. The letter announced that 1.18 was once again delayed, as they are continuing to add fixes and test them, determined to avoid another disaster. The letter addressed one of the biggest player concerns: auto attack. Specifically, the letter revealed:

• Auto attack is the top priority for 1.18.
• Auto attack will only be available for battle classes.
• Once auto attack is implemented, the stamina gauge is going away.
• Major revisions are going to be made to enmity algorithms.
• Certain actions will be retooled and some will be rebalanced.
• Switching between active and passive modes while moving will be possible.

An additional patch, 1.19, was also mentioned, with a promise of attack motion diversification and fine tuning. Also planned for the future are multiple attacks during auto attacks. The letter also promised the completion of one raid, with more currently in development for the future. Once again apologies were made, as the patch is being pushed back from its intended drop date of mid to late June to most likely early July.

It remains to be seen if this patch will indeed be the game saver that has been promised – the problems may be too big to repair a piece at a time, especially with the mention being made of additional patches.

It’s also unclear how much more patience the dedicated players and Final Fantasy fans will be willing to demonstrate. Will anybody be left when the game is finally playable?

It’s unfortunate – the game itself is visually stunning. The texture and detail are remarkable, as is the music. I appreciated the intricate character design option, something that is sorely missing in so many other MMOs that have stock characters that can only be customized so far. If the game play can be brought up to this same level of quality, they could have a real game changer on their hands. As it stands now it’s hard to say if that will ever happen.

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