The Japanese market has been slow to respond with online RPG's, even though games such as Ultima Online and Anarchy Online have been extremely successful in North America, Asia and Europe. Recent efforts however, indicate that times are changing, Final Fantasy XI is set to continue the Japanese onslaught on the genre, which was initiated by such titles as Phantasy Star Online.
Hironobu Sakaguchi, the creator of the Final Fantasy series, producer Tanaka Hiromichi and director Koichi Ishii, are the team attempting to create a different massive multiplayer online RPG. The difference, according to them, is that it's usually up to the players to write their own story and background in massive multiplayer online RPG's. Squaresoft however, is making a special effort to ensure that FFXI's world comes with a gripping and structured storyline.
Final Fantasy XI will be released in March, 2002 in Japan for the PS2 and PC. No release dates have been announced for the rest of the world.
You can catch a preview video of the game here
Final Fantasy XI's world will be known as " Vana'Diel." This world had been blessed by a force known as "The Crystals." Believers trusted their power and fought against the monsters aligned with darkness and evil. After long, hard battles, the monsters managed to destroy human villages and pollute the water supply. Eventually, mankind rose in revolt and took back its lands from the monstrous threat.
Twenty years after the fighting, while people were in the process of forgetting the terrors of the battle with the forces of darkness, evil once again rears its ugly head in the world of "Vana'Diel".
The future lies within the power of "The Crystals".
As is the case with every online RPG, you will have to create your character in order to begin the game. You will be presented with a choice of several types of races:
The Humes, which are the Humans and are the most balanced race.
The Elvaan, which are the elves and are tall and skilled in one-on-one combat and
The Tarutaru, which are the Hobbits, short and skilled in the use of magic.
Once you have selected one of the above races for your characters you will be prompted to choose your gender. If you select one of the following 2 races however, you will not be given a gender choice.
The Mithra is a matriarchic, feline race of skilled hunters that live in peace alongside the Tarutaru. Since female Mithras are the ones that usually move to hunt, you will only have the option of being a female Mithra.
The Galka is a strong and tough ogre race. They are hermaphrodites and will reproduce by re-incarnation. If you choose Galka then, you forfeit the choice, and pleasure, of sex.
After finalizing race and gender details, players can begin customizing their physical appearance and can adjust features such as weight, height, facial features, hair-eye color etc.
As we have come to expect, Squaresoft will almost certainly introduce various radical changes in the upcoming Final Fantasy XI. In Final Fantasy X, gamers were shocked to find a radically changed combat system, in the new version, the Job System, first introduced in FF V, will make its comeback.
Not all jobs will be available at the beginning, players will be able to start off in one of six jobs:
As most of you have gathered, these are the original choices from the very first Final Fantasy game.
Details of additional job classes have not yet been made available but are expected to surface soon.
Warriors are the no-nonsense knights, which most players will recognize from previous versions. This time around they have a special ability dubbed "Mighty Strike", which allows them to execute continuous critical attacks.
White and Black Mages
White Mages deliver healing spells and Black Mages attack spells. While they wield powerful magic, they are also considered to be physically weak. White Mages have the use of the "Bless from God", which allows them to heal all of their allies within a certain range. Black Mages possess the "Magic Swirl" which allows them to cast powerful attack spells.
In a move which reminiscent of Baldur's Gate, Squaresoft have hinted that the magic involved in the game will need time to charge and prepare and that if the player preparing to use spells is attacked, the magic will be rendered useless. There are also plans to include a range for every spell, so that no one spell will be effective outside a particular range.
Red Mages possess the ability to cast low level White and Black spells, but cannot use more powerful spells. They can however, use their Magic continuously.
Monks are experts of face to face combat and will not carry heavy equipment or weapons. Their special skill is the attack of the "One Hundred Punches as", which as the name suggests delivers a quick and powerful attack.
Thieves, true to their nature, have extremely high evasive abilities and can steal even during battle. Their "Complete Evasion" skill, makes them invulnerable to physical attacks.
In order to offer a simplified version of the game, Square have announced plans to include an "Auto Attack" option, which will allow constant attacks on an enemy until the enemy is killed or the player performs another action.