It’s hard not to feel sorry for Final Fantasy XIV, because since its initial PC release back in September 2010, the game has lacked anything resembling good news. The original PC release of Final Fantasy XIV met with terrible responses from critics and fans, many of whom found little to nothing of worth in the game. Many critics even claimed that Final Fantasy XIV seemed unfinished and that in its current state, it was unplayable. There were criticisms of its user interface and quest system among numerous other problems. Response to the PC version of Final Fantasy XIV was so negative that it delayed the PS3 version of the game indefinitely (and Square Enix CEO Yoichi Wada stated to Sponichi, that due to Final Fantasy XIV, “The Final Fantasy brand has been greatly damaged.”). At least until now, because on Oct. 14 Square Enix announced Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn with a new trailer to explain this “Final Fantasy XIV 2.0”.
However, there is hope that Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn may be a solid successor to its older MMO sibling, Final Fantasy 11. The new team involved in relaunching the game is making massive tweaks to the game. A Realm Reborn will include entirely new servers, a completely reworked and more intuitive user interface taking its cues from older Final Fantasy games, redesigned field maps, more character customization with regards to gender, the implementation of a new graphics engine, edited and reworked jobs in addition to adding new jobs, and changes to the PvP system. While those changes are no guarantee that A Realm Reborn will fix all of the problems of the original, it is at least an indication that Square Enix is taking this relaunch seriously.
The biggest news about Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is that the interminably long delayed PS3 version will finally see release in 2013 after the PC relaunch. The PS3 version will feature an interface to give PS3 owners the same ease-of-use as those playing with a keyboard on the PC. There is a 16-button “hotbar” at the bottom of the screen where users can assign moves to each of the 16 slots. By using the L2 or R2 buttons, the player can switch between the four “cross-sections”. Each of those sections’ moves are mapped to the triangle, square, circle and X buttons, which the player can then use to utilize those moves. Final Fantasy XIV will even support cross-platform play between PS3 and PC users.
While Square Enix experienced plenty of success with their original MMORPG entry, Final Fantasy XI (the most profitable of all Final Fantasy games), it also launched in a very different MMO market. The same cannot be said for Final Fantasy XIV. Regardless of whatever success Square Enix might have with Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, this will most likely be their last foray into the MMO genre. Even if the original PC launch of Final Fantasy XIV did not have the myriad of problems and quality issues that it had, the MMO market is saturated. There are so many MMOs with free-to-play models and subscription models that they are all jockeying for the same market and attention. This makes it hard to get gamers to notice any new MMO, much less for it to catch on even with a brand like Final Fantasy because it did not even work out for Star Wars: the Old Republic. The truth is that the MMO game is hard; just ask Curt Schilling and all his nerds.