Final Fantasy XIV's New 'Grand Finale' Will End This Sorry Era of Square's Troubled MMO

Illustration for article titled emFinal Fantasy XIV/ems New Grand Finale Will End This Sorry Era of Squares Troubled MMO

Today brings news, in the form of an official Square-Enix press release, that Final Fantasy XIV's "grand finale," which seems like an odd thing for a company to be announcing regarding their embarrassingly flawed, overly complex and just not very well-liked massively multiplayer online game.

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But when Square refers to a "grand finale", they really just mean the end of FFXIV as players knew it, giving way to a reboot of the game under the banner A Realm Reborn.

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The company says that character data from the current game will be saved "for the last time" on Halloween, October 31. This will be tied to a story event that will end the game world at midnight (Pacific tie) on November 11 and then transfer character data to FFXIV: A Realm Reborn.

If you are an FFXIV subscriber, you can apply to be an alpha tester for A Realm Reborn at this link. The publisher notes that "each phase will consist of multiple cycles of 'test and tweak,'" no doubt trying to assure people that the game will not be the mess the original FFXIV was.

In December of 2010, shortly after the MMO's release, Square-Enix chief Yoichi Wada apologized for the game: "While more than two months have passed since the official launch of Final Fantasy XIV service, we deeply regret that the game has yet to achieve the level of enjoyability that Final Fantasy fans have come to expect from the franchise, and for this we offer our sincerest of apologies."

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Our Mike Fahey, who played FFXIV a lot, said the game's main problem was that it was just too complex, too loaded up with menus for performing even the simplest actions and had ill-defined classes. The new version, with more traditional classes, streamlines combat and crafting, he says, looks better.

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DISCUSSION

The big question is whether people will care enough for the "relaunch" when it now must contend with The Old Republic, League of Legends, Guild Wars 2, and, yes, more Warcraft expansions, especially with so many now being/going subscription-free. Whether it can find a consistent player base in that environment, or whether it can overcome that first horrible impression, or whether the update even IS going to be good, gives this game a very uphill battle.

I certainly don't want it to fail, yet at the same time I'm being very skeptical about this one, especially since the original version was far below even the barest standards of a good MMO, and the standards have largely been raised since then by other, superior games more worthy of people's time and money. I guess time will reveal all.