FFXIV 1.0 – Ending with a Bang… and a Whimper!

Who doesn’t want to party like it is the end of the world? As Final Fantasy XIV 1.0 came to an end, we were all treated in some capacity to a quite amazing CG trailer for the future. It’s just a shame that as for a proper ending inside the game, not everything worked out as had been intended…

 

It’s telling for the technical limitations of an engine when, to ensure an even load on servers, everyone was booted off ten minutes before the end-game proceedings began.

I don’t think Square-Enix realised just how dangerous this was going to end up for them however. Inviting everyone who had played in the past back to experience the culmination of the first version of an MMO that has had more ups and downs than a yo-yo attached to a bungee jumper was always going to prove to be a little bit of a gamble, especially as it had been said that the server infrastructure was perhaps not the most ideally-suited towards such a large-scale event such as this. As many servers began to seize up, lag and provide large-scale technical problems, we were all reminded as to why this game had been such a spectacular let-down in the past. The ambition was certainly admirable. The end result? A complete shambles.

Not least because the last two hours became a competition of trying to beat all the error messages, the login servers screaming at us in agony to stop putting it under so much pressure. Trying to make sense of an event that had been poorly explained, as we simply ended up fighting off waves of Garlean soldiers until eventually, we were treated to a single server message; “We have lost contact with the main host!”

Effectively, the end of the world was not played out in-game. People spent two hours fighting to get into something that they had been doing for weeks. Just fighting off wave after wave of Garlean beasts and mechanical constructs. There was no more to it than that.

So the end of the world, in that sense, was ended with a bit of a whimper.

However, when many of us did eventually get to see the CG Video that was supposed to culminate at the end of this ‘battle’, things changed.

The video is a fitting end for the 1.0 version of Final Fantasy XIV as it cleverly wipes the slate clean somewhat, as well as introducing an old series favourite back into the mix. The falling moon was not, as it turns out, a falling moon. It was something far worse – a prison, a construct hiding a destructive force that many had been hoping to see, but the world had always wanted to avoid. Dalamud. The name isn’t far from the very creature it housed.

The cities were hit hard, the armies crippled in fire and debris. And those important to the future of the world seemingly engulfed in a bright light, as the power of the Twelve could not contain the full fury of events happening around them. The world was ending. And yet, was left with a brief hint of hope.

The ending was a clear demonstration that when it comes to this sort of CG video, Square-Enix are still the masters of storytelling. Everything about the video was big-budget and bombastic, a grand gesture to those who had suffered long within a game that struggled to find its feet. It was a send-off for the old, and a brief glimpse to the future. Despite all the technical and server woes that accompanied the end of Eorzia, the video felt like a fitting tribute to the talent and money that had gone to keep it on life support. It was time to end it all. And time to move on.

Of course, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn goes into beta ‘soon’. We will have a gap of some months before we get to see what Yoshi-P. and his team have wrought from the ashes of the remains of this game, but that it is coming for the PS3 is at least a good indication that they really are taking this more seriously than ever before. There is a more science-fiction angle to the stylings of A Realm Reborn, a greater angle towards moving it into an adventure similar to other MMOs rather than distancing from them.

It is perhaps a shame that FFXIV 1.0 could only flounder at the end technically. But we should be consoled that A Realm Reborn will have a proper beta, on new and modern servers fully designed and tuned to take the weight and force of a modern Final Fantasy MMO. In effect, A Realm Reborn is what most hoped 1.0 would be. It has taken more than two extra years to build it – a significant feat in the MMO world – but it is near, and looks far more interesting because of the problems the game has had.

I wish it the best of luck, and hopefully will report back with more when the Beta has begun.

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