E3 Wrap-up (Day 1)

So day one (for us) of E3 is behind us – and given that the demo and interview are scheduled for tomorrow, today was something of a bonus day for us.  For those following our E3 tweets some, or most, of this might be repetitive, but here’s what we learned.

Character Creation

We didn’t get a chance to do a hands-on test of this today (we will tomorrow), but the system is robust to say the least.  While watching someone create a Miqo’te, the options were seemingly endless.  Each element we saw had between 5 and 32 options.  So, for example, while height had 5 different options (“tallest” to “shortest”, skin tone had 16 and hair highlights (that was after the hair color option) had 32 different options!  Nose, eyes, pupils (yes pupil size had options), eye brows, hair style, hair color, and mouth each had options.  Then were the “characteristic” options.  Scars, moles, tatoos, etc.  Since we see the availability of Miqo’te with scars, one would assume that these options are universal and that any race would have the same vast array of options – although we can imagine that Roegadyn might have more scar options and less highlight options, but we’ll verify one way or the other tomorrow.  Names were limited to between 3 and 8 (I think) characters each for first and last.  Obviously clan, deity, birthday, and starting city were also within the system as well.

Battle System

This is totally revamped from what has been shown as the alpha system.  What we’re looking at on the right is a bad screen capture of the video uploaded to youtube by SE earlier today – again, we’ll have better images tomorrow, but this helps explain the new system.  Tanaka is using the action “Rousing Provoke” against his target – an island crab.  The top bar is his “Stamina Gauge.”  This bar fills automatically, constantly, and pretty rapidly.  I’d estimate that the full bar fills in maybe 30 seconds, but since it is constantly filling you’re never waiting nearly that long.  You start a fight with full stamina, and every time you use an action it decreases by a preset (but undisclosed) amount.  The box around the left portion of the stamina bar shows the minimum amount of stamina to activate the action.  Note that this is not the amount that the action “costs” in stamina.  So if Tanaka uses “Rousing Provoke” right when the small box is full, the stamina gauge doesn’t necessarily drop to empty.  Since it starts full, you can spam your basic attacks quite a few times in a row very rapidly before you approach the box.  Also, for the standard attacks, the box is smaller, meaning that less stamina is needed to activate the action.  This leads to a very fluid system in which you are balancing spamming basic attacks, building TP from those attacks and then conserving stamina so that you can launch a more advanced attack requiring TP and more of a base stamina level.  The more advanced attacks still had cool-down timers, but I could bounce back and forth between two advanced attacks without running into the cool-down timers.  Also, each of the icons in the action bar shows the amount of TP or MP it requires (curiously not shown in the Tanaka video) – so there is a very fast requirements reference.  This value changes to a cool-down timer once used.

FFXIV 3D + Lighting Effects

Square Enix was showing off, as a tech demo, FFXIV in 3D.  As a tech demo, SE is basically showing off that they can do this, not necessarily that they will do this.  It requires 3D graphics cards and 3D glasses – both of which will likely be costly.  But the effect was stunning.  There was a real feeling that you were surrounded by NPCs while wondering through guilds filled with NPCs.  Names and menu items really seemed to hover in front of the screen – but not to the point where it was annoying or distracting.  What was more distracting was the overall look of Limsa Lominsa in 3D – you could (and I did) easily enjoy just standing on one of the overpasses looking out over the boats, bridges and skyline.  Part (perhaps most) of these stunning visuals was a function of the lighting improvements that beta will feature as compared to alpha.  It is hard to do it justice – but it was just amazing to look at.  Visually it rivaled anything else I saw at E3.  Things just seemed to glow in a very natural way.  This was true outside of Limsa Lominsa as well.  Everything was vibrant.  Players will be treated to an absolutely stunning world when this game gets released.  Plus, it can only get better for release.  The jump in the visuals from alpha (which still looked pretty good) to beta is huge.

Those are the major take-aways from our first day at E3.  We’ll have another chance to demo the beta tomorrow, plus our interview with the development team.  Hope you are all enjoying our E3 coverage.  Don’t forget to follow our E3 twitter for real-time updates.