This is Part 2 of our coverage of 4Gamer’s interview with Hiromichi Tanaka and Sage Sundi. In it, we learn about the battle system in FFXIV and get some more hints relating to character creation. (You can find part 1 here.)
How to play FFXIV
People attending gamescom had the chance to try out a playable alpha build and test the guildleve system. Sundi would like people to understand that this was just to show off the system and it doesn’t encompass the whole of what FFXIV will be like. Prior interviews also hinted that various game elements were left out of the build because the focus was on the guildleve system.
However, they do give us some hints as to how things will work in FFXIV. Once you have a target, you can use commands from your Action Menu. What commands you have available to you depends on the abilities you have. You gain abilities by gaining skill in the weapon you choose to play with. Before you battle, you have to set the abilities you want to be able to use. These appear in the Action Menu. It will also be possible to create macros that allow you to use different abilities in order. For example, after I do attack1, it then uses attack2, just by using a macro.
Because the commands in the Action Menu are dependent on the weapon you are using, changing your weapon changes your Action Menu. Tanaka mentions again that if you were to switch to using a wand, magic would appear in your Action Menu. Commands do not go off as soon as you select them. Instead, it will go off as soon as the Action Gauge for that command is full. Players should also keep in mind that there is a Power Gauge which affects power and accuracy as well.
The interviewer points out that people are likely to use the same commands that either work well or give them an advantage. He wonders if there will be anything to prevent players from using the same move multiple times in a row. Tanaka responds with a very interesting answer. He says if you only keep using the same attack, the enemy can see right through you and you won’t be able to hit them anymore. They’ve made it so you will have to combine different commands to be effective. People who have been watching videos of game play from gamescom have probably noticed other things related to monster AI as well. There was an example of when a nearby monster ran after somebody targeted another one. It sounds like the AI for our enemies will be much higher than in FFXI.
Being able to change your abilities just by changing your weapon is a big departure from FFXI. You cannot change your weapon during battle in XIV, but they point out that being able to change it afterward is still a big difference from FFXI where you’d have to go back to your Mog House (or talk to a Nomad Moogle) to change your job.
Party mechanics are also different from FFXI. In FFXI, you generally needed a full party of 6 people to work together to earn decent EXP. This has changed greatly in recent years though with smaller parties becoming more frequent. The developers have often talked about people playing in small parties or solo often in FFXIV. The number of people you can have in one party has not been decided yet for the new game. However, they know from listening to the player base that people want to be able to play more freely, so the limit will probably be on the high side. They want people to be able to play solo or in large groups.
When asked what kind of play style Tanaka would have for FFXIV, he says that he’d probably use a lot of different weapons. When you play solo, you will want a lot of different skills, so you will have to use a lot of weapons to gain those skills. Then again, if you always play with the same people, you might just continue using the same weapon and divide up roles in the party clearly. Working with other people will inevitably lead to faster growth because the number of skills you might need is less than somebody who solos. However, both styles of play will be possible.
The Guildleve System
The development team is hard at work creating a lot of different types of leves considering that the guildleve system is the foundation for play in FFXIV. They will also add new ones with version updates. The leves you can take on will be different from person to person. There will also be a limit to the number of leves you can have at one time so if you want to play a lot, you’ll need to help people out with their leves too. Some might take 30 minutes to complete while others might have to be completed over several days. So it’s not that FFXIV is a completely casual game compared to FFXI, just that FFXIV has more casual components. There will be things to satisfy core gamers as well. A lot of details about combining leves and other particulars are still being kept a secret at this time.
When asked if we will see more than the five playable races already announced, Tanaka laughs and says “hmmm, what should we do?” avoiding answering directly. Instead, he focuses on the amount of customization you’ll be able to make on the ones that have been announced, saying that even within the same race there are different clans. It sounds like each race will have different clans (for example the Highlanders and Midlanders for Hyurs) which is something people have speculated but hasn’t been 100% confirmed yet. Skin, eyes, hair style, and face are once again mentioned as some of the things you’ll be able to customize with great detail.
The interviewer asks if being a member of a different clan affects the story in some way. He says right now it’s just part of the setting but perhaps there will be something relating to being one or the other in the future.
You will be able to freely choose your starting point. It is not dependent on race. In FFXI, there was a slight bonus if you matched up your starting point with the race of your character. For example, you’d receive a ring if you were a Hume starting in Bastok. However, for FFXIV, he doesn’t think there will be anything like that. Everyone will start off equal so people can freely choose the character they want and where to start. The interviewer brings up having differences between the races and Tanaka tries to say this will not have a large effect on the skills or classes available to you. The difference will be there just to add a little color to each race.
Having equal races makes something like PvP easier too which is the next question the interviewer had. The base of FFXIV will be PvE. If they add PvP, it will probably be the sports competition-like style we see in FFXI. However, they are busy working on other things, so PvP will probably not be in the game at the start.
In this interview, Tanaka mentions 3 possible camera angles. 3rd person, 1st person, and one camera angle coming from behind your shoulder much like a shooter game. However, everything is still being worked on so if the shoulder view has bad reviews, they might scrap it. The idea for the shoulder view came from people who said that when you are running, it’s hard to see what direction you are going. He emphasizes that they are still in the alpha stage and that a lot of things might change. They want to involve other people, like us players, as soon as possible to get feedback. The development team is working hard to create that opportunity for us.
Overall, this was a really fascinating interview and has a lot of answers for things people have been asking about! Good job 4Gamer! You can read the original interview in Japanese on their site.