Final Fantasy XI, also known as Final Fantasy XI Online, is the franchise's first MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game). Final Fantasy XI was the world's first cross-console MMORPG, currently available for Windows, PlayStation 2, and Xbox 360.
Due to the nature of online RPGs, Final Fantasy XI differs from previous installments of the series, in that you are not the only hero. Instead, each player creates a customizable character and adventures through the world of Vana'diel with other players; leveling up, exploring, completing missions, quests, and much more. Like most of the gameplay, leveling up requires a group of people working together in what is called a Party, with each participant contributing their own skills to help take down a foe and gain Experience points. Battles occur in real-time, taking the ATB system to a new level, which was emulated again to a certain extent in Final Fantasy XII.
Currently there are some five hundred thousand people playing Final Fantasy XI, utilizing over two million characters. With constant updates and Expansions added to the game, Vana'diel is not a static world; instead, it changes and evolves with the passage of time.
Players start by creating a character which may be customized. Unlike previous games in the series, Final Fantasy XI allows a player to choose Race, Gender, facial features, hair color, and height. Players then select one of three starter cities to pledge allegiance to and reside in — the Republic of Bastok, the Kingdom of San d'Oria, or the Federation of Windurst. Life in Vana'diel then begins.
Final Fantasy XI's main plot lines are advanced through Missions, which are offered from city-states and several NPCs. While advancing the game's story, Missions also offer various rewards, such as items, Rank, and access to new areas. NPCs also offer various Quests, which are story-based activities separate from the game's main plot. Compared to Missions, Quests are generally shorter in length, and more numerous in number. Quests flesh out the game's world, offer various rewards, and enhance a player's Fame, an invisible status which affects NPC reactions to the player's character.
Battles in Final Fantasy XI take place within the game world; no separate screen is loaded, as is common in previous Final Fantasy games. Instead, monsters can be found roaming the land, and can be freely attacked. Some monsters may also attack the player, retaining some "random battle" elements from previous games. Final Fantasy uses a "Claim" and "Enmity" system with regard to monsters. Once an aggressive action is taken against a foe, it becomes "claimed" as part of the record of the character performing the action; this prevents any passersby from interfering. Others may help with the battle if a Party is formed. Partying allows selected players to group together and take down foes, which is standard in most gameplay.
Final Fantasy XI uses the concept of changing Jobs in a similar fashion to Final Fantasy III, and currently has twenty Jobs available for play. There are six standard Jobs available to choose from at the start of the game. After one standard Job has reached level thirty, fourteen extra Jobs are accessible upon completing certain quests.
Each Job has unique abilities, which must be activated by the player in order to come into effect. Job Abilities last a limited time and have cool-down periods before they can be used again. Job Traits are also standard to each Job. These are passive abilities that are always in effect. Additionally, each Job has a special two-hour ability that performs some extraordinary function to help in a dire situation. Players must use this special power wisely because, as the name suggests, it can only be used once every two hours under normal circumstances. Players are able to change jobs any time they wish inside their Mog House.
The unique system of Final Fantasy XI's Job system is the "Support Job". This system allows a player to augment their character with Abilities, Traits, and Spells from another chosen job at half the level of their current Job. For instance, a Level 20 Warrior could set Ninja as their support Job. This allows them to use all Ninja Abilities, Traits, and Spells up to that of a Level 10 Ninja, while still primarily being a Level 20 warrior. The support Job system allows for Job-merges never before seen in the Final Fantasy series.
However, there are some exceptions to the support job system. Two-hour and other abilities deemed signature to a particular job (such as Call Wyvern for Dragoons) are restricted to being used only when set on main Job. Also, some adjustments have been made to lower the effectiveness of certain abilities when used on support jobs.
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Leveling and PartyingEdit
As in some previous Final Fantasy games, leveling up in Final Fantasy XI is based upon Experience Points. Experience points can be gained by several means, including defeating foes, completing Quests, finishing Missions, Campaign Battles, and various other activities. Generally, the most efficient way to gain Experience points with the intention to level up is to Party. A Party is a group of up to six people working together in order to bring down foes for EXP. Partying allows each Job to excel at their role, and subsequently kill harder monsters faster, thus giving more EXP than solo play.
For instance, a White Mage excels at keeping others alive, but they are, however, physically weak and defenseless. Subsequently, they would find it difficult to kill hard foes. However, if a White Mage Parties with a Paladin, who excels at physical defense and Enmity generation, and a Monk whose specialty lies in damage output, the three can work together using their strengths and bring down powerful foes, netting lots of experience. Killing hard monsters quickly in succession grants a bonus to experience, known as a Chain.
When in a Party, monsters' aggressive actions are determined by an Enmity system. Almost every action taken during a battle generates Enmity, commonly referred to as "Hate"; whoever possess the most Enmity will have the monsters' attention, and subsequently be attacked. A key to succeeding in Party battle is managing Enmity in order to protect vulnerable party members; there are several means at the player's disposal to accomplish this. It is essential to keep powerful monsters diverted away from those in the party who have low defense, such as Black and White Mages. Players must pick and choose actions while thinking about how it will affect their Enmity, and therefore the entire group. Because of this, certain Jobs are tasked with trying to create the most Enmity possible, in order to hold the monster's attention.
For several years the maximum level attainable in Final Fantasy XI was 75. Having achieved this milestone, a player can begin converting experience into Limit Points. These, in turn, grant Merit Points which may be spent to gain additional stats, abilities, and traits. It has been announced that the level cap will eventually increase to 99. The June 2010 version update introduced the first step in this direction and the maximum level was raised to 90 in December 2010. The final level cap increase to 99 occurred with the December 14, 2011 version update.
Weapon Skills and Magic BurstsEdit
Final Fantasy XI's incarnation of Limit Breaks are Weapon Skills. Physical Damage given and received fills a Tactical Points bar, to a maximum of 300%. Any amount above 100% is able to be used up by being channeled into a Weapon Skill. These skills vary in effect depending on Job class, what weapon is equipped, how full the Tactical Points bar is, and how proficient the player is with the weapon. If adventuring with others, players may use these Weapon Skills in succession in order to create a Skillchain. A Skillchain creates additional damage after a series of Weapon Skills are used. Building on this even further, Magic used on a Skillchain at the right time will receive a damage boost; this is called a Magic Burst. In order to create the best possible Skillchains and Magic Bursts, players must work together, focusing on each others actions and timing.
Format:Main Final Fantasy XI takes place in the world of Vana'diel, a diverse planet with regions ranging from blinding-hot deserts to ice-cold glaciers. Vana'diel's inhabitants range from the Enlightened Races and Beastmen to simple fiends.
Ancient lore states that Vana'diel was created as a playground for the Gods, who themselves were spawned form an enormous and sentient Crystal. For eons, the Gods joyfully played until eventually falling into a deep slumber. It was during this slumber that the children of the Gods rose and flourished in Vana'diel, extracting gold from stones, traveling through the sky, building mighty cities, and giving birth to grasslands across the world.
Eventually, the children longed to join their parents, and constructed a pathway to the Divine Entrance of Paradise. Enraged by such an insolent act, the Holy Gatekeeper smote the children, and cast their cities to the bottom of the sea.
Shortly thereafter, the Goddess Altana awoke, and saw the ruin that had once been Vana'diel. Filled with an emotion that the likes of a God had never felt before — sadness — Altana wept five divine tears. When the five tears fell upon the earth, they gave life to the five races of Vana'diel.
However, the God of Twilight, Promathia, observed this act from his place in the shadows. Promathia saw fit to condemn her weakness and the life that arose from it. Promathia cursed the five races with eternal conflict amongst themselves by bringing forth their darkest attributes: the apathy of the Humes, the arrogance of the Elvaan, the rage of the Galka, the cowardice of the Tarutaru, and the envy of the Mithra. He created terrible beasts and spread them across the world, commanding them to forever fight the people of Vana'diel and occupy their minds. Never again would anyone think to open the Gate of the Gods.
The five Enlightened Races of Vana'diel are available to play as:
- The Humes built their city, the Republic of Bastok, in the wastes of Gustaberg. They posses near-equal abilities in all fields, and are physically-basic compared to other races. It is the Humes' adaptability that has spread them throughout the lands, making them the most numerous of the five races. Humes are said to suffer from the sin of Apathy.
- The most imposing of all the races, the Galka possess towering, bulky physiques. Their home city was destroyed hundreds of years ago by the Anticans, making the Galkan people refugees. Many have since settled in Bastok with the Humes; however, they are regarded as an underclass. Galkas are unique from other races in that they are all male and reproduce through reincarnation. They posses high Vitality and HP, but have the lowest MP of the five races. They are said to suffer from the sin of Rage.
- Native to The Kingdom of San d'Oria, the Elvaan are characterized by their tall, slender figures and large, pointed ears. Many Elvaan are deeply religious, possessing an unbreakable faith that is reflected in their everyday life. They are blessed with high Strength and Mind; however, also possessing low Intelligence. The Elvaan are said to suffer from the sin of Arrogance.
- The cat-like race of Mithras posses a gender imbalance, with a high ratio of females to males. As such, only women are allowed away from the safety of their homeland to adventure around Vana'diel. They possess excellent Agility and Dexterity. Mithras are said to suffer from the sin of Envy.
- The tiny Tarutarus' age is not reflected in their size. Residing in the Federation of Windurst, the Tarutaru are famed for their discovery and development of magic, which they excel at, thanks to their high Intelligence. However, the small physique of a Taru means they have the lowest Strength compared to other races. Tarutaru are said to suffer from the sin of Cowardice.
Format:See Also Final Fantasy XI is set in the Age of Adventurers. It is the 884th year of the Crystal Era, twenty years after the end of the Crystal War that ravaged Vana'diel. The three main nations of Vana'diel, San d'Oria, Bastok and Windurst continue their struggle against the Beastmen who, although less organized, have regrouped and still terrorize the land. Rather than dispatching their own forces to deal with this threat, the nations of Vana'diel begin to employ adventurers to handle them as well as other minor tasks. The player is one such adventurer.
Reports of the beastmen rising again lead the player to journey on behalf of his nation to the other 2 nations to investigate the matter. In a beastmen stronghold, the player encounters the Spotter, a servant of the Shadow Lord, and it attacks by summoning a Dread Dragon to aid it. After being defeated by the player, it announces that the Shadow Lord will soon rise again. The player also meets Lion, a female who had been sent to investigate the beastmen, for the first time.
On a later mission, the player is made to report at the nation's embassy in the Grand Duchy of Jeuno and ends up rescuing the ambassador who had been kidnapped and held hostage in Delkfutt's Tower. The ambassador, impressed by the players bravery, later recommends him as a diplomatic attaché to the Archduke of Jeuno for a special mission.
Kam'lanaut, the Archduke of Jeuno, tasks the player with retrieving magicite from deep within the beastmen strongholds of Davoi, Beadeaux and Castle Oztroja to prevent the beastmen from harnessing its power to resurrect the Shadow Lord. At this point, the player meets Aldo of the Tenshodo, his sister Verena and the peace-loving Goblin Fickblix for the first time. Aldo helps out with the mission, whereas Fickblix dies while trying to reason with the Yagudo beastmen. When the player succeeds in retrieving all 3 pieces of magicite, the Archduke rewards him by issuing him an airship pass.
Upon returning to his home nation, the player discovers that the nation's talisman had been stolen. The talisman, used to seal Castle Zvahl after the war 20 years ago, had been broken into three parts for safekeeping by the three nations. The player is sent to the ruins of Fei'Yin, situated in the Beaucedine Glacier, to examine the seal placed there and to replace it with a new one if it is not intact.
Over at Fei'Yin, the player meets with Zeid. He shares details of the Northlands Expedition that took place 30 years ago and recites the "Warriors of the Crystal" song, but dismisses the return of the Shadow Lord. After defeating the Archlich Taber'quoan in the Qu'Bia Arena, the player returns to his home nation with the burnt remains of the old seal that had been placed there.
After the player reports to his home nation with the findings, the nation ultimately decides to send him to Castle Zvahl to deal with the threat of a returning Shadow Lord. (The reason for this varies depending on which nation one is aligned to).
In the Throne Room of Castle Zvahl, the player along with Zeid encounter the Shadow Lord and find out that he is actually Raogrimm, a Galkan member of the Northlands Expedition who had been wounded, betrayed and left behind by a fellow Expedition member Ulrich, who had also accidentally killed Raogrimm's Hume girlfriend, Cornelia, in the scuffle. It is revealed that in his final moments, Raogrimm's rage attracted the attention of the Dark Divinity Odin, who granted him a new form and gave him control over nether beasts. Reincarnated as the Shadow Lord, he swore to purge the world with his newfound power, starting with hunting down and brutally killing Ulrich for his crimes, along with all the other members of the Expedition, Francmage M Mistalle, Iru-Kuiru, and Yow Rabntah, who had just left Raogrimm and Cornelia to die in the Northlands.
The Shadow Lord forces Zeid to stand and watch as he attacks the player, but he is subdued thanks to the selfless courage and sacrifice of the player. As he is defeated, Raogrimm manages to regain control of himself and explains that much of the rage that he was consumed in came from being the Talekeeper of the Galka. He also explains that he will forever be lost to the darkness.
Lion appears to help Zeid and the player escape from Castle Zvahl. She beckons the player to visit her in Norg when possible. The player returns to his nation and is celebrated as a hero.
For storyline added by expansion packs, please see the Expansions below.
As Final Fantasy XI is an MMORPG, players are not required to play through the main story, but are instead rewarded through having areas, items, equipment and even gameplay systems unlocked upon progressing through them.
In the original Final Fantasy XI, the main story is presented in the form of missions which are issued by gate guards in the three main nations. Progress in these missions are marked by a player's nation rank which runs upwards from 1 (being the starting rank). Although each nation initially has a distinctly different story, the stories gradually converge up till the battle with the final boss of Final Fantasy XI and the attainment of Rank 6. The three nation's stories are subsequently expanded upon in separate directions in the Rise of the Zilart expansion.
Updates and ExpansionsEdit
Being an online game, Final Fantasy XI undergoes regular patching to add new content and fix existing bugs.
Known officially as Version updates, these online updates occur approximately once every 3 months and are accompanied by scheduled maintenance of all servers. All new content in the game, including those from expansion packs, are unlocked or downloaded during these updates.
In the early history of Final Fantasy XI, version updates occurred more frequently. The interval was approximately one month in between each update before the release of the first expansion, two months thereafter and it slowly lengthened to three months over the years.
Starting from February 2011, the development team began introducing minor patches to complement major version updates.
Besides scheduled version updates, the game also goes through emergency maintenance updates to fix major glitches in the game.
Final Fantasy XI currently has four expansion packs available. Each pack adds its own new story to the game for players to complete. New areas are also available to explore where the player may find new weapons, armor, equipment, creatures, and even new methods of gameplay (e.g., Assault, Campaign, or Besieged):
- Immediately following the original Final Fantasy XI storyline, the player finds out that the Archduke of Jeuno and his brother are princes of the ancient Zilart race who survived extinction. The player must fight to stop them from opening the Gate of the Gods, which will destroy Vana'diel as we know it.
- A phenomenon known as "The Emptiness" is found to be eating away at the heart of Vana'diel and the Wyrmking Bahamut declares that the arrival of the Keeper of the Apocalypse is near. A mysterious pale child seems to be at the center of the strange mystery that revolves around the Twilight God Promathia.
- The xenophobic Aht Urhgan Empire opens the borders to the Middle Lands after years of self-imposed isolation. Worried about this new power, the leaders of each city send a representative to assess the situation. You are chosen for the task of unearthing the Empire's true intentions, and begin to uncover the secrets of the life-giving Astral Candescence, the Dark Rider, and the history of this mysterious land.
- Cavernous Maws appearing all over the land have been found to teleport adventurers twenty years back in time, when the Crystal War raged. The player is greeted by Cait Sith, who asks for help in easing the suffering of the people in this time period. However, there are others who would alter the course of history to suit their own ends as well.
In addition to the Expansion Packs, there are add-on chapters. Unlike full expansion packs, each add-on is delivered completely within a single version update. The first three are add-on scenarios that introduce side stories in existing areas while the last three are battle area add-ons that focus on high level battles in the alternate reality of Abyssea.
- A giant crystal appears in the skies above Jeuno, triggering a series of unexplained happenings across the land. Adventurers must set forth to unravel the mysteries of this primordial crystal that holds the secrets of Vana'diel's past and who the young boy resembling Aldo is.
- It all started with an innocent drop of rainwater and a rickety, ramshackle Mog House desperately in need of repairs. Little did anyone suspect that this was only the beginning of a harrowing nightmare unheard of in the annals of mooglekind.
- The eccentric Doctor Shantotto returned to Windurst one day after a sudden and unexplained absence, shocking her colleagues with behavior so outrageous it put her old self to shame. When she goes so far as to proclaim herself ruler of her own empire, adventurers must embark on a quest to discover the truth behind her alarming shift in personality.
- New Cavernous Maws appear and serve as gateways to an unforgiving world long forsaken by the gods called Abyssea, where savage creatures roam and the land crumbles to chasmic depths. Its sanguine sky is an ever-present portent of looming destruction, whilst the moon is a great jewel of hope shining against a bloody veil of death.
- As adventurers continue deeper into Abyssea, they discover power and riches beyond their wildest dreams. It is also there that they come upon the bastions of survivors desperately defending themselves and the strategically important Pulse Martellos against the invasion of the fell hordes.
- In the borderlands of Abyssea, adventurers join the Resistance effort to subjugate the savage hordes and reclaim dominion over the land for mankind. In staking their claim as the champions of Abyssea, adventurers will come to discover the dark secrets of this world and face off against the greatest challenge yet.
Format:Main Final Fantasy XI holds the most extensive soundtrack out of the Final Fantasy series, with album releases consisting of nearly 200 tracks totaling over 11 hours in listening time. The game is updated with new music throughout the year. The largest spike appears with each expansion pack, adding approximately 25 tracks each time.
The release version of Final Fantasy XI featured music scored by Nobuo Uematsu, Kumi Tanioka, and Naoshi Mizuta. The games central theme, Distant Worlds, appears in several forms throughout the game and occasionally with vocals, most notably at the end of the games second expansion pack Chains of Promathia. Memoro de la Ŝtono was Final Fantasy XI's secondary theme, it features a choral arrangement with lyrics sung in Esperanto. According to Uematsu, the Esperanto lyrics symbolize the developers' hope that the game could contribute to cross-cultural communication and cooperation.
Final Fantasy XI's soundtrack repertoire also features albums containing music not present in-game. Several piano collections have been realized and The Star Onions, a band with composers including Naoshi Mizuta, Kumi Tanioka, and Hidenori Iwasaki, have released two albums of arranged Final Fantasy XI tracks.
The idea for a massively multiplayer Final Fantasy was conceived by Hironobu Sakaguchi after being impressed by the western MMORPG EverQuest. Hiromichi Tanaka, producer of the original Final Fantasy XI game and its expansions, states XI is the "most Final Fantasy of all the installments" stating it includes many things the team were unable to place into earlier titles due to technical limitations. Tanaka also recalled Final Fantasy III as a major influence on the original game, which can be seen in XI's Job System. In early development there was debate over whether the game should be called "Final Fantasy Online", as there was uncertainty surrounding if story telling in an MMORPG could be of a standard expected from previous titles. However once the core storyline was written and reviewed it was decided to be worthy of the main series, and the game became Final Fantasy XI.
A closed Japanese beta test of Final Fantasy XI took place in August 2001, with a public version in the following December. The game was officially released in Japan on May 16 2002 for the Play Station 2. Although initially announced to have a simultaneous world wide release date it took until 2004 before Final Fantasy XI launched in America and Europe.
- In the anime Welcome to the NHK! the centerpiece of two episodes is based around the main character becoming addicted to "Ultimate Fantasy". The game itself has multiple visual references to Final Fantasy XI. The logo itself is almost identical to the Final Fantasy logo, and the different races in the game are minor variations of the races in Final Fantasy XI. The main character's avatar is also dressed like a Red Mage.