Posted on Tuesday, January 28th, 2014 at 6:00 PM by Chris Smith
I almost went a whole calendar month without doing another article on Final Fantasy news. I can’t tell if this is a sign of me slipping, or if I need genuine help. It was only yesterday that I was talking to someone at work regarding the upcoming Final Fantasy XV. He remarked that it seemed as though Square-Enix were making the transition to fully real-time combat. I mentioned the differences in the battle systems throughout the games over the years, noting how it evolved from pure turn-based to “active time battle” style. Lately, it seems to be having something of an identity crisis, with X, XII and all the XIII’s having wildly differing battle systems. XV seems to be continuing this trend, as Square-Enix try to find something that fits.
It wasn’t the discussion itself that was all that unusual: it was the conclusion I came to afterwards. No matter how weird or alien the combat system ended up being, it was this: “Of course I’m going to buy it regardless,” I said. “It’s a Final Fantasy game.” Square-Enix can see people like me coming from a mile away.
But as I’ve been noting over the past few articles on this very topic, Square-Enix are making some really awesome decisions of late. They might just end up justifying my rabid devotion in the months to come. Here are a few more reasons why.
First up, we have the official announcement of a PS4 release date of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. It’s set to happen around the world on the 14th of April. We knew that it was coming out at some point during that month, but now we have a concrete date, I know when to book my holidays for. I’ve already got a couple of weeks off for the PS4 beta starting on February 22nd and my boss is always telling me to take my holidays instead of letting them accrue for the whole year. What better way to spend my free time than playing one of the finest MMOs in existence?
Square-Enix have taken to the internet to let us know a few things about this upcoming release. They have indicated that there will be some period of early access at some point between the beta and actual release, but we’re not sure of the specifics at the moment. Likely this will depend on how well the beta itself performs. We do know that you will not need PlayStation Plus to be able to play FFXIV on PS4, nor will there be any other special fees for the platform: it will cost exactly the same as on PC and PS3. Square-Enix have re-affirmed that they will be fully supporting Remote Play with the Vita, though it may not be in place by the beta. They don’t have any plans to utilise the second screen functionality available on the Vita / PlayStation App, but are open to suggestions on this front.
As with the PC and PS3 releases, there will be a Collector’s Edition for those of you who missed out previously. It is identical in every way to the other two versions, except of course that it contains a PS4 copy of the game, plus two extra pieces of bonus digital content. The “Fat Chocobo Mount” and the “Wind-Up Moogle” are new to the PS4 CE, but Square-Enix have confirmed that everyone who has previously bought and registered a Collector’s Edition will be given these items for free. This goes all the way back to the original FFXIV 1.0 CE, so big props to them for valuing their long-time fans. What’s not clear is if the previously available pre-order bonuses will make a return for the PS4 version. Current signs point to no, but we’ll see how things go over the next couple of months.
Theatrhythm Final Fantasy: Curtain Call came one step closer to a Western release a little while back, too. On the 24th of December last year, Square-Enix apparently registered a trademark for “Curtain Call” in the EU. While this is pretty standard fare for anyone looking to avoid their IP being stepped on, it’s also a strong sign that Square-Enix are looking to release at some point in the near future. A demo of the game was made available on the 18th of December on the Japanese 3DS eShop – no signs of anything similar for us eager fans in the West, but fingers crossed that this trademark is more than just paperwork.
Square-Enix have already said that they don’t intend to release another title in the Theatrhythm series after Curtain Call; they are apparently aiming to make this newest game the “best version”. We know that all of the songs from the original game are being included, meaning that aside from completionism, there won’t be any reason to buy it after Curtain Call is released. Only a handful of the new characters and songs have been made public at this point, but we’ll know the whole story soon enough. Curtain Call is due for a Spring 2014 release in Japan; if we’re very lucky, that might mean us Westerners getting our hands on it come July or August.
When I think of the recent activities surrounding the Final Fantasy series, I find myself less and less concerned with my general dislike of the direction Square-Enix took with XII and XIII. Sure, they’re just about to release the third XIII title, but they have to wrap up a trilogy that’s been planned for several years. I think I’d lose respect for them if they didn’t see it through to the end, despite the mixed reviews. But again, this isn’t what stands out. It’s the new-found desire to please their fans that jumps out and says to me that perhaps they might have found their feet again.
Everyone thought that FFXI was about to be discontinued, but they went ahead and released a brand new expansion pack after 11 years of the game. FFXIV 1.0 was a flop, so they remade the entire game into something amazing. The original PC release of FFVII had inferior music quality to the original PlayStation, so they updated the entire soundtrack. People asked for it to be available on Steam, so they published it there as well, despite having their own digital storefront. Fans cried out for more, so they’ve released VIII in the same manner and you can be sure that IX is only a matter of time. All the old-school Final Fantasy titles have been released on just about every platform you care to think of, meaning that in 2014, you can play a Final Fantasy game wherever and however you like.
You can slam Square-Enix and the direction that the Final Fantasy series has taken, but I believe that the good more than outweighs the bad. I will be buying FFXV and any other Final Fantasy game that comes out, because Square-Enix has done so much to make me happy over the past 15 or so years. They’re one of the few companies out there that really deserve a lot of the praise they get.
And that’s why I’ll never shut up about Final Fantasy.