Final Fantasy XI has been in the news an awful lot this week for a game that’s more than a decade old.
Earlier it was announced that Square Enix would be shutting the title down on PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 next year. This isn’t particularly surprising – the thought of thousands of people coming home after work every evening and turning on their PS2s for a marathon MMORPG session is a baffling one, if rather wonderful.
What is more surprising, though, is this latest piece of news: Final Fantasy XI will be coming to iOS and Android in 2016.
For a game that wasn’t actually that popular upon release (at least compared to other mammoth titles like World of Warcraft, EVE Online and EverQuest), it’s pretty incredible that Square Enix has opted to take such large measures to continue its life.
The mobile version of the game will be largely faithful to the full title, with a few optimisations made to make it as intuitive and manageable as possible on a smaller screen.
The battle system has been enhanced to be speedier, whilst a new co-operative system makes partying up (typically a make-or-break feature in MMOs) a lot easier.
On the other hand, Square Enix has also promised that tackling the game solo will be easier.
It’s unclear as to whether the game will run on the same servers as the PC and console versions, or how it will work with existing accounts and characters.
Unfortunately, one massive detail is yet to be revealed – pricing. We don’t know what the up-front cost of the title will be, whilst a subscription is almost certain to be mandatory.
One thing we do know, though, is that the game will definitely, absolutely, 100% be coming to the West. That’s a little surprising, but in a good way. It will start with a release in Japan and South Korea before branching out.
That fits in with Square Enix’s assertion that we are entering the ‘age of the MMMRPG – that’s ‘massively multiplayer mobile role-playing game’ to you and me.