When I heard that Square Enix CEO Yosuke Matsuda would be giving a presentation abut Final Fantay XI in the luxurious Yebisu Garden Place venue in Ebisu, Tokyo, I knew this couldn’t be something small.
As soon as the presentation started, lights and smoke effects on the stage made it even more evident. It was going to be big.
When Famitsu’s former Editor in Chief Hirokazu Hamamura sat by my side, I knew he wouldn’t come for a minor announcement. And in fact it wasn’t, but not in the way I or many others expected.
Starting in May, Final Fantasy XI will receive its final “expansion” that will build up to the grand finale of the story, split in three different content updates. The second and third part will drop in August and November. The final expansion will be titled “Rhapsodies of Vana’diel” (Vana’diel’s Star Song in Japanese).
After the third chapter, there will be no more major updates, but there will be more small patches to address bugs and balance.
A series of events named “The Goddess Gala” will be held to celebrate the game’s fanbase, and say thank you for all the years of support. It will include in-game events, a welcome back campaign and more.
In March 2016 the PS2 and Xbox 360 versions of Final Fantasy XI will cease being supported. The PC version will continue operating beyond that date, and a closing window has not been announced.
Besides the continuation of the PC version, this isn’t the end for Final Fantasy XI, as the world of Vana’diel will survive in a new mobile game for iOS and Android developed by Groots, Final Fantasy Grandmasters.
The game will be set in the same world as Final Fantasy XI, and beta test will begin in April.
It’ll be aimed both to the veterans of the MMORPG and and to new players, and it will be a “MMO-like” online RPG, with players adventuring on the same environments and challenging the same quests. It will also feature a job system that will prove familiar for Final Fantasy XI players. For the moment, only a Japanese release has been announced.
Back to Final Fantasy XI, it will also get updates in June and September, and will get a coat of fresh paint with a new UI, new quests, new areas and improved combat. Dynamic events similar to Final Fantasy XIV‘s FATEs will be implemented.
Square Enix also announced a partnership with the Korean MMORPG giant Nexon, which will be at the forefront of the development of a native mobile client for Final Fantasy XI proper.
The mobile client will have a fully new touch-friendly UI and it’s scheduled to release in Japan, Korea, Asia, North America and Europe, with a target launch window in 2016.
Below you can see a gallery with the pictures I took at the presentation, including the slides. If you want to see the direct feed versions of some of the screenshots and illustrations from the press kit, you can find them here.