On February 28th, Square-Enix hosted their 8th installment of VanaFest. What is VanaFest, you may ask? Well, allow me to tell you. VanaFest is an event started back when FFXI, Square-Enix’s cross-system MMO giant, was just a little, wee tot and fresh off the presses. Each VanaFest highlights a new anniversary for this stellar game, and if you are as smart as I’m hoping you are, yes, this means it’s been running for 8 long years. Which reminds me just how old I am, as I recall starting out my gaming adventures with this very game.
This year’s event was held in Tokyo, where fans come to hang out, play some adorable Mog games, enjoy a special concert featuring FFXI classics and listen in on a two hour discussion of the exciting news to be announced for the coming year. Attendees received, according to andriasang.com, a special in-game only chocobo hat (really cute, in my opinion) and a FFXI towel. The news for FFXI, which despite the length of time the game has been running, is quite extensive. So let’s jump right into it.
First up, the most current expansion, Wings of the Goddess, will be nearing its conclusion in the March update. New missions, quests and campaigns will be unveiled this month, all leading up to the final battle to be released this summer. A new battle ground, Castle Zvahl, will be introduced, and with it will come new rewards and new campaigns. With the addition of the Castle, those who fight for the Cause will be given a chance to face battle with the Shadow Lord himself. A new quest series will be introduced, “Trial of the Magians”, designed especially for the level 75 players.
Also in March, certain jobs will be getting some adjustments. In the past, they had made these adjustments with a party focused mindset. They are switching it up a bit and setting the focus more on participation in end game events. Such as, debuffing could only be done by certain roles, they intend to maunever that to a wider range of classes, all while attempting to keep the individual uniqueness of each job.
There will be three classes that are getting some love as well:
- Beastmaster: Plans to change around the way of synthesizing items to enhance the “Call Beast” ability.
- Summoner: Two new avatars, Alexander and Odin.
- Puppetmaster: Hand-to-hand combat will be raised, along with upgrades to automatrons.
Future updates and adjustments to jobs will be announced at a later date.
March seems to be a busy month as the version update will also feature a world integration. Sixteen lower population servers will be combined and reduced to eight in order to implement a better environment for players. The servers involved are as follows:
June will usher in the release of three new add-ons, in a trilogy they are calling Abyssea. Abyssea is a parallel world, existing along side the current world of Vana’diel, torn asunder from the throngs of new monsters that will challenge your group at every turn. Fear not, the development team has said that concerns of over crowded battle areas are being considered and are creating the new world to allow the least amount of bother while you explore this brand new world.
The first of the three, Vision of Abyssea, will start itself off with the conclusion of each of the nation’s questlines. Additional job adjustments will be made, additions to the “Trial of the Magians” quest series, new Campaign rewards and the first of three level cap increases. That’s right, adamant against raising the bar higher than 75, Square-Enix has decided the time has come to begin raising the level cap to 99. Miss the Level Up!! notification? Well folks, it’s back! Over the three add-ons, the total level cap will eventually reach 99.
They will also introduce the first part of “Walk of Echoes”, the mysterious void of memories that has shown itself in the Wings of the Goddess. Players will now be able to explore this area, which will also house the entrance to new high-end, expanded content. It will also be a major player in the final conclusion to the Wings of the Goddess expansion series.
In September, Scars of Abyssea, will be released. Another stage in the level cap will be introduced, more additions to the “Trial of the Magians”, job adjustments will continue their path. the last part of “Walk of Echoes” will be heralded in which will lead up to the final journey for Wings of the Goddess.
December will start off the last of the series, Heroes of Abyssea. The level cap will reach its maximum of 99, the “Trial of the Magians” questline will be extended and the job adjustments will be continued. They also plan on implementing new job specific emotes.
I think that about ends it for the FFXI updates. Now for what you have all been waiting for! The new MMO release everyone has been talking about, FFXIV.
Sadly, there wasn’t a whole lot of information divulged at VanaFest, but what was released was pretty exciting. A closed alpha test is gong to be conducted, and will be exclusive to die hard FFXI players. Individuals selected as beta testers will be receiving information as soon as today, with a testing website scheduled to start up on Thursday, March 11th. Those not chosen to test in this round may get another shot, so dry those tears and look for more information from Square-Enix in the coming months on new opportunities.