4Gamer.net Graphics, Controls, and Music article

Shared by Glen

FFxiv news! A lot of new info. lots of really good screens too!

When it rains, it pours! The alpha news flood continues with this article from 4Gamer.net. This time, they focus on the graphics, controls, and music. The entire first paragraph is dedicated to reminding everyone that the game is still in Alpha version and these things will most likely change, so I’d like to take this point to remind you that Final Fantasy XIV is still in its Alpha version and these things will most likely change.

Translation by Aya and Stevemanly. Source is 4Gamer.net

4Gamer.net – Focus on graphics, controls and music

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Sorry to have to bring this up each time, but we’d like you all to remember that this article is based on the alpha test version, a test version accessible to a select few to get user feedback at an early stage of development. For that reason, the game system and recommended specs are subject to change… a lot. Please keep that in mind while reading.

There are a lot of things that can’t be helped since it’s at such an early stage of development, but one thing we can say is we didn’t get a lot of test time. Though the servers are up for four hours and I stuck to my computer the entire time, the actual amount of time I was able to stay on the server totaled less than an hour and the things I was able to play through are about the same as my first play report.

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FFXIV is a hot topic right now, and there are a lot of people who want any scrap of information they can sink their teeth into. Luckily, as I mentioned in my last play-through, there was so much to talk about that I couldn’t fit it all into the last article, so here’s another report for you.

Comfortable mouse/ keyboard operation, not to mention with controllers

As for the operation system, FFXIV utilizes game controllers, keyboard and mouse. Since it started as a console game, the compatibility of game pad is great as in FFXI, and I hear that there were not so many problems at the first alpha test.

The notable change from FFXI is that you can target things with mouse as practical level. And by combining the movement with “WASD” keys, it is way easier to play for PC gamers, including those who have experience with other MMORPGs.

You can open each status and inventory screen by selecting them from the main menu. To open up the main menu, press the square button on the PlayStation 3 controller, or Home on the keyboard. Currently, you cannot open windows with short cut keys such as Ctrl +I, but those things will be improved as the test continues.

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Core windows you can open from the main menu are status and equipment, action bar customization, inventory, journal, teleportation and return, and log off. It is significant to note that all characters can use teleportation and return from the beginning, but this may only be for the alpha test.

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The function of teleportation/warp is slightly different from other FF series. Teleportation moves you to a selectable landmark of the area you are in, while warp takes you to the home points or Aetherite that you have set in advance. I got the impression that transfer has become very convenient in FFXIV.

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Growth system revealed through various windows

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There are many things you can tell from the windows you can open from main menu. To start with, Let’s focus on “rank” and “physical level” in the status and equipment windows.

In FFXIV, the “armory system,” with which you can change class by changing the items you have equipped, is very characteristic. You will earn experience points for your current class through activities and your class rank goes up.

You will learn various skills (abilities) as your class rank rises. There will be more actions you can take while adventuring by setting new skills you learned on the action menu.

The thing to note here is, you can use the skills you acquired in one class even when switched into other classes. For instance, you have pugilist’s skill called “whistle” that can attract enemies’ attention, and this would be very useful for other fighters like “provoke” in FFXI. However, not every skill can be used by all the classes and there are penalties as to the effect of the skill and time limits in certain cases.

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This system made it possible to have new abilities in the class in a different way from the support job system in FFXI. So, the essence of the armory system is not only about changing class occasionally, but customizing the class abilities as you like.

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Next, “physical level:” this is different from class rank and shows a character’s physical growth. You get “physical bonus,” which you can appoint into stats as you like as your physical level goes up. This is similar to the placement of stat points in many MMORPGs, and in FFXIV, you can put it to HP, MP, TP and other magical elements.

There will be more variation as to how characters grow by combining class rank and physical bonus. For example, a gladiator with skill rank 10/physical level 10 could be a tank build, damage-dealing build, or a balance build depending on the way points are distributed.

Moreover, there are also “luck,” ”hit”, and ”evasion” stats, so please take a close look at the screen shot on this page. (Strength, vitality, dexterity, agility, intelligence, wisdom, charisma, luck, fire, ice, wind, earth, thunder, water, HEART, GO, PLANET! …ok, everything after water I added myself. –Manly) There are equipment slots for upper- and lower-body underwear, but I wonder if this will be represented graphically, as well Maybe this is also something notable.

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Already seeing results: Alpha test schedule upped to three times a week

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There are two other things I’d like to mention.

First, to play this second wave of the alpha test, users needed to uninstall the last client and install a new version that had received some fixed. I think this is probably the reason that the graphics felt like they loaded much faster. There wasn’t a lot of time to play, so I couldn’t check specifics like frame rate, but many of the other testers felt that the program seemed to run a bit more smoothly.

That said, bearing in mind that this is still just the alpha test, I’m a bit uneasy about how sluggish the game moves. Honestly, I’ve been starting to wonder if I should get a PS3, but it also seems like they’re working quickly to get the game up and running at its best state, so I want PC gamers to rest assured.

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The next thing I want to mention is the battle BGM. Mr. Nobuo Uematsu has lovingly crafted the music for FFXIV, and though there are only a few songs available in the alpha test, all of them have the feel and sound of the Final Fantasy series.

One song stood apart from the others, though. The battle music had a rather long electric guitar solo.

Recently, Mr. Uematsu has been broadening his music style (from more than just keyboard-centric music –Manly) to, for example, the use of the vocals of Ian Gillan, formerly of Deep Purple, in the boss music for Xbox 360’s “Blue Dragon.” For those who know of Mr. Uematsu’s wide-ranged music works, the guitar is something they’ll most likely be able to accept. However, for those with the preconception that “Uematsu=Final Fantasy,” it may be a bit shocking. I’m interested to see what kind of feedback will appear on the testers’ site for this song, but as a loving fan of both Final Fantasy and 80’s~90’s hard rock, I’d love to see this song make the final cut.

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From the tester feedback, it seems that even in the second alpha test, there was a great deal of people who couldn’t even log in, so it seems like a detailed check of the game contents is still quite a ways down the road. However, it appears that Square Enix is keeping a limit on the contents and the number of people able to log in at once, so maybe this is to be expected.
However, the focus of the test is supposed to be “battle aspects, basic controls, and the user interface,” so I’m a bit worried if they’re getting the feedback they need.
Personally, I feel I may have come to understand (if even just a little bit) how difficult it is from a developer’s standpoint to build a game during an alpha test, a test not normally held. I’d like to work even harder to fulfill my role as a tester.

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On the other hand, I’m also the leading FFXIV writer for 4Gamer.net, so my strong desire to try out the guildleve and armory system creates a bit of a dilemma for me. I’ll just have to wait patiently for the third test on the 15th.

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