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Final Fantasy XI

The Mog Log: Don't you want me, FFXI?

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Culture, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Consoles, The Mog Log

Final Fantasy XI has launched its fifth expansion, and yet I can't bring myself to be as excited as I should be. Longtime readers will recall that the account I've been playing on is younger and lacking in many of the higher-level conveniences such as airship passes and a white mage leveled enough to handle Sneak and Invisible. Put simply, I'm not in a place to just jump right into all of the content that Seekers of Adoulin has to offer right out of the gate.

On the plus side, I do have several conveniences that completely new players wouldn't have, not the least of which is an extensive knowledge of the game as a whole. A new player coming in straight would look at the game and just wind up baffled, and I can't blame him in the least. If you're starting fresh, the game is not welcoming you.

Longtime readers will also know that I've long been a proponent of making the game easier to get into. But is this even worth bothering with? Is the game for players starting at lower levels any more? Is there even a point to easing up the lower-level restrictions any longer?

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Second Wind: Final Fantasy XI

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Hands-On, Consoles, Hands-On (Massively's), Second Wind

Screenshot -- Final Fantasy XI
Here's a fun fact about me: Final Fantasy XI was one of the first MMOs I ever played. I had dabbled in Ultima Online and EverQuest before it, but at the time those games came out, I was but a wee lad of nine or so, and I truly had no idea what I was doing in either of them. What I did know was that I was in love with the idea of sharing a massive, persistent world with thousands of friends (and enemies) waiting to be made.

So when Final Fantasy XI came out stateside in late 2003 (it launched in Japan in 2002), I was firmly in the grip of some kind of JRPG mania thanks to Final Fantasy IX, Legend of Dragoon, and others of that ilk. Naturally I took to the notion of a massively multiplayer Final Fantasy game like a Black Mage to a comically oversized hat. I was a devout player of FFXI for a couple of years after that, before all of my FFXI-playing friends decided to jump ship to some uppity little newcomer called World of Warcraft, and I've had an on-again, off-again (mostly the latter) relationship with FFXI ever since.

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The Mog Log: PAX East wasn't for us

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Events (Real-World), Opinion, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, The Mog Log

It also apparently was not for my ankle.  That story is relayed elsewhere.
Last week I promised to bring you all of the hard-hitting coverage of Square-Enix's presence at PAX East 2013 as it pertained to Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV. So here's that coverage: Both games still exist.

We good? Great. I'll spend the next nine hundred words or so discussing cats, then. Seriously, if you've been following this site or this column, you know everything from PAX East already.

Of course, all of this underscores what I see as a simple fact: PAX was not meant for fans of Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV. If you scan fansites and this site for coverage, you would not be blown away by any of this information, and that's fine. It's not actually for you, and I'm going to go ahead and say that it really shouldn't be for you because it would just be preaching to the converted.

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Final Fantasy XI: Seekers of Adoulin goes live

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Classes, Expansions, Launches

Final Fantasy XI Seekers of Adoulin goes live
Final Fantasy XI's fifth expansion, Seekers of Adoulin, is now running free in the video game wild. If you can catch the wily release, you'll be treated to a pair of new jobs, seven challenging bosses, and a new continent to explore.

While Seekers of Adoulin isn't available for PlayStation 2 players, PC and Xbox 360 gamers are encouraged to hop on board the chocobo train. Players looking to purchase it on Steam may have a little bit of a wait, however.

For more in-depth analysis and previews of the expansion, be sure to read up on the back issues of The Mog Log while FFXI updates.

Jukebox Heroes: Final Fantasy XI's soundtrack

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Culture, Opinion, Jukebox Heroes, Music

Jukebox Heroes Final Fantasy XI's soundtrack
Hey you! Want a good way to die a horrible, painful death? Enter into any geek domain and put down the music of the Final Fantasy series. Do it. I double-dog dare you. Even scrubs who couldn't identify a single other composer or notable video game soundtrack will leap to the defense of One-Winged Angel.

While I generally do like the Final Fantasy tunes, especially the earlier 8-bit era stuff and Final Fantasy IX, I haven't seen it as an infallible series in regard to its music. I think along the way Nobuo Uematsu's become this person who can Do No Wrong in the gaming community, which has stifled an honest look at both the highs and lows of his soundtracks.

I don't want to be all about hero worship or mindless bashing today; I want to examine a fairly good but not perfect soundtrack that represented Final Fantasy's first foray into MMOs. Along with Uematsu, Naoshi Mizuta and Kumi Tanioka shared composing duties on this project. There's some terrific stuff here that you'll listen to after the jump, but there are a lot more completely forgettable (and sometimes annoying!) tracks that have been shoehorned into FFXI's expansive game. So let's come down to earth and see what Final Fantasy XI has in store for us.

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Final Fantasy XI expansion CE coming to Steam... eventually

Fantasy, Trailers, Video, Final Fantasy XI, Expansions

Final Fantasy XI expansion CE coming to Steam eventually
Final Fantasy XI: Seekers of Adoulin's collector's edition is making its way to Steam, although it might not get there in time for the official launch. Square-Enix announced the possible delay in a brief post today and promised an update on the situation soon.

"Knowing that there is a possibility that the Steam version will not be available for purchase on launch, we wanted to alert you as soon as we could," the studio said.

It's not all doom and gloom, however. There's a terrific three-minute trailer for Seekers of Adoulin after the jump, and don't forget that Massively recently got the skinny on the expansion classes so that you may be properly prepared!

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The Mog Log: On the eve of seeking Adoulin in Final Fantasy XI

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Consoles, The Mog Log

This week's column has the subtle smoky flavor of hotel wi-fi.
A while back, I was upset that we hadn't gotten nearly enough information about Seekers of Adoulin. That's certainly not the case any more; we've gotten a fair bit of new information about the expansion, which is good considering that Final Fantasy XI players will be seeking the heck out of Adoulin on Tuesday.

Of course, there's still some air of mystery about the expansion, which is appropriate. Final Fantasy XI's expansions always contain a few new wrinkles that aren't really previewed, and I think players prefer it that way. But there's a lot to talk about, starting with something that I find very interesting insofar as it's launching in the wake of a new philosophy for the game as a whole.

Back in December I talked about how the game's future might be brighter than it has been for a long time. How Seekers of Adoulin works in practice will tell us a lot about whether or not that hopeful future will come to pass or not.

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Massively Exclusive: An in-depth look at Final Fantasy XI's new jobs

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Classes, Expansions, Game Mechanics, Previews, Opinion, Hands-On, Consoles, Hands-On (Massively's), Events (Massively's Coverage)

This year isn't quite as exciting for Final Fantasy XI as it is for Final Fantasy XIV, but it's still bringing a pretty big change to the status quo. Players have had years to get used to the game as it is, but now Seekers of Adoulin is on its way to completely rewrite matters, giving us two new jobs as well as a new region and new mechanics to deal with. In other words, it's going to be shaking things up.

So while I was out in San Francisco enjoying all that Final Fantasy XIV has to offer, I also had a chance to look into Final Fantasy XI's new expansion, specifically the new player jobs. Both the Rune Fencer and the Geomancer are bringing something new to the game, and while I didn't get to play around with either job extensively, I did get to see how both will play and check out their key abilities.

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Final Fantasy XI gives more details on Adoulin for those who seek it

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Expansions, Lore, Previews, News Items, Consoles

The more I look at the outfit on that elvaan in the back, the more I feel subtly uncomfortable about this.
Final Fantasy XI is encouraging players to go west. Specifically, it's encouraging players to head west of the game's familiar continents to the city of Adoulin in the appropriately titled Seekers of Adoulin expansion. So it's probably in the best interests of players to know more about what Adoulin is all about, something that the most recent post on the official site discusses in depth.

Adoulin as a name refers to both the city, more properly called the Sacred City of Adoulin, and the archipelago surrounding the main city. The city itself was originally the lynchpin of colonization efforts, but when attempts to colonize the main continent of Ulbuka were aborted two hundred years ago, the nation underwent several drastic changes to adapt to reduced living space and a need for mercantile expansion.

Now the colonization is starting up again, something that will most likely serve as the main source of conflict within the expansion proper. For more details, including racial demographics and a preview of some of the major sights in the city, take a look at the full rundown.

The Mog Log: Chocobos run Final Fantasy

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Game Mechanics, Lore, Opinion, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, The Mog Log

Oh the things I have seen.
Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV do not take place in the same world. One is not a sequel or prequel to the other, neither game continues the same story themes, and indeed nothing connects them beyond the names and a set of thematic elements. So I enjoy looking at those thematic elements sometimes, for the same fundamental reason that when I was a little boy I occasionally liked to take apart toys just to see how they worked.

You'll remember that I looked at moogles as they related to the Final Fantasy series as a whole a while back, with the ultimate conclusion that moogles exist to provide an in-universe explanation for mechanical conceits. Chocobos have got to be simpler, though. They're present in both Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV, and they're extremely straightforward in both: They're mounts. That's their purpose in the series, isn't it? You ride chocobos. Surely it can't be any more complicated than "fictional method of transportation".

The answer is of course it can. But I think the first step is to look back at the series as a whole.

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The Mog Log: Final Fantasy and the case of the missing alts

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Culture, Game Mechanics, Opinion, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, The Mog Log

I guess I'm sticking with this header until I get something better.
As I've mentioned before, my first MMO was Final Fantasy XI, and I think I'd be remiss not to observe that a lot of my MMO habits came about as a direct reaction to that game. My love of soloing comes in no small part as a result of the misery of trying to get anything accomplished by myself in Vana'diel, for example. Alts appear to be more or less the same thing.

Saying that having an alt in Final Fantasy XI was counterproductive is like saying that arsenic is unhealthy. This was one of the many traits that Final Fantasy XIV carried over from its predecessor, but it removed any real option of having a second character serving as your bag space expansion because there wasn't a proper mail system to facilitate it. So there was even less reason to pay for an extra character slot there. Alts were just as absent in Final Fantasy XIV's original incarnation.

But this might be changing on both sides of the equation. FFXIV's Legacy players get extra slots for free, after all. Might there be some hope for alts in the future?

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Final Fantasy XI: Seekers of Adoulin site details Geomancer abilities, Naakual bosses

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Classes, Expansions, Lore, News Items

Final Fantasy XI: Seekers of Adoulin's Naakuals
Some new updates have hit the Final Fantasy XI: Seekers of Adoulin official website, shining a light on the abilities of the new Geomancer job and on the Naakuals, seven of the fiercest creatures in Adoulin. The Geomancer will be bringing a number of nifty new mechanics to the table, though perhaps the most interesting of these is the job's use of luopans. Luopans are described as "geomantic catalysts" that "act as the epicenter for special spherical fields termed 'colures.'" The Geomancer can place a luopan anywhere on the ground and activate it to cast a geocolure spell, which can provide buffs to nearby allies or debuff nearby enemies.

And from the looks of things, players will need all the help they can get in order to take down the dreaded Naakuals, described as "the seven most bloodthirsty hellions that reign over the wilds surrounding Adoulin." Three of these Naakuals have been revealed on the expansion's site. The first is Tchakka, the Riptide Naakual, which takes the form of a nasty shark-like rockfin. There's also Achuka, the Firebrand Naakual, representing the dinosaur-esque gabbrath family, and Colkhab, the Matriarch Naakual, the most dangerous of the bee-like bztavian family. To have a look at these ferocious foes for yourself, head on over to the FFXI: Seekers of Adoulin official site.

[Thanks to zengarzombolt for the tip!]

The Mog Log: Final Fantasy and sexism

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Culture, Opinion, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, The Mog Log

Seriously, I have no idea if this header is any good.  Feedback is welcome.
Passive sexism is a big deal to me. If it isn't a big one for you, it should be, because at some point high heels and metal bikinis became something passively accepted in games as a whole and that's not all right. MMORPGs on a whole do better than single-player titles, but you still have games like TERA that stick every female character into gravity-defying heels and the legal minimum required for clothing, or Scarlet Blade and its outfits made entirely out of electrical tape and fishnet.

Some games are better or worse about this than others. The Secret World allows you to dress up either gender to be as sexy or as casual as you like, and Guild Wars made a point of keeping skimpy armor as skimpy armor for both genders in most cases. (Although not hardly all.) But the question that's actually relevant to this column is how Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV stack up, and the answer is that they acquit themselves remarkably well. So much so that they're among the most even-handed games I've seen, if not at the top of the list.

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Final Fantasy XI: Seekers of Adoulin announces official soundtrack release

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Expansions, News Items, Consoles, Music

If you're listening to the town music while wandering around your hometown, the Matrix has officially won.
Final Fantasy XI has always had wonderful soundtracks, and the upcoming of Seekers of Adoulin promises to be no different. We've heard a few of the tracks from the expansion that's due out at the end of March, but if you can't get enough of the songs from the game even before it launches, then we have good news. The official soundtrack album will be released on March 27th, complete with cover art by Yoshitaka Amano.

At this point, the album is confirmed for release only in Japan, meaning that game music lovers will have to jump through a few importing hoops to acquire it. All of the tracks on the album are composed by Naoshi Mizuta, who is also responsible for the arrangement and production on the final release. It's unlikely that this will see a full American release, but if you're willing to make the effort, you can have the in-game music follow you around as you like.

The Mog Log: A year of columns in review

Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI, Culture, Opinion, Consoles, Final Fantasy XIV, The Mog Log

Still playing around with new logo ideas.  This is the one I had out of a dozen that I thought came out the best, but I'm still not sure if I like it.
Three years is not a lot of time to do anything. I'm continually surprised by the fact that I've been writing about video games professionally for three years of my life, which is admittedly only 10% of my life to date but still seems astonishing. This also marks the start of the third year of The Mog Log, which means that I've been talking about moogles and cat-women professionally for a tenth of my life.

I use thoughts like that to keep me warm at night.

As always, the anniversary mark is about the time when I look back at the column thus far and see how well it's done as a whole. Last year I wanted to really switch up what I did with my coverage for Final Fantasy XIV and Final Fantasy XI, and I think that by and large it worked pretty well. So let's do the usual thing wherein I look back, you take a trip down memory lane with me, and we all walk away feeling smarter. Or, if that doesn't sound interesting, you could just go look at some cat pictures.

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