"Welcome to the Next Dimension of this game..."
*Camera goes upward into the lights, ominous music, and your character is now sitting with 25 new levels of XP table to deal with...*
Welcome to something I will now term HYPERGAME.
FFXI changed in a three-hour cacophony of music, sound, lights, video, and presentations in Japan Sunday -- and I guess I'm much happier than most, believe it or not.
Square-Enix has admitted that it can no longer expect to really get new players, so it's going to concentrate on those they have.
And, since 2/3 - 3/4 of all the characters on the game are 75s -- not to mention those lower levelled characters of players who have 75s...
And there are a number of facets, some beginning in March, some going forward from there. But 2010 will be the Year of Hypergame for FFXI, really the last hope to prove me wrong vis-a-vis whether FFXI is dead or not.
FFXI as we know it is dead. Square-Enix admitted as much at VanaFest.
So they're going to blow it up -- it obstructs their view of Venus.
First: The level cap, starting in June and going through the two remaining version updates after that, is going to 99.
Easily the biggest announcement in a series of huge announcements at VanaFest.
There are so many facets to this that I know I'm not going to get to them all in one post.
a) It may be the thing that finally allows players to play zones like Xarcabard (S), Castle Zvahl (S), and a variety of endgame/hypergame functions that are either in the game now or will be soon.
I can't speak enough of my frustrations with Xarcabard (S). You can't Campaign in there, for God's sakes. Any time you try to fight something, here comes this True Everything mob that just runs you over the coals and sends you back to your home point.
That's why you never see people actually playing that zone. And they probably won't do the new Castle Zvahl Baileys/Keep (S) either (coming in the March update as well!). This will change once the players get the ability to go to 85 and the like.
And that's just one of a number of them.
b) It's a recognition that low-manning is becoming more and more necessary these days, to do just about anything.
So now, when you do finally get players to 99, they can do a lot more stuff than they used to. Now they might be able to low-man a Dynamis a lot easier than now. HNM's might get down to a semi-manageable number. Some stuff might actually be soloable by more combinations of players.
This opens up options for players.
c) This allows Square-Enix to open up a whole new game, as it were (and we're not even talking about XIV).
And that gets us to some more of the Hypergame content...
2) Trial of the Magians
Designed for 75s, and I hope somewhat soloable by us (at least some of it), they're going to have us upgrading our weapons and armor in ways we choose, probably to deal with some of the hypergame content.
The weapon quest chains will start in the March update, if I read the VanaFest recap threads correctly. Armor, probably in June.
It's probably going to come down to exactly how this is going to be affected. I'm pretty certain this is how people are going to be allowed to get their gear up to speed for hypergame, or at least to start hypergame.
I'm looking forward to it.
It's basically another Dynamis-like situation (parallel world to Vana'diel, a third set of AF (probably hypergame-levels), new hypergame-level challenges, what have you), although this one _can_ be managed with just a party (or so they say).
My biggest gripe is that Abyssea is the 2010 Add-on Pay-to-Play content. One zone each update, starting in June, $9.99 each.
I really hope that hypergame isn't , for all intent and purpose, pay to play, but we'll see on that one. I am interested to see what they do and, whatever deity of choice you believe in willing, I'll look into the first one if I'm still here in June.
4) A new "hyper-limit" system at 99.
Be scary to see what they come up with there. Can't even think of what they'd do -- Bio IV? Cure about VIII???
5) Other hypergame considerations, some reaching into the first 75 levels as well...
June: Abolishment of Promathia-area level caps, like Riverne.
Be interesting to see if the promies get abolished as well. There goes one of my farming area-limit point situations. We'll see how that plays out.
Subjob changes: This might be one of the big ones. As you probably know, most of the "job-defining" abilities of the jobs don't come into play until AFTER the job hits 37 (Ni-shadows are one of the few exceptions, which is why shadow-tanking is basically required for things like Nyzul Isle.).
Now, a 99 main will have their subjob at 49. This opens up most of the game-breakers -- like Convert for basically EVERY MAGE JOB IN THE GAME...
They say they will be making changes in the subjob mechanics (probably to make subjob things like Convert weaker (like, say, +2MP/tick or something to that effect). We'll see...
5) And then there's the Law of Unintended Consequences -- you may read this as what a lot of the populace is now bitching about.
I've made no secret that I am not usually happy with the FFXI and SE, and I'm sure there will be elements of this which will have me bitching when they come out.
But the preponderance of what I've seen over the last two days has been very negative toward the level cap increase.
They had to do it, people! Square-Enix had to make a statement on how they were going to keep FFXI going, and they could no longer do it with a level-75 cap. It's that -- damned -- simple.
I think most of the griping comes down to one thing: Most of the players (at least the American side of things) want to be the Big Men on Campus, the Big Kahuna, the Big Cheese, the Shit that Stinks, the Bull of the Woods, etc. And the breaking of the level cap no longer allows them to do that.
This takes from them one of their major enjoyments of the game -- to lord over everyone else their achievements, that they are the best, that they are the only ones who should be entitled to play FFXI, etc.
And, for some, that takes away their reason to continue to play at all.
Yes, 75 - 99 will be an absolute bitch to level.
Yes, there will be abuses (please, Please, PLEASE let the "accuracy diminishes with area of effect" on Astral Flow be true for ALL Astral Flow effects....)...
And game balance?
WHAT GAME BALANCE?
The cheaters and exploiters blew up game balance a long time ago. Square-Enix is actually trying to RE-balance the game, if they can.
And, as for the low levellers, those who won't have a 75 by June and will probably be left behind even further than now, perhaps that will be a push to get them on FFXIV when it comes out.
But the level break was needed and welcome -- though it will present problems and exploits.