Final Fantasy XI, also known as Final Fantasy XI Online, is the franchise's first MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game). Final Fantasy XI was the world's first cross-console MMORPG, available for Windows, PlayStation 2, Xbox 360 and Steam. Since its release in 2002, it has become the most financially successful title in the Final Fantasy series.
Due to the nature of online RPGs, Final Fantasy XI differs from previous installments of the series, in that you are not the only hero. Instead, each player creates a customizable character and adventures through the world of Vana'diel with other players; leveling up, exploring, completing missions, quests, and much more. Like most of the gameplay, leveling up requires a group of people working together in what is called a Party, with each participant contributing their own skills to help take down a foe and gain Experience points. Battles occur in real-time, taking the ATB system to a new level, which was emulated again to a certain extent in Final Fantasy XII.
At the game's peak, there were some five hundred thousand people playing Final Fantasy XI, utilizing over two million characters. With constant updates and Expansions added to the game, Vana'diel is not a static world; instead, it changes and evolves with the passage of time.
Service for the PS2 and Xbox 360 versions of Final Fantasy XI ended on March 31, 2016, and the game can now only be played on the PC version.
Square Enix has partnered with Nexon to develop a full-fledged mobile version of Final Fantasy XI. Unlike previous launches on other platforms, this version will not share servers or characters with the existing database. A free-to-play smartphone spin-off based on the world of Final Fantasy XI, Final Fantasy Grandmasters, is also currently available in Japan.
Players start by creating a character which may be customized. Unlike previous games in the series, Final Fantasy XI allows a player to choose race, gender, facial features, hair color, and height. Players must select one of three starter cities, the Republic of Bastok, the Kingdom of San d'Oria, or the Federation of Windurst, to pledge allegiance to and begin their journey.
The main plot lines are advanced through Missions, which are offered from city-states and several NPCs. Each expansion also comes with a new plot line to undertake. In addition to advancing the story, Missions also offer various rewards, such as items, Rank, and access to new areas. Players may also take on various Quests, which are activities that are typically separate from the main plot line and flesh out the game's world. Quests also offer various rewards, and enhance a player's Fame, an invisible status which affects NPC reactions to the player's character. All Missions and Quests are optional and can be undertaken at the players own pace.
Battles take place within the game world; no separate screen is loaded, as is common in previous Final Fantasy games. Instead, monsters can be found roaming the land, and can be freely attacked. Some monsters may also attack the player, retaining some "random battle" elements from previous games. Enemies that are rare or tied to missions or quests are known as Notorious Monsters or NMs for short. Many such enemies can be fought in the open world, but are often found exclusively in battlefields which are not as easily accessed.
Final Fantasy XI uses a "Claim" and "Enmity" system with regard to monsters. Once an aggressive action is taken against a foe, it becomes "claimed" as part of the record of the character performing the action; this prevents any passersby from interfering. Others may help with the battle if a Party is formed. Partying allows selected players to group together and take down foes. The battle mechanics can also vary according to different gameplay systems.
Final Fantasy XI uses the concept of changing jobs in a similar fashion to Final Fantasy III, and currently has twenty-two jobs. Unlike most other MMORPGs, players are not restricted to one class per character and can switch jobs whenever they like at designated areas, such as inside their Mog House. Players have to choose from six basic jobs available at the start of the game, but are able to unlock advanced jobs through quests once a standard job has reached level thirty.
Each job has abilities and traits, which are typically gained automatically as the player levels up a particular job. Magic is treated differently, in that players can only learn spells through magic scrolls once they have reached the required level.
Job abilities must be activated by the player in order to come into effect. They last a limited time and have separate cool-down periods before they can be used again. Additionally, each job has a special ability that performs some extraordinary function to help in a dire situation. Players must use these special powers wisely because they can only be used once every hour under normal circumstances.
Magic spells are like job abilities, except that they have casting time and typically require MP in exchange for shorter recast timers. Many magic spells are not exclusive to one particular job, but their effectiveness often vary according to the other abilities available to that class. Only about half of all the jobs available are able to cast some form of magic.
Job traits are passive abilities that are always in effect. Many job traits come in tiers, with a higher tier providing a stronger effect being unlocked as the level increases. Many common jobs traits are shared by different job classes. However, their degree of effectiveness may vary depending on which tier the trait caps at for that particular job.
The most unique part of the job system is the "support job". This system allows a player to augment their character with abilities, Traits, and spells from another chosen job at up to half the level of their current job. For instance, a level 20 Warrior could set Ninja as their support job. This allows them to use all Ninja abilities, traits, and spells up to that of a level 10 Ninja, while still primarily being a level 20 Warrior. The support job system allows for job-merges never before seen in the Final Fantasy series.
However, there are some exceptions to the support job system. special job ability and other abilities deemed signature to a particular job (such as Call Wyvern for Dragoons) are restricted to being used only when set on main job. Also, some adjustments have been made to lower the effectiveness of certain abilities when used on support jobs.
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Leveling and partyingEdit
As in most previous Final Fantasy games, leveling up is based upon experience points. Experience points can be gained by several means, including defeating foes, completing Quests or Missions, Campaign Battles, and various other activities. Experience points gained from killing enemies is relative to the player's level; defeating monsters that are higher level than the player net more EXP, whereas monsters that are deemed "too weak" will not give EXP at all. Generally, the most efficient way to gain Experience points with the intention to level up is to join an EXP Party. An EXP Party is a group of up to six people working together in order to bring down foes for EXP.
The original level cap was 50. This was raised through version updates in increments of 5 to level 75 around the time of the English release in 2003. In 2010, seven years after the level was capped at 75, the level cap was slowly raised again, culminating in level 99 in December 2011. Players who have reached level 75 and above can begin converting experience into Limit Points. These, in turn, grant Merit Points which may be spent to gain additional stats, abilities, and traits.
Partying is common to almost all gameplay systems as it allows each job to excel at their role, and subsequently kill harder monsters more efficiently than solo play. For instance, White Mages are not very powerful physically, but are capable of healing. Paired with a Warrior whose specialty lies in damage output, they can work together using each others' strengths—the White Mage can cure the Warrior while he brings down a foe, relieving the need to worry about his health—to defeat enemies faster. Killing hard monsters quickly in succession also grants a bonus to experience, known as a Chain.
When in a party, monsters' aggressive actions are determined by an Enmity system. Almost every action taken during a battle generates Enmity (commonly referred to as "Hate") and whoever possesses the most Enmity will have the monster's attention, and subsequently be attacked. A key to succeeding in party battle is managing Enmity in order to protect vulnerable party members such as mages who typically have low defense. Players must pick and choose actions while thinking about how it will affect their Enmity, and therefore the entire group. Because of this, certain jobs are tasked with trying to create the most Enmity possible, in order to hold the monster's attention.
A full party is 6 members, and up to 3 parties may come together to form an alliance, which can consist of a maximum of 18 players. Although open world battle content is limited to a full alliance at any time, many gameplay systems involving battlefields are designed to challenge even larger groups of players at one go.
Depending on whether they are playing solo or in smaller groups, players may choose to summon Adventuring Fellows or Trust alter egos to aid in combat. Adventuring Fellows are AI-controlled NPCs that can be customized and even leveled up to suit the player's styles, whereas Trust alter egos are magical copies of various famous heroes in Vana'diel with specific moves and unique AI.
Weapon Skills and Magic BurstsEdit
Weapon Skills are a prominent feature in battle. Players gain Tactical Points, also known as TP, by dealing physical damage. When the TP gauge reaches above 1000, players are able to unleash Weapon Skills to attack the enemy and in some instances receive beneficial effects. Although TP can be charged to a maximum of 3000, all TP is spent whenever a Weapon Skill is used, and are factored in to determine how effective that Weapon Skill is. When the appropriate weapon skills are used in succession, it results in a Skillchain.
Skillchains come in different power levels and result in additional damage on the enemy. Lower level skillchains can be chained upon further to result in stronger skillchain effects. Building on this, players can deal additional damage by timing Magic spells immediately after a Skillchain occurs—this is called a Magic Burst. Skillchains and Magic Bursts add an element of teamwork to battles and are often required to take down the most challenging of enemies.
Final Fantasy XI takes place in the world of Vana'diel, a diverse planet with regions ranging from blinding-hot deserts to ice-cold glaciers. Vana'diel's inhabitants range from the Enlightened Races and Beastmen to simple fiends.
Ancient lore states that Vana'diel was created as a playground for the Gods, who themselves were spawned from an enormous and sentient Crystal. For eons, the Gods joyfully played until eventually falling into a deep slumber. It was during this slumber that the children of the Gods rose and flourished in Vana'diel, extracting gold from stones, traveling through the sky, building mighty cities, and giving birth to grasslands across the world.
Eventually, the children longed to join their parents, and constructed a pathway to the Divine Entrance of Paradise. Enraged by such an insolent act, the Holy Gatekeeper smote the children, and cast their cities to the bottom of the sea.
Shortly thereafter, the Goddess Altana awoke, and saw the ruin that had once been Vana'diel. Filled with an emotion that the likes of a God had never felt before, sadness, Altana wept five divine tears. When the five tears fell upon the earth, they gave life to the five races of Vana'diel.
However, the God of Twilight, Promathia, observed this act from his place in the shadows. Promathia saw fit to condemn her weakness and the life that arose from it. Promathia cursed the five races with eternal conflict among themselves by bringing forth their darkest attributes: the apathy of the Humes, the arrogance of the Elvaan, the rage of the Galka, the cowardice of the Tarutaru, and the envy of the Mithra. He created terrible beasts and spread them across the world, commanding them to forever fight the people of Vana'diel and occupy their minds. Never again would anyone think to open the Gate of the Gods.
The player can create a character to play as through the use of the Character Creation system.
The five Enlightened Races of Vana'diel are available to play as:
- Hume - The Humes built their city, the Republic of Bastok, in the wastes of Gustaberg. They posses near-equal abilities in all fields, and are physically-basic compared to other races. It is the Humes' adaptability that has spread them throughout the lands, making them the most numerous of the five races. Humes are said to suffer from the sin of Apathy.
- Galka - The most imposing of all the races, the Galka possess towering, bulky physiques. Their home city was destroyed hundreds of years ago by the Anticans, making the Galkan people refugees. Many have since settled in Bastok with the Humes; however, they are regarded as an underclass. Galkas are unique from other races in that they are all male and reproduce through reincarnation. They posses high Vitality and HP, but have the lowest MP of the five races. They are said to suffer from the sin of Rage.
- Elvaan - Native to the Kingdom of San d'Oria, the Elvaan are characterized by their tall, slender figures and large, pointed ears. Many Elvaan are deeply religious, possessing an unbreakable faith that is reflected in their everyday life. They are blessed with high Strength and Mind; however, also possessing low Intelligence. The Elvaan are said to suffer from the sin of Arrogance.
- Mithra - The cat-like race of Mithras posses a gender imbalance, with a high ratio of females to males. As such, only women are allowed away from the safety of their homeland to adventure around Vana'diel. They possess excellent Agility and Dexterity. Mithras are said to suffer from the sin of Envy.
- Tarutaru - The tiny Tarutarus' age is not reflected in their size. Residing in the Federation of Windurst, the Tarutaru are famed for their discovery and development of magic, which they excel at, thanks to their high Intelligence. However, the small physique of a Taru means they have the lowest Strength compared to other races. Tarutaru are said to suffer from the sin of Cowardice.
Final Fantasy XI is set in the Age of Adventurers. It is the 884th year of the Crystal Era, twenty years after the end of the Crystal War that ravaged Vana'diel. The three main nations of Vana'diel, San d'Oria, Bastok and Windurst continue their struggle against the Beastmen who, although less organized, have regrouped and still terrorize the land. Rather than dispatching their own forces to deal with this threat, the nations of Vana'diel begin to employ adventurers to handle them as well as other minor tasks. The player is one such adventurer.
Reports of the beastmen rising again lead the adventurer to journey on behalf of his nation to the other 2 nations to investigate the matter. In a beastmen stronghold, the adventurer encounters the Spotter, a servant of the Shadow Lord, and it attacks by summoning a Dread Dragon to aid it. After being defeated by the adventurer, it announces that the Shadow Lord will soon rise again. The adventurer also meets Lion, a female who had been sent to investigate the beastmen, for the first time.
On a later mission, the adventurer is made to report at the nation's embassy in the Grand Duchy of Jeuno and ends up rescuing the ambassador who had been kidnapped and held hostage in Delkfutt's Tower. The ambassador, impressed by the adventurer's bravery, later recommends him as a diplomatic attaché to the Archduke of Jeuno for a special mission.
Kam'lanaut, the Archduke of Jeuno, tasks the adventurer with retrieving magicite from deep within the beastmen strongholds of Davoi, Beadeaux and Castle Oztroja to prevent the beastmen from harnessing its power to resurrect the Shadow Lord. At this point, the adventurer meets Aldo of the Tenshodo, his sister Verena and the peace-loving Goblin Fickblix for the first time. Aldo helps out with the mission, whereas Fickblix dies while trying to reason with the Yagudo beastmen. When the adventurer retrieves all three pieces of magicite, the Archduke rewards him by issuing him an airship pass.
Upon returning to his home nation, the adventurer discovers that the nation's talisman had been stolen. The talisman, used to seal Castle Zvahl after the war 20 years ago, had been broken into three parts for safekeeping by the three nations. The adventurer is sent to the ruins of Fei'Yin, situated in the Beaucedine Glacier, to examine the seal placed there and to replace it with a new one if it is not intact.
Over at Fei'Yin, the adventurer meets with Lion and Zeid, one of the two legendary warriors who defeated the Shadow Lord during the Crystal War. Zeid shares details of the Northlands Expedition that took place 30 years ago, suggesting that they might have awakened the ancient curse buried in that land. Lion agrees, saying that the image of the Shadow Lord claimed that their kind had brought him back. Zeid recites the "Warriors of the Crystal", a song foretelling the Warriors of the Crystal delivering Vana'diel from a time of darkness when an ancient seal is broken. The adventurer encounters and defeats the Archlich Taber'quoan in the Qu'Bia Arena before returning to his home nation with the burnt remains of the old seal that had been placed there.
The adventurer reports to his home nation with the findings, and the nation ultimately decides to send him to Castle Zvahl to deal with the threat of a returning Shadow Lord (the reason for this varies depending on which nation one is aligned to).
In the Throne Room of Castle Zvahl, Zeid and the adventurer encounter the Shadow Lord and find out that he is actually Raogrimm, a Galkan member of the Northlands Expedition. Raogrimm had been wounded, betrayed and left behind by a fellow Expedition member Ulrich, who had also accidentally killed Raogrimm's Hume girlfriend, Cornelia, in the scuffle.
It is revealed that in his final moments, Raogrimm's rage attracted the attention of the Dark Divinity, who granted him a new form and gave him control over nether beasts. Reincarnated as the Shadow Lord, he swore to purge the world with his newfound power, starting with hunting down and brutally killing Ulrich for his crimes, along with all the other members of the Expedition, Francmage M Mistalle, Iru-Kuiru, and Yow Rabntah, who had just left Raogrimm and Cornelia to die in the Northlands.
The Shadow Lord forces Zeid to stand and watch as he attacks the adventurer, but is subdued thanks to the adventurer's selfless courage and sacrifice. As he is defeated, Raogrimm manages to regain control of himself and explains that much of the rage that he was consumed in came from being the Talekeeper of the Galka. He also explains that he will forever be lost to the darkness.
Lion appears to help Zeid and the adventurer escape from Castle Zvahl. She beckons the adventurer to visit her in Norg when possible. The adventurer returns to his nation and is celebrated as a hero.
- For storyline added by expansion packs, please see the Expansions below.
As Final Fantasy XI is an MMORPG, players are not required to play through the main story, but are instead rewarded through having areas, items, equipment and even gameplay systems unlocked upon progressing through them.
In the original Final Fantasy XI, the main story is presented in the form of missions which are issued by gate guards in the three main nations. Progress in these missions are marked by a player's nation rank which runs upwards from 1 (being the starting rank).
Although each nation initially has a distinctly different story, the stories gradually converge up till the battle with the final boss of Final Fantasy XI and the attainment of Rank 6. The three nation's stories are subsequently expanded upon in separate directions in the Rise of the Zilart expansion.
Updates and expansionsEdit
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Being an online game, Final Fantasy XI undergoes regular patching to add new content and fix existing bugs.
Known officially as Version updates, these online updates occur approximately once every 3 months and are accompanied by scheduled maintenance of all servers. All new content in the game, including those from expansion packs, are unlocked or downloaded during these updates.
In the early history of Final Fantasy XI, version updates occurred more frequently. The interval was approximately one month in between each update before the release of the first expansion, two months thereafter and it slowly lengthened to three months over the years.
Since February 2011, the development team has introduced minor patches to complement major version updates.
Besides scheduled version updates, the game also goes through emergency maintenance updates to fix major glitches.
Final Fantasy XI currently has five expansion packs available. Each pack adds its own new story to the game for players to complete. New areas are also available to explore where the player may find new weapons, armor, equipment, creatures, and even gameplay systems.
- Immediately following the original Final Fantasy XI storyline, the adventurer finds out that the Archduke of Jeuno and his brother are princes of the ancient Zilart race who survived extinction. The adventurer must fight to stop them from opening the Gate of the Gods, which will destroy Vana'diel as we know it.
- A phenomenon known as "The Emptiness" is found to be eating away at the heart of Vana'diel and the Wyrmking Bahamut declares that the arrival of the Keeper of the Apocalypse is near. A mysterious pale child seems to be at the center of the strange mystery that revolves around the Twilight God Promathia.
- The xenophobic Aht Urhgan Empire opens the borders to the Middle Lands after years of self-imposed isolation. Worried about this new power, the leaders of each city send representatives to assess the situation. The adventurer is chosen for the task of unearthing the Empire's true intentions, and begins to uncover the secrets of the life-giving Astral Candescence, the Dark Rider, and the history of this mysterious land.
- Cavernous Maws appearing all over the land have been found to teleport adventurers twenty years back in time, when the Crystal War raged. The adventurer is met by Cait Sith, who asks for help in easing the suffering of the people in this time period. However, there are others who would alter the course of history to suit their own ends as well.
- On the far western continent of Ulbuka, the Sacred City of Adoulin has recommenced the colonization of its hinterland and recruited adventurers from the Middle Lands to aid the pioneering effort. Ruled by the ferocious Naakuals, keepers of the wild, the uncharted region of Eastern Ulbuka is rife with treasure and mystery. What dark secrets will the adventurer uncover while breaking new ground in this primeval land?
In addition to the Expansion Packs, there are add-on chapters. Unlike full expansion packs, each add-on is delivered completely within a single version update. The first three are add-on scenarios that introduce side stories in existing areas while the last three are battle area add-ons that focus on high level battles in the alternate reality of Abyssea.
- A giant crystal appears in the skies above Jeuno, triggering a series of unexplained happenings across the land. The adventurer must set forth to unravel the mysteries of this primordial crystal that holds the secrets of Vana'diel's past and who the young boy resembling Aldo is.
- It all started with an innocent drop of rainwater and a rickety, ramshackle Mog House desperately in need of repairs. Little did anyone suspect that this was only the beginning of a harrowing nightmare unheard of in the annals of mooglekind.
- The eccentric Doctor Shantotto returned to Windurst one day after a sudden and unexplained absence, shocking her colleagues with behavior so outrageous it put her old self to shame. When she goes so far as to proclaim herself ruler of her own empire, the adventurer must embark on a quest to discover the truth behind her alarming shift in personality.
- New Cavernous Maws appear and serve as gateways to an unforgiving world long forsaken by the gods called Abyssea, where savage creatures roam and the land crumbles to chasmic depths. Its sanguine sky is an ever-present portent of looming destruction, whilst the moon is a great jewel of hope shining against a bloody veil of death.
- As the adventurer continue deeper into Abyssea, they discover power and riches beyond their wildest dreams. It is also there that they come upon the bastions of survivors desperately defending themselves and the strategically important Pulse Martellos against the invasion of the fell hordes.
- In the borderlands of Abyssea, the adventurer join the Resistance effort to subjugate the savage hordes and reclaim dominion over the land for mankind. In staking their claim as the champions of Abyssea, adventurers will come to discover the dark secrets of this world and face off against the greatest challenge yet.
Final Fantasy XI holds the most extensive soundtrack out of the Final Fantasy series, with album releases consisting of nearly 200 tracks totaling over 11 hours in listening time. The game is updated with new music throughout the year. The largest spike appears with each expansion pack, adding approximately 25 tracks each time.
The release version of Final Fantasy XI featured music scored by Nobuo Uematsu, Kumi Tanioka, and Naoshi Mizuta. The game's central theme, Distant Worlds, appears in several forms throughout the game and occasionally with vocals, most notably at the end of the games second expansion pack Chains of Promathia. Memoro de la Ŝtono was the secondary theme of Final Fantasy XI, it features a choral arrangement with lyrics sung in Esperanto. According to Uematsu, the Esperanto lyrics symbolize the developers' hope that the game could contribute to cross-cultural communication and cooperation.
The Final Fantasy XI soundtrack repertoire also features albums containing music not present in-game. Several piano collections have been realized and The Star Onions, a band with composers including Naoshi Mizuta, Kumi Tanioka, and Hidenori Iwasaki, have released two albums of arranged Final Fantasy XI tracks.
The idea for a massively multiplayer Final Fantasy was conceived by Hironobu Sakaguchi after being impressed by the western MMORPG EverQuest. Hiromichi Tanaka, producer of the original Final Fantasy XI game and its expansions, states XI is the "most Final Fantasy of all the installments" stating it includes many things the team were unable to place into earlier titles due to technical limitations. Tanaka also recalled Final Fantasy III as a major influence on the original game, which can be seen in the job system of FFXI.
In early development there was debate over whether the game should be called "Final Fantasy Online", as there was uncertainty surrounding if storytelling in an MMORPG could be of a standard expected from previous titles. However once the core storyline was written and reviewed it was decided to be worthy of the main series, and the game became Final Fantasy XI.
A closed Japanese beta test of Final Fantasy XI took place in August 2001, with a public version in the following December. The game was officially released in Japan on May 16 2002 for the Play Station 2. Although initially announced to have a simultaneous world wide release date it took until 2004 before Final Fantasy XI launched in America and Europe. The PS2 version ended up not being released in Europe at all due to the hard disk drive peripheral for the console not being available in the region.
On March 19, 2015, Square Enix announced that it will end the service for the PS2 and Xbox 360 versions in March 2016. During the same press conference, it was announced that the game will be released for smartphones. A free-to-play online RPG spin-off named Final Fantasy Grandmasters was also announced for smartphones.
Final Fantasy XI makes references to other Final Fantasy games, the number 11 and popular culture.
- In the anime Welcome to the NHK! the centerpiece of two episodes is based around the main character becoming addicted to "Ultimate Fantasy". The game itself has multiple visual references to Final Fantasy XI. The logo itself is almost identical to the Final Fantasy logo, and the different races in the game are minor variations of the races in Final Fantasy XI. The main character's avatar is also dressed like a Red Mage.
- In Dissidia 012 Final Fantasy, Final Fantasy XI is the only game that has all of its representatives on Cosmos's side. This excludes Final Fantasy XIII, which only has one representative (Lightning).
- The logo of Final Fantasy XI features a drawing of an army, likely an Allied regiment in the great Crystal War of the past. In its center, the light blue logo features five warriors, each representing a playable race in the game. The logo illustrator Yoshitaka Amano has described the Final Fantasy XI logo as the most challenging illustration because there are so many characters. He used on a huge piece of paper to create it, and has described the process as "very tedious."
- Final Fantasy XI Allusions
- Final Fantasy XI Concept Art
- Final Fantasy XI Timeline
- History of Vana'diel