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Final Fantasy XI (PC) artwork

Final Fantasy XI (PC) review

"Meet Espiga. "

Meet Espiga.

For a year and a half, this young lady served as my avatar in the vast, expansive world of Vana'diel, the setting of Final Fantasy XI. Given the option to begin as one of six classes--the same six the party in the original Final Fantasy could choose--I elected to set out as a Black Mage, my control over the arcane knowing no bounds. I imagined myself slinging spells of flame, frost, and lightning to my heart's content, frying any monster foolish enough to cross my path. As I stepped out of the gates of the mining city of Bastok, I gripped my Onion Staff tightly and memorized my default spell of Stone and placed it in my spell list,

I stepped out into the land of Gustaberg, a barren land filled with wormlike creatures that protrude from the ground and turtle-esque beastmen known as the Quadav. My Stone spell was mostly ineffective against these earth-aligned beasts, so I brandished my Onion Staff and began to whack away. Very... Slowly.

I was in for a long ride.

As luck would have it, a random passerby who would later become a very close friend decided to help me out. She taught me early ways of making gil, how to use the auction house to my advantage, and tossed a little coin my way so I'd be wearing something a little more substantial than a flimsy stick and a white loincloth that barely covered my catgirl ass. She introduced me to her Linkshell, a collection of friends united under a common banner that in any other game would be called a "Guild." Though I was completely new, I was welcomed in as if I had been around forever. People offered to help me out by showing me where to level up at, who to talk to in order to get Final Fantasy XI's story rolling and how to make the most efficient use of the Job system. I learned that by taking up a Support Job, my weakling of a Black Mage could inherit some stats from the other job, while simultaneously being able to use every ability the Support Job had, up to half of my main job's level. Of course, I had to get the Support Job to that point by making it my main job and leveling it up first.

Thus, Espiga the Black Mage became Espiga the White Mage, and my path of wanton destruction shifted to a friendlier role, as parties invited me to fight alongside them, healing their wounds and buffing their defenses with spells like Protect. Before long, my White Mage was ready to become a Support Job, and I was now Espiga the Black Mage/White Mage, able to lay waste with my powerful spells and even toss a quick Cure if need be. It was then that a whole new world opened up to me. By completing certain quests, I could unlock up to 14 additional jobs, bringing my total to 20, which I could switch between whenever I wanted by returning to my Mog House, a customizable room that's in every city. These 20 jobs each have their roots in Final Fantasy games of ages past, as favourites like Blue Mage, Paladin, and Dark Knight make a powerful return. But me? I chose to become a Summoner, and I embarked on my own journey of discovery in Vana'diel.

Traveling around the world, I had to reach Protocrystals hidden throughout the most dangerous lands in all of Vana'diel in order to obtain Avatars, the summoned monsters of this world. With friends in tow, I set out on my own pilgrimage similar to Yuna's quest in Final Fantasy X yet still completely different. Tidus from the very same game put it best: this was my story.

Time passed, and I grew along with my friends. Some of us parted ways to other Linkshells, some decided the game was no longer appealing to them, and some of us soldiered on, fighting, discovering, and adventuring together. We'd help each other complete storyline missions, which would unravel Vana'diel's deep history and secrets. We uncovered the secret that two brothers of an ancient race, the Zilart, held, and even fought a God in our bid to protect Vana'diel from disaster.

But as time continued to flow, I had come to see everything that Vana'diel had to offer. Seeing the same areas no longer held the sense of wonder they once did when I had first arrived in Vana'diel. The time had come. Espiga's story was to come to an end.

At the time of this writing, it's been months since that day. Final Fantasy XI has continued on without me, as one might expect it would... But with a recent update increasing the level cap to 80, I decided on a whim to leap back into Vana'diel and see what else has changed... Though there was certainly one thing that hadn't.

As I stepped out of my Mog House for the first time in months, I announced to the city of Whitegate that I had returned! I wasn't expecting much of a reply, but my expectations went unfulfilled. Old friends came out of the woodwork, delighted that I had returned. People began to send me messages and were shouting in Whitegate as if I were a soldier finally returning home from war. Although some Linkshells require potential members to submit applications, a Linkshell full of my friends instantly accepted me as if I were a member all along; such was the strength of the bonds I had made. It was at that time I realized what Final Fantasy XI's greatest appeal was. It's neither the tactical battle system, nor is it the graphics that still hold up today. It's not the beautiful music by Naoshi Mizuta and it's not the long, cutscene-driven storyline that rivals everything Final Fantasy's offline counterparts can muster. It's the bonds that you form with your adventuring companions, each who have their own story to tell, and each who are willing to help create moments just like this:

I've missed you guys.

espiga's avatar
Community review by espiga (September 06, 2010)

Espiga likes big butts, and cannot lie.

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EmP posted September 06, 2010:

Hey man. I've tidied a few little things up on the assumption you wouldn't mind. I put the screens on the HG server to save you bandwidth, and the last one was too big for the browser so I resized it. I like to do nice things like this now and then. It keeps people guessing.

In other news, this was a fantastic review. A close friend of mine has been harping on about how I should play FFXI for years now. Literally years. But you made it a much more desirable fate than she, and in significantly less words. Good job.
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espiga posted September 06, 2010:

Why thank you.

The bandwidth issue isn't a super big one. My webspace has unlimited bandwidth so HG could leech the pics until hell freezes over and it wouldn't harm anything.

I really wanted to write a review that does FFXI justice, because it's a game I loved yet sometimes had no idea just why I felt that way about it, but upon revisiting it, the more than warm reception I received from all sides reminded me of what made the game so strong, and that's what I wanted to focus on rather than making a giant list of all the game's mechanics (and there's a lot.)

But yeah, I'm glad you liked it, and thanks for resizing that pic.
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zippdementia posted September 06, 2010:

Wow. Wow.

Yeah, two wows. Three now. I'm really impressed. I have seen shots of FFXI and it looks like an interesting game. I absolutely love how you worked other FF references in here and the pictures were well choosen to emphasize your points.

I probably will not be playing FFXI, because I'm on a MAC, but you have gotten me even more interested to try out FFXIV when it comes out for PS3. The only problem is that monthly cost... how much was it to play FFXI?

By the way... it's been a while since you've reviewed anything, right? Welcome back Espiga.
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espiga posted September 07, 2010:

Hey there Zipp, I'm glad you enjoyed it. =] FFXI's monthly fee runs you $12.95/month for your first character and an additional buck/month for any additional characters you make. The charge for additional characters may seem like a WTF thing, but due to the nature of FFXI and the job system, creating another character is never necessary unless you want to try the game out as another race, or simply want a backup character to hold all your extra shit.

Also, I have several friends that play FFXI on Mac via a program called Bootcamp. I assume it's a windows emulator of some sort, but should you wish to check the game out, I can speak to some of those Mac friends and see if there's anything special that needs to be done to get the game working.

Edit: also forgot to mention that Square Enix accounts that have both an FFXIV account and FFXI account registered with active characters will get a price reduction for the FFXI account, dropping the price from $12.95 to $7.
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CoarseDragon posted September 08, 2010:

I not an MMO kind of person but you did a good job in getting my interest in the game. I really liked the way you ended. I'm also curious about what summons you found and used.
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espiga posted September 08, 2010:

Avatars in FFXI work in a manner similar to the Aeons in FFX.

Each Avatar has an initial MP cost in order to summon it, as well as a perpetuation cost: an MP cost required in order to keep the Avatar summoned. Similar to FFX, the Avatar fights alongside you in battle, with you being able to control both your avatar and your summoner. AvAvatar abilities are divided among offensive and defensive, listed under the headings Blood Pact: Rage and Blood Pact: Ward, respectively. Each time you use a blood pact, you have a one minute cooldown period before you can use another Blood Pact of that type. Naturally, as the summoner levels up, their Avatars will gain additional abilities.

Anyway, the Avatars you can obtain are Carbuncle, Ifrit, Shiva, Ramuh, Titan, Garuda, Leviathan,Fenrir, Diabolos, Odin, and Alexander.

For a long time, Square has stated that Bahamut would not be summonable (though he plays an important part in the storyline) due to balancing issues. But with plans to increase the level cap to 99, a lot of people feel that Bahamut will one day be usable... and they're probably right.
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zippdementia posted September 08, 2010:

So the game will continue to see support after the release of FFXIV?
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espiga posted September 08, 2010:

There's at least another year's worth of updates planned at this point, and Square Enix has stated that they'll continue to support the game for as long as the fans do.

Of course, there's always the chance they're full of shit when they say that. It is Square Enix, after all.
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CoarseDragon posted September 09, 2010:

I read that FFXIV is not at all like FFXI. So I would imagine they will support both - for little while anyway.
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zippdementia posted September 21, 2010:

Question: if you wanted to buy FFXI, would you have to buy the original game or do some of the expansions come with the original on the pack?
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espiga posted September 21, 2010:


This package comes with the following:

Final Fantasy XI

The expansion packs: Rise of the Zilart, Chains of Promathia, Treasures of Aht Urghan, Wings of the Goddess, A Crystalline Prophecy, Moogle Kupo d'Etat, A Shantotto Acension.

And it's about $13. That's probably the cheapest you'll find FFXI with all that content, except for maybe on Steam. And I don't know how well that'll work on a mac.

However, this collection doesn't include the two new expansion packs, Vision of Abyssea and Scars of Abyssea, and it (quite obviously) doesn't include the upcoming expansion, Heroes of Abyssea. However, that content is designed for characters Lv. 75+ anyway, so it's unlikely you'd need Abyssea content for a significant time.
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zippdementia posted September 22, 2010:

Thanks for the advice! Comparitively, what would be the best package to go for if I wanted to play on PS2?
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EmP posted September 22, 2010:

The best advice for FFXI on PS2? Don't do it.

The 360 version is just about servicable, the PS2 version a complete mess.
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zippdementia posted September 22, 2010:

Oh yeah? That's too bad. Didn't they develop it for the PS2 originally?
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espiga posted September 22, 2010:

It was originally developed for PS2 + PC, sorta like how FFXIV is developed for PS3 + PC.

However, EmP is right. You really don't want to play it on PS2. The PS2 version requires that you get an old PS2 PHAT, the game, the HDD add-on, the old-school network adaptor (assuming you can track all that down), and then you've still got the slowest version, with a crap resolution and tons of lag.

I heard there was some way to get it working on PS3, but that was back when they were still backwards compatible, so as far as that goes, I can't really comment.

It's MUCH easier to just pop the disc in your PC, (and in your case, run it through bootcamp), install it, patch it, and play... And the package I mentioned above allows you to do just that.

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