FFXIV Alpha Impressions: the Harajuku Round-Up

I’m turning Japanese
I think I’m turning Japanese
I really think so

While reading through all the alpha test leaks for Final Fantasy XIV, I find myself humming along to “Turning Japanese”, an infectious tune from short-lived ’80s pop band The Vapors.

Details on the alpha test are mostly coming from hardcore Japanese sites like gaming bible Famitsu, so it’s been my mission to collect all the Japanese translations now scattered online.

Here’s a rundown of the most interesting features uncovered so far by FFXIV testers:

Customizable Character Features

Each character in the game can still have a first and last name, but the customization options have increased, according to a 4Gamer.net translated article. The alpha test lets you tinker with the following character features:

  • Height
  • Voice
  • Skin color
  • Hair style
  • Hair color
  • Hair highlights
  • Face type
  • Eye color

You also get to choose a birthday and your own guardian deity on the character creation screen.

It Begins On a Boat

The starting area was a ship attacked suddenly by jellyfish-like monsters. After this encounter, characters are led to the only playable town in the alpha test: the marine city-state of Limsa Lominsa. Square Enix had announced before that there will be several city-states so it’s fair to expect a variety of beginner scenarios.

Moveable UI

Unlike Final Fantasy XI which has a static user interface, next-gen title FFXIV has movable windows that allow you to drag visual elements and experiment with your ideal screen set-up. The chat screen also disappears when unused for some time but can be reactivated with one button push.

Seamless “No LoadingĀ  Screen” World

Nothing disrupts immersion more than seeing a loading screen while moving between zones. FFXIV seems to have worked out a way to minimize disruptive loading when going in and out of Limsa Lominsa, the accessible cit for the alpha test.

“After leaving the city, the music and mini-map changed automatically. Not sure how they made that possible, but it made the world feel more realistic and wide,” observes Famitsu via a translation from FFXIVCore.

Realistic Light Effects

So you’ve been chatting in a darkly lit pub. But then you notice that you have to meet up with a Lalafell hottie, so you open the door to broad daylight. The screen will burst with solar glare–just like when your eyes adjust to sudden brightness. If Square Enix was meticulous enough to implement such a realistic light effect, then it excites me to know what they have done to ramp up traditionally important game features like final boss fights.

Dodos of Doom

Lastly, guess who wiped on the seemingly harmless dodo mob:

It’s glad to know mobs won’t die to a single hit or two. And as with any Final Fantasy game, never underestimate the enemy no matter how fluffy the package.

Also, gamers salivating over these features should know the game still has a long way to go from alpha test. Game elements can change at the whim of the almighty developers so just enjoy the info as it unfolds. Or keep yourself busy to make the wait more bearable–I hear the gyrating Harajuku girls are a fantastic distraction!

(Pics from 4Gamer.net and Famitsu.com)