Getting back into Final Fantasy XI
A long time ago (2003) Final Fantasy XI came out. When it did, I bought it and played it for a good while. I really enjoyed playing the game, and the vistas were quite beautiful (for as low quality as the graphics were). One of the best things about the game was the fact that it ran on just about any computer and any internet connection. I have fond memories of playing FFXI over 56k dial-up from the College library (because the school internet was too heavily firewalled) on a school issued laptop. Good times. Eventually, as with all MMO’s I play, I got bored. In 2006, FFXI came out for the Xbox 360, which kicked me back into playing it. Unfortunately, I had lost my original account information, so I had to start over, but that didn’t really matter. Playing on the 360 was no different than the computer, because I used the keyboard just the same, but it was nice to not have to tie up my computer (in those days, I didn’t have such an overabundance of functional machines laying about). As with MMO’s, I got bored and quit again. November 2006 was the last time I played FFXI… until now.
For the last couple years, I’ve been threatening to go back and start playing FFXI. Every time, John tries to dissuade me because… well, it’s probably the smart thing. Recently FFXI was
on sale on Steam for $5, too cheap to pass up, so I bought it (just in case… you see). Well this past holiday weekend I had a little time on my hands, and a hankering to play (because I couldn’t get into the FFXIV beta)… so I installed. After the requisite day of downloading, installing, & patching… I was ready to go. I re-activated my old account (this time I remembered my information) and plopped myself back into Vana’diel.
I’ve only had a chance to play for a few minutes, but what really took me by surprise is how much of the game I remembered and/or picked up again almost immediately. The control scheme in Final Fantasy XI is quite unique; I’ve never seen a game before or since that is even similar. The entirety of FFXI can be played on the 10 key (num pad). Every action including moving about, adjusting the camera, selecting targets, attacking, rest and accessing the menus… are all handled in the 10-key. It is, obviously, very unusual, but fantastic once you learn it. I’ll admit, I struggled for the first minute or two I was in game — I haven’t played in 4 full years — but then suddenly it clicked back in. I was running about and menu navigating like I never left the game.
The second thing I noticed, was the fact that I didn’t need the maps. When I first connected into the game, I found myself standing naked (well, I had a fishing pole) in the Chocobo Stables of Southern San d’Oria. Lacking proper gear, I ran my way back to the local Mog House entrance and geared up. When I was done, I left the mog house, checked the AH, grabbed a chocobo and started a run off to The Grand Duchy of Jueno… all without a map. Sure, during my long run to Jueno I pulled out my map a few times, but that was to verify I was taking the most efficient path. I realized that I really didn’t need the map, though it made things faster, and in the old days I could have done the “most efficient” path without a map, but I thought I was doing damn good.
In the end, I didn’t get to play for nearly as long as I thought I had, but it was great to be back. I’m not sure how much I’ll be able to play, especially with the release of Final Fantasy XIV looming. Playing FFXI was worth the nostalgia trip. That, plus the ability to get the monthly fee on FFXI discounted with FFXIV (so I read), I will keep it around for a while. Now I just have to find people to play with.