The Early Access period for Square Enix's relaunch of Final Fantasy XIV began this weekend. Unfortunately, the game was plagued by the same launch day issues that tend to hit every MMORPG, despite the recent open beta test.
These issues spread across a number of different issues and error messages over the weekend. One was Error 3, which saw early access codes from retailers not work if your Square Enix account wasn't set to the right region. Error 3102 came from the last beta and wouldn't let you log back into the game after a disconnection, because as far as the game was concerned you were still logged in. Error 1017 informed players that the server was full, but didn't put them in a queue, leading to players spamming the login server. Error 90000 and 10102 are both related to lost server connections.
For me personally, I was hit with a bug that meant instances and the duty finder simply wouldn't load. This meant I couldn't actually progress in the game, as the next two quests (including my level 10 class quest), both required instances. This lead to mobs of players simply standing around instance doors trying to get in. Unfortunately, I also couldn't level up a different class because you need to finish your level 10 class quest before you're free to switch classes. This was later followed with an issue where my NA/EU server list wouldn't populate, so I couldn't get back onto my server.
At the same time, these issues didn't affect everyone. My colleague Pete Davison had mostly smooth sailing over the weekend, with only a few issues. Let us all hate him for his good fortune.
Square Enix was busy trying to fix the issues all weekend, with two multi-hour, emergency maintenance periods. In the end, the company simply decided to limit the number of logins on each server and prevent users from making new characters to compensate for the heavy traffic. Final Fantasy XIV producer and director Naoki Yoshida also took to the official forums to apologize for the issues and ask for players to switch to low population worlds. Many of the larger groups like Reddit, NeoGAF, and GiantBomb ended up on the NA server Ultros... which happens to be the server Pete and I chose.
"The maximum expected population limit is nearing for each World, and unless the current World simultaneous connection amount decreases, we are unable to open release the limitation," wrote Yoshida. In case we do release the limitation, there is a high chance that the corresponding World will crash or cause issues, and we are thinking that it will be difficult for us to release it for a while. We please ask you to consider playing in a World that has a low limitation. We are sorry for any inconvenience that this may cause and ask to continue with your cooperation."
While these issues were plaguing the NA and EU servers, the Japanese servers remained mostly problem free. I now have a character on the Japanese server, so if the issues continue I'll still be able to play the game, but it's a bit of a kludge. Worst case scenario, players from NA and EU regions bring their overcrowding issues to Japanese servers, which isn't a great outcome.
The sad part of all of these issues and errors is Final Fantasy XIV a legitimately good game. I'm not sure yet if it's good enough to go in my MMO rotation (you'll have to wait for the review!), but even if it doesn't what Square Enix has accomplished here is nothing short of awe-inspiring. They've stripped down a game that didn't work and rebuilt a new title from its withered husk. It's an impressive turnaround for an MMO, and that deserves some applause.
Final Fantasy XIV launches tomorrow. Hopefully Square Enix will be prepared.