Final Fantasy XIV's Last Beta Starts Today

It's your last chance to get a head start on Final Fantasy XIV before live service starts later this month.

News by Pete Davison, .

I can't remember the last time I was actually excited for an MMO launch, but Final Fantasy XIV has me stoked. Finally, the last stage of beta is here.

Or, more accurately, the last stage of beta is here for those who participated in the Phase 3 beta test just gone -- everyone else will have to wait until tomorrow.

The Phase 4 beta is the last testing period before live service starts later this month, and it sees the game being in a form very close to what we can expect from the release version. All players are restricted to level 20 or lower, meaning there's only so far you can go in both character progression and the game's overall plot, but there's nothing stopping you levelling all the available jobs up to 20 to give you a significant head start when live service begins.

The arrival of Phase 4 sees a number of significant updates and changes to the game experience. I'd provide a link to the official patch notes, but at the time of writing, Square Enix's services are getting hammered so hard that you wouldn't be able to read them anyway. In lieu of that, I'll give you a summary of what to expect.

Perhaps most significant from a presentation aspect is the fact that voices are being added to a number of quests and cutscenes. The previous beta was entirely text-based, which made some of the more dramatic cutscenes feel a little strange when they were almost completely silent apart from music. The addition of speech will make the story-focused parts of the game feel a lot more "Final Fantasy" -- I'm interested to see what impact it has.

This recent Japanese commercial for the game is kind of great.

In game terms, big additions include the arrival of Fishing as a gathering skill, along with its accompanying logs and challenges, and the ability to request "Materia Melds" from other players if you don't have sufficient skill to do it yourself. Materia Melding allows you to make use of Final Fantasy VII-style Materia to boost your attributes and skills by plugging it into your equipment, allowing you a degree of customization over the stats of various items.

Free Companies -- FFXIV's equivalent of guilds -- are getting an overhaul, too. Now there's a bunch of Free Company Actions available that provide ongoing benefits to members and, in some cases, encourage cooperation -- the Brave New World benefit, for example, increases the attributes of all members under level 10, allowing them a slightly easier time at the outset of their adventuring careers -- or at the beginning of them learning a new class.

More minor changes include the addition of weather systems, experience gain for entering new areas for the first time, characters' lips moving when chatting and, perhaps best of all, the ability to raise or lower your helmet's visor at will using an emote. Sweet!

The Final Fantasy XIV servers are technically up and running right now, but login and character creation is being restricted in some cases to help manage the expected heavy load. It might take a few attempts to get logged in successfully.

You can find out more about Final Fantasy XIV on the official website. Watch out for the USgamer team online, too -- we'll be playing on the Ultros server.

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Comments 9

  • Avatar for Shadowfire #1 Shadowfire 4 years ago
    It's great that characters are voiced now but.. the voice acting... ugh.
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  • Avatar for Baleoce #2 Baleoce 4 years ago
    @namander It's a bit cringeworthy, but you get used to it. Some characters just don't sound how you'd expect them to either.
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  • Avatar for Shadowfire #3 Shadowfire 4 years ago
    Cringeworthy is not the right word. Horrible is closer to correct. It's "bad voice actors called Square Enix on the phone and spoke the dialog in the most absurd voices they could muster" bad.
    You start hearing the voice actors around level 5, so there's fair warning... jam the q-tip deep into your ear before you level.
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  • Avatar for Baleoce #4 Baleoce 4 years ago
    Personally I never crave the need for voice actors in these types of games. Once you play FFXI you realise you don't actually need them in order to fully establish a characters personality. NPCs like Shantotto, Prishe, the DNC with a lisp, and countless others are proof of this. Sometimes it's nicer to leave things like that up to interpretation.
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  • Avatar for Baleoce #5 Baleoce 4 years ago
    Been trying to enter an instanced mission for Gladiator in Central Thanalan all of last night, kept getting kicked from the server as I tried to enter. Thought I'd leave it for a while, and play some Animal Crossing. Came back to it this morning, and it still kicks me. Tedious.
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  • Avatar for twopenny #6 twopenny 4 years ago
    As a potential fix for the voice acting, I believe you can toggle cutscene voices to Japanese in the options. If that fails, hopefully they'll have an option to turn it off.

    I really have no idea if this game is going to be successful or not, but they've got some interesting ideas simmering in the background--behind the mostly rote "modern MMO" design. Quest design specifically isn't anything to get excited about, but I really like the idea of free companies. It was something they introduced late in 1.0's lifespan, but never really got much time to develop--I hope they get a chance to properly flesh it out.

    Even though i should probably know better at this point--I'm looking at you, FF14 1.0, Warhammer Online--I'm pretty excited about this release.
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  • Avatar for twopenny #7 twopenny 4 years ago
    @Baleoce Totally. I have such a low tolerance for bad VO; I miss a great deal of probably interesting world-building and character development because i have no patience for that kind of thing. Moreover, I don't think its absence would be a real deal-breaker for players, given that most people skip that stuff anyway. Seems like wasted money to me.
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  • Avatar for Baleoce #8 Baleoce 4 years ago
    Error 90000 is so damn annoying.
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