Final Fantasy XIV UI

While after putting 7 years of my life into Final Fantasy XI and have no intention of playing it ever again, I am interested in Final Fantasy XIV. With 8 years of working on MMOs and being in a better position to plan for hardware limitations, I think that Square would be able to solve a lot of the issues that still plague XI today. There was a video released a few days ago which showed some players running around in the game.

I'd like to pick apart some of the user interface elements I noticed. First off, its very clean and is either not actually what you'll see when you play, or there are elements that are hidden. I'm going to guess that many of the elements such as a chat box and hotkeys are hidden since that's how XI is by default. So on the screen we have 3 things; the players status which includes their name, hit points, and magic points, a minimap, and a network status. Obviously, the player status in a no-brainer and has the basic information you're going to want in any MMO. The minimap is a welcome addition that was absent in XI. It seems to not only show your location on the map but also the location of NPC characters. The one thing here that has utterly useless is the network status. If they're really going for a minimalist look that should be removed from the game all together.

As I mentioned there are a few things that are missing for the UI that are rather important such as the chat window and hotkeys. So we have no idea if the game will be limited to one incredibly clutter chat window like XI currently has. Hotkeys I won't say too much about since we don't know how the game is going to play. Issues that Final Fantasy XI has though is laggy macros, limited to 6 commands in a game that is built around swapping in and out up to 48 pieces of gear with each action. If the game moves away from this, they still would benefit from having some way of telling the cooldown time on a spells. Another thing not shown and which is a great flaw of XI is information on what you're targeting. Being able to see buffs and debuffs would be very helpful, and the distance from your current target is a vital value to show if this is going to play anything like other MMOs on the market.

I really don't know what to think about this game. On one hand, Square could simply refresh Final Fantasy XI with new graphics and a few slight changes to the progression system while ignoring all the annoyances and limitations that have plagues their first online game. Or they could actually learn from all their work on one of the most popular MMOs and not only fix issues in their existing game but avoid ending being held back by limitations from creating a cross-platform online game. I look forward to seeing which way they go and hopefully I get invited into the beta to get a better impression before its released.

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