After the success of Final Fantasy X, the series was about to take a completely different direction. So far, Final Fantasy was pretty much a single player game – if you don’t count the few you can somehow split into a 2-player experience, of course. With advancement in technology and such an expansive world, it seemed to be the right direction for Square when they developed Final Fantasy XI into an MMORPG. What it became was a culmination of everything the developers had wanted for previous franchise entries but lacked the technology to do. Final Fantasy XI stepped away from the mold and became the first cross-platform MMORPG.
Stepping Away From The Formula
Before Final Fantasy XI, barring a few non-cannon entries, the franchise focused on a sprawling story where a single player controlled several party members throughout the game. With this new design, players could make their own hero by browsing the character creation, which had its limits. However, players could now take on the role of hero and decide how to develop that character throughout the game.
Also, with online cross-platform capability, gamers could reach out across the world to connect with others and form their own party. With automatic language translation, it was quite possible to connect with just about anyone via PC, Xbox 360 or on the PlayStation network.
Of course, with innovation comes a host of issues. This was a huge left turn for the series as the fans knew it. It required a paid subscription to play and there were plenty of problems in both game play and servers. However, those who really enjoyed the game do look on it as a labor of love, from beginning to the very last expansion pack.