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2014: The Year in Review

January 1st, 2015 by Sharjeel Hanif

It’s been quite a year for Final Fantasy fans, and as we kick off 2015, we think it’s worth looking back at 2014 to reflect on the major happenings in the franchise.

THE FINAL FANTASY XIII SERIES ENDS

It feels like it’s been an eon since Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII released early in 2014, but it marked the end of the Final Fantasy XIII trilogy — which started nearly five years prior. Depending on where you stand you’ve sent your fond farewells, your apathy, or your scorn. Regardless, it’s the end of a long chapter for the Final Fantasy series — though arms of the Fabula Nova Crystallis mythos will extend into the present and future.

Square Enix released Final Fantasy XIII and Final Fantasy XIII-2 for PC towards the end of this year with Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII likely to follow suit sometime early in 2015. Following feedback from the PC community, Square Enix provided support for resolutions higher than 720p in Final Fantasy XIII-2, and retroactively updated Final Fantasy XIII.

— Read more:
Review: Lightning Returns Final Fantasy XIII

WE HEARD YOU LIKE REMASTERS

We learned that Final Fantasy Type-0 HD will, at long last, make its way to fans overseas in March 2015. The 2011 game for the PlayStation Portable is receiving the HD treatment for PlayStation 4 and Xbox One, which ruffled feathers of PlayStation Vita fans hoping the bolster the handheld’s library. It stands to reason that Square Enix held on to the game because the PlayStation Vita’s sales performance had been deemed insufficient.

There are still some apparent quirks that seem to be inherent from porting a handheld title to console, especially when considering the PSP’s sole analog stick. Director Hajime Tabata has expressed that the camera and controls are still an ongoing process (which, judging by gameplay released thusfar, are of apparent concern) and has offered a few updates on that on a regular basis.

While the character models in the game seemed to have received the most love out of the remastering process, we feel that some environments — particularly the world map (Editor’s Note: Curious we haven’t seen much of it!), may have not received as much care and attention. However, considering that, yes, this was a PSP game, it’s been a pretty good effort by Square Enix and HexaDrive.

Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster released in 2014 for the PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Vita — and will come to the PlayStation 4 in 2015. Featuring updated visuals from the original release, the game featured all the content from the “International” versions North America never received, as well as a rearranged soundtrack.

While it may have taken quite a bit longer than most were expecting, Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster left a thirst for more titles from the PS2 era to receive HD treatment: especially Final Fantasy XII — a title yours truly would very much like to see.

2014 also saw the release of Theatryhthm Final Fantasy Curtain Call, a definitive version of the “rhythm-meets-RPG” tribute to the series’ musical past and present. Square Enix continues to support the game with a mountain of DLC, with a new batch coming out early in January.

— Read more:
Review: Final Fantasy X/X-2 HD Remaster

— Read more:
Review: Theatryhthm Final Fantasy Curtain Call

FINAL FANTASY XV STIRS IN THE DARKNESS

It wasn’t really until Tokyo Game Show that the veil began to lift (again) on Final Fantasy XV. Thanks in part to new trailers and Active Time Report streams from Square Enix, we were given a hefty chunk of information to digest. Square Enix also released a trailer of what seems to be very preliminary English voice work. (Editor’s Note: Square Enix likely dubbed the trailer alone, rather it representing anything in the final game.)

Final Fantasy XV‘s re-emergence isn’t without controversy however, with reveals that Noctis would only be the sole playable character and confusion over battle system mechanics, though the latter was clarified to assuage fears of a “one-button battle system”. The Episode Duscae demo strategy has also left us scratching our heads, as it’ll be available for a limited time and only attached to a Final Fantasy Type-0 HD preorder.

Square Enix has conceded a tech demo that will be available after Episode Duscae, though we’re not sure why they can’t offer it up as a separate entity at some later point.

If all of the above sounds rather cynical, we’re just getting that out of the way. The simple truth is that Final Fantasy XV looks stunning, and hopes to deliver something that could redefine our expectations of what the series can be — what every Final Fantasy should be doing.

While Square Enix shares information aplenty, it seems the game is still further off than at first glance. That might concern some of you, but if Final Fantasy XV needs the time to achieve its desired vision and quality, then we have no problem waiting. We’re hopeful we can proclaim it our 2016 Game of the Year.

THE YEAR OF FINAL FANTASY XIV

Unequivocally, 2014 is the year of Final Fantasy XIV. While A Realm Reborn released in August of last year, we watched the game blossom through timely and substantive content updates throughout the year. In 2013’s year end review, shortly after A Realm Awoken‘s release, I mentioned that the real test for director/producer Naoki Yoshida and his leads was to continue the stream of quality content. They’ve succeeded on a level that has brought them even more post-release rapport among subscribers and observers.

It’s an effort that would (perhaps should) make even their largest competitor blush. Yeah, you probably know what game I’m talking about. In a year of vocal disappointment about post-release content from Destiny, for example, it’s no wonder Final Fantasy XIV has managed to capture attention for this reason alone.

Attracting a consistent and steadily growing subscriber base in a world where subscription MMOs were supposed to be dead speaks volumes about what Final Fantasy XIV has achieved. This isn’t to add more fuel to the freemium-versus-subscription-model debate, but it shows that people will follow value where they see it.

Yoshida may have turned heads when he declared 2015 to “also be the year of Final Fantasy XIV“, but considering the slate of content we’re already approaching and the expansion, Final Fantasy fans shouldn’t take his words lightly. Despite Tabata’s fresh approach with Final Fantasy XV developments, and the promise of Episode Duscae… sometime in 2015, it’s more likely we’ll see his game much later.

Final Fantasy XIV‘s next major patch, Before the Fall (Part I), is going to be our first major Final Fantasy “happening” of the year, and further updates will see the introduction of the “Manderville Gold Saucer” and “The Battle of Ishgard”.

Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward, the first expansion, is also timed for a Spring 2015 — which is damn quick. Amongst its contents we’ll get three new jobs: Dark Knight, Astrologian, and Machinist, a new race called the Au Ra, and explore the northern reaches of Eorzea including Ishgard and the Sea of Clouds beyond.

It brings me satisfaction to say that what I want Final Fantasy XIV to do is… just… keep doing what it’s doing. However, there are challenges that the game needs to face that will take it to the next level. A Realm Reborn introduced a wonderful base for a game that can potentially do some real interesting things within the context of the genre, or Final Fantasy itself.

Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is our game of the year.

— Read more:
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn Celebrates First Anniversary

There’s a lot more to look forward to in 2015, and here are a few of the topics you can expect ongoing coverage on at Final Fantasy Network!

Final Fantasy XIV: Patch 2.5 Before the Fall (Part I & II)
Lightning Returns: Final Fantasy XIII PC Release
Final Fantasy Type-0 HD‘s worldwide release in March
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward, the game’s first expansion
— Developments for 3DS titles such as Bravely Second and Final Fantasy Explorers
— Developments for smartphone titles such as Mevius Final Fantasy
— Developments for Episode Duscae & Final Fantasy XV
& much, much more!

What were your biggest Final Fantasy stories of 2014? Leave us your thoughts in a comment below!

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  • I dropped FF XIV before 2.4 came out because of community reasons, however I have been following the news about it and I must say it is very impressive! Although I did have a lot of fun ending the XIII trilogy and going back to Zanarkand in glorious HD! Now what I’m really looking forward to the most, as I am sure any true FF fan is, is Type-0 HD’s release in March! Can’t wait! As for XV, I think we might get lucky and see it by the end of this year. I wouldn’t expect a game’s development to span for a decade!

  • AnimaMagna

    Technically, the current incarnation of XV has been in development since 2012. But yeah, that’s still a very long time. I remember reading that they scrapped the entire PlayStation 3 experience after some trial and error in 2012. Which does leave me a little nostalgic for that incredible-looking, mysterious 2011 trailer for XV’s original incarnation. That was my bread and butter XV-wise for yonks.

    And I’m looking forward to Type-0 too. As Tabata has said, it’s totally due to fan demands that it’s come to the west at all, after all. I think the fan community should be genuinely proud and prepared for future fights and victories.

  • Josh Asher

    Bring on 2015, the year of FF Type-0 HD, FF XV, and hopefully FF Explorers!

  • AgitoXIII

    My biggest story of ’14 was finally getting the chance defeat Panance.

  • Tony Garsow

    I’ll get there some day. Pray for me.

  • Viktor Kateliev

    alot of it was carried over im sure, from the world environment and special areas and cities , original lore, characters, story, battles ,, its only at 2012 that they started expanding on all of this and improving graphics, battles, enemies, bosses, summons and the car were not working out on the ps3 version i read a long while back when they showed e3 2013 . let alone the airships that will probably be in it and the huge seemless connected world with towns and big cities