Most of you will know of Elmer who is highly respected in the FF community.
He has put together a great recap of Vanafest with info on the new expansion and jobs etc.
Here is the first part posted at ffxi.allakhazam.com.
We have a new expansion: Seekers of Adoulin. This will be the 5th full-featured expansion disc for Final Fantasy XI, and it opens up an entire new continent in the Far West. Speculation over the years centered around the Far East or the South being the next logical setting. However, the developers explained that Adoulin is about creating something completely fresh that can serve as the foundation of a whole new beginning in the world of Vana'diel. The Far West will have its own history, culture and secrets to be discovered completely independent of anything players have experienced over the past ten years. With Tenzen in the Far East and key Mithran characters hailing from the South, there were too many strings attached to these locations that would have limited creative freedom.
The inspiration for Adoulin's architecture are said to derive from areas of Europe (Spain was referenced, specfically) to give a sense of a land with a rich culture and deep history that spans the ages. In fact, the developers revealed in our interview that Adoulin is set to explore the history of Vana'diel before even year one of the Crystal Era.
Reclaim the Land
The overall theme of Seekers of Adoulin is discovery. With the capital city located in the northeastern point marked on the map, adventurers have an wide, expansive continent before them to explore. The entire mainland is said to be filled with rough, untapped wilderness. The key mechanics in this expansion will have players taming the wild and making the land suitable for adventure.
Players will cut through dense jungle, overcome new dangers, break through rocky terrain and gather materials needeed to survive and thrive. In gaming terms, this means new crafting ingredients, new fish to catch and new synthesis recipes. Exploration is accomplished by building outposts, similar to the ones placed throughout the central continents. With these outposts serving as a base, players work to cultivate the land around them. The system details are not in place yet, but essentially, each area will have a cultivation percentage that goes up as players operate within the area and complete certain quests. When the rate is high enough, it will unlock bonuses that affect players in the area, similar to the Signet and Sanction systems. There was even an indication that the game world itself would change through the efforts of the players.
There will also be six new guilds: Information Guild, Exploration Guild, Security Guild, Amusement Guild, Transportation Guild and Workshop Guild.
The developers promise much more to come, saying you can discover suspicious caves, monster lairs and places where you can attain "mysterious power." Players can expect a bunch of new giant-sized monsters, some of which they presented at the show. A lot of the new beasts are still shrouded in seceret, and the developers laughed nervously as they tried to resist giving any information that could spoil the upcoming story.
By the way, it's quite tiny, but I believe the note on the gigantic bee indicates that poison needles come flying out its posterior. So, you know, be ready for that
The Geomancer is a support Job that can buff party members and enfeeble enemies using some interesting new mechanics.
On a basic level, Geomancer functions similar to Bard. Like Bards with their instruments, Geomancers will equip bells and have a Geomancy skill and a bell skill. The combined level of these two skills will determine how effective their abilities are. Again, like a Bard without an instrument, a Geomancer can wield their power without the use of a bell, but it will reduce the effectiveness.
For party members, Geomancers can grant effects like regen, refresh and regain, or boost different parameters like STR, DEX, AGI, and so on. Against enemies, they can inflict slow, and paralysis, or other debuffs, like magic defense down or evasion down. The developers also indicated they were looking into other unique buffs and debuffs to further set the job apart, but such additions were still being proposed and tested.
Two features were also introduced for Geomancer: Polarity and Luopan. Polarity is a trait that lets the player boost their own abilities based on where they stand relative to the enemy. North for magic attack bonus, South for magic accuracy bonus, East for recast timer reduction, and West for a bonus to magic critical rate.
Luopan, which in the art of feng shui are compass boards used to measure the flow of spiritual energy, are something the player can place to create an area of effect in a location of their choice. Theoretically, the Geomancer can center a Refresh Luopan AoE where the backline mages stand, or place a Regain Luopan on top of the heavy hitters. Luopan with enfeebling effects can also be placed strategically around the enemy.
However, the Luopan will have HP and can be destroyed by enemy attacks, so its positioning will be critical to its effectiveness.
On day two, Square Enix hit us with the second new job: Rune Fencer. This job is meant to be the third main tank in the game after Paladin and Ninja. The Rune Fencer utilizes a variety of runes to execute magic and special abilities. While the Paladin is primarily a physical tank, the Rune Fencer is designed to tank using magical-based defenses. Elemental Runes can be used to increase elemental resistance and add elemental damage to regular attacks, similar to En-spells. Enchantment Runes are divided into attack-based and defense-based runes. Attack-based runes add big elemental damage and increase your offensive capability, while defense-based runes help your defensive capability.
From what the developers described, Rune Fencer will be a tactical job with a variety of tools to meet various tanking situations. Elemental Runes are there to counter the different types of magic and elemental damage monsters will throw at you while allowing the player to strike back with the appropriate element in return.
Enchantment Runes then let the player balance between big damage to control hate or strong defense to stay alive. In addition, Rune Fencer will be able to make other tradeoffs in battle, such as sacrificing spell duration to increase potency. Since this job was announced after the interview, there are many questions left to ask.
A key design philosophy behind Adoulin is meeting the varied playstyles of all adventurers in Vana'diel. To that end, the developers have created a new instanced dungeon system, which can be customized for your party. The dungeon is created by assembling parts of a statue--head, body and feet. Each section controls a different aspect of the dungeon, such as dugeon size, drops and monster difficulty. Rewards are also tied to how the dungeon is set up; for example, making the monsters more difficult will also increase the chances of getting better items. However, developers assure us that everyone should come out with something if they participate. Another feature is there will be achievements along the way that will grant bonuses while in the dungeon, like performing certain skillchains or getting to chain 5. Again, this aspect of the expansion was not covered in the interview, so much will surely change before it is finalized for the expansion.
Personal Island Farms
In the eastern side of the Far West, there are a number of little islands. These will be used to host personal farms upon which players can raise livestock and farm crops. Much like the Mog House system, each player will get their individual space to use and customize to their liking. There are currently few details regarding the farming system itself or any indication if players can visit each others' farms.
Monster Playing has the potential to add a whole new dimension of gameplay to Final Fantasy XI. This new system will allow player characters to physically transform into monsters and level up as a creature of Vana'diel. Some areas will be off-limits for stomping around as a baddie for practical reasons such as the physical size of some monster.
Also, those players holding out for a true PVP system have a new way to vent their aggression. A player can fight a transformed monster-player, or both players can trasnform and battle each other as monsters. However, it won't be total chaos, as developers expect to have a system in place that requires mutual consent to fight and may even limit it to certain areas.
- New 2-hour abilities are in the works. So far, developers revealed that the Warrior 2-hour will make all attacks non-elemental (like Formless Strikes), and the Monk 2-hour will allow them to counter 100% of regular incoming attacks.
- The enfeebling system will be rehauled, and the developers promised to post details about that later in the official forums
- Ranged attack delay will be cut in half
- Protect will made 1.5x stronger, and Protectra V may be made 3-4x stronger
- The developers made a point to say there are no scheduled changes yet for Dark Knights, but that they won't be forgotten
- Monk gets a new belt, but the Black Belt will be required to attain it
- Summoners are being tested for a fix for when Blood Pacts get canceled if the target moves out of range
- Dragoon may receive another merit ability in their category 1 merits to reduce the Call Wyvern timer
- Realizing that Mog House storage is tight for many players, the developers are considering adding another rental house like the one in Aht Urghan
- New UI: The new user interface will have drag-and-drop menus that can be placed anywhere on the screen. Players will also be able to select the color scheme. The new interface should be ready before the release of Adoulin.
Elmer and associates also did an interview afterwards which can be found at ffxi.allakhazam.com here.
The interview took place at the end of day one and was conducted by ZAM (myself), Curse, JPgames.de, FinalFantasy.de, mmorpg.com and jeuxonline. Developers in attendance included Director Mizuki Ito, Associate Director Yoji Fuito, Planner Yoshitsugu Saito, Planner Masaru Taniguchi. John Townsend acted as interpreter.
Questions and answers have been paraphrased for clarity.
ZAM: In 2004, there was a history book called "Life in Vana'diel," which contained detailed timelines for the three nations that hinted at events in future expansions. So, it was obvious things had been planned far in advance. With Adoulin, you said you wanted to start fresh, with a brand new continent, so I was wondering how far in advance have you planned for the setting of this new expansion?
A: There are portions of Adoulin that have been planned well in advance, and there are things from the timelines that they have incorporated into the expansion. The timelines between in year one, but in Adoulin, they will explore events that happened even before that. When they decided this expansion would take place in the West, they decided to flesh out that early history even more.
Curse: Can you reiterate the exploration system you will implement and how it will work?
A: As a brief review, you have areas--like an uncharted frontier--and for each area there is a cultivation percentage. The more things you do there, the more area you explore and the more quests you do, you can increase that percentage. As you bring that up and explore more, through not just fighting, but other playstyles as well, it will have effects on the game world itself and you will get benefits from that. Players will see the effort they put into exploration reflected in the world.
JPgames.de: I would like to know about the style of the continent. Treasures of Aht Urghan had an Arabian feel, for example.
A: The city of Adoulin itself has a Spanish or Mediterranean image. In the presentation this morning, there was a castle town, which exhibits that style. They are trying to give Adoulin the feel of a city with a long history and something that's different from the other cities, though they do have trade relations with San d'Oria, so there's a bit of San d'Orian influence.Interview continues...
FinalFantasy.de: Can you give us some additional information about Geomancer?
A: Basically, Geomancy stacks with and works in conjunction with White Magic, so it has buffs and debuffs. The job is going to be technically oriented, using positioning to set up fields and manuver party members and enemies into them to grant buffs to the party and debuffs to the enemy. There are also bonuses based on your position relative to the enemy, so it will be an active job with a lot of moving around, but if you use that positioning effectively, you can bring a lot of support.Geomancers will have an area of effect around them and a second one they can place at a difference. It will be a highly technical job, but one you can utilize to great effectiveness. It's buffs will stack with White Magic, so they complement each other well.
mmorpg.com: Where did the inspiration for the new expansion come from? Was it about creating new experiences for players that have been playing a long time?
A: It might seem like they decided to announce this to coincide with the 10th anniversary, but the timing just worked out well. After Wings of the Goddess, you had the add-ons and then Abyssea, so after that they decided it was time for another full expansion and the timing was perfect.
JeuxOnLine: I understand you wanted to create something fresh, but many players wanted to see Tenzen again. Why did you choose not to explore Tenzen's background in the Far East?
A: They understand a lot of players have fond feelings towards characters like Tenzen, but they really wanted to do something that longterm players and new players could both enjoy on the same level. In the East and the South, there would be certain limitations in terms of the story, where it would have to tie into events in the past. The best option was to set the expansion in the Far West in a land that has not been explored. You will get to expereince one part of that new land this time, and there is still much more of that huge continent to explore in the future.As for Tenzen... as long as the world of Vana'diel lives on, that story is there to be told, so they won't say there is zero possibility of seeing him again.
ZAM: There are a number of buffers and enfeeblers already in the game, so Geomancer needs to set itself apart. It has directional and strategical gameplay, but will it have any buffs or debuffs that are rare or even unique to the job, such as Regain, which was mentioned. And they said Geomancer will also equip a bell in the throwing slot... how does that affect its gameplay?
A: As far as any new buffs or debuffs that might be introduced, since the job is still under development, they want to do a lot of balance testing before they make any final decisions. As for the bell, you can think of it like musical instruments for a Bard. You'll have the Geomancy skill and the Bell skill. The combination of those skills will determine the effectiveness of their magic. You can use Geomancy without the bell, but like a Bard with no instruments, and it will reduce the effects of your abilities.
Curse: Traditionally, Geomancer relied on primal, elemental magics, but the Geomancer you have introduced deviates from that original concept. AoE buffs that placed and static in certain areas is a mechanic I've never seen before, so I was wondering where the inspiration for that came from.
A: Basically, you have the Chinese concept of feng shui, like placing certain objects in certain areas in the room to generate good fortune. You see that XI with furniture, but they wanted to incorporate that into the job. You're reading the patterns in the earth and channeling that power to generate magic and grant benefits or inflict enfeebling effects.
JPgames.de: You mentioned the city of Adoulin has trade connections with San d'Oria. What are the relationships with Bastok, Windurst and San d'Oria, and why has this continent just suddenly appeared in the story? Why couldn't we travel there before?
A: They can't talk about it now, but the explanation for why adventurers are only now able to travel to Adoulin will definitely be covered in the story of the expansion itself. While it's true that Adoulin hasn't played a large part in the game itself, in game-related documents, such as Life in Vana'diel, which was mentioned earlier, there has been mention of a nation in the west with trade relations with San d'Oria. There have also been some items, like the totem pole or Bison Jacket, which are said to originate in the west. So, in the official lore material, there has always been some mention of the Far West, and they drew upon some of these when creating the expansion.
FinalFantasy.de: There is no version of Final Fantasy XI for the PS3. Are there any plans to develop one? In Europe, there are no HDDs available for the PS2.
A: At the moment, there are no plans to develop a PS3 version. They already have the PS2 game, and they plan to continue supporting the PS2. They don't feel it would be the best use of resources to work on the PS3. Unfortunately, Square Enix is not a hardware manufacturer. They would love to release a HDD, but there is nothing they can do.
mmorpg.com: Will there be a new race for player characters?
A: The short answer is no--there will be no new playable races. In terms of the story and the world of Vana'diel, there are five races, so to suddenly add a new one would throw all that lore out the window. However, in terms of something like Goblins or other non-playable characters, you may see something in the future.
JeuxOnLine: Why did you make an expansion pack aimed at new players when there are not many new players coming to the game? Or are you planning on ways to attract new players? For example, Tanaka mentioned the possiblity of a PS Vita version.
A: When the PS Vita was announced, Tanaka said they could explore the possibility of a PS Vita version, but it turned out it wasn't really feasible. As for the expansion, they said befoe they wanted content that could be enjoyed by new and old players alike. By that, they also meant players that been away for a few years and are just now coming back. They're not so much looking to attract brand new users, as the expansion is more geared towards high level players. Players starting from scratch can enjoy existing expansions, level themselves to a certain point, and know there is this whole new place in the Far West they still have to explore.