The information from this article was taken from unofficial translations of the original sources. Some statements may be edited for clarity and may be different from the original translated text. Please see the original translations linked at the end of the article to view the original content.

In a recent GameWatch article, Final Fantasy XIV Director/Producer Naoki Yoshida had some details to share about the upcoming PS3 version of the Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. He gave specifics about the new controller specific interface, tailor-made for the PS3, and also talked a bit about the graphics quality of the console version. Thanks to Reinhart from the official Final Fantasy XIV forums for providing a translation of this article.

When asked if he could give some details about the new PS3 specific interface, Hiroshi Minagawa, Lead UI designer of FFXIV: ARR, stated that “We are making it so the controls won’t be much different to those playing in PC version, meaning keyboard and mouse. With this cross hotbar, when comparing to keyboard/mouse player, it will be possible to select and execute actions at same speed.”

Using Your Controller

The system works by allowing you to select and execute actions by pressing the L or R buttons and an additional button on the controller at the same time. That’s a combination of two buttons that will allow you to use any ability on your action bar in the console version. If it’s a little difficult to grasp, here‘s a play by play of how you would execute an action:

  • You can select any ability on your action bar using a combination of two buttons. The key to this are the L2/R2 buttons. They work much like a shift key on a keyboard.
  • In the PS3 UI, there are two action bars on the screen at any given time, one on the left and one on the right. Each action bar has room for 8 abilities for a total of 16. These two action bars are called an “action set”.
  • When you hold down the L2 button on your controller, it highlights and activates the action bar on the left. Holding down the R2 button activates the action bar on the right.
  • Pressing one of the direction pad buttons or one of the circle/square/triangle/x buttons while holding down the L2/R2 buttons will fire off an ability. The key is holding down one of the L2/R2 buttons to initiate the whole thing.

PS3 UI action sets and speculated button configuration

Holding down both the L2/R2 buttons at the same time and then selecting any direction/circle/square/triangle/x button will switch to another action set. There are 8 action sets in all, which adds up to 128 actions per class, since each class receives their own palette. Emotes and macros can both be assigned to any slot in your action set.

The controller specific UI is also available in the PC version as well. When creating a character, you get to choose whether you want to use the controller interface or mouse/keyboard. It was also said that you could switch modes later if you desired.

It’s a system that sounds similar if you’ve ever played Final Fantasy XI, but the way the gamepad utilizes the control scheme is different. “There are many parts FFXI and FFXIV being similar but it’s a different game,” Yoshida mentioned in the GameWatch interview. “With A Realm Reborn’s UI, we started from scratch. First we thought of a system which allows both PC version and PS3 to be controlled at the same speed and then we included popular FFXI features into it, but we didn’t want to interfere with the main design.”

This whole setup is somewhat unique use of gamepad controls for an MMO, and once you catch on to how it works, it seems like a very simple, but elegant way to navigate the various action bars using a controller.

Main Command

The new cross hot bar, or “main command” as it’s labeled in the interviews, is also a major component of the PS3 UI. It’s similar to the PS3’s cross media bar in appearance and function where you can use the direction keys on your controller to navigate horizontally or vertically through the different categories in the menu.

The main command interface

Opening the main command will close all other open widgets, but you’ll still be able to move and control the camera. Once you find the category you’re looking for, you just press the appropriate controller button to activate the command. It’s been mentioned that the main command can be specialized to match an individual player’s style, but no word on what exactly those customizations are just yet.

The categories in the main command are as follows:

  • System
  • HUD
    Displays the chat log or navigation map, and current quest announcements. Acts as a launcher for certain features and information. For example you can bring up the journal page for the current quest right away. You can also adjust where information is shown using a layout mode, allowing you to reposition or change the size of a widget.
  • Character
    Character specific commands that include Inventory, Actions & Traits, Key Items, Gear, Emotes, and Achievements.
  • Maps
  • Social Lists
    Contains categories such as Party List, Friend List, Black List, Free Company, and Linkshell
  • Timers
  • Logs

There is an additional command not shown in the screenshot called “Live”. lt refers to actions and features related to crafting or gathering. “…in this case, Live means daily livelihood,” Yoshida says. “Living in Eorzea, gathering materials, crafting something, and the housing menu, stuff like that.”

A major difference between the PS3 and PC UI is the inventory grid seen in the lower right hand corner of the in-game screenshots we’ve seen already. Instead of this colored grid, in the PS3 UI, we’re shown a number of white boxes that each display the number of items inside each inventory bag. Why the change for the PS3 version? “On the PC versions we have a color-based display to show the number of items, gear, and materials but the PS3 can’t handle that much memory,” Yoshida says. “So, the PS3 version displays only the number of items.”

PS3 numbered inventory display on top, PC grid inventory display on bottom

And that’s the gist of what we know about A Realm Reborn’s PS3 controller-specific UI. As mentioned before, a lot of this data was taken from various translations by Reinhart from the FFXIV official forums. It’s possible that we may have interpreted some things wrong. Keep in mind also that the game is currently in alpha phase. Any number of changes could take place between now and release. In both cases, whether we got something wrong or whether significant changes happen to the PS3’s UI, we’ll try our best to stay on top of things. Check out the links below to see the original translations by Reinheart.

4Gamer Interview
Game Watch Interview – Part 1 // Part 2