The FFXIV: A Realm Reborn beta test is well under way and has brought with it a host of new features and improvements. One of those features is the FATE system, an addition to the game that adds public open-world questing into the mix. With all the media tour activities going around lately, we got the chance to get more details about FATEs, whether they have something new to bring to the table, and how they fit into the whole plan of revitalizing Final Fantasy XIV.
An introductory course in FATE
This might be the first time that some of you have even heard of FATEs and you’re probably wondering what sort of gibberish I’m referring to. FATE stands for Full Active Time Event, and it’s one of the new gameplay mechanics in A Realm Reborn. At first glance, it should be fairly obvious why this feature is in the game— to give people something else to do in the open world other than grinding quests.
But when you say “public open-world questing”, you can’t help but think of games like Guild Wars 2 and Rift. Both of those games have similar systems and had them before FFXIV, naturally. It’s easy to dismiss FATEs as something that was just copied from them. Well, if that’s your line of thought, you’re sorta kinda half right. Yoshida says that his inspiration for the FATE system comes from Warhammer Online’s Public Quest system, according to Massively. He also believed that Guild Wars 2 did a great job pulling off public quests, and more than likely that influenced some of the decisions he made regarding the FATE system.
But if you’ve never experienced a public quest, you probably have no idea what I mean. Rather than reference the many other games that make use of this feature, it’s probably better to just present what a FATE is supposed to be from the man, Yoshida, himself.
“It’s not something you camp in a spot to participate,” Yoshida told 4Gamer. “F.A.T.E. is something that suddenly happens when you were just hunting around, making you feel ‘Huh, something happened!?’ Or when players passing by can say ‘What you guys doing?’ and might participate.”
Once a FATE starts, you can just hop right in at any time and start wailing away. No need for parties or instanced areas. You’ll know one is happening due to an announcment made in a large area of the zone. You’ll also see an area indicated on your map where the FATE is taking place. In most cases, once you step into that area you automatically join that FATE. That’s pretty much the essence of what a public quest system is.
In FFXIV’s case, FATEs can happen simultaneously in multiple areas. Yoshida comments that under the right circumstances, you could have seven to eight FATEs going on at the same time. And in some zones you can even have as many as 12 or 13 of them happening all at once. If you fail a FATE, in most cases you can challenge it again fairly soon after your defeat. That’s a lot to keep you busy. Your standard FATE is also balanced so where you don’t need parties or healing in order to participate.
“Those that played in alpha test would know this, but basically in FFXIV ARR you can win with about 2/3 of HP remaining against monsters of the same level,” Yoshida revealed to 4Gamer. “That’s how it’s balanced. For F.A.T.E. we have it designed so that you don’t need parties or cure, so if you rest after defeating each bandit without diving in you should be alright.”
Yoshida explained to GamerEscape that the main rewards would involve EXP and Gil, simply because they don’t want any strife between the players over public spoils. This isn’t necessarily true for what Yoshida calls “end FATEs”, extremely difficult end game content related to Behemoth and Odin. For that type of FATE you can expect some type of item reward as well.
Fighting the good fight
There are lots of different variations you can expect to encounter in a FATE, and Yoshida assures us it won’t simply be the same thing every time. For beta alone, Yoshida told GamerEscape that there will be over 40 different FATEs prepared. Of course there’s your standard fare of taking down monsters that happen to pop up, but you could also find yourself stopping a group of Opo-opos from stealing beans or preventing a group of imps from escaping a prison.
But Yoshida also explained to 4Gamer about the “fort” scenario. It consists of helping NPCs take down a bandit’s fort and if you manage to succeed, your faction actually takes over the fort, putting NPCs in place there. From that point on, the FATE changes so that you must defend the fort from bandit attacks instead. When you think about it, it’s sort of a mini Conquest activity like we’ve seen in the Wings of the Goddess expansion from FFXI, complete with support from the NPCs that are stationed there.
Yoshida also brought up the possibility of a good ol’ bar room brawl. “…when that F.A.T.E. starts, an NPC appears and when you talk to that NPC it tells you, ‘There is a guy inside the bar going wild…that’s him!’ and that’s where it starts. Then, the players start punching each other and…well look forward to it.”
Yoshida continued to reference a couple of scenes from the benchmark video released last week, revealing that they are actually FATEs. “To point out one, at around 3:00, where the chocobos are running, you see battles going on around. In that you see characters running towards the large treant and joining in on the battle. This is the image of F.A.T.E.”
There was also a scene in the benchmark at 1:50 where Ifrit pops up. The battle there has also been reported to be a FATE. At the moment, it’s only roaming about as a “promotion”, meaning that players will only get to experience it during the beta most likely. Yoshida did tell 4Gamer that it’s possible that Ifrit may become a regular FATE after some time in the future.
Bringing FATE to the table
So what exactly does Yoshida hope the FATE system will bring to the table? Massively was quick to find an answer to this question, and by all accounts, it looks as though he just expects it to make the game more fun. According to Yoshida, public questing should be a central feature in every game, not a marketing point. To him, mechanics and ideas like these promote fun and should be standard.
Now I can get behind that. I’m of the mind that what’s needed is good, balanced, engaging content like the FATE system. The world itself will flavor that content, and that is what will create a rewarding experience. As they say, content is king, and if Yoshida does what it takes to keep content on the throne, then he’s one more step towards creating something successful that the community can latch on to. Yoshida’s theme park style may have ruffled a few feathers, but it could quite possibly be his best chance to make a real place for Final Fantasy XIV in the MMO scene.