Win tickets for a Final Fantasy piano concert with Benyamin Nuss in Germany

Do you love Final Fantasy and great video game music? As a special bonus and collaboration for fans, we’re giving away tickets for two concerts in Germany with pianist Benyamin Nuss.

You and a friend could attend the “Nuss plays Uematsu, Hamauzu and more” concert in the Eventhalle am Westpark, Ingolstadt on Saturday, July 15 or the in the Laeiszhalle, Hamburg on Sunday July 16. There is also the chance for a Meet & Greet with the pianist.

Benyamin Nuss is not only a great pianist, but also an avid gamer and Final Fantasy fan. Together with his mentors Nobuo Uematsu and Masashi Hamazu he contributed to the World of Final Fantasy soundtrack and the A New World: intimate music from Final Fantasy concert series. During the Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival 2017 in Frankfurt Benyamin performed together with songstress Susan Calloway on stage.

The full program for the concert still has yet to be revealed, but Benyamin Nuss teased that “Tera’s Theme” and “Serpent Trench” (Final Fantasy VI), “Those Who Fight” and “Gold Saucer” (Final Fantasy VII), “Where I Belong”, “Liberi Fatali” (Final Fantasy VIII), “The Promise” (Final Fantasy XIII), “Heroes” (Final Fantasy XIV) and three tracks from Lost Odyssey will be played during the festivities.

Sweepstakes Details:

Prize: Two (2) tickets for the concert “Nuss plays Uematsu, Hamauzu and more” in Ingolstadt, Germany on July 15, 2017 OR two (2) tickets for the concert “Nuss plays Uematsu, Hamauzu and more” in Hamburg, Germany July 16, 2017. Both prizes include a short Meet & Greet with Benyamin Nuss.

Please note that travel and accommodation are not included.

Eligibility: Any fan worldwide can enter the sweepstakes.

Participation: Please tell us your all-time favorite song from the Final Fantasy series and which of the two concerts you’d like to attend (Ingolstadt or Hamburg) in the comments below. We will randomly pick one winner for each group after the sweepstakes ends.

Duration: The sweepstakes starts right now and ends Sunday, July 2, 2017 23:59 (CEST).

We wish everyone good luck!

(Photo credit: Manuel Chillagano)

Talking Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood with producer/director Naoki Yoshida

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With Final Fantasy XIV‘s second major expansion on the horizon, it’s natural we still have plenty of questions. After all, the undertaking is proving to be absolutely massive with each reveal – as to be expected with two new jobs, new locations, battle system updates and more. With Heavensward wrapped up it’s time to look toward the game’s future and all the improvements it’s looking to bring along for the ride.

We had the chance to catch up with Naoki Yoshida during a media round-table and presentation in Hamburg, Germany. What were the reasons behind the upcoming boost items? Will we ever see Final Fantasy XIV on Switch and will Yoshi-P be a boss enemy in the game one day? The producer/director tells all in our full interview.

Stormblood features the new job classes Red Mage and Samurai. Will we get more iconic job classes like Blue Mage or Illusionist in the future?

Naoki Yoshida: We have yet to release the Stormblood expansion and for the last two years we have always asked what kind of jobs we should include in the next expansion. Finally we are able to tell you that it’s going to be Red Mage and Samurai and that you can play them next month.

Right now I think that it’s enough and I don’t want to think about it too soon (laughs). But of course for the future we will consider bringing back the classes from previous games and you can keep that in mind in terms of their popularity.

—Because of your plans to change the job class disparities, some players fear that this will affect the difficulty of the content in the game. Some are more hardcore and some more casual. How do you plan to satisfy both types?

Yoshida:  First of all I’d like to clear some things up because some people might misunderstand that. When we say we want to make certain elements more simple or obvious – something more digestible to understand – it does not necessarily mean that the game is going to be easy.

The objective for adjustment this time is that players can level up their characters more smoothly and can better understand their progress. We want them to better progress to the end game content.

Previously, once you came to the high difficulty end game content, a single mistake in the skill or combo rotation could make you lose your very high DPS and it was not easy to recover from that.

So with our changes it might be easier to recover from such mistakes, however the difficulty of the content itself was not changed… it won’t become easier. We want to keep it challenging and interesting for the players and want to make them use the full potential of their skills and actions. We want to make you shine in the way you utilize your skills.

—What lessons did you learn from developing some of the experimental new content in the 3.x series and can we expect that to continue in the 4.x series or will you build on what already exists?

Yoshida: I believe if there is no challenge you will start to get tired of the game and we cannot escape that. So for any content in the 4.x series we still want to continue the challenge of new material.

For example we implemented the Deep Dungeon/Palace of the Dead and plan another version for Stormblood, but the way you approach and play it will be a bit different.

There has been a reaction once we had implemented the 200th floor. Many people enjoyed this difficult content from floor 1-200 with a four man party. Since there seems to be a constant demand for difficult content it is something we are positively looking into.

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—Don’t you fear that experienced players may be disturbed by new players, who used the level or skill jump items and don’t know how to handle their skills or rotations?

Yoshida: Just to give you some background: This item was already in place for the Chinese and Korean version of the game.

There is something we found out while we researched our data from the game: someone who is not very familiar with the game does not tend to use these items to start and jump into the game.

Typically, the players who used these sort of boost items have experienced playing the game the free trial version. They have got used to one of the jobs which are available, liked using it and then decided to really go into the game.

Once they decided to get the full version of the game and use their boost item for that single job, the first thing those players need to learn is not the skill rotation. It’s actually more their role within a party such as the Tank, Healer or DPS.

So we feel it is most important to teach them which role they play so, for example, they won’t run in front of a tank as a healer during a battle. Or imagine a healer, who is just attacking instead of helping his teammates – we don’t want this to happen.

If you use the job level boost item, we will direct you to what we call the Hall of the Novice. This is a separate area, where you learn what role your job has. You are prompted to go there as soon as you use that item in the game.

I am sure the concern is currently there as some players just participate in FATES and level up like this. I understand that, but with the release of the boost items it will not drastically change this situation, so we feel there is no cause for worry.

—Apart from having boost items, are there any plans to streamline the 2.x content for new players?

Yoshida: The patch content is technically not mandatory. There is the chance to not play them to get to Stormblood.

In terms of progressing through the main story and leveling up your character, we will make it one step faster with the implementation of Stormblood. The experience you gain through the 2.x content will be allocated and adjusted so you can level up your character quicker than before and the amount of experience you will gain will also increase.

And of course if you followed all the story quests in the 3.x scenario, you previously obtained all Allagan Tomestones elsewhere in order to update your gear. Now we are switching the rewards for the main scenario quests so you can obtain whatever is necessary for you to progress through the main scenario. You don’t have to go aside to collect the different Tomestones.

—Currently we are able to play Final Fantasy XIV on PC and PS4. What about Switch and Xbox One?

Yoshida: Of course we don’t want to say there is absolutely no possibility. We want to explore and expand our platform base because we want as many people as possible around the world to play our game. We want to think about platform support and there are opportunities where we do talk with Microsoft and Nintendo.

As you already mentioned the developers are very mindful of the community. If we consider adding another supported platform, there will be a community for that platform. No matter how small this community may become, we need to continue that support and to operate on these platforms in the future. So we need not only to talk about it amongst our selves, but also with Microsoft and Nintendo: Are we ready to setup a community? Can we support them in the long term. That is a very complicated decision that we have to make because it is not just us but also Microsoft and Nintendo have this sort of readiness that resolves in order to do this. So these decisions make it a really long process.

—One of the major characters in Final Fantasy XIV disappeared: Will Estinien play a major role in the next expansion? We would love to know what happened to him.

Yoshida: Please look forward to it! That’s all I can say for now. We hope that we can meet your expectations. (laughs)

—After we got the possibility to fight the CEO of Square Enix in Final Fantasy XV and NieR: Automata we wondered if we will ever battle against members of the development team (Yoshi-P, Soken, Koji-Fox, etc) or the rest of the company in FFXIV.

Yoshida: I don’t think we can handle the CEO! Definitely no! (laughs)

It doesn’t fit in the realm of fantasy. For the most part I don’t think you will see myself, Soken or Koji-Fox literally appear in Final Fantasy XIV.

One of the more irregular things that did happen was the Wandering Minstrel. It was actually brought up to me as a character when we made the 1.x series. The idea came from the scenario team and my reaction was: I don’t think that this is a good idea.

According to my scenario team they wanted somebody who represents the development team to thank the players directly. I was barely able to give the OK for that one. That might be your irregular case there. A certain example might also be the Rising event. It was when the development team wanted to give a message to the players and you may remember an episode from that.

We believe that something as you mentioned might not be impossible, but nobody in the development team has a lore setting in the world of Eorzea – there is no connection. But there is something like a joke idea I have. You all know those striking dummies everyone likes to beat. Maybe we can make one of them look like me! (laughs)

—Is there any feature or element you could not implement in Stormblood?

Yoshida: There is one that simply could not make it in time when we wanted to release and it was a PVP content. We wanted to release it with patch 4.05 where everyone has gone through the PVE content and settled down from there.

But my development team has worked so hard to implement as much as we wanted to, so I would feel disrespectful if I asked them for anything even more than this.

—Won’t the story lose a lot of its value since people can skip it using the boost items?

Yoshida: That is actually an interesting question. Of course from the creator’s perspective we want players to pay attention to the story and history we created, but rather than having a potential player looking at our game and saying “Oh it’s to much time I have to spend on this – I don’t want to play,” I’d rather give them the option to enter the game even when it’s from the middle of it.

We often compare it to a drama TV series in its third season. If you liked what you see in the third one, you may become interested in season one and two. If you do, you can always create another or multiple characters and discover those first two seasons. We really encourage players to do that.

—Every expansion release for MMORPGs gives newcomers an incentive to jump into them and start fresh either solo or with friends. With the release of Stormblood on the horizon, is there anything in particular you would like to say to players jumping into FFXIV for the first time? Any advice or message?

Yoshida: With the start of the new expansion we try to make things more manageable, more straight-forward and easier to understand, as if you are playing a standalone Final Fantasy game.

Then we have the free trial. At first we had a 14-day limitation, but now this restriction as gone and you can play as long as you want until the level cap of 35. You can experience many different experiences and content in Final Fantasy XIV. As I mentioned it is like a drama series with a wonderful story and we have a great community with players who are very nice.

I think it is a wonderful opportunity to enjoy Stormblood as a new Final Fantasy installment.

—Will we maybe hear more about personal airships or aerial combat in the future?

Yoshida: I am afraid we cannot get into too much detail for now, but we want to hint that there will be an update coming to Free Company crafting in the 4.1 timing. That is all we can say at the moment.

Final Fantasy XIV’s Free Login Campaign has returned, ends May 7th

Starting today and continuing through Sunday, May 7th, anyone with a Final Fantasy XIV service account will be able to log in and play regardless of subscription status. Yep, the Free Login Campaign is back. If you partake in the free event, you’ll have 96 hours (4 days) from your first log-in to play FFXIV as you wish.

If you’re completely new to FFXIV, you’re also in luck, as Square Enix recently changed the game’s trial so that you may play up to Level 35 free with no time limit. There are certain restrictions to trial accounts however, mostly to deter RMT (real money trader) activity.

You can also check out a trove of new official images of the upcoming Stormblood expansion (due out June 20) here.

Final Fantasy XIV is now available on Windows PC, PlayStation 3 (support ends in June,) PlayStation 4, and Mac.

Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood Interview with Naoki Yoshida

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Following up the first day of Final Fantasy XIV‘s final leg of Fan Festival activities in Frankfurt, producer/director Naoki Yoshida had a chance to sit down for a special Stormblood-themed round-table conference.

Nova Crystallis along with select press from around the world were in attendance for a chat discussing different aspects of the upcoming expansion – including locations and the newly revealed Samurai job class.

Yoshida: Thank you for staying so late for this.

Last October we began our group of Fan Festivals in Las Vegas, and then Tokyo and now our final one here in Frankfurt. With each Fan Fest, we use it to reveal new information about Stormblood. While there are still new things to reveal, we feel like we’ve given you a good idea of what Stormblood will entail.

I know you have a lot of questions, and there may be some things I can’t answer but I’ll try to answer as many as I can in the time we have. I’ve been standing all day in these so I’m going to sit down.

—After this third event, what experience have you gotten from meeting fans from different places?

Yoshida: Having these festivals is for the fans, but it’s for the development team too. It motivates us to see the fans; we use that energy to support us in our future endeavors.

—Lots of the new expansion areas have connections to Japanese culture. How important is it for you to have areas that reflect your own culture? Is there extra pressure while developing these areas?

Yoshida: When creating these areas like Hingashi and Doma we had it in the back of our minds to create something like Japan. Japan has a very long history but depending on who you ask you’ll get a different version of what that history is. Edo period, post-Edo, pre-Edo etc. However when visually designing Kugane and Hingashi, instead of using one idea, we wanted to meld the different ideas of the Far East to make things unique. We discussed it a lot to make something that’s truly unique. To make one thing clear though, when we talk about Doma and Hingashi, they’re two very different countries with Hingashi on the island and Doma on the continent to the east.

—This time there will only be two jobs. Is there any chance for a new job for the 4.x patches?

Yoshida: Currently there are no plans for a third job. Of course, there are a lot of people – myself included – who are looking forward to new jobs. Creating an unbalanced job or ruining existing balance is something we don’t want to do. We’ll revamp the system in 4.0, balance it, then maybe we’ll make another job.

—Will there be more cross-server functionality in the future like Linkshells and the friends list?

Yoshida: In fact, the development team is currently working on cross-world friends lists. Hoping for 4.0 but it might not make it. For the rest, there’s no time table but we are doing it.

—Is your Samurai costume comfortable? Do you plan to wear it to work to inspire you team?

Yoshida: Yes, its very comfortable. In fact, I was only supposed to wear this for the keynote, but because its so comfortable I’ve worn it the whole day. I want to take this home to Japan, but the German team put lots of work into this and so… my staff told me I have to leave it here. If I happen to take it back and wear it at the office, I don’t think my staff would be inspired… they would probably be angry that I was goofing off.

—We saw the implementation of Grand Company platoons. Will those NPCs be available in other content?

Yoshida: The plan for this is already finished and we’re working on the AI for the platoon. As most staff is working on 4.0 content though, it’s on the back burner. Once 4.0 is out we’ll have it done soon after release.

—What are priorities for future Fan Festivals? What are key lessons you’d use from here for a future festival?

Yoshida: Well, we still have day two… (laughs) We’ve been spending the last few days preparing working with the great team here. We’ve learned a lot and had a great first day, but we have to think about day two first. Our next goal is to make our CEO to say “it’s okay to do another Fan Festival.”

—After this extended trailer it seems like a lot of fans forgot about Ala Mhigo. Are you scared Doma will lower the hype for Ala Mhigo?

Yoshida: What we don’t want players to forget is we’ve shown a lot of interesting areas in Ala Mhigo. In addition to the ones in Othard we have plans for Ala Mhigo. Fifty percent of 4.0 will occur in Ala Mhigo.

—Since we’re leaving the PS3 and you can expand upwards with the specs, will you be patching for PS4 Pro support? And will there be support for Nintendo Switch?

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Yoshida: Rather than using the PS4 Pro’s power to adapt to say 4k display, we’re thinking of using it for game performance. We’ve begun work on a Pro patch and hope to have details soon. I’ve mentioned this before with Xbox One inquiries – I want the game on as many platforms as possible. The one condition we have is that we can keep the cross-world matching going. If we can clear that, then a version on the Switch is something we’d consider.

—With the addition of swimming, do you see Blitzball in the future of FFXIV?

Yoshida: To be honest, yes we have plans… maybe. The thing is, we’ve run into a few problems. There’s the opinion that if we released it as it was in Final Fantasy X, players might lose interest in it quickly. Then on the team we had the idea of – because we’re an MMO, lets make something that fits with the style of game we have. However if we do that, then we’re going away from the Blitzball people know and expect. We’re trying to find a good mix of both sides. Because we have swimming and diving its natural to get that in the game.

—There’s been talk about introducing a quick leveling potion (jumping potion) and I’d like more details about that.

Yoshida: This is something we’re still debating in the team. We can’t say anything now but we hope to have an announcement soon during a Live Letter.

—Can you tell us more about what’s planned for the battle system revamp?

Yoshida: We’re not going to be rebuilding it from the ground up. We’re concentrating on two things with this revamp. During 3.x, the action rotation for high DPS became very complex. We saw a large gap form regarding DPS from skilled and technical players and more casual players and so we wanted to bring up the bottom.

The second thing is that with FFXIV lots of players use the controller. With the increase in actions, it’s hard for them to use all of the actions available. There aren’t enough ways to use these actions so we’re cutting the number of unused actions and combining similar actions to make the level 70 action number about the same as it is now.

Currently with a lot of the jobs, it’s clear that jobs have to monitor a lot of buff icons. We want to create job specific UIs to alleviate that and make monitoring those things easier. We’re going to balance, adjust, tweak and refine this UI right up to the release, so we probably can’t show you anything until May.

—We’ve seen Doma is in one of the new areas, but we haven’t seen Ala Mhigo. Will players be able to go there? Will it be a field area? An instance?

Yoshdia: Hmm I wonder… to get that answer you’re going to have to first liberate Ala Mhigo because it’s under the control of the Empire. We have something unique in store for you that takes advantage of the MMO genre. We put a heavy focus on the story and think we have something very exiting in store for the liberation of Ala Mhigo.

“Basically, the main concept our team has when making Samurai now is a Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai-type of Samurai.”

—What is the added value to you and the game to have a subscription-based game?

Yoshida: I’ve answered this a lot in the past and it’s a long answer. Please contact our PR team and they’ll hook you up with the answer.

—You chose to make Samurai a DPS instead of a Tank as originally planned…

Yoshida: It’s a complex answer… it wasn’t like we decided “We want a DPS job; let’s make it Samurai!” It was more of what I envisioned a Samurai character to be. I see a more post-Edo Samurai and that felt like it had to be a DPS type. Basically, the main concept our team has when making Samurai now is a Kurosawa’s Seven Samurai-type of Samurai.

—What makes FFXIV stand out from other MMOs?

Yoshida: The biggest thing is the speed at which we release major updates, expansions and have Fan Festivals.

—Can we see inconsequential monster encounters have battle time reduced?

Yoshida: We do believe with 3.x that some regular field battles were a little longer than usual so with 4.0 they’ll be shorter.

—We have people coming from all over the world to Fan Festivals like Free Companies or people that met in game. Do you plan to introduce an app that would let players to stay in touch with their friends and groups? Also, what are your plans with PlayStation VR?

Yoshida: We’re currently in development of a new application to help players contact their FC players and friends outside of the game. We wanted it ready for 4.0 – it might not make it, but it will be released soon after.

We’ve tested the VR, but you need 60 FPS if not more to avoid motion sickness. If you wanted to create something that really took advantage of that, you would need content made especially for VR but if you do that you limit it to only those few with VR so we want to spend the time making content for everyone.

We have had some ideas talking to the media about a special room like “Miqo’te Paradise” where you pay $50 and go in and have some fun with Miqo’te. We’ve brought this up with the designers on our team… so far no one has raised their hand saying they want to make it yet.

Thanks to Gamer Escape for transcribing assistance.

Merchandise pre-sale starts for FFXIV Fan Festival 2017 in Europe

af4369ac06e884b40f1a4ef37e7a5400_1920_KRIn the past, queueing up for new exclusive merchandise at the Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival could be as tough as an Extreme raid. I remember seeing large crowds waiting hours to snag a Delivery Moogle plush in London.

The queues for the Fan Festival store have been a huge problem and after making adjustments following events in Las Vegas and Tokyo, Square Enix has finally listened to fans. Today, the company opened an exclusive Fan Festival 2017 pre-purchase for new merchandise goods – some showing up for the first time ever.

An exclusive code was sent out to event ticket holders via e-mail, allowing them to select and pay for the items in advance before picking them up during the Fan Festival. The code can only be used for one transaction before it expires.

Here is a closer look at the goods premiering at the show:

  • Nanamo Mascot Figure – Allows limited posing due to articulated head and hands, about 8,5cm tall – 39€
  • Baby Behemoth Plush – About 34cm long, this little buy comes with a bonus code for the game, unlocking the baby behemoth as a dedicated housing item – 34€
  • Final Fantasy XIV Musicians of Eorzea Hoodie – Vintage white hoodie featuring an Eorzean-inspired re-imagination of a certain band of town musicians – 44€
  • Final Fantasy XIV Musicians of Eorzea T-Shirt – shirt version in vintage white – 22€
  • Final Fantasy XIV – Care for a quest, Kupo? – T-Shirt – natural colour, inspired by the Moogle quests – 22€

Other available items include new arrivals like the Meandering Mog Slippers, Hooded Spriggan Muffler, Job Pins and Plush Pouches (Bomb, Fat Chocobo, Moogle, Cactuar, Spriggan, Goobbue).

The Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival 2017 takes place in Frankfurt, Germany, from February 18 through February 19. Tickets have already sold out.

Merchfanfest.EU.Square-Enix.com:  Welcome to the Fan Festival Frankfurt 2017 merchandise pre-purchase website

Square Enix registers “Stormblood” trademark

square-enix-logo-342According to the Japanese Twitter account of the Trademark Bot, Square Enix has registered a new trademark named “Stormblood”.

No logo was attached to the trademark registration and it is currently unknown whether this title is a new game or an expansion for an existing game such as Final Fantasy XIV.

Via Gamefront.de