A Final Fantasy 11 reboot for mobile devices? I never knew her. I’m pretty damn upset over it, too. When I think about my limited experiences with Final Fantasy 11, how much I love Final Fantasy 14, and how I don’t know what the future holds for the older Square Enix MMO – I just feel dread. Sure, Square Enix could keep servers running until the end of time, but even before the frustrating realities of our digital-only gaming future had begun to sink in, I long worried about how I would ever experience the world of Vana’diel.
If you’re unfamiliar with the project, Final Fantasy 11 R was announced all the way back in 2015 as a celebration of the MMO under the Vana’diel Project – a series of three games set in the MMO’s world. The reboot joined Rhapsodies of Vana’diel, an expansion for the MMO, and another mobile game, Final Fantasy Grandmasters. Both of the other two projects launched, while FF11’s mobile remake remained nebulous. Nexon and Square Enix rarely said a word about the game, and the most we ever saw of it were a handful of screenshots.
Fast forward to 2021 – Square Enix and Nexon are still silent, then an article from Gamebiz (and translation via Gematsu) claims the project is over while staffers on the title will shift their focus to other games. And now I’m left here, years of hoping I would have another way to experience Vana’diel and a bit gutted. It’s true, I could easily subscribe to FF11 now and play through nearly 20 years of content, but I already dedicate so much of my time to FF14 – I just can’t do it. There are not enough hours in the day.
I dabbled a bit in FF11 as a kid – I was in school and hardly old enough to be communicating online when I dove into the game’s first expansion. As a little girl with limited funds though, my family couldn’t afford the monthly subscription, and I was forced to end my adventures just as quickly as they began. By the time I was able to afford my own subscription to the game, I was way too intimidated by FF11’s years of content to start trekking through it all. Nexon and Square Enix announced the collaboration shortly after I mused with the idea of trying again, so I felt like I may have some way to at least get a version of the MMO’s story.
Of course, I don’t know what that game looked like. It could’ve been an abysmal mess that long deviated from what FF11 players knew of their beloved MMO. I didn’t expect a one-for-one retelling, either. I’ll never know what it was truly like to experience FF11, but the reboot was something. And in a best-case scenario? I held out hope that Nexon’s FF11 reboot would give me an annotated retelling of a story that I’ve heard nothing but praises for. When I hear friends speak of Vana’diel, I think of how much I love Eorzea, and I desperately wish I could have even just the smallest understanding of where that adoration comes from.
And watching this project fade away forms a little pit in my stomach. I played Final Fantasy 4 just last week, a game that is as old as I am. I have two physical copies of it – no one can take these from me, and they’re my responsibility to take care of. I don’t worry about what will happen to FF4 years from now because they’re safely in my hands. With FF11, I don’t know what the future holds. I realize a mobile reboot that’s on an app store doesn’t solve this problem, but I thought it at least gave me time. Something I worry I’m running out of.
I know FF11 is a success, even to this day. Square Enix isn’t pulling the plug on it tomorrow – but what if they did? It’s an irrational fear right now, but at some point, every online game ends. Do I rely on private servers of dedicated fans trying to keep a beloved MMO alive? Honestly, I don’t know. I often wonder if folks 30 years from now will have any interest in playing old games like so many of us do now, and if they do, how will they experience old service games? Will they even be able to?
I’m having some bizarre, digital gaming existential crisis now that I’m thinking about reboots, MMOs, and FF11. I feel like I don’t have long enough to experience some games, and I worry about the ones I’ve already missed. I don’t think there’s any consoling me, but dammit, Square – just give me a little more time. I still want to play FF11, somehow.
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Andrea Shearon is a news editor at TheGamer who loves RPGs and anything horror related. Find her on Twitter via @Maajora.
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