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Final Fantasy XIV Alpha Details Uncovered

Though we haven’t been lucky enough to score invites to the Final Fantasy XIV alpha test, today we received an insider tip with some early info on the game and some screens from the online alpha manual. Included in the manual were new details on the experience and skill leveling up systems and teleportation around the world of Eorzea.

We’ve heard previously that a player’s class in FFXIV is determined by whatever weapon they have equipped, but the alpha manual reveals some new details on this system. Characters will gain “physical levels” the way most MMO players are used to -- by gaining experience points, which currently is only done through killing monsters. “Skill ranks” are separate for each weapon/tool type and are raised by use in combat or crafting. Both physical levels and skill ranks are capped at 20 for the alpha.

According to the manual, the current version of the game contains nine different weapon or tool types (and, as such, nine different classes): swords, hand-to-hand weapons, axes, polearms, bows, conjurer arms, thaumaturge arms, hammers, and pickaxes. There’s no barehanded fighting allowed; players must have a weapon or tool equipped at all times. Also, if you’ve got a hammer equipped for smithing or a pickaxe for mining, don’t plan to battle enemies -- with those weapons equipped, you’ll only be able to throw stones during the alpha.

Though the manual doesn’t reveal a ton of new information on Final Fantasy XIV, there are some interesting tidbits. We knew that crystals (in the form of “Aetheryte”) would be important to the game world, but the manual explains how they are used for teleporting.

Basically, you’ll be able to find an Aetheryre Crystal in most towns. Using it will restore your HP and MP, add the location to your teleport list, and set the crystal as your home point. You’ll also have the option to begin any “levequests” available at that crystal. “Aetherial Gates” located around the world will allow you to refill your HP and MP and can be set as your home point but will not allow for normal teleporting. Finally, “Aetherial Nodes” will appear after completing a levequest, allowing you to instantly warp back to your home point and turn in the quest.

Want to return to your home point or teleport somewhere else while wandering Final Fantasy XIV's massive world? Square-Enix is apparently set on making that as simple as possible. At any point while you’re not in combat, you can open your menu and click the “Return” button to go to your home point. Likewise, opening the menu and hitting “Teleport” will allow you to choose to warp to any Aetheryte Crystal you’ve previously visited. Using the Teleport option will even send a notice to others in your party asking them if they’d like to teleport with you. As far as the manual mentions, there is no cooldown to either of these options, meaning you should be able to jump around the world freely whenever you want. Although this could change before the game hits its final form, it would make Final Fantasy XIV into one of the most user-friendly MMOs around just by virtue of letting players get around the world quickly.

As with any MMO alpha or beta, any of these early systems could change dramatically before Final Fantasy XIV is released, but Square-Enix is looking specifically at the battle system, controls, and user interface with this first round of testing. The alpha begins this Thursday, April 8, and we’ll let you know if we dig up any more juicy details. We've also contacted Square-Enix to confirm the details we were given, and we'll update if they have any comments or additions. In the mean time, check out these screens from the manual.

Aetheryte Crystals serve as home camps, teleport locations, and handy HP/MP restoration spots

Aetherial Gates provide some of the bonuses of Crystals but cannot be teleported to

Aetherial Nodes pop into existence upon completion of a levequest, allowing a quick return to town

1. Region title
2. Area title
3. Camp title
4. Aetheryte Crystal location
5. Player location
6. Aetherial Gate location
7. Map menu button

These two characters have formed a party

Surprise! Final Fantasy XIV includes a trade system

In addition to regular trading, players can set up bazaars where other characters can walk up to them and purchase items

1. Character name
2. Minimap
3. Chat log
4. Character status
5. Connection status

1. Action bar
2. Action gauge
3. Effect gauge

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