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Planner Yaeko Sato Details Final Fantasy XIV's Story

Find out the major players in 2010's MMORPG event.

A look at a different side of FFXIV in this latest update.

Famitsu has a big leading Final Fantasy XIV feature in this week's issue. Different from the gameplay and character focused features of past updates, the focus this time is on the game's story, complete with an interview with planner Yaeko Sato.

FFXIV's main story prologue begins 10 years in the past. Powerful gods, known in Japanese as "Banshin," have appeared in Eorzea, summoned by people known as "Banzoku," or "savages," who used the gods' power to strike fear in the people. Meanwhile, to the northeast, the militaristic Garlean Empire has been expanding its reach, using its mechanical technology and overwhelming strength of arms in an attempt to rule the continent.

In Eorzea, now faced with these two threats, adventurers (that's you!) have a mysterious power which lets them experience past events. It is believed that this power can change the world.

The official prologue listing in Famitsu ends with a series of questions. Who brought about this power? Is it a good power? Why is it given to adventurers? Adventurers must search for the answers to these questions.

Sato shared some insights into the prologue and the structure of the FFXIV story as a whole.

Sato, who previously worked on FFXI's scenario and events, is in charge of FFXIV's main story, which is the first story that players learn of when arriving in the world of FFXIV. The game's overall story framework has this single main story along with a number of sub stories.

So which came first, the world of Eorzea, or the Sato's story? The answer, according to Sato, is the world. The setting and gameplay parts of the game were decided first, and the story came after. There were some instances where, for instance, she asked if she could use a certain city in a certain way. In this case, they made sure that the ideas did not get in the way of the gameplay.

One of the common occurrences in Final Fantasy games are crystals. In FFXI, crystals appeared, in part, as eight elementals which could be used as a source of energy. In FFXIV, Sato revealed, crystals will appear as part of an idea known as the "Banbutsu no Kagayaki." They will be a required element for livelihood, and will also give players power. Sato's response to Famitsu's question about Crystals was pretty vague, so this is presumably something that Square Enix will detail in full in a future update.

The rest of the Famitsu interview covered some of the key terms in the prologue, first the the "Banzoku" and "Banshin."

The Banzoku, which I've translated as savages (Square Enix's official English name will probably differ), look physically different from humans -- more so than the current cast of revealed character class types. Screens in Famitsu make them look like tall, alien creatures, with broad arms and a frightful face.

The term Banzoku is actually used to describe a variety of different tribes, which differ in values. One group, for instance, values unrestrained freedom. The various tribes have different ways of thinking, living, and different reasons for fighting, and their numbers differ.

The common point amongst these Banzoku tribes is that they view adventurers/players as enemies. Sato likened the naming to how, in FFXI, the Orc, Quadav and Yagudo tribes, who served as enemies to adventurers, were grouped together as Beastmen.

It's possible that some of the Banzoku tribes will group together to attack, as some tribes will find it to their advantage to form alliances. But there's also trouble amongst the Banzoku tribes themselves. Sato joked that, in this sense, the Banzoku resemble humans.

As for the "Banshin" that the Banzoku summoned into the world 10 years back, I wasn't familiar with the term, but it appears to be used to describe gods in which foreign groups believe. That would be fitting in this case, if the Banzoku are considered outsiders. CG renders in Famitsu make the Banshin look like massive, menacing summon beasts.

Sato wouldn't get into details on the Banshin, saying that players will have to find out on their own. She would only say this: around 10 years back, a force of clearly different power and form, appeared amongst the Banzoku. She also let slip that most of the Banzoku have their own Banshin protector god.

How the Banshin appear, and what exactly they are, is one of the big mysteries of the FFXIV story, said Sato.

Regarding the northeastern Garlean Empire, Sato described this as a third force that exists alongside the adventurers/players and the Banzoku. It's a state that has reached a high level of technology. Because of its distant location, its rough terrain, and its structure as an empire, it's a country to which the the general Eorzean has no ties.

Famitsu asked Sato if there's any connection to be drawn between the "northeastern" location of Garlean and, perhaps, some real world location. There is no such meaning, responded Sato with a laugh. When first making the full Hydaelyn map, there was a large land form in the north east of Eorzea. Garlean just naturally ended up being placed there.

(Incidentally, Famitsu does not have an image of the world map, so we may have to wait a bit to get a glimpse at FFXIV's world).

Famitsu also asked if the vehicles that appeared in the initial FFXIV trailer were from Garlean. Sato responded that this is probably the case.

Garlean is a threat to other lands of Eorzea. It's a country that has expanded by conquering a large number of other countries.

One of these is Ala Mhigo, one of Eorzea's many city states. Many Hyuran Highlanders live here. It neighbors Garlean's land, and was thus the easiest target for an attack.

Ala Mhigo was actually feared in Eorzea as the most powerful of city states. They didn't just sit around when Garlean invaded. According to Sato, it's likely that the people of Eorzia were surprised to learn of their fall.

Now for that mysterious power mentioned in the prologue. Said Sato, the power allows adventurers to view and experience events of the past, letting them see the pasts that people attempt to hide. She notes, however, that the power does not allow them to change the future -- just participate in the past.

All adventurers have this power. But it also appears that some general people in the world have been selected to have the power as well.

Sato would not comment on how the power will feature in the game. Asked if players will be able to use the power at will, she simply responded with a laugh that it would be nice if they could.

Outside of the interview, the magazine has a first look at the game's character make features. Included are some pics of female Hyur... in underwear! The shots show seven color variations for the same set of undergarments, with both skin color and clothing color changing. Aside from the color changes, and possibly different bust sizes, there aren't any differences in the various images, but we can probably look forward to some sexy content in the next FFXIV official site update.

The magazine also has a look at five face type variations for the Roegadyn class. Changes include various hair type, and even different scars, markings and jewelry.

Perhaps we'll be getting the full word on character making in the next big FFXIV Famitsu update.

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