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Final Fantasy Offers Countless Opportunities For Multiplayer

Final Fantasy Offers Countless Opportunities For Multiplayer

Written by Johnny — 08 Jul 2010

The Final Fantasy games, like most RPGs, have upheld the tradition of immersing that one person, the player, into the game entirely. Trying to sink two people into the sixty hour plots simultaneously might be spreading themselves too thin, surely.

But multiplayer in the series stems ten years now, since 2000 when Final Fantasy IX was released. Sure, it wasn't advertised at all and it wasn't a well-developed feature, but it was a step in the right direction. You can assign characters to controllers port 1 or 2 through the configuration menu so that a second player can share your party. It's a basic system, but it latches onto an idea that is synonymous with the new-age Final Fantasy fans. A lot of them grew up watching the games being played by an older sibling. The same story over and over:

"I never played Final Fantasy VII at first, I just watched my big brother play it."

Maybe Square Enix realized that this was happening, or it was just a stroke of luck, but IX's feature allowed your hypothetical younger sibling/friend to enter the game with you. Teamwork was introduced. Unfortunately this never continued on in the more recent games.

The next few incarnations of Final Fantasy multiplayer would be varied, and interesting. Crystal Chronicles featured a similar system to IX, except with the added necessity of peripherals - a step backwards. Then came the battle-orientated Dissidia: Final Fantasy. Its simplistic style easily lent itself to a competitive multiplayer, but with no lasting depth. However, it was the closely related Kingdom Hearts series that finally produced a suitable multiplayer experience. 358/2 Days featured a mission-based co-op play which allowed for two players, and Birth by Sleep has improved this to up to six players, to hook up and play together. The latest is the upcoming title Final Fantasy: The 4 Heroes of Light which will have a four player multiplayer mode. This seems to follow the words of Yoichi Wada, when in a recent interview he stated that all future titles will feature some multiplayer mode, if only minor.

In reference to the upcoming Final Fantasy Versus XIII, this is very exciting. Will Wada's words affect this title? If it has a multiplayer mode, what will it be? Will it be testing your skills against players all over the world or teaming up and taking on side missions as a team, or even taking on the story (if possible) together?

But this raises another question, does Square Enix really have the staff to man a full single player epic adventure and inject a multiplayer aspect at the same time? The development times could sky rocket with all the testing and reiteration needed for a seamless multiplayer experience. The upside of this, of course, is sales. People are dying to prove themselves to each other. Co-op or head-to-head formats will have buyers falling over themselves to show their peers how skilled they are. In the recent past, even games revered and praised for their immersive single player campaigns have inexplicably tried their hand at the multiplayer aspects of gaming.

There are also loopholes to the problems with development time issues. Square, after all, are not beyond hiring in an outside company to do the dirty jobs. They've handed old games, such as Final Fantasy III, to companies, like Matrix Software, to update into the DS instant-classic we have now. The multiplayer aspects of future games could be handled similarly.

Right now though, we can just sit back and imagine the possibilities.

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