Final Fantasy XI was released for the PlayStation 2 in 2002 and later on the PC and Xbox 360.

The game takes place in the world of Vana’diel, which was created as a playground for the gods and their children, themselves spawned from a sentient giant crystal. The impatient children constructed their own pathway to paradise to be one with the gods, but the gods punished them for their insolence and their cities were cast to the bottom of the sea. However the goddess Altana wept for them with five tears, and when those tears hit the earth it gave life to five races of Vana’diel. Promathia the God of Twilight condemned her weakness and cursed the five races by bringing forth their darkest natures:

The Humes, whose darkest nature is apathy.

The Elvaan, whose darkest nature is arrogance.

The Galka, whose darkest nature is rage.

The Tarutaru, whose darkest nature is cowardice.

The Mithra, whose darkest nature is envy.

Promathia also created Beastmen to fight the people of Vana’diel so as to occupy their minds and prevent them constructing another road to paradise (this story is further explored in expansion packs that were released years later).

The game is set 20 years after the Crystal War between the nations of Bastok, San d’Oria and Windurst when they fought and defeated the Shadow Lord and his army of Beastmen (The ability to travel back in time and participate in this war is possible, as well as travelling to parallel worlds where the Beastmen won the Crystal War).

Final Fantasy XI was the first massively multiplayer online role-playing game (MMORPG) in the Final Fantasy series and the first game ever to feature cross-platform play between PS2 and personal computers. Playing this game required a monthly subscription.

The idea to develop FFXI as an online game was conceived by series creator Hironobu Sakaguchi after being impressed by western MMORPGs like EverQuest. The team behind Chrono Trigger sequel Chrono Cross was assigned to develop the game.

As a MMORPG, characters are more customizable, allowing you to choose their race, gender, face, hair, body size, job and national allegiance.

Playing the game consisted of missions, which advanced the main story, and quests, which did not.

For the first time, the turn-based battle system was replaced by real-time enemy encounters, something every subsequent numbered FF entry would continue.

As an online game, it has been actively updated through expansion packs and add-on scenarios, the final scenario coming in 2015. The servers for the PS2 and Xbox 360 versions shut down in 2016 while the PC version remains active.

Expansion packs added new story, jobs, zones, quests and content, while add-ons were smaller in scale. These additions were brought to the PS2, Xbox 360 and PC versions of the game.

Expansion packs:

Rise of the Zilart (2003)

Introduced the dragoon, samurai and ninja job classes.

Chains of Promathia (2004)

Treasures of Aht Urhgan (2006)

Introduced the puppetmaster, corsair and blue mage job classes, as well as the ability to advance to the rank of “captain” following the expansion’s last update.

Wings of the Goddess (2007)

Introduced the dancer and scholar job classes, as well as the large-scale “campaign” battles.

Seekers of Adoulin (2013)

Introduced the geomancer and rune fencer job classes.

Add-on scenarios (2009):

A Crystalline Prophecy: Ode of Life Bestowing

A Moogle Kupo D’etat: Evil in Small Doses

A Shantotto Ascension: The Legend Torn, Her Empire Born

Add-on battlefields (2010):

Vision of Abyssea

Scars of Abyssea

Heroes of Abyssea

Grand finale:

Rhapsodies of Vana’diel (2015)

Final Fantasy XI, aka Final Fantasy XI Online, was a radical departure for the series for sure, so how did people react? The game received positive reviews although it wasn’t seen as original or particularly extraordinary. Some criticism was raised over the long set-up before the game gets started, and there was the usual tedium of building experience by battling endless amounts of foes, but by now gamers were used to how MMORPGs work, and giving Final Fantasy the Warcraft treatment was an interesting experiment that payed off.