Who knew, years ago, that Final Fantasy XIV would become one of the biggest MMORPGs on the market? The game's launch was disastrous, to the extent that Square Enix decided to shut down the servers and completely rebuild it. However, today, it's a different story, and thanks to the gradual outflow of World of Warcraft players looking for something new, XIV is more popular than ever. Just like how WoW once attracted thousands of fans to its events, Final Fantasy XIV has now lured huge hordes of gamers to its very own event - the Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival.
The event took place at the end of July at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and despite the city offering a sort of beta version of hell, with temperatures topping 40 degrees from the early hours of the morning, it didn't deter gamers from coming out in the thousands and waiting in line. And boy, did they wait, and wait, and wait. Well, not in the same line, but it's true that waiting was a sort of leitmotif of the festival. Wherever you moved, you could find yourself in some kind of line - for entry, for food, for toilets, for attractions. Nevertheless, you could see on the faces of the visitors that they were having a great time. After all these years, there was a chance to celebrate Final Fantasy XIV once again!
The exhibition area was vast, and while all the significant events were taking place on the ground floor, visitors could find relaxation opportunities on the upper floor, including the quiet zone. As journalists, we had our own smaller hall there, which provided refreshments, a bunch of chargers, and a screen with a live stream from the main stage. However, the most notable feature was that the entire exhibition area was air-conditioned, creating a temperature difference of more than 20 degrees compared to the outside.
Before the event, the organizers informed us that this festival was dedicated to the fans, and as such, we didn't expect any special announcements. However, that turned out to be a mistake. The festival opened with the appearance of producer Naoki Yoshida, also known as Yoshi-P, who is beloved by the game's fans due to his open and authentic approach. His enthusiasm for the game is evident and contagious. During the event, he made a major announcement - the new Dawntrail expansion, which you might have already read a lot about. But that wasn't all; he went even further by revealing additional details about upcoming updates. And as a grand finale, he dropped a truly unexpected bombshell - Final Fantasy XIV is finally coming to Xbox after all these years!
But you could watch all of that from the comfort of your own home, including other segments of the official program, such as cosplay and the esports section of the festival. There was always something exciting happening on stage, and whenever Yoshi-P made an appearance, the auditorium was filled to the brim with attendees eagerly hanging onto his every word. However, there was also an intriguing program off the stage. After all, Final Fantasy XIV is an MMORPG, and it comes with typical elements of this genre - minigames, activities, and quests. Visitors could experience all of these aspects live on the exhibition floor.
There were people in costumes with exclamation marks over their heads stationed at various places, and it was already well-known that their role was to hand out quests. Successful "players" were then rewarded for completing these quests. Additionally, there were various mini-games and even a fishing activity, although real fish weren't involved. Nonetheless, the visitors thoroughly enjoyed all of these attractions. And for those who missed the world of Eorzea too much, there were always clusters of computers just a few steps away, where they could sit down and immerse themselves in the game within this unique atmosphere as well.
At every turn, you could encounter someone with an evident passion for Final Fantasy, and not just for XIV. This was most noticeable in the cosplays, which ranged from simple to incredibly complex, featuring various jobs and races from XIV, and even characters like Tifa from VII. The best cosplayers eventually participated in the official cosplay competition and showcased their impressive costumes on stage in front of thousands of visitors. You might have even watched this spectacle yourself through the live stream of the event.
Both nights concluded with a delightful surprise that you wouldn't have witnessed in any of the streams. On the first night, there was a beautiful and intimate piano concert featuring music from Final Fantasy XIV, performed by pianist Keiko. She was accompanied by the phenomenal vocalist Amanda Achen, who lent her voice to some pieces. The emotional reception from the fans moved Amanda to tears, and she cried at the end of the performance. Thousands of fans were present on-site to witness this unforgettable moment.
On the second night, the renowned rock band The Primals took the stage to perform well-known songs. The visitors traded their costumes for leather, and there was a lot of energetic jumping around during the rock concert. It was a fitting and exciting end to the fantastic festival, which not only delighted the fans who traveled from all over the world to attend but also those watching from home, who got a massive dose of news and information from the event.