After years, the rumored Final Fantasy XI: Online reboot is alleged to have resurfaced, with never-before-seen screenshots having suddenly appeared online. Though doubts of this project’s continued existence grew among Final Fantasy fans over time, recent actions taken by probable developer Nexon in direct response to the supposed leak lend it an air of legitimacy.
While the wild success and critical acclaim of the PS4’s ambitious Final Fantasy VII Remake likely has publisher Square Enix closely evaluating virtually every option in the series’s long list of entries for additional remakes and reimaginings, faint word of a mobile reboot of the fantasy MMO world of Final Fantasy XI: Online predates much of the recent mania surrounding the company’s latest nostalgia-fueled cash cow. That title’s resonance with players could very well be prompting Square and partner developers to return to the drawing board with any previously shelved titles, though. Many theorize that the next franchise remake will be another single-player title, but long-defunct multiplayer titles aren’t necessarily off of the table in an industry that thrives on live-service revenue streams.
On May 6, a Gamer Escape article proffered a set of alleged screenshots from the fabled Final Fantasy XI: Online mobile adaptation, which depicted “various areas of Vana’diel as well as a world map.” Appearing to be leaked from a developer or from someone with access to a pre-release debug build of the game, Gamer Escape claims that the images largely featured “landscape details,” including the original game’s “rainbow in La Theine Plateau” and “meteor-like object seen in the sky in Sarutabaruta,” apparent references to old quests and events. Despite disclaiming that the images in question were “not officially released assets,” a later update states, “The gallery was removed due to a DMCA request by NEXON Korea Corporation.” For now, all that remains are the two below salvaged images, courtesy of Pocket Gamer.
The pair of surviving screenshots are fairly handsome for a mobile game, and now that they’re on the internet, the developer and Square will have an uphill battle ahead if they aim to have every copy of the entire gallery scrubbed from the internet. Nexon’s quickness to issue a take down order will doubtlessly be taken by many as an admission of continued involvement and concern by the studio, but they’re not at fault for trying to protect their work before they’re ready to reveal it. That said, they should perhaps reconsider their future treatment of the issue, as this incident has multiple news outlets and a growing number of Final Fantasy fans talking about a mobile cash-grab derived from an online game that took its final breath over four years ago.
Decent and enduring support is still being given to fellow series MMO, Final Fantasy XIV, further lending credence to Square’s ongoing willingness to pursue always-online spin-offs in its strongest franchise, and reboots obviously aren’t off the table. The development of Final Fantasy 7 Remake Part 2 can and probably will take ages, so a stop-gap mobile reboot of Final Fantasy XI: Online that can tide players over for much longer than the average single-player campaign doesn’t sound like a bad idea for Square and Nexon to continue work on a this point, publicly or not.