Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival: Main Events & Concert

Posted on Oct 24 2014

Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival Main Events Concerts

After a day of prep at Square Enix’s first Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival, Kanashimi was ready to tackle Saturday & Sunday head-on. If you’re curious about the autograph signing and interaction with the developer, please make sure to read our previous article detailing the event. Below you’ll find clips from the exclusive challenge, opinions on the events, and footage from the concert preformed by The Primals.

Saturday I knew I was meeting J-A and J-B in the VIP line since we had early access to the floor. I had assumed we would merely be getting used to the area and would enjoy any sought-after announcements concerning the new expansion on Sunday. Oh, how wrong I was.

As everyone was lead inside, we essentially left one line to go into another for the merchandise booth. We quickly discovered there were two cash lines and only a single credit line. I personally don’t like traveling with cash unless it’s very small amounts, and I was stuck in the longer line. I heard from the people at register that they never got their second credit card reader, but later heard from attendees that it instead broke. When it came down to it, it was a Murphy’s Law situation, but people who didn’t get into the line early like me waited close to five to six hours on the first day! Obviously, there was very little anyone could do about this, and the items they had were in high demand.

finalfantasyfanfest20140011Three of the items included in-game bonus codes that provides you with an in-game minion. This included the official soundtrack, the Art Of Eorzea ~Another Dawn artbook, and finally the newly released Delivery Moogle Plush. The artbook comes with a small airship that the well-known Cid character flies around, while the plush has a Delivery Moogle that dances with other Moogle minions. While the soundtrack is available in Square-Enix’s official store right now, the other items will be added at a later date. They also had many variations of the game available, t-shirts, branded towels, wallscroll, and a cup adorned with all the minions in game.

I grabbed my own swag and decided to come back the next day to get some of the items I wanted to give my fellow Free Company members at a later date. Our trio, which was quickly turning into a quartet, went to get seats for the Opening Keynote. Much like other conventions, I fully expected this to be a simple Opening Ceremonies where they introduced everyone, said a few words of gratitude, and let us wreak havoc on the events. I was greeted with a trailer for Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward and an announcement it would be available in Spring 2015. The vivacity in the room turned to eleven before the day had even started, with fans screaming at every inkling of information revealed to us by Yoshi-P. We heard promises of airships, Ishgard being opened to the player, tidbits about the Dragonsong War, lots more than four or five new dungeons, and multiple jobs—it just didn’t stop! The hype train was in full force!

I was balancing three cameras for the opening keynote, but I hope you’ll enjoy hearing the reaction from the crowd.

I walked away from the first panel empowered and stunned. There was so much to expect and the exhilaration was titillating. My new party members shared the same feeling as I did. Ironically enough, we kept stacking a party full of people with names that begun with J, myself included. While my in-game name is Kanashimi Tenshi, and a good majority of the fans here know me was simply Kana, my real name has always been available to the public as Jackie. With the Js in tow, we headed to the line for archery, still high on adrenaline. Funnily enough, this was real archery with a wavier that needed to be signed before attempting. Your prize was to keep your target and you got a stamp of completion in your book to redeem an additional prize later. This was certainly fun, but the long line didn’t justify the event, and we never went back through it.

Clean trailer of Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward

Next we attempted Garlean Artillery, which was akin to a carnival game where you put light-weight balls into your gun as fast as possible to fire at the target. This was a forgettable event that lasted a few minutes at best with four people total. We got our stamp and decided to avoid the hellishly long Odin line. For fans of Final Fantasy XIV, you know of Odin’s place in the game. He appears randomly in the Shroud as a F.A.T.E. boss that can only be completed with a large number of players. When he appears, the weather will change to “Tension,” and it’s a mad dash to find his location and alert any other players in the area. The challenge, on the other hand, is an instanced battle where eight players are required to take him down. Sometimes hundreds appear during the F.A.T.E., so everyone wanted to know what this version of Odin could do.

While I was curious, I wanted to manage my time wisely, and my group headed to the Speed Run Challenge. I cringed when I saw it was Brayflox Hard Mode, a dungeon that used to be run quite frequently, but I missed that train myself. The first pull in Brayflox is particularly difficult for a White Mage, which is my main, and communication with my tank is key. I have never played with the Js, I had no idea how we would mesh. While I was apprehensive, we approached the fight and did in fact die twice in the beginning. Sadly, our Paladin was opposite of myself, which made deciding what to do very hard and disorganized in a big room with people chatting all around us. Despite our deaths, we actually caught up with the other team by utilizing a few more tricks. Sadly, we still lost, but it helped us establish our strengths and weaknesses as a group.

Before we could attempt any of the other challenges, we had the Music Panel with Soken and Koji Fox. Much like my previous meeting with Soken, his attitude was top-notch. He was willing to crack jokes with Koji and the audience as well as explain how he creates music. For many of our listeners, fans of Final Fantasy XIV or not, this is certainly a treat. We even got a chance to listen to a female singing Leviathan’s theme. In the game, the final product is sung by a male due to Soken having to go back to the drawing board. He explains he has to do this quite often until he gets the go ahead from Yoshi-P. Not only was the Music Panel chock full of information, but Soken and Koji’s playful demeanor made it extremely enjoyable.

As our group continued to grow, we got lunch and filled out the Live Quest that required a certain amount of people. Since we’re in Vegas, our Free Company needed to embrace that and the Chippendales were born! With the power of Menphina, the lover and the protection of Heavy Thrust, nothing could stop us! Except when we tried Frontlines next and got our butts handed to us. Ouch.

So the first day had been full of losses, but surely our attempt at Odin would be successful, yes? Nope, that was a dud, too. Despite getting him to 6% health our first attempt, I and the other healer could not keep up with the amount of bleed stacks on our characters. In our playthrough we discovered Odin has a specific attack that needs to be silenced by a Paladin, Bard, or Monk. While that was obviously out of my control, another aspect that I found rather perplexing was placing the tanks on the opposite end of the row of the healers. I thrive off communication in a fight, mostly with my tank of all people, and so this was a little daunting considering. At the very least, we swore we would attempt again after the Lore and Developer’s panel.

Koji Fox and Matt Hilton took the stage to discuss the sheer amount of work that goes into localization. The story of Koji Fox’s beginning is specifically very interesting because he initially started in 1.0, given a rather bland script for some Levequests, and began to… spice them up, shall we say? His talent for detail and purpose gave him more freedom. After a brief explanation, they took some questions from the forums such as Kan-E-Senna’s age and the ramifications of cross-bred races. As someone who didn’t play in 1.0, I’m not as heavily invested into the lore as I feel I should be, but I found this rather insightful. It brought to mind my own questions, inspiring someone who knows so little to research something they love.

Finally, the day ended with the Developer’s Panel. Considering no one expected the expansion announcement right away, I do believe many people thought there might be extra bouts of news shared here. Regretfully, that was not the case, and most of the panel was Mr. G and Yoshi-P talking about the overarching way the game is created, the number of members on each team, and how much work level design is. This is a panel I can see many interested in game design loving, but it was my least favorite of the day. There was nothing bad about it, and I was rewarded for staying considering the “Dark Knight” joke that happened near the end. The two at least hinted that would be a job someday, but were rather hush on what they were talking about to let the audience figure it out.

Some of my favorite moments from the various panels as well as some announcements.

Our Saturday ended with another attempt at Odin where we reached 4% health, but it was still a failure. We left with a burning drive to defeat Odin as soon as the next day started. It was all any of us could think about. Here are a batch of strangers that suddenly wanted to work together to complete something with all their might. It wasn’t like waiting for the Duty Finder in-game, but these were people who we could play with face to face and really relish in our victories and defeats. It was powerful; it made me want to accomplish something specifically with these individuals. Those thoughts were strong in my mind as we approached Sunday.

This was our last day, our last chance to get everything marked with a win to claim all the prizes. Our group split when VIPs were let in, two of us went to Odin and the other two went to pick up extra merchandise. Today we were met with a wall of frustration as we learned the line for Odin was set up differently. There were only four of us in total, but you needed a group of eight. Despite being at the front of the line initially, we were moved to another line to wait for players we needed, which grew to be a little discouraging. While we knew our party would constantly change, it was clear that this would double or even triple our time in line. The stakes became much higher than before to complete the challenge in a timely manner.

With bated breath, our plan of attack, and a team of eight, it was time. I do believe all of us felt a pressure to do it. It wasn’t just for bragging rights or the shirt; it was just to do it. This is a core feeling for much of the end-game content in Final Fantasy XIV. You want to work together with people who you trust, and complete something difficult as a team so you can celebrate in the glory. That’s exactly what we did as we killed Odin as he completed the animation on his last attack, mere seconds away from a party-wide K.O.

Chocobo whistles are great ways to deal with cursing!

Beating Odin gave us renewed zeal that we could be victors of anything. Our group knew exactly what to tackle next to get it done. From Primal Extreme to Speed Run to Frontlines, it was all within our grasp. Well, okay, except Frontlines; there was a moment of saltiness if you will. For those unfamiliar with how Frontlines works, let me explain it as best as I’m able to. It’s a player-versus-player game with seventy-two total characters broken up into three alliances of twenty-four players. Luckily, at the show, you had a headset to communicate with your entire alliance. We were the Twin Adders with an early lead, we were very much on-point to win, but the Immortal Flames were not going to let us win without a fight. Despite our early lead, we lost… by a mere six points. This can sometimes equate to one more second allowing you to catch up to the other team. We could not line up again and implored the crew member that this was our last stamp, and to leave with the win so close was somewhat heartbreaking. Whether we had pity taken on us or by sheer luck, we did get a stamp for completion.

finalfantasyfanfest20140211I know that some people might find this unfair, and to a certain degree, I can agree; however, with the limited amount of time, I was rather relieved at the crew for being lenient on the last day in general. I spotted Speed Run stamps being given out for merely completing the dungeon, and Primal Extreme stamps given for being pretty darn close. I never saw this kindness (or pity if you will) cast upon Odin, however, which was realistically the main challenge of the event.

With a completed book, we saw bits of the costume contest, though I had gotten quite a few pictures of the finalist earlier that can be found on our official gallery. The only thing left was Closing Ceremonies, and it was the crème de la crème of the event.

finalfantasyfanfest20140055After a drawing where several unsuspecting fans won new computer gear, there was a silence as we eagerly waited for Soken’s band, The Primals, took the stage. As the lights dimmed, the roars were deafening, the crowd elated as four robed figures walked upon the stage menacingly donning masks that the Ascians wear in-game. The forms simply stood and stared among the crowd once in position as red lights began to swirl around them. The audience would not quiet; there was far too much expectation in the room to do so. The group picked up their instruments and began to preform rock-filled tune as video of the fight with Ifrit played on the screen behind them. It was powerful, it was intense, and it was exhilarating.

The feeling brought on by the concert only amplified as the song transitioned into Leviathan’s theme. Soken chanted his name zealously, grit hanging on the edge of his voice, and the crowd joined in. There was a sense of passion and community that was apparent despite the fact the vocals were overpowered by the music. In fact, I don’t think many audience members even cared as they were far too focused on enjoying themselves to worry about any sound technicality.

Soken announced after they completed the sea creature’s melody that, “We are Primals! We play Primal songs!” After a roar of applause, he extended his hand to welcome their female singer for the night, Ashelyn. A common misconception is that her name is Ashley, but upon further research I was able to find her full name is Ashelyn Summers. Sadly, she doesn’t seem extremely active on social media, so I was unable to find any notes on her feelings performing that night, but despite a beautiful voice, she did seem somewhat nervous. While I admire anyone who is willing to go up and perform in front of a stage of that many people, there seemed to be something slightly off when she sang Ramuh’s theme. This is one of my personal favorite songs as the singer’s voice is quite haunting and is able to reach an extremely high range. Ashelyn’s performance did not ruin my time however as the song is still dreamlike in its own way live.

As Ashelyn left the stage, Soken repeated his earlier shout, and then called forth Koji Fox to the stage. There was an awkward pause, but eventually Koji Fox made his way onto the stage obviously in a rush since he was minus any socks or shoes. Soken was adamant about his bare-footed friend singing the next song. Koji Fox claimed he couldn’t, but the official soundtrack does have him listed for a few songs… What happened next was legitimately magical. Two crew members sat on their knees in front of Koji with two white hard hats, each adorned with a different colored balloon, and the music started. Koji Fox jumped into the performance as if his life depended on it. He bellowed out a mighty voice, but quickly changed his tone as he placed each hat upon his head to one of the many moogle voices that sings during Good King Moggle Mog XII’s theme. It was absolutely fantastic and surprising in the best way possible.

Ashelyn was called back onto the stage, wearing a green boa, as well as a participant from the audience to aide in performing Garuda’s theme song, Fallen Angel. I thought this was where Ashelyn really shined. Her vocals sounded deep and strong, thus they lent themselves well to the tune and meshed with Koji Fox’s chanting. The performance had a dark feeling with heavy guitar riffs that fit with the metal-esque, “Now fall!”

Clips from the concert include Ifrit, Titan, Leviathan, and Ramuh!

Last on our list was Titan’s theme, Under The Weight. Titan is an infamous figure for being unrelenting in difficulty in game, and the song itself seems rather hard to play in turn. Soken’s screams of “Titaaaaaaaaaaaan!”, on top of Koji Fox’s “Bow down overdweller”, in addition to the crowd’s own participation of “Under the weight!” made me wonder how everyone wasn’t out of breath by the end. The song is incredibly demanding, and I certainly applaud the group for doing such a fabulous job. That piece is so akin to the actual fight in-game, that you feel as though you’ve honestly just defeated Titan Extreme merely by listening to their strong rendition.

The cries for an encore were enormously loud. Encore changed to one more song to Soken, just anything to get them back onto the stage. Obviously, with cheers as demanding as that, they had to appear before the audience once more. Soken asked us which song we wanted, and the demand for Shiva was obvious. I had been waiting patiently in hopes we’d get a sneak peek live, but regrettably it was not meant to be. Yoshi-P gave a resounding no, and a good portion of the room boo-ed despite the remarkable presentation given just several minutes earlier. After a hurried recovery, Soken and Koji Fox allowed the fans to vote with cheers. Looking back at the footage it appears to me that Titan was the clear winner, but Leviathan was played again as their encore song. The audience pretended to be a wave as people danced, jumped, and clapped throughout the last song of the night.

With that, the lights turned on and the group of guests appeared before us and bowed as the crowd continued to praise what they had just witnessed. As everyone exited the stage, people continued to shout, but eventually even that died down signifying the end of the event. The moment was bittersweet, I had all this extra energy and nothing to expel it on, but it is one of the best ways they could have ended such a show. I knew that, and yet I still felt a bit saddened as I realized the friends I had met, the people I had defeated challenges with, well, we would have to say goodbye.

I’ve had this feeling before at other events where there’s a swell of emotion in my tummy as I try to sigh it off, but this was different. At those events I am seeing people I am friends with once a year, but at this I made new friends that I never expected to. The social atmosphere at Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival was addicting, and wasn’t typical to other conventions celebrating video games or geek culture. There was something special here that’s difficult for me to put in words, but I’m sure it’s an emotion everyone left the Rio Hotel & Casino with. Many people were meeting Free Company members for the first time or hanging out with friends, but I can only hope that you made some new relationships along the way.

As for me and the J’s, we’re still in contact. One of them has made an alternate character on Siren and the other two are transferring in due time to join our static over at the 91.8 The Fan Free Company. That connection brought upon the weekend event has transcended just a few people standing in line idly or sitting as they wait for the next big announcement. That’s something that should stay at the heart of Square Enix’s event. It’s the sole thing that defines Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival as unique. Without that factor, I can’t say with confidence I would have had a good, or even a decent, time all on my own.

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  • Elk October 24, 2014 at 8:29 PM

    Awesome write up! Wish I could have been there for the cool minigames like the archery, and the Odin fight.

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