In addition to revealing how online play will work on their upcoming title Final Fantasy XI, Square has also released more information on the various races that will appear in the game. Players will be able to form Teams and Alliances to create parties. Under the system, a player can recruit up to two companions, and these groups of three can then join together to form a team of up to six players. This system is known as recruitment, and players looking for allies will have a 'recruit' icon atttached to their characters. Upon assembling a team, the original recruiter becomes team leader.
Teams will work fairly well through most of the game, but for truly tough enemies, Square has graciously included a further option for ganging up on those particularly nasty foes. Teams can band together to form alliances of up to three teams in battle, representing fully eighteen characters that can take part in combat at once. How exactly combat will be resolved has yet to be determined, but most online RPGs tend towards an action-based system, so it won't be too surprising if that ends up being the case here. Even so, how that will translate into the job system which Square is incorporating into the game remains to be seen.
Fans worried about the appearance of series hallmarks can now rest easy; Square has confirmed that chocobos will play an active role in the game. In addition to being able to ride the feathered friends of the Final Fantasy universe, avid FFXI players will be able to breed the big birds in the chocobo ranch, evidently on loan from Final Fantasy VII.
Some descriptive details concerning the various races found in the FFXI have also been made available by Square. The elven race will be stereotypically so; tall, slender, and with the pointed ears characteristic of the staple fantasy race. Males will have brown skin and markedly pointed ears, while females will have soft hair and especially long ears.
The Tartares, meanwhile, have been revealed as a small race, looking something like a cross between a garden gnome and a Shih-tzu. Seemingly added to the game to fulfill some obscure sort of cuteness quota, the little creatures sport sharp ears, a black nose, and mischievous expressions. Just in case anyone was thinking about picking one up and hugging it to pieces, the Tartare are extremely adept at magic, making them a dangerously potent friend or foe.
The last revealed race, the Hume, is spread across the world of Vana Dir, although their civilization is centered in the Basutuk Republic. The Hume are basically human in appearance, and will probably be able to take any job in FFXI.
Final Fantasy XI is currently set for release in Japan for March 2002. While beta testing will shortly begin in Japan, no North American release date has been announced at this point.