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Final Fantasy XIV is getting the band back together with 5.1's new music tools

Battle of the bards

Move over, GarageBand. Get outta here, Ableton. Final Fantasy XIV's jam sessions are getting a nice big update in Patch 5.1, bringing the MMORPG one step closer to being a legitimate piece of audio engineering software. This week, Square Enix detailed the new ensemble features arriving in Patch 5.1, that update wot has the Nier stuff in it.

While all those raiders go off to fight sad robots in the new endgame challenges, picking up an instrument and getting on stage with your pals is about to become easier than ever. Who needs gear, anyway? Performing is its own reward.

Sure, it's perfectly possible to hold impromptu jam sessions with other soloists right now. But online games have pesky little latency issues, meaning your individual connection speeds could make the resulting noise sound like a discordant mess. Perfect for Ezorea's burgeoning post-rock scene, yes, but a little infuriating for everyone else.

Ensembles get around this by putting a conductor between you and the audience. Each member of the band will have their tracks sent to the game's server, which will compile all tracks into a single unified sound before delivering them to an expecting audience. While playing, you'll have options on how you want to listen to the jam yourself.

Want to hear the collaborative whole? The "All Members" setting lets you hear what fans hear, though the increased delay might make it harder to keep to the beat. Trying to nail your part and don't mind missing out on the final performance? "Self Only" lets you listen to your inputs immediately without waiting to send music to the server.

Cover image for YouTube video

Here's a jam under the old system.

So that's latency sorted, but what about would-be bandmates with no sense of rhythm? Ensembles also add a neat little metronome feature to keep your group in time. For you non-musicians out there, these are simple wee clocks that emit a constant "tick-tock" at whatever speed you like, helping keep performances steady at whatever pace you like.

Did you somehow not spend your childhood bouncing between violin, piano and guitar tuition? Patch 5.1 adds performance assistance features, such as colour-coding the correct note during recitals. Turns out, the norm is just flatly learning to read music sheets in an MMORPG. Huh!

5.1 also brings some banging new brass instruments into the fold. It's time to get jazzy with tubas, trombones, trumpets, horns and saxophones, adventurers.

Just don't get carried away. Square Enix might've gone and made the best band simulator since the plastic guitar era, but don't you dare play a song that's not on their approved list. FFXIV's terms of service quite explicitly forbid recording or streaming original compositions, and playing third-party tunes at all is grounds for a ban.

Getting a band full of catgirls and anime boys sounds like it'll be much easier to set up than lurking around shady guitarist wanted pages, either way. I'd be willing to give it a bash, but FFXIV seems to resist being installed on my PC.

Patch 5.1: "Vows of Virtue, Deeds of Cruelty" is due to arrive later this month. I hope you've been attending rehearsals.

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Natalie Clayton avatar

Natalie Clayton


Writes news when everyone else is asleep, sometimes