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Final Fantasy XI to launch this September

European version on its way to coincide with the global release of second expansion - in other words, to provide a level playing field. Still no sign of the PS2 version/HDD adapter, mind.

Final Fantasy XI for Windows will launch in Europe this September, Square Enix has confirmed. Its release will be timed to include and coincide with a worldwide launch of the game's second major expansion pack, Chains of Promathia.

The European release will also include the original expansion Rise of Zilart. All told, when we get it we should be able to hook up with our friends in the States and Japan right from the get-go; a persistent world of some 500,000 registered users.

As yet there's no word on pricing, but Square Enix has confirmed that it has partnered with Sony Online Entertainment (SOE) to handle in-game support and customer service issues, and much as with SOE's EverQuest titles, Ubisoft will be handling European distribution.

Square Enix recently invited a number of its European fans to participate in a closed FFXI beta, but only admitted that the game was "potentially on [its] way to Europe". Today's announcement is the first solid confirmation, however, as with the beta reports in May, there's no word on the PlayStation 2 version.

Indeed, there is a growing concern that the PS2 version of Final Fantasy XI - already released alongside the Hard Disk Drive peripheral in both North America and Japan - may never appear in the UK and Europe, as Sony continues to drag its feet over the rollout of the HDD.

However we'll certainly be keen to renew our acquaintance with Final Fantasy XI for Windows this September, having rather fallen in love with it when we buckled under peer pressure and bought into the North American fantasy recently. You can read what we made of it here, and we should have more on the European plans in the near future.

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