Square has updated the official Final Fantasy XI website with new information about its highly anticipated first foray into the world of online games. The various guilds in the game will let you purchase ingredients for item combination, acquire new combination skills and level up those combination skills you have already learned.
Just to make sure your player won't starve to death on his or her long journeys through the world of Vana Diel, you can purchase meals at inns and restaurants; or the hard way, by defeating enemies. A meal increases one stat, such as HP or strength, but also might decrease another stat. If you take the time to cook your food, you will be rewarded with an additional hidden effect; for instance, the reduction of the effects of poison on your character.
Last but not least, and probably most important for true fans of the series: You still can ride those cute, yellow birds. However, riding chocobos this time requires more than just finding them. You have to have a higher job level and a license if you want to ride one. Similar to Final Fantasy IX's Choco Hot and Cold mini-game, you can let your chocobo dig for hidden treasures a la Laola shirts.
Final Fantasy XI is currently set for a May 16th release date in Japan and will probably see a late 2002 release on this side of the Pacific.