Square Enix has announced today that the scheduled grand finale of Final Fantasy XIV will take place on October 31st in the form of the final character data save. The servers will remain open until November 11, 2012, however any progress made on characters after the 31st will not be saved.
The first of four alpha testing phases will also begin today. Players with activate Final Fantasy XIV accounts are invited to join the alpha test for A Realm Reborn at the following link: http://entry.ffxiv.com/alpha/index_na.html
Included below are some screenshots from the Alpha test, including from the new character creation system.
Take note that any owners of the PC version will automatically get upgraded to A Realm Reborn. For those who wish to pre-order the PS3 version you can click here.