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Final Fantasy XIV producer talks raiding, PvP, and cameo characters like Cloud and Lightning

on 20 June 2014

In an E3 interview with Nova Crystallis every Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn player should read, producer Naoki Yoshida discussed the design philosophies and long-term vision that govern all manner of game content, including raids, PvP, and dungeon drops.

First, the big details: the game’s first expansion, colloquially dubbed ‘3.0’ (A Realm Reborn itself is version 2.0), will be discussed and revealed at the Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival in October. August’s Gamescom, meanwhile, will be the place to show patch 2.4, the content update that will bring series favorite Shiva (below) to the game as an endgame boss. Patch 2.4 will also bring the Rogue class and Ninja job, while a gun-wielding class of some kind will come along later.

Also, players might see more cameos from Final Fantasy series characters. Final Fantasy XIII’s Lightning appeared in the game during a special event early this year, and while it can be challenging thinking of ways to incorporate classic characters into Eorzea’s mythology, more guest appearances are always a possibility. “We are thinking of bringing over more characters from other titles, however, it’s not like we’re going to just bring in random characters to be in the world,” Yoshida said. “We understand that each of these characters from each of these Final Fantasy titles have their own stories.”

“It’s a lot of work to make sure that if we do it, we do it right, and that’s why we’re taking our time. If you look at a character like Cloud, he’s always losing his memory, so that’s a perfect in for us,” he continued.

Now, the stuff for Final Fantasy XIV nerds like me:

Ambitious players who started their journey in Eorzea with April’s PS4 release might be reaching some of the game’s hardest end-game content. Chief among these dungeons and boss fights is the Second Coil of Bahamut, a four-part raid for eight players. Thanks to the weekly lockout in place to control the rate of progression, players only have one week at a time to progress through the Second Coil’s four “Turns,” utterly demanding boss fights with complex, unforgiving mechanics, before their progress is reset. That didn’t stop the Order of the Blue Garter, one of the world’s top Final Fantasy XIV Free Companies (guilds), from clearing the fourth Turn, currently the game’s absolute hardest challenge, three weeks after the Second Coil opened.

With respect to Blue Garter’s accomplishments and the pace of “super-hardcore players,” Yoshida expressed the team’s surprise when the fourth Turn was cleared so quickly, but said, “we’re not too worried about that. We’re more okay with keeping it at the current level rather than making it even more difficult because that will leave out the players below.” Rather than making content harder to match the ambitions of the game’s top players, Yoshida’s team will release a “Brutal” form of the Second Coil--the version that the developers dreamt up before doing any testing and balancing. Yoshida doesn’t even know if it’s possible to beat this prototype raid, but he’s excited for the game’s top players to experiment in its unrelenting onslaught come early July with patch 2.3.

For other matters, A Realm Reborn’s developers will keep an eye on improving the experience of casual and core players. For example, the upcoming Frontlines PvP content, an open-world, 72-player alternative to the current 5v5 arena matches, will give minimum rewards for participation to everyone. Meanwhile, the team has noticed that the current PvP system favors abuse through win-trading, by which players can guarantee advancement toward better gear that can compete with PvP veterans. To counter, Yoshida and co. are “adding actions and things that ignore Morale,” a stat on PvP-centric gear that replaces Defense and Magic Defense, leaving new PvP players at a disadvantage.

The approach to instances of player abuse seems to be, in general, curious observance. The team is more interested in why players are doing something than the act itself. They ask how can they improve the game and make it more fun, rendering exploitative stuff less useful as opposed to penalizing players. It’s the same with normal enemies encountered in dungeons between bosses--many players avoid as many of these encounters as possible because the “trash mobs” are easy to kill and only drop gil. But the team likely won’t implement walls that force killing mobs or, as the interviewer suggests, rare loot that only drops from normal enemies. Yoshida notes that, were the latter to be implemented, hardcore players with the free time to kill would swarm instanced dungeons for the loot, getting burnt out in the process, while casual players might trade real money for the drops or “quit playing the game altogether.” In short, as long as people are having fun, there’s no need to intervene, even if the playerbase is actively finding and using shortcuts.

There’s a ton of interesting details in Nova Crystallis’ interview, so be sure to give the full thing a read, especially if you’re interested in the best MMORPG on consoles and upcoming developments for a game that will likely be a PS4 mainstay for years to come.