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Live Letter #68: Naoki Yoshida reveals his plans for the future of Final Fantasy XIV

During the 68th Producer’s Live Letter broadcast this morning, Naoki Yoshida revealed his roadmap for the next ten years of Square Enix’s MMORPG.

Naoki Yoshida FFXIVAfter a first retrospective on the eleven years of Final Fantasy XIV’s existence, the Producer and Director, Naoki Yoshida presented his vision for the future of the game around three key concepts:

  • “An even better RPG – alone or with friends”
  • Preparing for the future: the first major graphical update
  • Regular content updates starting with 6.1

An even better RPG – alone or with friends
Many fans of the Final Fantasy saga have played all of the installments, but never took the plunge with XI and XIV, as the idea of playing an MMORPG with other people repelled them. Some players prefer a more solo style of play, without having to interact and communicate with other Warriors of the Light.

Yoshida-san wants to make FFXIV accessible to as many players as possible, including the cases mentioned above. As a result, the 6.x update series will expand the Adjuration system.

The idea is to make all epic dungeons and 4-player challenges compatible with the Adjuration system. The 8-player challenges (from Heavensward onwards) will only be updated from 7.0 onwards, due to the amount of work required.

From 6.1 on, all missions in A Realm Reborn (patch 2.0) will be playable in Adjuration:

  • The NPCs that accompany you on ARR missions will mostly be minor members of the Heirs of the Seventh Dawn with the gift of Echo or members of the Adventurers’ Guild. In order to fit the storyline, not all NPCs (e.g. the main Heirs) will be able to accompany you into the dungeons. Some special NPCs may appear in certain missions, such as Estinien who may join you in defeating Nidhogg. However, this will not be the norm for all missions.
  • Some dungeons will undergo aesthetic or gameplay adjustments. For example, the slimy ground that inflicts Gravity in The Thousand Mouths of Toto-Rak will be removed.
  • The 8-player raid in Cape West Wind will be removed: the battle against Rhitahtyn will be reworked to become an instanced battle.
  • Praetorium and Castrum Meridianum will become 4-player dungeons instead of 8. Ultima Arma will be removed from the dungeon and become a separate 4-player challenge. The fight against Lahabrea will become an instanced fight during an epic quest.

The first major graphical update for Final Fantasy XIV
Yoshida-san specifies that this is the “first” since there will be others in the future. In eleven years of existence, an immense volume of graphic resources was produced for Final Fantasy XIV: it will be impossible to adjust EVERYTHING, that’s why they will do it gradually.

This first update of the game graphics is planned for the next expansion 7.0:

  • Preparations have already started and will continue until the release of the new expansion.
  • The idea of the development team is to achieve a pleasing full-screen aesthetic appropriate for a multiplayer environment.
  • The animations and the lighting system will be improved. However, you should not expect photorealistic characters or Horizon Forbidden West-like graphics. This would require too many resources and would sacrifice accessibility options.
  • PS4 support will be maintained in 7.0: graphics and display options will be customizable to a certain level.
  • Minimum system requirements will be adjusted starting with 7.0, but the development team will try to accommodate as many hardware specifications as possible.

Yoshida-san shared several visual samples made after only one month of testing. These visuals can be further improved in the future.

Character appearance update:

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  • Higher resolution textures for hair, skin, equipment, etc. However, not all equipment will be updated, due to the huge amount of work that would be required. Priority will be given to frequently used equipment or candling.
  • Improved material quality: skin, metal, fabrics, etc.
  • Better lighting and shading effects, especially for player shadows. The appearance of player characters will be changed as little as possible. These effects will be applied to NPCs starting with 7.0, but not all of them will be improved, so some graphical differences are toFinal Fantasy XIV high resol 2 be expected.
  • Clipping issues will remain due to the limitations of their physics engine for online play.
  • Additional improvements will be tested and potentially added in the future.

 

Updated background visuals:

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  • Increased lighting points: improved visual quality, depth, and immersion.
  • Higher resolution shadows: improved motion effects and reduced screen flicker
  • Improved textures: metals, fabrics, etc.
  • More and better auto-generated greenery: improved resolution, greenery types, etc.
  • Potential improvements to haze and other ambient occlusion effects are being tested, but initial tests were not conclusive enough to show to players.

FFXIV’s Roadmap from 6.1
Those extra ten years in Etheirys have to start somewhere, and Naoki Yoshida gave players a glimpse of what’s in store for the Warriors of Light with updates 6.1 through 6.5. The list is of course not exhaustive, as some content is still being discussed or planned.

First of all, each major update will come with epic quests that will slowly begin the new epic saga that will follow Hydealyn and Zodiark. But Endwalker will also see two subplots unfold as the expansion progresses. First, the return of Hildibrand, gentleman and detective extraordinaire! The second storyline is called “Tataru’s Grand Endeavor” and remains a mystery for the moment. But the secretary of the Heirs seems to have big plans ahead.

Update 6.1

  • First alliance raid (24 players) in the Eorzean Mythos quest series (related to the “twelve”),
  • New team-based PvP content, the Crystal Conflict (see this article for more info),
  • New quests for the Beastmen tribes, the Akasadora,
  • New challenge on Epic difficulty, Dragonsong’s Reprise (6.11),
  • New challenge on Unreal difficulty, The Scourge of Ultima,
  • Added adjuration for all epic dungeons in A Realm Reborn (patch 2.0 only),
  • New “business card” system (temporary name),
  • New haircuts for Horthgars,
  • New NPC for special orders : Améliance (mother of Alphinaud and Alisaie)
  • Travel between data centers (6.18)
  • The new PvP mode

And of course the sale of land in the new Empyrean residential area in Ishgard. Starting with 6.1, each neighborhood and annex will be assigned one of the following 4 purchasing systems:

  • Lottery for free company houses
  • Lottery for individual houses
  • First come / first served for free company houses
  • First come / first served for single family homes
    * Note that unless there is a very high demand from players, all neighborhoods and annexes will have a lottery system as of 6.1.

Some reminders about the purchase rules. A player can only register for 1 individual house at a time. Each member of a Free Company can only register for one CL house at a time. The house must be paid for in advance and will be refunded if the lottery is lost, and penalties will be applied for cancellation of participation in a lottery.

Details of this update will be revealed in the next two lives letters, the first of which will be very soon, on Friday, March 4.

Update 6.2
In update 6.2, the epic dungeons from A realm reborn (updates 2.1 to 2.5), as well as 2 or 3 dungeons from the Heavensward epic will be added to the adjuration system.

A new weapon upgrade system is announced (note: no details, but it may be the relic weapons from the Endwalker expansion) as well as a new dungeon type “Criterion” (tentative name). The particularity of this new dungeon is the evolving difficulty, depending on the number of players who will take part in it, from 1 to 4 players.

Finally, the Sanctuary Islands will be deployed. As a reminder, this will be an individual environment with a more relaxed atmosphere, where you can take care of your mascots and peacefully enjoy life on a small deserted island.

Of course, the other usual content like the new Pandaemonium floors, a new unreal challenge, an 8-player challenge and others will also be implemented. So no reduction in content.

Update 6.3
Update 6.3 will be rich in content. In addition to the typical “X.3” patch additions (new alliance raid, challenge, unreal challenge, etc), players will be able to enjoy the following new features:

  • A new bottomless dungeon to succeed the Palace of the Dead and the Pillar of Heaven,
  • The implementation of the adjuration system for the rest of the epic dungeons in Heavensward,
  • A new challenge on Epic difficulty,
    An update to the content of the Sanctuary Islands.

Updates 6.4 and 6.5
And finally, through updates 6.4 and 6.5, the adjuration system will be available in all Stormblood epic dungeons. Two new criterion dungeons will be added, as well as a new area for the Sanctuary Island will be implemented. As with the other patches, all of this will be in addition to the expected content such as the final stages of Pandaemonium (6.4), the final raid of the Eorzean Mythos, unreal challenges and more.

All in all, a very nice program is waiting for the players for this first step of a new ten years start that will lead us to the twentieth anniversary of Final Fantasy XIV. And concerning the rumors, Naoki Yoshida let us understand during this live letter that some places evoked during a certain cinematic of the epic with Emet-Selch could well be the object of future contents…

All these additions come at a cost though. N. Yoshida announces that updates will now be deployed every 4 months, compared to 3.5 months previously. An extra week of delay will also be taken into account for the summer and new year updates (the team has to take a vacation and rest). This is mainly due to the fact that the team is developing more content per update compared to the first extensions.

Resumption of the free trial of the game
Interested in playing Final Fantasy XIV Online? The famous free trial of the game will be available again from this Tuesday, February 22nd. As a reminder, it allows new players to access Final Fantasy XIV for free and without time limit until level 60 and the conclusion of Heavensward. Yes, 2 complete games to try without paying a cent.

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