Liz Maas
E3 2015: An Interview With Final Fantasy XIV Producer Naoki Yoshida
The guy is too adorable to NOT have a minion made of him. I'm just sayin'...
07.02.15 - 6:06 PM

During this year's E3 Expo in Los Angeles, and on the eve of early access for the first expansion, Mike and I had the pleasure of speaking to Final Fantasy XIV's producer, Naoki Yoshida, along with the lead English localizer, Christopher (Koji) Fox.

As fans of Square's flagship MMO have seen from the Letters from the Producer Live!, Yoshida put a lot of thought into his answers, including a bit of background, so be prepared to read a lot!

Mike, Liz, Naoki Yoshida

Having two tiers (Normal and Savage) for Heavensward's 8-man raid, Alexander

The three Coils of Bahamut held a pretty important part of A Realm Reborn's storyline: the truth behind the Calamity. But they were also locked behind a high difficulty barrier, rendering them inaccessible to many players.

As a result, Alexander has both a normal (story) mode and a savage mode. The normal mode will be higher difficulty than that of the Extreme Primals, but easier than Second Coil of Bahamut's Savage Mode. This, of course, allows more players to enjoy the story. Like the turns of Coil, Alexander will broken up into sections, each with unique battle mechanics. Yoshida and his staff well recognize that Final Fantasy XIV has two types of players (the ones who want hardcore raiding, and everyone else), and they wanted to address the wants of both.

How Heavensward was designed to work with flight

When A Realm Reborn was designed, the idea was to make it friendly to new players. As such, maps were easier to travel across, and each area was important. But this left little room for growth in patches — which is why, for example, Revenant's Toll is now home to an overwhelming amount of quests.

On the contrary, Heavensward was designed with growth in mind: The new areas are much larger not only because of flight, but to allow more room for quests in future patches so not to clutter any one place.

As players will have noticed by now, they need to explore the areas on foot first, and once you've had a chance to see enough of an area, you're able to fly and then explore that third dimension. A lot of time was spent on deciding how much exploration they want players to do before opening up flying in that zone. Flying-accessible areas introduce you to new quests and even gathering nodes. In the end, if one were able to fly right away, it would be more convenient but far less interesting — not to mention give less incentive to explore.

Heavensward: Alexander

Plans for 24-man content similar to ARR's Crystal Tower raids

Though Crystal Tower's story is complete, we will see a new 24-player raid, and its story, begin in patch 3.1. Similar to A Realm Reborn, the plan is to alternate between adding more to the Alexander raid in certain patches, and adding more to this 24-player raid in between.

As for its difficulty, it will be on par with that of Crystal Tower's raids, as they were accessible by players of all types. And this time, alliances will utilize more of the map rather than simply running along a path.

Relics vs. raid weapons as best weapon in the game

Again, because the relic weapons are a quest that more players can complete, the 'best weapon' available in the game will continue to alternate between the current raid weapons and the relic weapon. That is, for a time the raid weapon will be the best obtainable, and the relic will later surpass that, and so on.

(New relic quests, for reference, will begin in patch 3.1.)

Making Heavensward accessible to new players

As we know, to play Heavensward's content, one must complete A Realm Reborn's main story questline through Patch 2.55. ARR has been adjusted so that new players will gain double the experience points in the main story, making side quests not needed quite as much, and the Duty Finder prioritizes new players in the queue. The option to remove item and level sync in dungeons was also introduced to help new players, so that dungeons could be completed without an entire party.

Item rewards in ARR content also offer better gear. For example, quest rewards that were item level 55 before, can now offer ilevel 90. And by completing the Chronicles of a New Era quests from patches 2.1-2.55, players can easily get a full set of gear that's item level 110.

Heavensward: The Holy See of Ishgard

The 'feminine' design of white mage gear

The design of the gear for white mages was not intended to have a 'feminine' look, specifically — rather, it was based on Final Fantasy I's iconic white mage, who happened to be a female character.

The growth and future of the Scions of the Seventh Dawn

Many characters that we saw in A Realm Reborn, such as Yda and Papalymo, were introduced in the 1.0 story, before Yoshida and his team took over development of FFXIV, but they hadn't been given much time to develop in 1.0. So while legacy players were already familiar with these characters, new ones such as Aymeric and Yugiri were introduced during the ARR plot line, and, having been created by the current staff, have more room for development and give more chance to tell a deeper story in Heavensward.

Future plans for Final Fantasy XIV?

The team looks at the failures of both other MMORPGs and XIV itself, and consider what works what what didn't, and why. For example, while we now have flying mounts, World of Warcraft will soon be taking them out. Now, of course, since WoW is the closest thing that the Western audience has to compare FFXIV to, players are already asking if flying mounts will be removed.

Heavensward: Summoner Limit Break

The inclusion of light-hearted content, such as the Hildibrand storyline

We can expect to see more of this even with the overall serious tone of Heavensward. Moogles will play a large role, as players might have discovered. Yoshida was coy about whether or not we'll see Hildibrand return, choosing to ambiguously discuss that we never know where he may show up.

Yoshi-P's sudden success and popularity with fans

"Before I started FFXIV, I had never produced a game. Now I talk to people and go to events, and I used to never like doing that. Making a game is like a movie. Even great directors can make something that doesn't succeed, so there's no guarantee. Having a big name attached to a project can sometimes get in the way. On the other hand, you come to these events and have people thanking you but I want to thank them for playing — it gives me more passion to do what I do, and I canít go back to the shadows now. I want to just keep doing this for the next five years like I have for the last five. If I get the chance to do something different, I think this time I won't be so afraid."

Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward is now available on PC, Mac (despite all its issues...), PlayStation 4, and PS3. For interested players who are completely new to Eorzea, bundles of A Realm Reborn and Heavensward are also available.