Patch 5.3 has recently come to the many realms of Final Fantasy XIV, and now players can enjoy the final part of the Shadowbringers story - or simply spend their time flying around the reworked A Realm Reborn maps.
However, is enabling flight in old zones that easy? Just what does it take to rework an entire expansion's worth of quests? Most importantly, just what is in stock for the future of Final Fantasy XIV?
Director and Producer Naoki "Yoshi-P" Yoshida was kind enough to give us some of his time to answer our questions.
With the new Extended Free Trial and ARR rework, Yoshi-P and Square Enix have made it clear that the main goal is to welcome new players, create a comfy environment, and wash away the image that some players have of the early quests not being as interesting as the rest of the game.
The first thing I wanted to know was related to something he said during the first part of the 5.3 Live Letter. He quickly said that something as big as reworking A Realm Reborn represented a huge workload.
Millenium: You mentioned the cost of adding flying mounts to the ARR regions, could you tell us more about what this update represents in terms of workload?
Yoshi-P: *"*The areas in the ARR maps were originally made without any consideration for flying. There are many dedicated elements that must be addressed when incorporating flying, such as the level of detail of objects when viewed from a distance, the number and range of objects visible when flying, and collision settings for takeoff/landing.
Since none of this work was conducted for the areas in ARR, the amount of work involved in implementing all these elements and in debugging was enough to cause a headache for our staff... Both the dev team and QA team would be over the moon if you all take to the skies and enjoy the ride."
I don't think you and your team need to worry about that, since being able to fly in ARR zones is a real blessing to those who played the game before it was possible. I'm sure new players will also enjoy the scenery, and appreciate crossing the map at full speed between quests.
Being able to fly in those zones you return to often — including after finishing the story — for sidequests, gathering, or even just a stroll, is a big step towards a more pleasant experience for new players and veterans alike.
After asking this first question, something needed to be asked for you, the Warriors of Light at home. So, I put on my best Glamour Plate and equiped my Paladin Zeta relic to ask Yoshi-P about the MSQ Roulette.
Feared by many, I kinda like to take it slow in the morning, clearing the Praetorium of the bad guys and drinking a nice coffee during Nero's speech.
So, will Castrum Meridianum and the Praetorium see changes too, whether skippable cutscenes or alternatives?
Yoshi-P: "I do apologise but we will not be reworking these two dungeons just yet. We believe minor fixes to these dungeons are not feasible, and it will be necessary to either completely remake them as four-player dungeons or incorporate the Trust system so that they can be cleared on a solo basis.
Although we didn't have the costs reserved for the rework on this occassion, we do plan to work on them at some point. Please wait a little longer for this."
Well, there you have it — changes are coming and the team knows that some of you have been waiting for them.
These dungeons are really important for anybody following the story, and as a new player it can get quite confusing seeing a bunch of Level 80-synced players with 349 runs in these dungeons sprinting between explosions.
I remember my first run and it was really funny — people welcome you when you say it's your first time, but it's still not easy. So, if we do get reworks of Castrum Meridianum and the Praetorium I'm very curious to see what the FFXIV team will choose to do.
What's certain is that they have shown they care for the player experience, and that it's a key focus for the future.
I mentioned my Zeta Relic a bit earlier. I'm a fan of shiny weapons, and for that reason the relics are of course something I farmed a lot.
These weapons are still available in the game, but are not as good as most of the weapons you'll get by the time you can farm one.
So, with a lot of courage I asked Yoshida if something was planned with these weapons and their questlines.
Yoshi-P: "There are no changes planned."
Well, I can understand that reworking the way you get these weapons would need some resources that could be used elswhere, so I'm not angry. I'm not even disappointed.
I'll just keep farming Poetics and show them off in Limsa.
Looking out for the wellbeing of Eorzea's citizens and welcoming new members to the FFXIV community is no mean feat, especially as the game tops the 20 million-player milestone.
Yoshida and his team have been working on all aspects of the game to make it a warm place, and even the group pose option got some love in Patch 5.3.
With that in mind, I decided to ask about Guildhests and Levequests. You can still participate in the Guildhest roulette nowadays, and the queues aren't even that long. However, is it something that needs to be changed? So, we put it to Yoshi-P.
Millenium: The Guildhests and levelquests system have been around for a while now. Do you have any plans for them in this ARR rework, or in the future?
Yoshi-P: "There was a suggestion to completely remove Guildhests but we presently decided there is not enough to warrant the removal as we found that even new players are playing them now and again after we checked the play log.
Having said that, they will remain as they are for the time being as they are too old for us to adjust."
Don't fret, Guildhest lovers — you're safe for now!
I think keeping them is a good thing, as they are fun to discover and create more occasions to play with friends or meet people for a quick quest.
Looking into the past so much with reworks and old quests made me wonder what was in store for the future. Will we get more reworks?
The ARR reworks are sure to be a breath of fresh air for the early levels of the FFXIV experience, so I wanted to know if these kind of improvements are planned for other parts of the game.
Millenium: Can you tell us about possible other reworks you have in mind after ARR?
Yoshi-P: "As we have done until now, we will continue to make detailed adjustments to experience points acquired and the game systems.
Apart from that there is not really anything else for which I have a major revamp in mind. Perhaps just the two dungeons that were mentioned in the previous question...
Ah, I have a headache."
I'm very sorry for the headache, Yoshida-san — please don't hate me!
Experience points have indeed been changed to match the new ARR journey, and it looks like we'll get more changes to that side of the game in the future — meaning the "Make FFXIV a Comfy Place" (I came up with the name all alone!) plan is not finished just yet!
I would like to sincerely thank Naoki Yoshida and his team again for their time and precious insight into the behind-the-scenes machinations of FFXIV.
How will players adapt to these changes? How do you feel about them? Feel free to let us know in the comments section below.
In the meantime, you can always find more news and guides on our Final Fantasy XIV portal.
Until next time, have a safe trip, Warrior of Light!
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Yoshida photo courtesy of Square Enix