During our time at PAX East, we sat down with Matt “Bayohne” Hilton to talk about the upcoming presentation for Final Fantasy XIV’s Heavensward expansion.
He discussed the new jobs (such as the MP-focused tank, Dark Knight) and walked us through the process of creating one. Developing a job for Final Fantasy XIV (after being worked on by multiple departments) takes about a full year.
First and foremost, you have to determine the role of the job (Tank / DPS / Healer). With this, you also have to brainstorm actions it might use, considering the different types of animations and effects that are possible. You then have to consider the job quests and what will be in the cutscenes for them. Last but not least, all of the armor and weapons need to be designed.
In the first stage, determining the role of a job, it’s important to differentiate from others like it. For instance, Paladin plays a little differently than Warrior, and Dark Knight will be different from both while still being able to fill the tank role in a party. Player feedback is then considered while designing job’s style and themes. The job actions come next, and the weapon last.
In fact, the weapon might not be decided upon until late in the process. As an example, we were shown some very early concepts for the Astrologian arm, which was originally only the cards. But how would those cards be used during battle? Certainly you wouldn’t go into Titan and bust out a table to lay some cards on.
After a series of ideas on how cards could be used in battle, and how various instruments might be animated to display the cards, one of the members of the team finally came up with the idea for what is now known as the Star Globe.
We were then treated to a special video showing off some of the new gear that players can see in Heavensward once the level cap is raised, starting out with the new armor for Dragoon seen in the expansion’s trailer. All of the new AF was displayed, including for the crafting and gathering classes. Some of these designs weren’t drastically different, and some seemed to be influenced by player feedback. For instance, the Ninja’s outfit was much more simplistic, consisting mostly of black cloth. Other classes, however, did see a dramatic difference in the design of their new armor.
The presentation them moved towards the product itself. Heavensward will be available for pre-order starting on March 16th and will be available in a few different versions. Those who haven’t had a chance to pick up Final Fantasy XIV, or that want to maybe start up on a different console can purchase an all-in-one package which will include both A Realm Reborn and Heavensward. This all-in-one option will also be available for Mac users! If you already have the game on your preferred system, you can choose to buy the expansion by itself, and those looking for some cool bonuses can pick up the Collector’s Edition.
Heavensward will be released on June 23rd, 2015, and everyone who pre-orders will be granted early access before launch. Those of you who may be thinking, “but… that’s not spring,” you are correct. In order to polish the game as much as possible before it was released, it simply had to be held back a little longer.
To close out the presentation, we were shown a video showing off some of the new areas coming soon: Foundation, The Pillars (upper levels of Ishgard) which had a lovely track playing that had elements of the music used in the Heavensward trailer, Coerthas Western Highlands, Dravanian Forelands, Dravanian Hinterlands (which had scenes of what looked like an abandoned city with Roman-like architecture), the Churning Mists and The Sea of Clouds.
We also saw a few breif flashes of what was most likely the Floating Continent teased at the Las Vegas Fan Festival. Seeing this in game left no doubt in our minds – this is definitely related to the Allag!
This is only the beginning of our PAX East 2015 coverage on Final Fantasy XIV! We’ll be back soon with more images from the panel, an expansion of Heavensward: Everything We Know, and our exclusive interview with Naoki Yoshida!