It was an eventful PAX for FFXIV. We (and maybe a thousand other fans) were treated to an hour-long panel by Yoshida in which he provided some sneak peaks at Heavensward, an early look at the soon-to-be-released benchmark, and a deep look into the process by which the development team adds new jobs. We posted a summary of the panel on Saturday. Of course, the big news is that we now have a release date for Heavensward of June 23, with early access starting on June 19.
Prior to the panel we were once again fortunate enough to be able to sit down with Yoshida and ask him a load of questions related to FFXIV. Given that we’re still a few months away from Heavensward, and will still be getting what will no doubt be an epic “conclusion” of sorts to ARR with the upcoming patch 2.55 (which has also been referred to as 2.5 part 2), getting new Heavensward info was a challenge, but as always we do our best to get a few nuggets of new information.
Because of the wide ranging (and lengthy) nature of this interview, we’re going to be paraphrasing and combining questions and answers here more than usual, so it will not be in our typical Q&A format. So without further ado, the interview.
We first asked about item progression in Heavensward, and how completed Zodiac weapons or Lucis tools would be addressed. Yoshida first confirmed that there would be new “relic” progression within the 3.x expansion. It is not yet finalized whether it will be identified as a continuation of the 2.x progression or a brand new concept, but it will continue throughout the 3.x expansion, starting at 3.1. For those who have completed Zodiac weapons, they are planning on having some advantage for those players in this new progression. Yoshida mentioned that players should understand, however, since the level cap will be increased to level 60 and with higher item levels, there will of course be new weapons with higher item levels. The new “relic” arc will start at 3.1. We also confirmed that level 51 gear will start below iLevel 135.
Yoshida also weighed in on the use of RNG in the Zodiac weapon progression. Having the whole thing based on a RNG system would be too much to bear, and unfortunately, even if they raise the drop percentages there will be people who are unlucky and don’t get the drop in the expected time frame. Yoshida confirmed that internally they know what the amount of time should be for a random drop, and use that to determine the length of time they want a certain phase to last. This is not unlike a grind phase (aka light farming or books), where they calculate an approximate length of time the phase will last. Using both approaches keeps the progression from being all grind or all RNG. Yoshida also mentioned that with RNG, once a player knows how long it should take to obtain a drop, there is a certain excitement when you obtain it, which is different from the satisfaction in completing a grind phase. In Heavensward, the same principles will apply for the new relic. Yoshida also mentioned that he finished his first Zodiac weapon while in Boston at PAX East, admitting that his preferred method of obtaining such high level gear is raiding.
For Disciples of Hand and Land in Heavensward, there will be crafter/gatherer “tokens” (name to be determined), and by doing smaller tasks on a more frequent basis you will be able to acquire these tokens and exchange them for a reward. For the people aiming for “end-game” crafting/gathering, there will of course be new gear and a continuation of the melding aspects, but the token system will be in place for players who want to progress in these roles at a more relaxed pace. Yoshida indicated that, by way of example, gatherers could utilize the tokens to obtain a permit (or talisman) that would allow you to go into new areas and obtain new materials. Also, for crafters, there will be a “Specialist” system incorporated in Heavensward to accompany the increased level cap though he was unable to go into any details about it at this time. Yoshida assured us that Heavensward will include just as big an update for crafters and gathers as for battle classes.
As we all know, ARR patches alternated between Coil and Crystal Tower releases, and also included “hard mode” dungeons with a new dungeon. Yoshida confirmed that the same structure will continue in Heavensward – at least as to the raid content. The details have not been announced yet, but there will be a new Crystal Tower-like raid which will alternate with the high-end raid of Alexander. Alexander will start with Patch 3.0, then the alternate raid in 3.1, and a new Alexander iteration in 3.2, and so on.
Another new large scale system being released with Heavensward is the new Free Company Airship system, which will continue to be updated throughout the 3.x patches. Yoshida didn’t want to call it a “raid”, but hasn’t quite landed on the new terminology yet either. As we progress through 3.x, there will be more and more things to do with your Free Company Airship. The crafting content of these airships will start at Patch 3.0. At first, a Free Company will be able to scout areas using their airship – without playable characters actually boarding. Soon after that, you will be able to board the airship and start exploring. Yoshida confirmed that small free companies will also be able to craft and make use out of an airship and the related content. Since the rewards from the missions will be distributed to those on the ship, larger free companies may even want to make multiple airships so that they can accommodate everyone. For the smaller free companies, they are also planning on implementing a way for a player to join you as a guest and help out without actually being part of the free company.
They are not currently planning on adding new modes (i.e. hard/extreme/savage) to existing ARR battles, although if there was sufficient demand for “Titan super hard extreme mode” he’d of course consider it. He has considered adding official speed runs on dungeons with a ranking system, so they are seeing what they can create on that aspect, which could include ARR dungeons. Yoshida is also still considering removing the class/job restrictions on existing dungeons to allow people to go in solo, or perhaps with a team of NPCs. The NPC system being considered, for example, is to be able to take members of your Grand Company and raise a team or squad that could fight with you. Unfortunately, this new system would not, however, include your Chocobo Companion. They are considering a gambit-system for the Chocobo Companion (and Magitek). This system is pretty definite, but includes a few aspects, and is perhaps a year or so away from release.
Yoshida confirmed that Gold Saucer will continue to receive updates throughout Heavensward, with 20 new cards to collect with 3.0. He also mentioned that there will be new Hunt targets.
On the topic of the new jobs, Yoshida indicated that they will be categorized as “Extra Jobs” and listed as such. Their actions will of course be obtained through leveling these new extra jobs. He implied that it is not really a separate system or complicated concept. Like with existing jobs, cross-class abilities will still function the same (and therefore presumably be usable on the new Extra Jobs). More specifics on which class actions can be used by the new Extra Jobs will, of course, be released as we get closer to Heavensward. We also managed to get some details about the Machinist. The basic concept for the attachments that the Machinist can use is that they will augment your DPS, and they are continuing to tweak it, but for example when you are attaching the attachment you will not be able to move. So while your DPS may increase, for example, you will be immobile. The turret accessories will be called out as a ground target and can be used to buff allies or debuff enemies depending on the situation. Another action specific to the Machinist will be a “reload” and “quick reload” action – but Yoshida assured us Machinist does not actually consume any type of ammunition in connection with this.
It was previously announced that Heavensward will feature two new main plot arcs – “The Dragonsong War” and “The Wyrmking versus Thordan and his Knights Twelve”. We inquired as to what would be happening to the ARR story arcs, identified as “The Mothercrystal”, “The Grand Companies versus the Garlean Empire” and the “Primals”. Yoshida confirmed that the ARR arcs will continue within Heavensward. For example the Garlean Empire will continue to have a presence in Heavensward. A lot more will be revealed in the upcoming Patch 2.55 – including, according to Yoshida, some shocking developments to the ongoing stories.
At launch of Heavensward, we will have a new Frontline battle, with a new map and new rules. It will continue to be Grand Company based, but while before each Grand Company would start at a select location and the map, in Heavensward we will see a randomized starting location which will impact play. Armor rewards associated with Frontlines will also be updated. After that point they will update the Wolves Den.
Apps and Platforms
Yoshida confirmed that Square Enix is working on releasing the Final Fantasy Portal app, currently released only in Japan, in other regions. He further assured us that until he can be sure that the app is available worldwide and the data from the app can be connected to in-game activities worldwide, they will not be adding that functionality to the Japanese version of the app. In other words, nobody will be able to use the app to play Triple Triad, and gain an advantage in game, until everyone has the same opportunity.
As Yoshida has mentioned before, he is an Xbox gamer and would love to have FFXIV available on the Xbox, but due to Microsoft restrictions they would not be able to have FFXIV be cross-platform in an Xbox version. Yoshida would not want Xbox only servers, since it could lead to situations where the single platform might not have enough support, or you could not play with a friend on another platform – Yoshida does not want that barrier/restriction. He did note that recently Microsoft allowed cross-platform compatibility between windows pc and Xbox, but as far as he knows there has not been any news from Microsoft about additional cross-platform accessibility. So he is still waiting on Microsoft at this point. Linux or Steam OS are not planned.
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That about does it for our interview with Yoshida. He assured us that the amount of content being released with Heavensward is significant and to take care of our health and real lives. We of course, told him to do the same.