We Asked FFXIV's Naoki Yoshida about 5.3, 5.4, and Shirts

25 Jan 2021

Its been some time since we’ve had a chance to present some questions to Final Fantasy XIV’s Naoki Yoshida. With our last interview being in April of last year after a cancelled appearance at PAX East, we had plenty that we’ve wanted to ask about regarding recent patches as well as the upcoming Final Fantasy XIV Announcement Showcase planned for February 5..

Read on for the full Q&A.

The following article contains spoilers for FFXIV Patches 5.3 and 5.4.

Gamer Escape: Patch 5.3 brought the conclusion of the main Shadowbringers story on the First, and we got a lot of great information thrown at us. Can you tell us how long ago some of these story elements had been planned? When did you come up with the idea of “Azem”? How early on did you know what would happen with the final confrontation with Elidibus?

Naoki Yoshida: This looks like one question, but really, you’ve intertwined quite a few questions together. (laughs)

First, to your question about Azem—as we were finalizing the main story for 5.0, we solidified the concept related to not just Azem, but also the full fourteen seats of the Convocation to a certain degree.

However, in the case of Elidibus, we hadn’t determined the flow of the story through the end of 5.3 until after the release of 5.0. While we had already decided that the battle with Elidibus would be at the end of Patch 5.3, the finer details were only finalized during the production of Patch 5.1.

If memory serves, the idea of Azem came from the idea of “what if the player—the Warrior of Light—held a seat in the Convocation?” We started with that concept and went from there.

Gamer Escape: Patch 5.3 also gave us the next fight in the Sorrow of Werlyt questline. This time it wasn’t a trial, but instead a solo instance where players piloted a mech. How did you come to the decision to have this solo fight instead of an 8-man trial? Might we see this type of gameplay come in future updates or other content?

Naoki Yoshida: We determined during the early stages of the 5.x series that we couldn’t create a full-scale boss battle for that specific chapter of the Sorrow of Werlyt questline because we had already allocated our battle content resources to the Elidibus boss fight.

The person handling the Sorrow of Werlyt scenario then proposed the idea of repurposing the system we use to allow players to battle as an NPC character—for example, the Estinien battle content in Patch 5.1—to create a battle with mechs. The Battle Content and Graphics teams liked the idea and we made it happen. Everyone likes mechs, after all, right? Especially Gundam. (laughs)

We’re unsure if the G-Warrior will mobilize once more, so stay tuned for future updates. :p

Gamer Escape: With the inclusion of the Bozjan Southern Front, we got access to Castrum Lacus Litore. The Save the Queen story requires players to complete the assault on the Castrum in order to move forward with the questline, however some players have stated that they’re finding it difficult to find instances of the area where there are enough people willing to do the content. Do you have any plans to address this?

Naoki Yoshida: Currently, with the release of Patch 5.4, many players are tackling the new content and running the Savage tiers of Eden’s Promise. I am aware that there are not as many people running Castrum Lacus Litore as players might hope for.

With Patch 5.45, we will be implementing Delubrum Reginae and its higher-difficulty Savage version, so we’re anticipating this will bring more people to the Bozjan Southern Front to address the situation.

We also plan to have system updates to this content on top of adjusting the rewards to match these changes, so we appreciate your patience in the meantime as we work to adjust things.

Gamer Escape: With Patch 5.2, and now 5.4, it was very surprising (but welcomed) to see quests related to the alliance raid, YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse. What was the thinking to include quests for that content on a patch that didn’t include a new alliance raid?

Naoki Yoshida: This was YOKO TARO’s idea. Instead of having a lull between major patch updates, he requested we include some kind of story development even if there wasn’t new raid content.

I’m sure the content in 5.4 was quite shocking, but I think how Patch 5.5 pans out will surprise you even further. You might want to brace yourselves ahead of time. (laughs)

Gamer Escape: Typically, the 8-man raids culminate with battles against well-known Final Fantasy characters or enemies. We’ve had Bahamut, Alexander, and Omega in previous expansions, but with “Eden’s Promise” this pattern was broken in lieu of something entirely new. Can you talk about what went into the creation of that final boss and the decision to take this path?

Naoki Yoshida: What you’ve said about the well-known FINAL FANTASY characters or enemies is true, when you put it that way.

Early on in the Eden raid series planning process, we received feedback from the teams regarding the predictability of bosses. Someone pointed out that players will likely guess Eden itself will be the third or fourth boss in the final installment and that it would be “Eden Prime.” We wanted to subvert that expectation to avoid things getting boring.

To that end, we established the Eden that exists in the First as the pillar of the narrative and told a story of light and darkness. That’s also why we deliberately put Eden as the boss of the first turn of the raid.

I think by doing this, we made it harder for players to predict future raids, so I’m glad we went in this direction. I’m excited to see players’ predictions for future raids!

Gamer Escape: At the end of Patch 5.4, we have some changes to some of the zones with these mysterious towers. This made us think about things like the building up of locations like Mor Dhona, Idyllshire and Ishgardian Restoration, and now things like unreal trials that change with each patch. What are your thoughts, from a development perspective, and a player perspective regarding limited time content that, depending on whether a person plays the game during a certain period of time, could be missed?

Naoki Yoshida: I feel that with any online game, including MMORPGs, no two people will experience an event the exact same way or have the same exact gameplay experience, regardless of there being an update or not.

A player’s experience will always be serendipitous because online games center on experiences created by connections between people. Seemingly “static” content really isn’t static at all. But even so, I feel it’s important to inject some surprises into our everyday experiences, or else people might start to feel bored.

I believe our mission and our job is to constantly deliver new gameplay experiences. I think that as long as the ideas brought to the table are enjoyable, it isn’t a detriment to the experience even if they’re hypothetically only available to players for a limited amount of time.

People who come to play at a later time may not get to savor that particular piece of content, but we’re constantly introducing new and fun things to the game, so all we can do is to continue working hard so players can be satisfied with the content available.

That being said, I’d like for you to find out on your own if those towers really are for a limited time only or not. :P

Naoki Yoshida wearing a 007 shirt at the 2014 London Fan Fest. A hint that the Machinist Job was coming.
Naoki Yoshida wearing a 007 shirt at the 2014 London Fan Fest. A hint that the Machinist Job was coming.

Gamer Escape: In February you’ll be hosting the Final Fantasy XIV Showcase, and of course we’re expecting something special. Given that Fan Fest was not able to happen, should we expect something similar to that in terms of announcements? Might we see three Fan Fests worth of new information, or might we see things a bit more spread out? Additionally, how many shirts can we expect you to wear?

Naoki Yoshida: Shirts!! Come to think of it, I don’t think I wore very many T-shirts this year…

The Announcement Showcase is meant to be a platform for a large announcement, so feel free to have high expectations. Although we will be revealing a significant amount of information at the Announcement Showcase, we do have a digital Fan Festival planned in May, where we’ll have even more information to announce.

In any case, I didn’t realize my T-shirts were a topic of discussion for players. Guess I should start thinking about my wardrobe early… (laughs)