Friday, June 2, 2023

Final Fantasy 14: Endwalker director reflects on MMO reaching first major ending

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Final Fantasy 14: Endwalker, the upcoming expansion to Square Enix’s hit MMORPG, marks the end of a major story arc that spans a reboot and four expansions. Final Fantasy 14 director Naoki Yoshida told IGN how this lengthy saga was only possible thanks to the MMO’s continued success. Earlier this month, Yoshida appeared on stage in Japan to reveal the upcoming expansion for Final Fantasy 14, Endwalker. The upcoming expansion closes the book with a storyline that began in Final Fantasy 14: A Kingdom Reborn, released in 2013. This storyline centered around a war between two gods, Hydalin and Zodiark, will be eight years old by the time Endwalker releases later this year.

But even getting to this point was not guaranteed for the development team. “The idea to create a large-scale saga and end it after multiple expansions arose when we were working on A Realm Reborn,” Yoshida explains in an interview with IGN. “However, to make this idea a reality it would be necessary to gain popularity and acquire the right funds and be recognized to continue serving in the long term.”Yoshida says that until the launch of the second expansion, Heavensward, it was still unclear whether the development team could meet their goal of telling a long, multi-expansion storyline. “Our goal depended a lot on having the players enjoying the game and continuing to play,” Yoshida admits. He goes on to say that it wasn’t until the Stormblood expansion was released that he “finally felt confident that we could make this a reality.”

As to whether future scenarios for Final Fantasy 14 will be this long, Yoshida isn’t sharing yet. “I think the development team is very keen to know more about the next story, including how long it will be and whether we’re going to go for shorter storylines.”

Final Fantasy 14 had a disastrous launch in 2010. First impressions from critics and gamers alike found that there were just too many complicated systems and bugs looming over the MMO for it to be enjoyable. IGN revised the original version and gave him a 5.5.

Final Fantasy XIV: Screenshots and Artwork of Endwalker

Yoshida was tasked with revitalizing Final Fantasy 14, a process that spanned over two years. Then, in 2013, the popular MMORPG that gamers love today launched with a new title, A kingdom reborn.

But given such a rough start and the need for a complete overhaul, it’s understandable for Yoshida to feel unsure if Final Fantasy 14 could even happen to Endwalker. Eight years and 20 million players later, Final Fantasy 14 is arguably in its strongest position after rave reviews for the latest expansion, Shadowbringers.Along with the conclusion of the Hydalin storyline, Endwalker will introduce two new job categories. The first class that has been revealed is Sage, a new “barrier” type healer class where characters control floating swords that deal damage and heal allies. Yoshida tells IGN that the character animation work, in particular, will impress fans.

Yoshida also serves as a producer on the coming Final Fantasy 16, developed by a team that includes former Final Fantasy 14 developers. Yoshida has previously shared details about the heroes and world of Final Fantasy 16 here. Final Fantasy 14 will also be coming to PS5 later this year.

Matt TM Kim is editor-in-chief of IGN.


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