A Quick Chat With Naoki Yoshida on Patch 6.2 and FFXIV’s Future

FFXIV director and producer Naoki Yoshida shares snippets of his vision for the critically acclaimed MMORPG’s as we approach the next expansion.

Patch 6.2 for Final Fantasy XIV was a boon for players. The FFXIV team delivered on nearly every front in terms of new content — a wild raid tier in Abyssos, revelatory story quests with new characters, the much-anticipated chill vibes of Island Sanctuary, and meaningful revamps to older stuff. It dropped in late August, and we’ve covered it from every angle. But with some time away from the patch, and 6.25 right around the corner, we had a moment to reflect on where FFXIV is going.

I had an opportunity to send a few questions over email to director and producer Naoki Yoshida. From where the game is now to where it’s going in the future, it seems like the FFXIV team has a post-Hydaelyn world figured out.

“Given that we’re embarking on a new adventure this time, I was most careful about not losing momentum,” Yoshida replied when I asked him about how the development team is handling expectations for FFXIV’s next era. He followed up and said, “Endwalker provided closure for everyone’s exhilaration, which was precisely why it was important to stoke the fire for the next thrill. A build-up of excitement, feeling the thrill, embarking on an adventure into the unknown – I believe these are what players are looking for, so I want to be mindful of those expectations.”

Zero is the latest addition to the core FFXIV cast, making her debut in Patch 6.2 MSQ.

That thrill Yoshida mentions is due in large part to the story FFXIV tells. For those who are caught up on the latest story content in Patch 6.2, we have newcomers like the quickly-grown satrap in Varshahn and the Void-native Reaper named Zero taking on lead roles as we venture through an uncharted realm. However, much of this current arc is rooted in Final Fantasy IV, using the classic entry as a point of reference. Golbez and the Four Fiends are the current focus of villainy, but nothing is ever that simple in FFXIV.

Yoshida hinted at something bigger, saying, “I hope you’ll stay tuned to see how the story will unfold from here.” But with regards to continuing to use FFIV as source material, he said, “I had resolved to avoid flaunting references to FFIV until we eventually took players to the moon, so now I’m letting it all out.” Between the Barbariccia trial, the use of the FFIV boss battle theme, and all the references and motifs in between, FFXIV is laying it on thick — which some of us are enjoying quite a lot.

He reiterated his previous statement about how FFXIV is, in part, a Final Fantasy theme park. Yet, there’s a fine line between being referential and going overboard. “This applies to any title in the series that we incorporate, but while we want people to feel the nostalgia, we also make sure our story is still original,” Yoshida said. He continued, “The same approach was used this time around as well.”

Much of what makes FFXIV so enjoyable are the small things. Players hold the game in high regard for its storytelling and impressive set-piece battles, but Patch 6.2 was another example of how a variety of side activities round out the experience. FFXIV regularly gives players something new to do in addition to the expected content, and Island Sanctuary was the most-recent highlight. The crafting, gathering, and base management proved to be an easy-going endeavor (unless you’re aggressively playing the Handicraft market), and there’s more of it on the way.

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Island Sanctuary has been a nice filler between daily roulettes and weekly raid clears.

“We plan to open more areas in which to construct facilities, add more types of facilities, and of course, address feedback from our players,” Yoshida said regarding what’s next for Island Sanctuary. He concluded, “We’ll be maintaining the concept of making the Island Sanctuary a place where players can freely enjoy at their own pace.” Whatever is in store, we can expect it in the upcoming 6.x patches, as mentioned in previous Live Letters.

Criterion and Variant Dungeons are an all-new type of instance, which debut in Patch 6.25 later this month. And I hope you’ve done your Hildibrand quests to get ready for the next relic weapons. In terms of shaking up the core of FFXIV, Yoshida doesn’t seem too concerned about making significant changes to the established formula. Rather, it seems the team is more focused on the game’s quality of life and long-term sustainability for now.

“The plans I’ve announced so far, including accommodating solo playstyles and offering new types of content, are the entirety of the challenges we’re currently pushing forward with,” Yoshida said in reply to a question about the most pressing matters they face and if there are concerns about shaking up the current formula.

The big ticket item as we approach the next expansion and Patch 7.0 is the graphics overhaul, which was outlined in a Live Letter earlier this year. It’s a major piece in modernizing FFXIV, and it’s not the only one. Recently, Europe got new servers, Japan got restructured data centers, and Oceania servers went live. And while new  North American servers are still being worked, it’s been a key focus, especially considering the congestion troubles around Endwalker‘s launch.

An example of how character models and lighting are being touched up for the graphics overhaul in FFXIV come Patch 7.0.

“Naturally, the graphical update isn’t the only challenge we’re undertaking; we’re also working on future-proofing with significant server expansions, as well as investing in infrastructure and other aspects,” Yoshida mentioned. “Outside of that, well… I suppose that depends on what sort of ideas we have for the [Patch] 7.X series. I know I’m already wracking my brain over it (laughs),” he typed out, probably giggling to himself.

FFXIV has a much higher profile now, and with more eyes on the game than ever before, ushering the game into a new era also means taking care of the not-so flashy aspects like servers and improving the user experience. Though I have noticed over the years of playing FFXIV, new ideas explored in patch content are often a testbed for something we’ll see in the future. However that may manifest in the next expansions or set of patches, it’ll be exciting to parse when the time comes.

If you’re itching for more hints about where FFXIV is going from here, you should know that the development team is on the case having wrapped up their writers retreat not too long ago. In the meantime, Patch 6.25 is set to release later this month which we’ll have covered here.