PAX East 2017: Naoki Yoshida on Final Fantasy XIV’s new jobs, old jobs, and future patches

Iconic or no, I just don't care.
It would be fair to say that Final Fantasy XIV fans treat Naoki Yoshida like a rock star, and he carries himself like one: not with unnecessary swagger but with the smooth confidence of someone who has a lot going on beneath the surface and knows exactly what he’s doing. This is part of why it’s always a joy to interview him, as few other developers can (or will) provide such thorough answers to even the most incidental questions.

Obviously, sitting with Yoshida meant that I had to ask him a fair number of questions about Stormblood and what’s coming with the expansion, but I also had to ask about the last patches of Heavensward and quality-of-life improvements. So there’s a lot to chew on, some of which has been rumored before now, some of which has not, and all of which is highly relevant before the game’s community Q&A panel takes place at PAX later today.

First and foremost, Yoshida confirmed that as other sources had hinted, Red Mage will be using caster equipment and INT-boosting accessories for gear. He also confirmed that neither Red Mage nor Samurai will have any story progression requirements whatsoever to unlock; so long as you have a level 50 job and you own the expansion, you’ll be able to unlock the jobs even if you still haven’t finished the 2.0 storyline.

Obviously, there will be an adjustment period for both jobs, as you’ll need to get used to how the new jobs will play at 50 without the benefit of 50 levels of practice. However, since you’ll have to get 50 levels of practice on another job, you should have an idea of how the game plays, and neither one is meant to be too daunting at 50; the jobs are not complete until you hit the level cap, like with all of the jobs. So while there will be adjustment, there’s nothing special to fill you in other than just playing content and getting a feel for the jobs.

Extra classes to unlock jobs are also going away in 4.0 as a part of the streamlining of the game’s battle system. The idea, at this point, is that you should be able to get all of the skills necessary to play Dragoon at 70 without being forced to level anything else. Some jobs will get more abilities, some will get more traits on the path to 70, but all of them should be self-contained.

Remember, Ala Mhigo is also pretty.

We also talked a bit about the path to Stormblood. Two more patches are planned for the game before the expansion launch, both 3.56 in a couple of weeks and a 3.57 patch at some point after that. He could not, however, discuss whether or not players would have a new trial a la the Steps of Faith; players should just be ready for big changes to hit Eorzea to set up the expansion.

Yoshida also discussed the somewhat controversial level 280 weapons which can drop in the revamped Diadem, pointing out that players were having a bit of a knee-jerk response to content that is very randomized and very luck-based. The idea is that these weapons, which will be obsoleted in Stormblood, are meant to serve as a lucky drop; unlike other weapons, you can’t work or plan toward getting them, and they have a low drop rate with randomized stats. Considering that it’s only been a couple of days, he advises players to calm down a bit and take some time.

On the subject of quality of life, Yoshida addressed the issue of housing accessibility and new apartment rooms. Obviously, Shirogane’s housing district will have new apartments and new plots of land, and while it’s difficult to add new wards, new apartment rooms are easy to add. The big question is what will happen after Shirogane’s districts have been opened, and the increases need to be uniform across multiple servers. (He didn’t say explicitly, but I suspect it has something to do with the way the server architecture is structured.)

Server structure is also part of the reason why items from the cash shop are per-character rather than per-account; Yoshida was quite clear that it’s not about getting more money for the same things but about the way that the game handles account-wide entitlements. Because of the limitations and the strain on the game’s database, they have to minimize those options; they would like, at the very least, to make more expensive items account-wide rather than per-character.

Yoshida also addressed the idea of adding emotes such as allowing characters to smoke or drink. He personally wants to add these things (it is important to note that Yoshida, at the time of our interview, had a pack of cigarettes on him), but it may cause certain issues with the ESRB rating if players can voluntarily take part. So it’s something he wants in the game, but not something he can promise adding in.

There is, however, an NPC in Stormblood who does smoke regularly. So the progress is being made. He joked that perhaps it could add a disclaimer and a confirmation window before you start smoking.

Othard is also pretty. This is a pretty game.

I asked about the glamours added to the game’s Korean client allowing battle classes to use the crafting artifact armors as battle gear. Apparently, it was added due to requests by the Chinese development team, but because these outfits are meant to be associated strongly with these classes, the items require you to have an appropriately leveled gatherer or crafter in order to use them; they should not be commonly in use. If there’s strong player demand, they can certainly add them to the game, although he notes that the items are not terribly successful in terms of sales.

On the subject of PvP gear, Yoshida honestly could not recall if there is new gear for lower levels (such as the animal-themed gear) or if they share existing gear. He also answered a popular question by confirming that if you have the GARO collaboration titles, you should be able to earn the achievements for the mounts even after the Disreputable Priest moves on. (Probably.)

We also briefly talked about the roles of all three tanks. Yoshida states that part of the issue is specific content that caters to the strengths of certain tanks; Warrior is naturally meant to provide higher damage, and when you compare the higher HP and magical defense of Dark Knight in current Alexander content, Paladin seems undertuned. However, some of that is just a matter of content, and the developers want to re-examine Paladin and Warrior balance extensively for 4.0.

As always, interviewing Yoshida was a pleasure, and we’d like to thank him for taking the time to answer our questions. We look forward to seeing him in action during the Saturday Q&A panel, during which players will doubtlessly have even more questions for him.

Massively Overpowered is on the ground in Boston for PAX East 2017, bringing you expert MMO coverage from ZeniMax, Square Enix, Funcom, and everything else on display at the latest Penny Arcade Expo!
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