Final Fantasy XIV Stormblood preview: Our interview with Naoki Yoshida

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It would be wrong to say that Final Fantasy XIV is the work of Naoki Yoshida alone, but it’s sure easy to make the mistake. The director and producer of the game has a near-legendary status among fans due to his intense personality, his friendly demeanor, and the single-minded dedication to the game. In the time since the game’s relaunch, he’s become the face of the entire development team, and that seems unlikely to change any time soon with the release of Stormblood.

Obviously, my focus during the media event was finding out as much as I could about what was going on with the actual mechanics of the expansion, but I also got a chance to pick Yoshi-P’s brain a bit regarding more specific reasoning behind existing changes and what changes were yet to come. But as someone who played Machinist extensively, my first question was both obvious and straightforward: Why the big change to castbars just to revert it in the very next expansion?

Yoshida laughed and said he was quite familiar with the associated “Bard Mage” jokes, lest anyone be unsure.

The ultimate reasoning was less that the first version was a bad move and the new version is better and more about the effect that each batch of changes brought to the game. At the launch of the game, there were a number of people playing Bard very casually; with the major rework to the job’s mechanics in Heavensward, that number dropped off, and players had to relearn some fundamental parts of the job.

The current version, meanwhile, is meant to strike a better balance; experienced and high-end Bard players should have no trouble adapting, but those who prefer to play more casually should find the mechanics more intuitive and straightforward.

Obviously, this speaks to an understanding of the game’s community as a whole, which Yoshida has cited as a very clear and important part of the game’s design. The goal of the game’s design is always to make sure that players don’t feel as if they have to be logged in every single day; you can stop playing for a few days without losing out. It’s a good thing to have a strong community, but that community diminishes if you never get the choice to take a break.

Run toward.

By that same token, part of the goal of the game’s patch structure is giving the community something to look forward to on a regular basis. When asked whether the patches were too predictable, he replied that it was part of the balancing act; keeping the patches at a consistent rate helps players have something to look forward to. While the patches do have certain predictable and regular elements, like dungeons, the team also tries to include new mechanics and elements like exploratory missions, Palace of the Dead, and so forth.

In short, the patch structure as it exists works well for the game, and it’s not something the team intends to rewrite, even though they do want to keep adding in new factors as well as familiar content. It might feel a bit predictable if you’ve been playing for several years, but it’s part of the game’s strengths just the same.

With the new selectable traits for PvP, I asked if something similar had been considered for PvE content. Yoshida replied that role actions were the only equivalent for PvE, mostly to encourage players not to always pick the same things. While PvP content is inherently unpredictable, PvE is always going to be the same, and it’d be too easy to find the “best” traits for any given bit of PvE content under any circumstances.

That doesn’t mean that players can expect fewer options in general, though; when asked whether or not the game would ever reach “saturation” for jobs, Yoshida laughed and made it clear that he sees adding new jobs as a central part of launching a new expansion. While Red Mage and Samurai may be the most obvious iconic jobs not yet in the lineup, there are still many more Final Fantasy jobs to add into the lineup, and there’s always new stuff to add for the future.

Red Mage in particular was already a challenging job to design; it needed to slot resolutely into a specific role for the game, but at the same time it needed to not feel as if it was missing major parts of the Red Mage design. It needed melee abilities, it needed white and black magic, and it needed curative magic. The approach the team ultimately took was to emphasize that balance in all parts of the job; you’re not always in melee, you’re not always casting, you don’t just use white or black magic. It should take players some time to get used to the job, but the team is proud of the results.

Buildings are the same all over.Which jobs won’t take much getting used to? Paladin, Monk, and White Mage. After some consideration, he happily announced that while all three jobs have received new abilities and mechanics, they’re the closest to their current incarnations even in Stormblood.

I asked about the pricing on moving to Shirogane, and Yoshida made it clear that players who do already have housing but are looking to move to the new housing district will not have a 100% discount but may still have a discount. The only reason that a final amount isn’t being stated is because it’s still being decided upon. You won’t be able to pick up a new Medium plot for free if you have the same class of Medium plot, but you also might not have to pay the full price of a brand-new plot if you’re moving or upgrading.

On the subject of boost pricing, Yoshida wanted to make sure that boosts were affordable, but not automatic. Make them too cheap, and there’s no longer any push to level normally; make them too pricey, and they have the same problem of creating a wall between players. The price for both a story and leveling skip will be roughly equal to that of a new game, so new players can choose whether they’d prefer to catch up immediately or work through older content; players are certainly not expected to be buying the boosts as a matter of course. As time goes by, the restrictions and prices on these boosts will be evaluated.

Last but not least, there’s the painfully obvious question which all FFXIV players are wondering in the back of their minds. When will Yoshida want to move on? When will he want to do something else?

Upon consideration, he simply replied with a shrug that while some people get the urge to do something new, he doesn’t have that urge. He’s happy with the game, he’s happy to keep designing it, and above all else he can see himself continuing to guide the game from his current role for many years to come. Certainly he acknowledges that he is mortal and he is getting older, but for the time being? He’s happy to be Naoki Yoshida, producer and director of Final Fantasy XIV.

The fans are pretty happy to have him, too.

The expenses of travel and lodging were both covered by Square-Enix for the purposes of this preview event. Contrary to what you may believe, I did not get to cuddle the plush fat chocobo head. I didn’t even make grabby hands at it. As has been said before, all content discussed here is still under development and subject to changes. If it later turns out that the discount for already owning a house is nothing, it’s not my fault. I swear.
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9 Comments on "Final Fantasy XIV Stormblood preview: Our interview with Naoki Yoshida"

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I wish there could be more devs in the world like Yoshi-P. Dude has such a passion yet doesn’t do what a lot of devs tend to do where they run off after a few years to try and do other stuff but rarely manage to do anything better. Hard not to have mad respect for the guy, and it’ll be one hell of a sad day if he does leave the game. . . unless of course it’s to go on to do the next FF Online in another 5-10 years if Squeenix wants to keep churning out new FF MMOs every 10 years or whatever.


It feels a bit strange to me that they added two dps and basically said tanks/healers would be getting more changes so it was fine. Then they go on and make WHM and PLD two of the jobs with the least change in playstyle. Just by the info we have gotten so far I really feel the “winners” of this expansion are DPS players by far. BRD/MCH especially. Then again if the expansion delivers overall everyone is a winner regardless, but still.


But I don’t want to choose different role actions all the time. I want to have all my abilities available to me as I do now, and use them when necessary. This is honestly, at least for healers, a really shitty change. They’re forcing us to enter without several necessary abilities no matter what we choose.

Mr Poolaty

Eliot was gathering or crafting mentioned?


As a general rule, Squeenix tends to refuse to talk about crafting and gathering changes until they happen.

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So many Stormblood articles! I’m really looking forward to this expansion though, so thanks for the excellent coverage Eliot!

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agemyth ๐Ÿ˜ฉ

Well, I think I know where all the free time from Eliot’s WoW breakup has gone for the last few weeks. I don’t really mean even getting to play FF14 either…

I can’t go through this many FF14 articles when I already have too many weirdo friends gushing about their new rotations for job X and job Y, but I do find the disclosure notes at the bottom of each of these click-worthy on their own :)

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