When Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker appears, people will have two new races to choose from. Both the male Viera and female Hrothgar will show up, though they will appear one at a time in FFXIV. In an official PlayStation Blog interview with Son, Director and Producer Naoki Yoshida explained that the male Viera will be in at launch because the graphics staff used “what free time they had in between their normal work on the patches” to bring them into the game. He also confirmed the female Hrothgar will appear after.
Here’s Yoshida’s exact quote about how the team ended up being able to add male Viera to FFXIV. He also went over what the staggered tactic will mean for Endwalker.
However, there was a significant amount of people around the world asking for male Viera and female Hrothgar—which was expected of course—but I was going to follow through with my stance of not adding any more playable races. At the same time, our graphics staff on the development team wanted to explore all options to see what they could do to figure out a way to somehow realize this request from the players.
They spent over half a year using what free time they had in between their normal work on the patches to consider ways to add another playable race. From this they concluded that we could probably squeeze in just one more at this time. Of course, by adding male Viera now, we anticipated people may be vocal about the absence of female Hrothgar and want to know what the situation was. Rather than waiting until (hypothetically) 7.0 to add two playable races at the same time, we realized we could actually ease the impact on our resources if we implemented these one at a time. Ultimately, I decided we should then move forward with implementing one playable race at a time, and I will make sure to explain that to our players: that’s what we did for this upcoming expansion.
We have a desire to let our players enjoy our game even more at the very core. The development team loves our players, so when male Viera are actually implemented, we would love for you to have a smile on your faces when you play as one, and if you could say a quick “Thank you!” to the Graphics team, I’m sure they’ll be very happy. If you can do that, I think it would also serve as motivation for our developers to continue working hard.
Yoshida also explained why adding a new race is such an undertaking in FFXIV. He used the implementation of the female Viera to offer examples of what needed to be done.
Adding a playable race does not end with just the initial resources needed to create the race (i.e. character modeling; preparations for variations in facial features, hairstyles and head shapes; animations that are unique to each race, etc.). Even following initial implementation, the tasks required with each patch update will multiply. For example, when we implemented the Viera, because their ears are very long, we needed to add a new review flow to check how Viera characters would appear on screen in all cutscenes. Of course, gear you can obtain as you play through the game will also need to be fitted to match the body shapes of the Viera and Hrothgar, and whenever we add emote animations, there will always be two additional sets to consider compared to what we had to do up until this point. This is something that we as a development team need to put effort into, but if these tasks multiply too much, it could cause critical damage to the interval between major updates.
Final Fantasy XIV is available for the PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, and PC. Its Endwalker expansion will appear on November 23, 2021.