Square Enix is about to release the first major expansion for the rebooted Final Fantasy XIV. Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward expands Eorzea with new areas, flying mounts, and the ability for free companies to create their own airships. Siliconera sat down with director and producer Naoki Yoshida to talk about the three new jobs, the new Primal, and the importance of cool looking loot.
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward has three new classes, one for each kind of role. We’ve seen the Dark Knight before in the Final Fantasy series, but how does this class differ from the Paladin or Warrior as a tank? Will you have to sacrifice HP to do special attacks?
Naoki Yoshida, Director: If we’re going to go deep into details we could be here all day. Would it be OK if I summarize? We are still making adjustments to tweak the classes, so these details aren’t completely finalized. There are two tank jobs, but the Paladin and Warrior rarely use MP. With the Dark Knight, we are going to have those players to use MP to use Darkness powers.
Not just for casting, but the Dark Knight can use dark powers to create an aura that would act as a buff. You would have to manage your MP to keep that buff on you or you can use the MP for Area Effect Direct Damage (AEDD). It’s going to require a lot of resource management to manage your MP.You will utilize MP to draw from the power of darkness either on yourself for defense or to use it to attack for offense. That’s the kind of style the Dark Knight tank will be.
You may be familiar with Dark Knights sacrificing their HP from previous Final Fantasy games. We may want to take that element in consideration for Final Fantasy XIV, but there may be certain elements that do require that. But that will not be the main focus of the actions the Dark Knight takes because it is a tank and if you’re sacrificing your HP that might not work so well.
How does the Machinist class work?
It’s going to be a ranged DPS. This class has different gadgets that strengthen or help itself or the party members. The first kind are the attachments, you can use these to raise your DPS to make yourself stronger. We also have turret type weapons that you can set up to buff your allies or debuff your enemies. This class is kind of like a ranged DPS meets buffer/debuffer.
There is a command that the Machinist can do to reload. It’s kind of tricky to put into words, but you may want to look out for that too. And if you’re familiar with Final Fantasy Tactics how you can aim for an arm or other areas. You might take note of that when looking at what the Machinist can do.
And for the Astrologian? What makes this class different from say the White Mage?
This class has the capability to drastically change your current stance. This class has the ability to draw cards and depending on what card you get you can buff your allies or support your party members. It’s a very different mechanic compared to the Scholar or White Mage.
This job will require quick reflexes to determine which situation you’re in to execute moves. Once you’ve mastered that, the Astrologian would be a very effective and useful type of healer. When you draw a card you have to decide whether you want to immediately use the card or if you want to save it and draw another card to combine it with, that’s where the quick reflexes come in. That’s a big element to the Astrologian.
For players that do not purchase the Heavensward expansion, how are you going block access to the new areas? Will there be an invisible wall, a story explanation, a giant banner held by a moogle that says "buy the expansion?"
[Laughs]. The areas will be blocked off, but the graphics data will be there so certain elements will be visible just like the new jobs that will be added, as well as the new race, the Au Ra. You can form a party with people with those new jobs and the new race. Hopefully, we won’t have anyone standing guard [to the new areas], but by being able to see the new elements in Heavensward players will think that looks cool and maybe I want to take up playing Heavensward.
There is a grand bridge hat connects A Realm Reborn to the Ishgard city-state. It will be there, but the A Realm Reborn players will not be able to access it. That’s another place where you can see it right in front of you, but you can’t access it so it kind of incentivizes the player to want to go there.
It feels like you’re were planting the seeds for the Au Ra for quite sometime since Yugiri was part of the race. Can you tell us about how you planned her addition? Did you have it set then that the new race would be dragon-people?
When we thought about adding the ninja and we decided there would be a new race introduced in the expansion was about the time that both of those ideas were finalized. As a way to hint at the ninja class, we had Yugiri act as a messenger that bares the information to come. We had her wear a mask and she ended up being the precursor to the new race, as well.
Because we were going to hint at the ninja and combine that Yugiri was going to eventually be the new race, we had to finalize the design of the Au Ra while we were modeling Yugiri so we can incorporate that into her. She is wearing a mask and since the Au Ra has horns we had to make sure there were no discrepancies in the designs of the Au Ra and Yugiri. Since she appeared in around patch 2.2 we had to already finalize the Au Ra design.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn borrows ideas from the series history like materia, the Golden Saucer, and Triple Triad. When you were trying to reboot Final Fantasy XIV, it makes sense to have familiar elements that fans love, but now that A Realm Reborn has become successful and since each Final Fantasy installment adds new ideas, what elements to do you want to add to the series with Final Fantasy XIV? When will we get to see some of your ideas on how to expand Final Fantasy?
Final Fantasy XIV is not only a MMORPG, it is also part of the Final Fantasy franchise that has a history of almost 30 years. We’ve got people playing Final Fantasy XIV and that is there first Final Fantasy title they’ve experienced and there are people like me that have played Final Fantasy since its original iteration on the Famicom. Yes, there are people coming with passion for the franchise. There is such a big variety of people that gather to the game.
Also, there is a lot of original content already in Final Fantasy XIV. There are many different elements within the game, but also because there are so many different people that gather to this Final Fantasy title we want to make it like a Final Fantasy theme park where there is something for everyone to enjoy. You can share your nostalgia and maybe you can be introduced to legacy content that you never realized was there that still belongs within the Final Fantasy world.
With that being our foundation, our next steps expanding this title with Heavensward we are taking to the skies. That is one of our main themes with the expansion. We will introduce free company crafting where you can have your own workshop space and your free company friends can build an airship. You will be making it in parts and you can collaborate to make it your own. Before, airships and mounts were something you could obtain through a quest or as an item drop. Now, you can build your own airship and customize the parts. You will be able to send it on different quests or you can ride it to explore uncharted areas. Free company crafting is a new challenge we’re taking on and it’s one of the elements never done before in the franchise.
What can you tell us about the new primal in Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward that has not been seen in the Final Fantasy series before?
Ravana is very insect-like. It has multiple arms wielding swords, an exoskeleton that acts as armor, and beautiful wings on its back. In terms of its characteristics, it’s similar to Odin, a battle god. I think you’ll battle Ravana around the halfway mark through Heavensward’s main story. Of course with any Primal battle, you have the normal mode in the main story quest, but we will have an Extreme mode available later on too.
During the presentation it was emphasized that the team spends a lot of time trying to make special attacks and loot look cool. Do you feel that as a MMORPG designer, you have to spend a sizable amount of time on making items and attacks look cool to drive other players to look at other characters and say, "wow I want to be like that!"
In MMORPGs, there is an alternate reality where you can be anything. You can fight to become a hero or you can chill out and fish all of the time. Players tend to like to boast and want to show off. In a MMORPG, player skill can only be seen during party play. It’s kind of difficult to have a tangible way to show off player skill so looks are a pretty important element when characterizing yourself in a MMORPG.
Because being able to see this is important we wanted to make the rewards for very challenging content stand out to be visible for other players. For example, if it’s like a giant weapon even when its sheathed or its on flames and you can spot it right away. We make sure that it is recognizable and it is a rare item therefore a player has great skill. By having it as such a recognizable object people will look at it and think I want to work hard to get that. I don’t think it’s more envious, but they want to strive to work hard and become a better player. It is very difficult, but from the development side it is interesting to come up with ideas and work out ideas to make sure these items are prominent for players.
Not only with item drops with different dungeons, but for crafters too – if one person created a sailor suit and you realize everyone is wearing that suit you created as a designer you would be really proud of what you’ve done. Being able to offer that, making a trend for characters in the world is an important element.