Letter from the Producer Details Future Final Fantasy XIV Plans
Square Enix held its first Letter from the Producer Live presentation for Final Fantasy XIV following the release of the Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker expansion. During the first half of the presentation, director/producer Naoki Yoshida and community manager Toshio Murouchi — with translations from Aimi Tokutake — detailed some of the planned content changes and updates planned to the game during its post-Endwalker patches and leading into the next expansion. The second half features a Q&A session largely focused on Endwalker story elements with Naoki Yoshida, Toshio Murouchi, and lead English translator Kathryn Cwynar.
The presentation began with a look back at Final Fantasy XIV’s history from its initial troubled launch in 2010 through its revival as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn in 2013 and its four subsequent expansions, before looking at how Square Enix plans to support the game for the next ten years. Naoki Yoshida stated that he has no intention for leaving and wants to work on Final Fantasy XIV for as long as possible. The next major expansion — version 7.0 — will introduce the game’s first significant graphical upgrade. The game will also continue to focus further on providing players with an experience that lets them fully choose whether to play solo or with others.
To make the game more solo-player friendly, Square Enix will incrementally extend the game’s Trust system — where players are joined by NPC party members for four-player dungeons — to all main scenario dungeons and four-player trials. Patch 6.1 will add the Trust system to all relevant content from A Realm Reborn (version 2.0) in addition to other relevant adjustments to that content. These changes include Cape Westwind being changed into an instanced story battle, while Castrum Meridianum and The Praetorium (plus certain other battles) will be converted into four-player dungeons.
Graphical Update (Version 7.0)
The major graphical upgrade is scheduled for the version 7.0 expansion, though preparation groundwork and development will be done during the 6.x patch series. Square Enix is not aiming for graphics with the hyper-realistic style seen in major recent titles such as Horizon Forbidden West or Final Fantasy VII Remake, as it needs to account for numerous player characters and to run on a flexible variety of hardware setups. The minimum operating specifications will change with the release of version 7.0, though PlayStation 4 support is planned to continue. The PlayStation 4 version is likely to be optimised ahead of the next expansion launch, with Naoki Yoshida hoping to add some more graphic options, such as prioritising frame rate.
The graphical upgrade will include updates to the game’s animation and lighting systems. Square Enix showed some images of the development team’s initial month of testing graphical upgrades. The primary aims are for higher-resolution textures on hair, skin, gear, etc. as well as improved material qualities for metal, fabric, etc. Player characters and selected NPCs will get better lighting and shadow effects and new gear will be of higher quality in version 7.0. Gear and character models from previous versions will be updated as time allows.
Patch 6.x Roadmap, Housing Update
Square Enix is planning five major patches between Endwalker and the next expansion, which be released at around a four-month cadence. As before, each patch will include new main scenario quests to lead into the next expansion. The patches will see the return of side character Hildibrand in “Somehow Further Hildibrand Adventures”, while Tataru will be the focus on a new sidequest series titled “Tataur’s Grand Endeavor”. Both of these will begin in Patch 6.1, which is currently planned for April.
Patch 6.1 will also include the first part of the new Myths of the Realm 24-player alliance raid, as well as the new Crystalline Conflict PvP mode, Arkasodara tribe quests, the Dragonsong’s Reprise Ultimate-difficulty duty, and the Ultima’s Bane Unreal-difficulty trial. It will also add the Trust system to all A Realm Reborn main scenario dungeons, a new “calling card”-style UI, new Hrothgar haristyles, a glamour system update, and the Empyreum player housing.
Patch 6.2 will add the A Realm Reborn patch dungeons (version 2.x) and the first few Heavensward dungeons (version 3.0) to the Trust system, as well as new weapon enhancements and the next part of the Pandædmonium raid series. It will also add the Island Sanctuary “slow living” content, as well as a new one-to-four-player Criterion dungeon that features variable difficulty based on the number of players. Patch 6.3 will add the remaining Heavensward main scenario dungeons to the Trust system, as well as the third Deep Dungeon series, a new Ultimate duty, further Island Sanctuary content, and the second part of Myths of the Realm. Finally, Patch 6.4 and Patch 6.5 will add all of the Stormblood main scenario dungeons to the Trust system as well as two more Criterion dungeons and the final parts of Pandædmonium and Myths of the Realms.
As part of Patch 6.1, player housing in Ishgard’s Empyreum will be available for players to purchase. The patch will also introduce the new lottery system for selling plots. Each player can enter a lottery for a single plot only, with each Free Company member able to enter once for company housing. The full price must be paid upon entry, but will be refunded in full if players do not win. Each ward within the housing system is assigned one of the four purchase system types — individual lottery, company lottery, individual first-come-first-served, and company first-come-first-served — though only lottery will be available in Patch 6.1. Some wards may be changed to first-come-first-served if there is sufficient demand.
To lead the final announcements, Final Fantasy XIV’s Free Trial version — which was suspended to help deal with server congestion following the launch of Endwalker — will return on February 22, 2022. The Free Trial version grants access to A Realm Reborn and Heavensward for 30 days.
The next Letter from the Producer presentation will take place at 11am GMT (3am PST) on March 4, 2022, and will be the first of two presentations focusing on the content and updates coming in Patch 6.1. Meanwhile, Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker’s official soundtrack will release worldwide on February 23, 2022. It will include 62 tracks, plus a bonus in-game Wind-up Vrtra minion item code, and will cost $54.99/€39.99/£34.99. Japan will also receive a new art print collection.