The problem with many long-lived MMOs is that the villains eventually become so powerful that they become absurd. But Naoki Yoshida, game director for Final Fantasy XIV, is not worried about the villain’s power creep. In an interview with The edgethe celebrated director of the phenomenally popular Final Fantasy XIV MMO shared insight into Endwalkers phenomenal story, and why he is not worried about creating an even bigger Big Bad.
IN Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, the game’s final boss is the military general of a fascist nation and an ancient creature set on destruction and death. After that, in towards the sky expansion fights players ancient alien dragons who, after years of conflict with the deadly races of the world, are unable to put their hatred aside and work towards a peaceful coexistence. IN Stormbloodthe warriors of light fought a megalomaniacal despot imbued with the powers of a dragon god, and in Shadow Brothers, you fought against the despots’ even stronger great-grandfather. Finally in the latest expansion Endwalkerplayers face and defeat the embodiment of hopelessness and grief.
One could imagine that in the face of ever-increasing efforts and increasingly powerful enemies, it would be difficult for Yoshida’s team to create a villain who is more threatening than basically death itself. But when I asked him if he was at all worried that he and his team were painting themselves in a corner, he simply said “No.”
“The world is always full of mysteries,” Yoshida said via email. “And even in the real world, there are some incredibly sad events happening. They may not necessarily be from some overwhelming threat; they could be horrors born of personal ideology, or tragedies caused by a concentration of power, or things that arise as as faith based on religion or education, so as we clumsily try our best to understand and overcome various barriers between ourselves, we are still far from where we want to be. ”
Endwalker‘s story puts an all-too-nice-to-be-random arc on plot lines that began way back in 2012 with A Realm reborn. I asked Yoshida about the parallels between ARR and Endwalker been a happy accident or something carefully planned over the last 10 years.
“If you were to ask if I ad-libred it, yes, that would be the case,” Yoshida said with a translator’s note indicating a small laugh. “We were careful to make room for adjustments to some degree when we scattered parts and alerts, which may have contributed to everything seeming to have been planned from the beginning.”
Yoshida and his team may not be the masters of long-term planners Endwalker‘s story may suggest, but some elements of the story were designed to consciously fit in with things that were set in motion a decade ago. In my review of EndwalkerI called the game a “sangfic” set to “Answers”, the theme song for A Realm rebornand Yoshida confirmed my claim.
“We deliberately created the story to fit the lyrics of the song, so yes, it was on purpose,” he said.
In addition to being an incredible and emotional story, Endwalker introduced new features that put an interesting spin on FFXIVs traditional MMO gameplay. For example, in most MMOs you have to complete dungeons with a group of other players. IN Shadowbrings and again in Endwalker, Yoshida’s team introduced the trust system, which allowed players to complete dungeons with a batch of NPCs. The trust system can massively reduce a player’s waiting time in a dungeon queue and is also a great way for them to learn a boss’s mechanics without fear of slowing down other, more advanced players at the expense of dungeons taking a little longer than usual. I wanted to know how Yoshida planned to innovate on the MMO format in future expansions.
Yoshida replied that he is still in the honeymoon phase of planning the next expansion and would like to stay there for the time being.
“Things are the most fun when I fantasize and imagine what kind of things I can do, and the process of shaping those thoughts into reality is when it’s very painful,” he said. “So please give me a little more time to enjoy my imagination: P.”
Another facet of FFXIV‘s powerful appeal are the characters that your light warrior becomes friends with and is enemies. IN Shadowbrings, you spend most of your time fighting a man named Emet-Selch, a powerful immortal creature who wants to destroy your world because he thinks it will bring back his own destroyed world. But know Shadowbrings‘end and through most of Endwalker, Emet-Selch has become a friend – someone you even call on to help you defeat Endwalker‘s last boss.
As the name suggests, Endwalker deals with the themes of ending and endings. Throughout the game, your NPC companions talk about what they want to do when it’s all over, suggesting that your time together as this motley crew of world saviors after such a long time is coming to an end. It’s a sad moment because it feels like once this trial is over, the Warrior of Light will no longer have a reason to exist. Then Emet-Selch gives you a gift – he tells you that there are still mysteries in the world that you can discover and explore. It’s a moving moment because it’s Emet-Selch – a man who at one time had been your immortal enemy – and not one of your many friends who gives you a reason to keep going. I needed to know why the story was written this way and what it could mean for the Warrior of Light and Emet-Selch’s relationship.
Yoshida knew there would be concerns around Endwalker‘s end.
“With how clean Endwalker when its conclusion, there may be people out there who feel insecure about future adventures, ”he said. “That’s exactly why I got Emet-Selch to take on the role of arguing as: ‘What’s with the lonely gaze, as if you know and have experienced everything there is to see in the world? It’s something “Nonsense, there are so many views you have not yet seen. I have seen them; now you must see them too.”
Interestingly, the mysteries Emet-Selch shared with the Warrior of Light are now exactly what the latest patch is exploring. He told you to investigate the mysteries of the 12 deities that Eorzeans worships, and in the Aglaia raid, released with patch 6.1, players will do just that. I asked Yoshida about all the Emet-Selchs Endwalker revelations were a sneaky hint as to what comes in future expansions.
“The history of FFXIV has always been woven together with a thorough schedule and regular patches,” he said. “We have always prepared our overall plans two years in advance, and that has not changed this time either. That said, I do not think it is necessarily possible to go to all the places that Emet-Selch mentioned in two years’ time, but it would certainly be nice if we could visit those places one day. ” (The translator’s note mentions a laugh from Yoshida, which may indicate that Emet-Selch’s gift may still have implications for future Final Fantasy XIV stories.)
“This is also a message from us,” he said. “About how there are no limits to the mysteries and suspense that await in all the coming adventures.”