It's been three years since Square Enix relaunched Final Fantasy XIV as A Realm Reborn and the MMO is celebrating with The Rising, an in-game event. From Saturday, August 27 to September 12, players can speak to the Crystal Caravan Leader at the Steps of Nald in Ul'dah to gain access to a host of the in-game items. Square Enix is also planning a 14-hour livestream event for the anniversary, starting on Friday, August 26 at 8 pm (PDT).
FFXIV producer Naoki Yoshida, credited as the driving force behind A Realm Reborn, had a lengthy interview with Famitsu in honor of the anniversary (translated via Reddit user Totoro572). First up, Yoshida tackled FFXIV's strong content release schedule, offering new content to players every three months. This release schedule is one of the better things about Final Fantasy XIV, giving players something new to do on a regular basis.
"The successful part included the staff learning to manage the work tasks; planning the content out by making sure we set a hierarchy first, then observing the reactions from players to make small adjustments," said Yoshida. "Capturing this work flow allowed us to provide players with a consistent chunk of content. The dev team as a whole has their own pace and are able to submit their own ideas now."
Yoshida also highlighted a long-standing issue for MMO developers: catering to endgame players and keeping the entire userbase engaged. You can't change a game too much, because you'll lose users, but you also can't keeping providing the same experience, as players will get bored.
"On the other hand we feel we need to have 'changes' in the game," said Yoshida. "Hardcore players tend to only focus on content after reaching level 60, but if you only have that top tier content, the game's state will move from a stable state and head towards the closure of the game. I'd like to continue adding content that you can only play in FFXIV, and expanding the entry for new, incoming players."
One thing about Final Fantasy XIV's endgame is that many of the dungeons and raids are tuned high, for hardcore players to tackle and defeat. Yoshida agreed that the job changes and additions in Heavensward catered to more expert-level players. For the upcoming patch 4.0, Square Enix wants to make the gap between hardcore and casual players less pronounced.
"We are considering going back to the basics," said Yoshida. "Jobs in FFXIV at the moment require you to look at all your buffs and manage them. I feel we went too far. From a hardcore gamer standpoint, it's definitely more fun when there's more you can do. The team in charge of the battle system all have this idea in common and we think we accomplished that."
"But we made the ceiling high and overdid it, so 4.0 will have less factors to manage and we want to straightforwardly push out the characteristics of each job," he added. "The top tier players may think 'this boss has become too easy...' , but we would like to close the gap between hardcore players and casual players a little more."
This includes looking at sub-stats in the game, like Accuracy. These are areas where min-maxers thrive and flourish, but casual players falter.
"We'll be touching the sub-stats with less influence when 4.0 comes out. Accuracy and the need for it is a hot topic we are still debating over. We would like to keep it as simple as possible so players can focus on the content itself," Yoshida explained. "Making sure it doesn't get over-complicated and keeping the gap between top players as small as possible are the two areas we are being careful about. I can say the changes won't be as extreme as level 50 to 60, where it felt like a different job."
Yoshida acknowledged that some classes are overrepresented when it comes to clearing content, directly pointing towards Warriors and Scholars are problem jobs. That said, he doesn't want to nerf those two jobs directly. Instead, the team will be balancing all of the jobs for the next expansion.
"We aren't going to just snipe those two jobs," he said. "With the next expansion, we will balance all jobs as a whole, including new actions to balance them out. Basically, we'd like to push the other jobs up there, but it's not as simple as buffing the other jobs will equal their strengths, so we are still struggling."
Square Enix will get into more of the changes coming to Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn in Patch 4.0 this October. The announcements will take place during the Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival, the North American version of which will be taking place in Las Vegas from October 14-15, 2016. Final Fantasy XIV is currently undergoing a Free Login Campaign, ending on August 30, 2016. For a limited time, players with inactive FFXIV accounts can play for free to five days (120 hours).