Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood is on the horizon. A new patch coming March 28 brings us even closer to the June 20 launch of the expansion. Stormblood sees players leaving behind the continent of Aldenard for the new lands of Othard, including the Doma region. In addition, Stormblood adds two new jobs to the game: Red Mage and Samurai.
Details about Stormblood have been a slow trickle across all three Final Fantasy XIV Fan Fest events and Square Enix has a lot more to show us about the upcoming expansion. We had a chance to sit down with Final Fantasy XIV producer Naoki Yoshida and ask a few questions about the transition to Stormblood.
USgamer: Were you surprised about the community reception to the Diadem revamp?
Final Fantasy XIV producer Naoki Yoshida: Because this is renewal content, that was the kind of reaction I had anticipated. There were people who saw the Diadem content in Patch 3.1 as an item farm of sort and people may have gotten the impression that an i280 weapon was something that was easily obtainable. Now that it's been a while since the release, we feel the reaction has died down. It's not as knee jerk as before.
USgamer: Has there been any thought about ways to make older gear usable to players in some fashion, outside of glamour? Things are always moving forward, leaving players with reams of gear in their banks for glamour sets alone.
Yoshida: Not really. If we were to do something like that in order to accommodate for older gear, people might go back to older content. Content that they had played over and over again, just so that they could obtain gear was the dropped in those areas. We want to avoid having people going back to older content.
USgamer: Do you feel satisfied with the current way users work their way up to end-game gear and weapons?
Yoshida: We had the Zodiac weapon and then the Anima weapon, where the players were powering up their weapons through their own efforts. We feel we've already done what we can for those weapons.
We would like to keep that concept of having to put in the effort, little by little, in order to power up your weapon. We want to take it in a direction where you're taking on a challenge in order to achieve that. The next time, we'll probably not just have it for weapons, but also for armor as well.
USgamer: With the two new jobs, the game continues to move away from the original Job/Class system. Is part of the job update being done for that reason?
Yoshida: Moving forward, we will continue the trend of just having the jobs already established. In terms of the whole class element as a part of the Job and Class system, classes were a big part of 1.0. You had more classes than there were jobs. In order to carry over player data to A Realm Reborn, we needed to have that element still in there.
For people who are not familiar with the whole Class and Job system, it's very difficult to distinguish the difference between a Class and a Job. Moving forward, with more jobs introduced, we feel that there may come a time where we have to consider whether we drop classes altogether.
USgamer: Will Disciples of the Land will be revamped and can we expect more in the future?
Yoshida: There have been mentions of the phrase "Battle System Revamp," but technically it's incorrect to say "revamp". What we're trying to do is make it so that these more complicated and complex additional systems more streamlined and easier to understand. It's not a "revamp" in its literal sense.
In terms of additional Disciples of the Land or Disciples of the Hand classes, it's at a point where it's very difficult to think of what else we can make interesting. We have so many crafter classes; what else can they manufacture? For example, Armorsmith and Blacksmith technically could be the same thing, but we have them separated. If we were to add something, maybe we could fork off the Magitek Armor? They would make Magitek armor and weapons, but that's the only thing they could do.
Disciples of the Land, too. We've got people who can harvest trees, we got people who can mine, and people who can fish. Now that we have swimming and diving, we can dive to catch fish. What else can you gather at this point? We can come up with something, but is it going to be interesting? We think about it too, but we also feel that it might not be the best route to just increase the number of options.
USgamer: People have been trying to figure where the Samurai fits in gameplay style, with some thinking of the Job as some Ninja hybrid. Is this the case?
Yoshida: That's not accurate to say Ninja hybrid. Because we're introducing a brand-new job, the team's intent is to have it provide you with a new gameplay experience. When we first announced it you had the three different Sen stances: the Moon (Getsu), the Flower (Ka), and the Snow (Setsu). People may have gotten the impression that it's very similar to the Ninja's Mudra, but that's not the case. Samurai is supposed to be an original job.
The only way to find out is to try using the job!
USgamer: You've mentioned that now Red Mage and Samurai are taken care of, you can get more creative with additional jobs. What directions have you wanted to go with jobs that have been walled off?
Yoshida: To tell you the truth, I would love to explore the option of a original Final Fantasy XIV job. With FFXIV, we have established a unique sort of battle system and we would love to explore the option of having a job that is interesting to play in an MMO. Something that doesn't necessarily have to match the expectations of an FF classic job.
Even with the Red Mage, we were very torn about it. People have an image of what a Red Mage is supposed to be or what they think the Final Fantasy Red Mage is. That may be different from what would make it fun in a XIV setting. Trying to get that expectation to match with what the team was envisioning was a very debated point. It's something that we were torn on for a long time.
One example of this was the Summoner. That was highly demanded, but once it was in, there were more and more requests. "You should be able to summon all the Summons and Eidolons!" That can push a person to think, "Oh, I shouldn't have included a Summoner in there." It is something that we need to be very mindful of, because something that could be implemented into an MMO may not necessarily be fun in a standalone Final Fantasy. The opposite is also true; an FF element that people have a strong attachment to may not translate well into the world of an MMO.
Now that we were able to cater to the fan demands of traditional Final Fantasy jobs like Red Mage and Samurai, we would like to explore the idea of having something that's more original. To be free to think of different options.
USgamer: The new region in Stormblood feels like it's based roughly around East Asian culture, as opposed to the Western fantasy tropes of A Realm Reborn and Heavensward. Was that intentional?
Yoshida: We didn't make Stormblood intending to lean more towards East Asian culture because Heavensward was more of the gothic Western European type of flavor. That's not the case.
That being said, when we're traveling the world, Europe is not the only region. We were thinking about how to expand our world and it's been established that there are several different regions that are under the oppression of the Garlean Empire.
On top of that, we wanted our players to be very surprised. And so we decided to reveal the two new regions, of which one of them is the Doma area. It wasn't a decision of wanting to change it from the previous world. It was more about how do we get people to say, "Wow!"
USgamer: Prior to Stormblood, players had to complete all of A Realm Reborn's story to gain access to Heavensward's new jobs. That requirement is going away with the new expansion. Do you feel that relaxing the hard story requirements from Heavensward is a good move for the game? Is that meant to get newer players into the game?
Yoshida: Nothing was lost by relaxing that limitation. We received a lot of feedback that said, "I bought 3.0, but I couldn't access anything in it until I finished everything that was AAR." I was like, "Oh, you know what? That's right!" That was the biggest reason why.
When the team is building the storyline of Final Fantasy XIV, we're very focused on creating that storyline. When we were progressing from AAR to Heavensward, we were so focused on the narrative that we wanted people to experience everything that we had put into A Realm Reborn and the subsequent patches. It was a narrow way to get into the expansion content.
There were thoughts of "Well, maybe we should have players enjoy the new Jobs that are introduced with the expansion." That might be a better way for players to get introduced into XIV. Of course, there were opposing devil's advocates saying, "Well you haven't gotten to the land of Hingashi, so why can you be a Samurai?" There may be people who want to get into Final Fantasy XIV using the new jobs. We just simply wanted to find a good solution that would address that.
USgamer: Finally, let me end on selfish question. As a Paladin player, Flash is a good ability, but it doesn't have any impact. Can we give it some impact?
Yoshida: It's true. It is kind of hard to tell if the enemies have reacted to it or not. As you mentioned, it's literally a 'Ping!' and then some light. We're still in a state where we can go back and review some of the existing actions, so I'll look into it.