By Cody Perez
May 29, 2019
I had the honor and privilege of sitting down with producer and director Naoki Yoshida once again alongside another journalist from Twinfinite for a FFXIV Shadowbringers interview recently during the media preview event. This is my second time interviewing Yoshida and it was just as much of an honor as before.
For reference, be sure to check out my original interview at E3 2018 last year via VGR to get an idea of the topics we covered then as my topics this time around focused almost entirely on the upcoming expansion.
We covered various details from lessons learned from the Raubahn instanced event fiasco at the launch of Stormblood to the Tamer gathering job and much more. Without further ado, let’s jump right in and see what we learned about the upcoming third expansion for Final Fantasy XIV.
To kick things off, I had the first question of the interview and I wanted to get a grasp of what lessons were learned from previous expansions and even the original launch of A Realm Reborn going into this new expansion.
Yoshida responded by noting that the team doesn’t necessarily look at fixing and changing things as a new “expansion” but rather they are always changing things in the day-to-day and from patch to patch. That said, some of the changes that are inherent and clear is with the job changes that was learned from the past.
A “higher priority” has been put on player feedback so that if there are any issues with jobs and the changes to them the team can respond quickly. Considering these are meant to go even further in Shadowbringers than with previous expansions this is excellent to hear.
Twinfinite asked about if Yoshida could elaborate on the lack of a new healer job and more details on that. According to him, the healer jobs could “differ” now in this new expansion, depending on how the player perceives them and the changes.
For example: if a player likes to go into a raid, there are a lot of times where there is emphasis on the healer also being able to do DPS. There is that bit of “wiggle room” in between healing spells where a hardcore player will fill the gap with as much damage as possible when comparing jobs, but a more casual player doesn’t care about that as much.
The importance of the job changes to the healing role as a whole lies in ensuring that there isn’t too much of an emphasis on one particular job for healing rather than others in raids and the like. The changes outlined in our recent post are meant to help with this.
One example given by Yoshida is that the Scholar is designed to have barriers to protect the team but there isn’t really a dedicated healing spell that can heal a ton of health at once. This placed the emphasis more on the White Mage to take care of the more intense healing spells.
This leads to the White Mage taking care of heals but then some players will complain that they “look over and see that the Scholar” is just attacking. This leads to frustration for some players since they might “feel stuck” in that role.
On the flip side, by adding a healing spell to Scholar, this allows the job class to also doing major healing and have it “shared” between the White Mage and Scholar both. In addition to this, Yoshida reiterated the fact that a new instant cast action has been added to the White Mage.
This gives the White Mage a bit of time to either attack (if they want) or simply prepare for the next long cast-time healing spell. These are the things that the team wanted to address when looking at the healing role. Yoshida joked that if we went into further detail about this, it would take another “hour or two.”
The core difficulty of keeping these healing jobs balanced with each other is that the team isn’t just looking at the healing aspect, but also are they able to do anything else beyond healing?
The next question I gave was about balancing the new Trust system that, for those who don’t know, allows the player to complete the new expansion’s dungeons with an AI party team without other players or worrying about duty finder queue times.
Yoshida responded to this question by noting that they had to be “mindful of the player disliking the NPC’s” that you take with you in the dungeons. This is an interesting take that I didn’t expect. He noted that in the original content in the game, you would end up not fighting alongside the Scions during the story.
The Trust system is meant to allow the players to finally enjoy the dungeons with the characters that they love. And they want players to “love them even more.” The challenge was making sure that issues with the system didn’t make them end up disliking the characters.
For example: if you were to take Thancred with you in the tank role as a Gunbreaker and he wasn’t able to hold enmity, players might become frustrated with this. Thus the challenge was to ensure he is able to hold the enmity.
The other challenge is with the system itself. They wanted to make sure that the Trust system didn’t take away from players wanting to party up with real players and balance that. Yoshida reiterated that there is a general time that it should take for players to complete the dungeon, which was originally noted to be 30 minutes, though, we found it to be much longer in our preview.
The point of this is to make sure that it’s not too quick causing players to start using the Trust system exclusively and never party up with other real players. At the same time, though, it couldn’t be too long and push players away from actually utilizing the new feature.
Twinfinite asked about whether or not the team still wants certain party matchups to happen and how the team is balancing certain elements like weapon-specific debuffs for enemies so that they aren’t too powerful.
Yoshida responded by noting that with any job, the goal is to make sure that players can go into “any content” with any combination of jobs. Specifically, though, he talked about those players who try to do the “world first” clears of raids where they go into it with perhaps a lower item level than supposed to.
Those weapon debuffs were in place to give the players who do this an advantage towards a world first clear. They noticed, though, that players will fixate on those world first combinations and make it as if that party combination is the set requirement for any content.
For example, Yoshida went over the piercing resistance debuff for the Dragoon. It’s not really available for the Bard or Machinist so players will look to having a Dragoon rather than those jobs. The team did consider giving the debuff to the other jobs who are lacking it, but then it becomes a “catch 22” type of situation.
An official demonstration of some of the changes being made to job actions
The ultimate result was the team deciding to “clear the slate” sort of by removing all sorts of debuffs to weapon resistances from jobs. The playing field is now “even” so that players can discuss the party combination and have it focus on “player skill” rather than what jobs they are using.
In terms of the Dancer, though, one thing that Yoshida wants to focus on is that the job picks a dance partner and the focus isn’t necessarily on DPS but buffing their partner. So, the DPS of the Dancer job could be lower than other DPS jobs and it’s balanced that way.
I then asked about whether or not there was anything new the team wanted to do with dungeons, trials, and raid content in the Shadowbringers interview.
Yoshida replied by saying that, similar to my first question, dungeons and other content is something that the team always iterates upon in major patch updates rather than just with the expansion. The person who is designing that particular new content each patch is trying to inject it with some element of surprise.
That being said, one thing that Yoshida did identify is that the instanced “dungeons” in the main scenario will be tied more directly into the main story than it was in the previous expansions. This is an element that is unique to this new expansion.
Twinfinite noted that Red Mage quickly became a favorite class for new players because of its simple rotation and asked if Gunbreaker or Dancer would be like that, or just complex.
Naoki Yoshida noted that the Dancer is “closer” to the Red Mage in that concept. For existing players, the various dance steps might be new and unusual, but the team tried to make sure it is “easy to grasp” and that it doesn’t cause a lot of disparity between player skill levels.
On the other hand, the Gunbreaker may seem simple to hand at first glance but various elements that stem from the bullets you have will allow for different combinations for more experienced players to master. Yoshida particularly recommends the job for those experienced players.
For the next question, I brought up the Raubahn instance situation that occurred at the launch of Stormblood, particularly, within the early access period. For those who don’t know, there was an instance in the story early on where you needed to talk to Raubahn before progressing.
The problem was that there were so many players trying to do it all at once that very few players were able to actually see and speak with him to complete the instance. What’s worse is that the instance was required to access many of the new areas in that expansion.
I asked about what the team learned about that and what steps have been taken to make sure something like that doesn’t happen with the upcoming expansion.
Yoshida responded by talking about how the game needed system support for that. It’s actually been addressed as of patch 4.4 and that the team has been “running tests” leading up to the new expansion. Yoshida said that “it is inevitable” that congestion like this will happen.
In addition, there have been two major updates since 4.4 to make sure that the system support is running correctly in the backend. At patch 4.56 timing, there was a quest with Hien that was used as a test of sorts for this type of situation.
The team wanted to make sure that the queueing function and system support was working, and it seemed to work well, according to Yoshida. As such, it seems like the backend is ready for Shadowbringers.
Another lesson learned from the Raubahn problem was to not put an instance so close to the start of an expansion. Also, the Trust system does bring up an issue since only one player is going into the instance rather than four. There is an “emergency button” feature in case there is a major problem like with Raubahn.
For the final question in our Shadowbringers interview with Naoki Yoshida, Twinfinite asked if he could share any details about the jobs that were in development but cut from being released in the new expansion that could potentially be expanded upon in the future.
Yoshida responded with a laugh and that he can’t even say it even if it is a concept since it would “give it away.” He also said that saying the actual name of a job is easy but he would feel really bad since some might “interpret” this as him hyping up that canceled job as the next one.
This could then affect the development team into thinking they might have to find a way for the job to work, which would be a “disrespect” to them. Yoshida said that he “respects” both the players and the development team.
Talking about this could take away their “creative freedom.” He did note that they have covered “a lot of ground” with the jobs currently in the game, so it is becoming difficult. So, Yoshida hilariously put us journalists on the spot by asking us what jobs we would like to see.
The journalist from Twinfinite noted that he would like to see a healing job that is mixing up items like potions similar to what the Ninja does and such for healing effects, but maybe have a normal weapon that is a gun or something like that.
I noted that my answer is a little more general and actually tied into a question I wanted to ask, and that was if Yoshida and the team have ever considered a new crafting and/or gathering job. When asked what specifically I’d like to see, I noted some sort of artisan or painter job that does paintings, wall scrolls, sculptures, and so on.
Yoshida responded to this by saying that they would be a rather expensive job. He did note that they don’t have a lot of ideas on hand for new crafting and gathering jobs. That being said, there were ideas for a new Tamer gathering job or something like that but it might not be “as fun” if there isn’t any playable content.
He did tease that there is a lot of new content that will be added over the course of the 5.X patches that players can look forward to.
Tags: Final Fantasy XIV