A Walk Through the End with Naoki Yoshida

The problem with many long-lived MMOs is that the villains eventually become so powerful that they become absurd. But Naoki Yoshida, game director of Final Fantasy XIV, doesn’t worry about the bad guy’s creep. In an interview with The edgethe celebrated director of the phenomenally popular Final Fantasy XIV MMO shared insight into endwalker‘s phenomenal story and why he doesn’t care 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 bent on destruction and death. Afterwards, in the skyward In the expansion, players will fight against ancient alien dragons who, after years of conflict with the mortal races of the world, are unable to put aside their hatred and work for a peaceful coexistence. In storm bloodthe warriors of light fought a megalomaniac despot who was imbued with the powers of a dragon god, and in shadow bringers, you fought that despot’s even more powerful great-grandfather. Finally, in the most recent expansion endwalkerplayers face and defeat the embodiment of hopelessness and sadness.

One might imagine that, in light of the ever-increasing stakes and increasingly powerful enemies, it would be difficult for Yoshida’s team to create a villain more dangerous than essentially death itself. But when I asked him if he was concerned that he and his team were painting themselves in a corner, he just said, “No.”

“The world is always full of mysteries,” Yoshida said via email. “And even in the real world, there are some incredibly sad incidents that happen. They don’t necessarily have to come from an overwhelming threat; they can be horrors that come from personal ideology, or tragedies caused by a concentration of power, or things that arise. because of beliefs based on religion or education, so while we are clumsily trying to understand and overcome various barriers between ourselves, we are still a long way from where we want to be.”

endwalker‘s story takes a much too neat-to-accidental bend on storylines that started way back in 2012 with A reborn realm† I asked Yoshida whether the parallels between? ARR and endwalker were a happy accident or something that had been meticulously planned for the past 10 years.

“If you were to ask if I ad-libbed it, well, I would,” Yoshida said with a note from a translator that hinted at a smile. “We were careful to allow some room for adjustments in the scattering and foreshadowing, which may have contributed to everything appearing to be planned from the start.”

Yoshida and his team may not be the best long-term planners endwalker‘s story might imply, but some elements of the story are made to deliberately tie in with things that were set in motion a decade ago. In my review of endwalkerI called the game a “songfic” set to “Answers”, the theme song of A reborn realmand Yoshida confirmed my claim.

“We deliberately made the story to fit the lyrics, so yeah, that was intentional,” he said.

Besides being an incredible and emotional story, endwalker introduced new features that gave it an interesting twist FFXIVtraditional MMO gameplay. For example, most MMOs require you to complete dungeons with a group of other players. In Shadow Bringers and back in endwalker, Yoshida’s team introduced the trust system that allowed players to complete dungeons with a group of NPCs. The trust system can greatly reduce player waiting 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 that take 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 planning the next expansion and would like to stay there for now.

“Things are most fun when I fantasize and imagine what kinds of things I can make, and the process of turning those thoughts into reality is when it’s really painful,” he said. “So please give me some more time to enjoy my fantasy :P.”

Another facet of FFXIVIts powerful appeal is the characters that your warrior of light befriends and becomes enemies. In Shadow Bringers, you spend most of your time fighting a man named Emet-Selch, a mighty immortal being who wants to destroy your world because he believes it will bring back its own ravaged world. But at Shadow Bringers‘ end and throughout most of end runner, Emet-Selch has become a friend – one that you even call upon to help you defeat endwalkerthe final boss.

As the name implies, endwalker deals with the themes of closing and endings. Throughout the game, your NPC companions talk about what they’ll do when it’s all over, suggesting that after so long, your time together as this motley crew of world saviors has come to an end. It’s a sad moment because it feels like, when this trial is over, the warrior of light will have no more reason to be. Then Emet-Selch gives you a gift – he tells you that there are still mysteries in the world for you to discover and explore. It’s a powerfully moving moment because it’s Emet-Selch – a man who was once 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 that might mean for the warrior of light’s relationship with Emet-Selch.

Yoshida knew there would be concerns about… endwalker‘send.

“With how clean endwalker comes to his conclusion, there may be people who feel insecure about future adventures,” he said. “That’s exactly why I let Emet-Selch take on the role of rebuke, like, ‘What about that lonely look, as if you know and have experienced everything there is to see in the world? That’s bullshit, there are so many views you have yet to see. I have seen them; now you’re going to see them too.’”

Interestingly, the mysteries Emet-Selch shared with the warrior of light are exactly what the latest patch explores. He told you to investigate the mysteries of the 12 gods that Eorzeans worship, and in the Aglaia Attack, released with patch 6.1, players will do just that. I asked Yoshida if all Emet-Selch’s endwalker revelations were a sneaky hint at what’s to come in future expansions.

“The story of FFXIV is always intertwined with a thorough schedule and regular patches,” he said. “We’ve always had our general plans ready two years in advance, and that hasn’t changed this time either. That said, I don’t think it’s necessarily possible to go to all the places Emet-Selch mentioned in two years, but it sure would be nice if we could visit those places one day.” (The translator’s note mentions a grin from Yoshida, which may indicate that Emet-Selch’s gift may have implications for future Final Fantasy XIV stories.)

“This is also a message from us,” he said. “About how there is no limit to the mysteries and excitement that await in all the adventures to come.”

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