When Naoki “Yoshi-P” Yoshida took over the role of director and producer of the MMORPG “Final Fantasy XIV” in 2010, the game was in disastrous shape. Many gaming PCs could not display the detailed environments and the game stuck to outdated RPG mechanics. In addition, simple elements such as jumping or riding animals were missing. Yoshida knew he had to redesign the game from scratch. The beginning of a true gaming epic.
Step by step forward
Despite all of this, the world and characters of “Final Fantasy XIV” stayed the same. With every patch, small or large, the problems of the game were addressed and the story developed step by step into one of the best in the “Final Fantasy” series. This is especially true since the release of the hugely popular and successful “Shadowbringers” expansion, which came out in 2019. It is now known that “Endwalker” will be the largest expansion of Square Enix MMO to date. And the development team has one goal above all: to outdo “Shadowbringers” including its story. “Endwalker is getting gigantic,” says Yoshida. “There will be a number of interesting quests, the cutscenes of which have been completely set to music. There are of course a lot of fights that the players will hopefully enjoy.”
The very idea of trying to outbid “Shadowbringers” is a more than daring goal. Last but not least, many “Final Fantasy XIV” players are still skeptical. Most of them can’t imagine that Fandaniel, the new villain in “Endwalker”, can even come close to holding a candle to Emet-Selch, the villain of “Shadowbringers”.
Yoshida stokes high expectations
Of course, Yoshi-P knows this type of player. “I think a lot of fans had a similar reaction with the Emet-Selch reveal as they are now with Fandaniel,” he said. “I still remember many groaning when Emet-Selch first appeared as Emperor Solus zos Galvus in Patch 4.4 or 4.5. ‘Not another Ascian,’ they groaned, saying it was overly dramatic and grandiose.”
As it turned out, Emet-Selch became one of the best villains in series history. The fans just had to give him a chance. On the other hand, Yoshida says that a direct comparison of the two characters is impossible because they serve different purposes. “Emet-Selch was the main antagonist in ‘Shadowbringer’,” explains Yoshida. “He was the counterpart to the player and contradicts it on many points. The players tried to prevent the eighth catastrophe, while Emet-Selch wanted to cause exactly this. That is not the role that Fandaniel plays in ‘Endwalker’, because he is not The expansion’s final boss is. That’s all I can say for now. ”
The secret hero of Yoshi-P
The more Yoshida talks about the story of “Final Fantasy XIV”, the more it becomes clear how attached he is to the characters. That’s not surprising when you consider how closely he’s worked with the story writers over the past decade. “Endwalker” will serve as the final chapter for many characters in the game, including the central heroes of the League of Dawn. To the extremely difficult question about his favorite member of the union, Yoshi-P only has one answer: “Definitely Alphinaud,” says Yoshida, who does not hesitate for a moment. “I have no siblings myself, so he is like a younger brother to me. He is inquisitive but also very passionate about his goal of bringing peace to the world.” According to Yoshida, Alphinaud’s cheeky mouth is part of his charm.
“Alphinaud talks too much,” says Yoshida. “He’s like a kid who constantly talks about his ideals and opinions on Reddit. But when confronted with reality and his failures, he quickly learns to be humble and ask others for help. I believe he’s among the NPCs is one of the stars. So I suggest that players in ‘Endwalker’ should pay extra attention to how he develops. Yes, yes, Alphinaud is my favorite of the Bund. He’s absolutely cute. But because I call him Seeing my little brother, I’m very strict with him too. ”
Alphinaud Leveilleur, Reddit user
Alphinaud as a Reddit user? Not exactly a compliment, but Yoshida is sure: “He’d definitely be one of them. He’d be on Reddit yelling what he thought the world should be like. But when he got to Ishgard, he changed. But me think he’d still be on Reddit and just see what other people say. ”
FFXIV with a lot of FFIV
Regardless of whether it is the materia system from “Final Fantasy VII” or you take complete raids from the world of “Final Fantasy XII”: “Final Fantasy XIV” has always referred to other parts of the series. “Endwalker” seems to be his inspiration heavily taken from “Final Fantasy IV”. The moon, for example, is a recurring symbol that not only appears in “Final Fantasy IV”, but also plays a very crucial role in the story of “Final Fantasy XIV”. “Every time I talked to the development team about including the moon as a motif, we naturally talked about ‘Final Fantasy IV’,” said Yoshi-P. “I’m sure that long-time fans will feel the same way. But ‘Endwalker’ will of course have its own story all of its own. Nevertheless, we wanted to keep the flair and feel of ‘Final Fantasy IV’ in the background.”
This nostalgic note resonates not only in “Endwalker”, but also in everything that Yoshida and his team have published so far. During the press tour, everyone noticed how much passion the developers had put into this project. In the end, the fans, who will be able to immerse themselves in unexplored worlds on November 23, 2021, will be rewarded in particular. According to Yoshida, the trip should be worth it: “We hope that the players will enjoy the story we are telling,” he concludes. “Even if we’re not completely finished with it yet.”