Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn launches tomorrow on PS3. To celebrate the launch, PlayStation.Blog sat down with Producer and Director Naoki Yoshida to talk over A Realm Reborn’s long gestation and epic ambitions.
PlayStation.Blog: Which element of A Realm Reborn is most going to surprise PlayStation players?
Naoki Yoshida: I think one of the big things will be the amazing graphics, which really push the limits of PS3’s technical capabilities, as well as the fact that this is an MMORPG experience. Also, MMORPGs are most usually controlled using a keyboard and mouse, but our Cross Hot Bar system we’ve developed specifically for the DualShock allows for smooth and exciting play, so that’s another area of interest for PS3 players.
PSB: What improvements have you made since the original PC release of Final Fantasy XIV?
Yoshida: I think that improvements can be roughly split into three areas: to regain the trust of the players, to fundamentally rebuild the game experience from the ground up, and — most importantly — to complete the PS3 version while maintaining the high levels of graphical quality and play.
To put it simply, every single aspect of A Realm Reborn has been redeveloped, improved, and upgraded since the original Final Fantasy XIV launched, so I’m fine with it if people want to think of A Realm Reborn as a completely new title in its own right!
PSB: You announced at the Japan Expo in Paris that Lightning from Final Fantasy XIII will appear in the game. Why Lightning?
Yoshida: With Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, we’ve actively taken efforts to cleverly incorporate elements from across the whole series to date into Eorzea — the setting that forms the game world. I think there will also be many more elements included as the game develops in order to make players from all across the world feel like they’re a part of the Final Fantasy experience. There’s a solid backstory for why Lightning is visiting Eorzea, and it will certainly form a chapter in the Lightning Saga that I hope everyone can enjoy!
PSB: How regularly do you plan to update A Realm Reborn, and what sort of content can we expect?
Yoshida: We’re planning on doing a major update every three months once the game has been released, and continuously adding large-scale content. Ongoing support for the game will be included in the monthly subscription.
We’ve already begun work on the first update that is currently called patch 2.1 and will introduce a large-scale housing system, as well as “The Wolves’ Den” — the first ever PvP content in the series. Furthermore, the update will include new dungeons, a new daily quest system, new Primal battles, extensions to the main story, and loads of other new content to enjoy.
There will be a significant update every three months, so everyone will be able to continue enjoying the game for a very long time! Of course we also have long-term plans to release full expansion packs, so watch out for future updates on those, too.
PSB: Some players like to customize their interface menu, like various meters and displays. How is this handled?
Yoshida: We’re trying to attract a large number of new players who are trying out the MMORPG genre for the first time, and an overwhelming amount of customizable features like aggro meters and DPS meters can put pressure on those kinds of players. We’ll of course have these included in A Real Reborn, but will not be making them generally available for a while.
By the time everyone has grown accustomed to the game and the interface customization options available at launch, we’ll introduce more customizable options with updates on official patches and as Add On tools to open up options for a more dedicated MMORPG interface.
PSB: Will it be possible in the final version of the game to switch a player character from one server to another?
Yoshida: Yes, we’ll be providing an optional world transfer service!
PSB: Voice chat wasn’t enabled in the recent beta. Will it be integrated in the full version of the game?
Yoshida: We do not plan on offering official support for voice chat. To explain that decision, the idea of talking directly to other players with your own voice and making it a requirement to do so will not necessarily be a good thing for beginners, and many will see it as imposing pressure or causing them unnecessary stress.
I am personally a veteran online gamer, so I completely understand the importance of voice chat, but if we were to make it an officially supported feature then there is a chance that some players would start to demand that others use it just because it is an “official feature”.
Of course, we will not be prohibiting external voice chat via Skype etc., so individual player communities can still sort out their own preferred means of communication!
PSB: The game currently supports four languages: English, French, German, and Japanese. Are there any plans to include more European languages?
Yoshida: There is indeed scope to expand the number of supported languages if player numbers and customer demand reaches a sufficient level. We await word from various communities as to what people want to see.
PSB: What are your thoughts on PS4 as a developer?
Yoshida: I have an extremely great appreciation of the PS4’s hardware architecture and memory capacity. Production of the PS4 version of A Realm Reborn is well underway, and going according to plan. I hope to be able to unveil this awesome PS4 version as soon as possible!
PSB: What will the PS4 system allow you to bring to the development and production of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn that hasn’t been possible so far?
Yoshida: The PS3 version supports an interface specifically designed for controllers, but PS4 offers a huge variety of different interface options and also has the capacity to render an unbelievable number of player characters simultaneously. Both of these are really great features for the future development of the game!
PSB: Was it your requirement that PS3, PS4, and PC gamers play on the same servers?
Yoshida: Yes, of course. I think it would be very sad indeed if say a player with the PS3 version invited a friend to play with them but they could not do so because that friend happened to have the PS4 version. So I really do believe that whatever hardware is being used, all players should be able to play together across platforms.
I think that splitting the community down into different segments is something that we should avoid, even if it may look like it makes for a temporary business success. I am incredibly grateful to Sony for making this kind of cross-platform play possible.
PSB: Will the PS4 version of the game contain exclusive content compared to the PS3 version?
Yoshida: That’s not my intention. As I said already, if different platforms give their players a different game experience, then it will inevitably lead to the splintering and division of the community, and that’s really not a good idea for an MMORPG. So I want all players to have a stable and fun experience, regardless of which platform they choose to play the game on, and without worrying about which version is the best.