Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward launches in just a few short days, and yet the team at Square Enix was busy showing the game off to press, fans, and other industry types at E3 2015. We asked Yoshi P why they’re so crazy, and the answer was simple: they’re very proud of what they’ve done, and they want to show it off.
Genese and I, along with a colleague from OnRPG sat down with Yoshi to talk about Heavensward, the direction of the game, and why it’s been so successful. First and foremost, we asked about the 3.0 new player experience and how things are changing.
Essentially, if you’ve never played FFXIV or if you left, when 3.0 launches (whether you have the expansion purchased or not), you’ll find the 1-50 experience far more inviting. On player feedback and with the goal of getting players to the new content as fast as possible, Square has made it so that all you need to do to get from 1-50 is follow the main story. The side quests and leves are all there still, but you don’t need to play them to get to 50 and get prepped for Heavensward content. On top of this, higher level players can now join lower level players to power them through the harder quests and content as well. And by the time you finish the pre-expansion story, you’ll have Item Level 110 gear to help you get started in Heavensward.
We asked if Heavensward intentionally focuses on what ARR did so well with 2.0, and the answer was yes. With the exception of the new flying mounts and content, the goal is for Heavensward to deliver more of what people love from ARR. But moving forward, Yoshi-P teased that we can expect a lot more new experimental features and types of content in future 3.X patches.
Speaking on flight, Square is carefully watching how it’s been handled in WoW, the trouble they’re going through currently, and realized early on that for flight in their game to work well it can’t trivialize the content or exploration. So instead, flight in Heavensward, aside from having to do a very epic quest to gain your mount, will also promote exploration, not just evading monsters and taking shortcuts to quests. The zones themselves are built around the flight mechanic and the idea of exploring the unknown.
Story-wise, 3.0 and beyond will focus on taking the four current arcs in the game and bringing them all together in a beautiful intertwined fashion. Square did not want to spoil anything for players, but Yoshi expects players will be surprised how well everything from 2.0 and beyond comes to a head in Heavensward. They expect there to be at least 50 hours of just main story content in the game, so even if you only play FFXIV for the story, you’re getting a full Final Fantasy game’s worth of content there alone.
On the subject of F2P version Subscription and why FFXIV seems to work so well as the latter, Yoshi said he believes that WoW and FFXIV do have the advantage of their IP, but also… FFXIV just constantly pumps out new content and updates that makes players feel like they’re getting their money’s worth. If the players ever voice that they want the game to be F2P by stopping their subscriptions, they’ll change their stance. But for the foreseeable future, Yoshi doesn’t think they’ll have to explore that option because they’re hell-bent on delivering the same quality and quantity of content over the next decade.
The team has hopes to do FFXI crossovers as FFXI ends its story this year, but there as little they could say there. But it’s one of those things they really hope they can do to help celebrate the end of XI’s big decade-plus long tale.
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward launches officially for all on June 23rd, and what little bits of the new zones and content we saw look absolutely stunning. If you’re a fan, or even a player that’s been away for a while… you have a big huge reason to return this next week. Heavensward is looking like a fantastic extension to an already amazing MMORPG.