The Implications of the Recent Yoshi-P Endwalker Interview

Today, some details from recent Japanese gaming magazine interviews were translated and released on the Final Fantasy XIV subreddit. In it, some interesting and light details about 6.2 and the upcoming story structure of Endwalker’s remaining patches were shared.

These details actually kind of work to provide a structure to the uncertain forward motion of Endwalker, in the ways it varies from prior expansions.

The New Trial Is A Part of the MSQ: This one is left-field, but addresses a point of speculation that has been around from the beginning – at least for 6.2, the trial is a part of the MSQ and not side content. This could then go in a few different ways. If we assume that all the trials will then be a part of the MSQ, it kind of fits the idea of what an expansion arc at launch looks like, making the Endwalker patch cycle an expansion unto itself in a way, with its own story arc and development. While this might be presumptuous now, given a detail later on, it will make sense.

The other potential options are that not all of the coming trials are MSQ, or that most will be with a few outliers. There is a possibility that 6.3 would still add an MSQ trial and then the final two for the expansion would not be, or that none of the remaining trials will be MSQ related. I think the most likely scenario is that all the remaining trials are MSQ-related and required – the story they’ve setup with the heavy FFIV influence is still an obvious series of trials. If we get 4 trials for the rest of Endwalker (counting 6.2), then the only question is where Golbez fits into things. Speaking of future story beats….

The MSQ Arc For Endwalker is Standalone, and 6.5 Will Conclude It and Set Up The New Expansion: Whew, this one is quite interesting. I think a lot of us have been speculating about how the current story beats feel ripe to add the Thirteenth as the major area for the next expansion, and it made sense through the lens of how FFXIV has traditionally told its story. However, the interview run confirms that Endwalker’s post-launch story is a standalone arc, and that what is to come in 7.0 is not going to be setup until 6.5, the final post-Endwalker major patch.

This is interesting, but it is also a potentially tricky bit of wordplay. A lot of players have a fixation on the idea that the story of a new expansion would flow forward from Endwalker’s patch cycle stories, but the potential is that the setup we are currently engaged with leads us to a fresh story outside of the current arc. Characters and their stories can and likely will still be built up in this time between, but this current declaration leads to a lot of questions as well. The biggest one in my mind is the timing of a potential Fan Fest event – it would have likely been this year with the start of the cycle in November here in the US before the winter 2023 cycle of Japan/Europe, but the amount of detail that can be shared would have to shift, as in the past, the x.3 patch that concluded the current story was always out, and often the x.4 patch as well, so the story details could be teased and even expanded upon as the Fan Fest events moved closer to release. If the story hooks for 7.0 aren’t going to be in the game for another year at this point, that does make the event timing interesting. Of course, with no announcement of an NA Fan Fest at this point for the usual month and year in the cycle, it is likely that this is already taken into account!

It also raises some questions about how good the story quality of the next expansion will be without that clear ramping tension into new events. My (perhaps unpopular) FFXIV opinion is that the x.4 and x.5 patch MSQs of the past are often weak story bits that are quickly discarded or retold by the expansion they are building to. I like elements of the x.4 and x.5 patches (the sense of resolution and search for new purpose are often storytelling elements I find lacking in story-driven MMOs I’ve played besides FFXIV), but let’s even just look at Endwalker’s buildup back in Shadowbringers – Fandaniel’s role was important but not well explained until Endwalker itself, the tempering cure was important to the first act but quickly became an afterthought by the moon, the idea of Lunar Primals was pretty much just a cool point of conflict for the 5.5 MSQ content, and while the introduction of Fourchenault and the furthering slide of Zenos were important and well-played with in Endwalker, Fourchenault’s bit was well paid off while Zenos’ just shows us that he became a Reaper while in Garlemald, while little else of his involvement at that point mattered even in Endwalker (and it, like pretty much all of Fandaniel’s characterization, was just retold again in Endwalker proper anyways).

All of to say – I think it is a bold experiment with some potential pitfalls but one I am eager to see play out.

More On The Savage Pushback “Experiment”: This interview provides a slight bit of the detail about why Savage being one week behind is an experiment – because gear availability may threaten the balance a bit more than usual.

In the past, Savage being day and date with the patch made it so that players had a relatively-even playing field to start, with the same access to crafted gear and only up to 450 of the current high-end tomestones having been available to earn. For second and third-tier raids each expansion, this also put most groups in the position of having to choose how to manage time – you have to run Normal to unlock Savage, and then choose to go straight to Savage, to work through crafting and pentamelding those day 1 gear sets, or choose to cap tomes first and buy those small right-side armor upgrades.

With Allagan Tomestones of Causality and crafted item level 610 gear on day one of the patch but Savage on day 8, a new arms race emerges. The first week is unquestionably easier – the raid team can take their time to work through MSQ, get those new timed node mats for crafting, and to work towards the recipe books needed and the crafting time needed to make the new gear, and can cap tomestones. Then on Savage day 1, the choice is whether or not the group runs through other content quickly to cap tomestones before raiding Savage, as getting to 900 tomestones means the entire raid can get a 620 piece of gear in almost any slot, and once a team is through P6S, they can use the weapon token there for someone to buy a 620 weapon with tomestones, which that person can then upgrade with the upgrade token in P7S to item level 630. Because this is now possible, the interesting bet in the small-scale world first race of FFXIV Savage raiding is whether or not teams decide to do this. For your average static, it isn’t going to be quite like that unless your group tends towards early week loot-funneling to DPS (a common thing in statics trying for strong early clears), but it adds a wrinkle to the tuning just by offering the potential for higher item level baselines coming in to the first week of Savage.

The change is also expected, unfortunately, to have an economic effect on the crafting market, as the possibility of starting Savage with almost any slot at 620 means that full pentameld sets are likely to be less common – it’ll still be one of those things most players do immediately anyways, with the caveat again being at the high-end, as players pre-planning loot can safely choose a slot each to not get a crafted piece in. Given that Endwalker’s first tier of crafted gear quickly bottomed out on most servers anyways, I’m not so sure it will be that much worse, but it will be worse by some measure!

On the tuning front, Yoshida admits the team is tuning this new tier to a higher difficulty level than before, as the expectation is that players are now comfortable with their level 90 kits and the new designs are taking this into account. It’s interesting to me, because I think that Asphodelos did feel about right – although it was very smooth once you saw a fight through to completion. On the other hand, I’ve run with a mix of groups both static and random via PF and found that the tier’s most difficult mechanics could often stymie less-skilled raiders, largely down to the factors of randomness and how much data you need to execute your part versus knowing how the whole raid handles it. Act 2 on P4S part 2 is one such mechanic, where you can get 5 straight pulls of practice as the shadow tether healer and then get fire on the 6th pull and just completely forget how to do it, while the mechanic as a whole only asks you to know two 3-point movements from 1 of two starting positions but can be overwhelming if you’re also trying to know what the other roles in the raid can get and will have to do – it’s simple enough if you can just focus on your effort and movements, but a lot of raiders want to know the whole picture and Act 2 made that daunting.

Lastly, small notes about the visuals – Yoshida heard the feedback about Phoinix and has said the team made particular effort to ensure the visuals were readable this time, especially since they felt the last tier was rather plain visually and they’ve made effort to increase the flashiness of the fights in Abyssos. On the story front, the idea here is to get deeper into the Ancients’ way of thinking, with Pandaemonium and the Abyssos tier leading us to question such a facility and what it is that they are trying to seal away there. There’s also our first in-game shot of unmasked ancient Lahabrea…

New UI Features Coming In The Patch?: Admittedly, I’m cynical – the recent fixation on asking for feedback on QoL addons but also banning players using them has felt bad-faith on the part of the team to me, a sort of delay tactic given that they’ve promised both full-fledged addons and better UI forever, with the addon thing being quietly dropped in the last several years and the UI improvements being a forever-sounding drumbeat that leads to…new UI color theme options! However, this feels better – a specific commitment to improvements on a timetable. Now, if those improvements are just like…another color theme, I’ll mutter softly in the corner, but if they make tangible efforts to modernize the FFXIV UI with things like enemy list debuff tracking, better self-applied buff/debuff tracking, and shielding support on my personal HP bar instead of just on the party list, I’d be pretty happy. My real cynical take is that they’ll add chat bubbles and only chat bubbles – but we don’t have long to wait to see!

The Rest Is Worth Reading: Digest aside, there are interesting notes on in-development systems that I didn’t think were worth trying to summarize (as their core systems aren’t even in the game yet, like Variant dungeons and Island Sanctuary) but the details are tantalizing about what could be!

With only 3 days until this next live letter, the hype is building!

2 thoughts on “The Implications of the Recent Yoshi-P Endwalker Interview

    1. Honestly, I think that it’s because Yoshi P has a better sense of where his game is heading, not just in the next month or the next patch but over the next number of patches and for years forward. WoW flies by the seat of its pants by comparison and so half the things Ion says in interviews about long-view perspectives or even the short-term ends up invalidated, which is pretty rough. Definitely something he should see to as game director, but…

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