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FF14 Dawntrail dev was nervous about the “bold approach” to Wuk Lamat

PCGamesN speaks to English localization lead Kate Cwynar about FF14 Dawntrail and the arrival of female Hrothgar Wuk Lamat in patch 6.55.

FF14 Dawntrail interview with English localization lead Kate Cwynar - Wuk Lamat, a female Hrothgar introduced as our first point of contact for the MMORPG's new expansion.

With FF14 Dawntrail ferrying us off to new lands, and a fresh adventure kicking off following the conclusion of an overarching decade-long story arc in previous expansion Endwalker, there’s certain to be somewhat of a new tone in store for long-standing players of the best MMORPG around right now. FF14 patch 6.55 gave us a first taste of that with the introduction of newcomer Wuk Lamat and our primary reason for journeying to Tural, so PCGamesN sat down with English localization lead Kate Cwynar to talk about the process of putting that first foot forward for a new expansion and the response from fans.

If you’ve yet to read the first part of our FF14 Dawntrail interview with Cwynar, we dug into the process of capturing the culture of Tural and the way the team has tackled its previous description of the ‘New World’ (and the real-life connotations that term carries). But what of the people of Tural? Final Fantasy 14 has long been a series dominated by very traditional, posh-sounding British accents, and attempts to branch out the voices heard as you explore the critically acclaimed MMORPG have ranged from mixed responses in Stormblood to a largely more positive feeling through Endwalker.

Ahead of Dawntrail we’ve been treated to the arrival of Wuk Lamat, the first FF14 female Hrothgar to appear in-game and a character Cwynar says she “was definitely very nervous about, because, as you can tell from her voice, we’ve taken a rather bold approach here.” Cwynar nods to the likes of Thavnair in Endwalker, noting, “We’ve done a bit of accent work in places where, frankly, it doesn’t make sense to have the whole world speaking British RP – and it’s not the kind of world we want to create.”

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“We want to create a world with diversity, where not everyone feels beholden to speak this one certain way, even if their native languages are different,” she continues. As such, there’s been a push to bring in actors of Latin American descent for some of the characters you’ll meet in Tural throughout Dawntrail. She notes that the arrival of Wuk Lamat, voiced by Sena Bryer, “is probably quite jarring when we’ve suddenly inserted them into Sharlayan, where everyone is the most posh British person ever.”

It’s certainly a striking introduction, although it immediately warmed me to the character, who carries the player through patch 6.55 with a bounding enthusiasm that, at times, gives way to reveal her inexperience. “It was a very interesting way to introduce the character, I thought, because she’s clearly putting on an attitude for this trip,” Cwynar muses.

As for how the audience responded, Cwynar says it’s been “mostly positive, which I appreciate because she’s a character that I really like personally. You know, you try not to take criticism [players] give too personally, but for myself, the hardest thing is if there’s a character I really like and then people say, ‘this character sucks.’ I’m like, no, you’re wrong.”

FF14 Dawntrail interview - Wuk Lamat, a female Hrothgar from the land of Tural, smiles with her arms folded across her chest.

“I know some folks weren’t super happy with [Wuk Lamat’s voice], because I think it is hard to adjust to it in that context; she just sounds so different from all the other characters when she’s in Eorzea,” Cwynar continues. “But once we get to Tural I think that adjustment will be easier.” I’m reminded somewhat of the bold arrival of Gosetsu, Stormblood’s loud Doman samurai; personally, I always find very distinctive accents or speech patterns quite endearing, especially in a game so resoundingly dominated by a particular way of speaking as FF14 has been.

“Overall, I was really happy with how much people loved Wuk Lamat,” Cwynar says. “If I had a nickel for all the memes of ‘I’ve had Wuk Lamat for five minutes, but if anything happened to her…’ It’s been a pleasure to see those. And I know Sena’s been really happy with the reception, so that’s great.”

The inhabitants of Tural aren’t the only ones doing the talking, of course. While the player character in Final Fantasy 14 doesn’t speak out loud (beyond a few grunts and exclamations), there’s been an increasing trend, especially through Shadowbringers and Endwalker, to give the Warrior of Light more of a voice through player-selected dialogue options – and these have increasingly offered more light-hearted and silly selections alongside the serious options.

FF14 Dawntrail interview - A Warrior of Light (the player character) is presented with three possible dialogue options to choose from.

I ask Cwynar how often more off-handed lines end up catching on in a bigger way than expected. “It’s always those silly one-liner things, right? We’re often asked about the jokes and if we’re sitting around workshopping jokes all day; we’re definitely not.” Oftentimes, however, some of the funnier options come as a result of initial drafts that end up sticking around. “I did start writing some of those player dialogue options to be a little bit sillier, just because I had time pressure, and then I decided, ‘this is actually funny, I’m going to leave it in,’ and then people really liked it. So I guess we’ll keep doing that.”

They’re an addition I’ve come to really appreciate – FF14 is very much a player-centric RPG game, perhaps even more so than it is an MMO nowadays, and so being able to define your Warrior of Light in small ways is a welcome touch. I’ve spent ten years with some of the game’s long-standing cast, and as the Scions and their companions have grown ever closer it would feel weird if we couldn’t join in on giving our mates a bit of a razzing from time to time.

“For me [having those options] is something that’s really important,” Cwynar tells me. “Logistically when you’re making a game, you can’t always make these really long, branching dialogue trees. We don’t have time, and [FF14] isn’t set up for that sort of thing; this isn’t Mass Effect. So when we do have those dialogue options, personally it’s really important for me to make those something that people will find expressive. Whenever I get to them in my translation, I think about ‘What is the most diverse we can make these options and still have them be something people would want to logically choose?’”

The FF14 Dawntrail release date is set to arrive in the summer. In the meantime, the best FF14 mount is back for a brief while, so don’t miss your chance to grab it while you can.

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