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As FF14 Dawntrail ups the challenge, Yoshida wants to help new players

With FF14 Dawntrail imminent, PCGamesN speaks to director Naoki Yoshida about training, Fall Guys, and getting players to try hard content.

FF14 Dawntrail media tour interview: As FFXIV gets harder, Naoki Yoshida wants to help new players learn - A blue-haired female Hrothgar wearing a Sage outfit strokes their chin thoughtfully at the docks in new hub city Tuliyollal.

FF14 Dawntrail is almost upon us, and game director and producer Naoki Yoshida says that, after the successful implementation of solo story elements throughout Shadowbringers and Endwalker, the new expansion for the critically acclaimed MMORPG will have a heavier focus on multiplayer and large-scale content. As it stands, however, Final Fantasy 14 doesn’t do the best job of getting newcomers from the story to the endgame, and so PCGamesN asks Yoshida if he’d like to implement more ways to help players learn.

As a regular player ever since the launch of A Realm Reborn in 2013, I’ve watched Final Fantasy 14 continue to grow and evolve over its decade-plus of development. While it certainly earns its place as one of the best MMORPGs ever, most players will agree that its greatest strength is in its story, something that Yoshida and Creative Business Unit III have placed great focus on throughout the most recent Shadowbringers and Endwalker expansions.

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That’s set to change in Dawntrail. Having widened the entry point for players to get on board, Yoshida now says he wants to push for more focus on multiplayer content, aiming towards a goal of “80 to 90% multiplayer content moving forward.” He also says the team is working on making FF14 content less repetitive and encouraging player parties to strategize on the fly and figure out solutions to the challenges at hand.

At the media tour event where I play the FF14 Dawntrail preview build, including the Viper and Pictomancer jobs, I ask Yoshida if this focus requires offering more assistance to story-driven players, to help them learn the basics of high-end combat. After all, despite my extensive playtime I still feel a pang of apprehension at the idea of queuing for new duties on anything but my comfort melee DPS jobs.

“First I would like to answer from my perspective as a game designer but also as someone who is very familiar with MMOs,” Yoshida says. “When it comes to casual gamers and getting them to try a certain type of content, I’m not the person who would want to pull them to try that.” Everyone has their own situations, he explains, whether they’re busy with work or studying, and he wouldn’t wish to force someone out of their comfort zone while playing FF14 during their downtime.

FF14 Dawntrail media tour Naoki Yoshida interview - The player, as a Marauder, takes on a boss fight in one of the new expansion dungeons.

“Obviously from my perspective, I would want many people to try out the various types of content that we have, but I think the ideal situation is that they try it out at their own pace and whenever it suits them.” I mention the Hall of the Novice, a simple tutorial system that introduces some basic concepts like avoiding AoE attacks, targeting enemy healers first, and interacting with objects mid-fight. It’s quite helpful, but sticks to very simple ideas and hasn’t been expanded since its introduction.

Yoshida agrees that this is a system that could benefit from some brushing up. “I think rather than a tutorial, there should be some training of sorts that can be provided, maybe for people who’ve reached the level cap. So in Dawntrail it would be at level 100 – they’re wondering about how their skill rotation works, or maybe for people who are tanking this training could help them understand how tank switching works. I think at least this kind of training should be provided, because it’s worthwhile having this knowledge to take on the challenge of various content.”

One possible solution lies in the Gold Saucer. I love the FF14 Fall Guys event, I tell Yoshida, because it’s a great way to practice some more advanced raid mechanics in a completely stress-free zone. There’s no fear of letting others down, and if you mess up you can immediately give it another go with no real downside. It’s far from the first Saucer event to offer this potential, and with plans to expand on the casino’s offerings in Dawntrail, I ask whether we could see more such integration in the future.

FF14 Dawntrail media tour interview with Naoki Yoshida - Players taking part in the Fall Guys collaboration event in the MMORPG's Gold Saucer.

“I think this would be ideal,” Yoshida responds. It’s a space where players can just jump in and take part, he says, “and as they’re playing the content, they will gradually learn about the mechanics. I think this is ideal because if we present it as ‘here’s a tutorial, here’s another tutorial, here’s another tutorial,’ it feels like you’re in school – I want to avoid that kind of situation.”

He also expresses a wariness that players might become too demanding if a more explicit tutorial system were implemented. “We do have a very passionate community,” he concludes, “so if we had that, the community would say, ‘Oh you need to go and do this,’ ‘you need to go and do that.’” Some sort of middle ground option, then, might be just what FF14 needs, and I’ll certainly never say no to more Gold Saucer minigames.

You can also read the other part of our media tour interview, where Yoshida reveals canceled FF14 jobs and weapons. As the FF14 Dawntrail release date nears, make sure you’re all caught up with our handy overview of everything that’s new. And if you love a good narrative, make sure not to miss out on the best story games to play in 2024.

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This article is based on time spent playing an in-development build of Final Fantasy 14 Dawntrail, and content in the final version is subject to change.