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Final Fantasy XIV’s Graphics Update Already Has Players Divided

Time for a makeover.

Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail
Square Enix

On Friday, April 12, Square Enix hosted the latest Final Fantasy XIV Live Letter, giving us our first in-depth look at the graphics update coming with Dawntrail. Over the weekend, the company also released the Dawntrail Benchmark, letting players run a technical test to see how their PCs will handle the new graphical quality. While the update is a massive improvement it’s created a bit of a conundrum: some players aren’t happy with how their characters now look. While there’s still time to refine the update before July, this has led to a handful of posts on social media and the official FFXIV forums, asking for changes.

During the Live Letter, producer Naoki Yoshida described all the improvements featured in the graphics update The segment made it clear that this update is making massive improvements to FFXIV’s environment, drastically upping things like foliage density, texture quality, and amount of detailed items. While those changes have been universally praised, the graphics update also makes a number of far less desirable tweaks to player characters.

The graphics update makes some massive improvements to textures.

Square Enix

Subtle alterations to lighting and textures are altering how player’s characters look, and some players are less than enthused. One common complaint so far is that the update makes the character’s skin look too waxy, or almost doll-like. Certain races, like Veira, seem to have been hit by this change more than others.

On the official FFXIV forums you can find over a dozen posts from the last few days cataloging a laundry list of complaints, and asking Square Enix to address them, like one thread titled “Character graphical changes are NOT in an acceptable state, please make it optional.”

Foliage density and quality have been improved with the graphics update as well.

Square Enix

That thread points out a staggering amount of little details that have seemingly been altered, like lip changes, characters from the Miqo’te race having ears missing patterns, a lack of shine in eye details, lighting problems, and more. Of course, it’s important to keep in mind that the character creator in the Dawntrail benchmark may not be what makes it into the full 7.0 version of the game, as there could be more refinements and changes added.

What’s fascinating, however, is how evenly split the player base seems to be on the character changes. Some players absolutely love how their characters look, while others find it disappointing. The forums have a thread with over 45 pages of players comparing their characters before and after, and social media platforms like X are filled with players sarcastically noting if they “survived” the graphics update.

A common complaint is that characters now look “softer,” removing some of the harshness of their features. Something that some players like.

Square Enix

While many might see the changes in the graphics update as minuscule, it honestly makes sense why it's blowing up so much with the player base. Through its story focus and various systems, FFXIV has made it easy for players to lean into self-expression.

More than any other MMO out there, FFXIV inserts the player directly into the narrative and takes deliberate steps to make your character feel unique, through friendships, dialogue, choices, and relationships. This is on top of the more social elements of the game, like housing and Free Companies. But that story focus integrally changes how players build a bond with their character, which in turn, makes it less surprising that fans are responding this vehemently to the graphical changes.

There’s no world where Square Enix can please everyone with FFXIV’s graphical update, but it’s hard to imagine the development team not taking at least some of these criticisms to heart. Time and again, Yoshida and the rest of the team have stressed how much they value the community's feedback. In this case, there’s been enough feedback that something obviously needs to change.

Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail releases on July 2 for PS4, PS5, Xbox Series X|S, and PC.

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