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FFXIV: A Realm Reborn director Yoshi-P reflects on 5 major milestones

Our interview with Naoki “Yoshi-P” Yoshida.

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Square Enix

When the now-beloved MMORPG Final Fantasy 14 originally launched in 2010, it was a disaster. A baffling UI and mind-numbing level grind alienated players in droves.

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Enter Naoki Yoshida. He became the producer and director in December 2010 and proved instrumental in the game’s relaunch as A Realm Reborn in August 2013.

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For A Realm Reborn’s eighth anniversary, Yoshida and some of FFXIV’s biggest content creators reflected on five of the game’s biggest milestones over the years.

5. A Realm Reborn

August 27, 2013

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Square Enix

Despite the failure of FFXIV 1.0, there was enough hype around A Realm Reborn that even with increased server capacity, the game was overwhelmed with new players at launch.

“One of the strongest memories that stayed with me was the huge number of players we saw coming to the game right after launch — and the congestion that came with it.”

- Naoki Yoshida

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Square Enix

Along with reworked core systems and new storylines, A Realm Reborn later added FFXIV’s first new basic class, Rogue, and advanced job, Ninja.

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Streamer MrHappy tells Inverse that with the help of FFXIV’s community, he learned to acknowledge the expertise of other players rather than “trying to be a know-it-all.”

“While not perfect, I love the FFXIV community.”

- MrHappy

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Square Enix

For Yoshida, the success of A Realm Reborn is still tinged with a bit of regret for its early server issues.

“Although I was happy about the launch itself, more than anything I remember feeling terribly sorry for the inconvenience that followed.”

- Naoki Yoshida

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4. Heavensward

June 23, 2015

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Square Enix

Square Enix held the first Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival in 2015. It has become a major annual showcase for new content and a chance for fans to meet in person.

“During that first keynote address, my legs trembled under the jubilant cheers from the crowd. I became so nervous that I started to race through the presentation.”

- Naoki Yoshida

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Heavensward added a well-received chapter to FFXIV’s story and brought the new jobs Astrologian, Dark Knight, and Machinist, along with a new playable race: the Au Ra.

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Heavensward introduced player-versus-player modes. While not overly popular, PvP does have a robust dedicated community.

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PvP streamer Brian Ricardo joined FFXIV in 2015. Even in the competitive world of PvP, he tells Inverse that streamers support each other and make space for LGBTQ+ and BIPOC players.

3. Stormblood

June 20, 2017

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Square Enix

Heavensward subverts fantasy tropes with a kingdom of humans at war with dragons. The story of Stormblood then charges the player with supporting uprisings in two nations occupied by an invading empire.

The new jobs Red Mage, Blue Mage, and Samurai were added, along with a new city to explore.

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With Stormblood’s launch, FFXIV was again hit with server congestion, this time exacerbated by wait times for the main story quest.

“This caused inconvenience to the players, but I also felt sorry for the characters Raubahn and Pippin, who were placed in the spotlight.”

- Naoki Yoshida

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Square Enix

Yoshida says the team used this issue to review how quests and story beats are delivered, which would pay off in FFXIV’s next expansion.

2. Shadowbringers

July 2, 2019

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Led by main scenario writer Natsuko Ishikawa, the story of Shadowbringers is lauded as the best in FFXIV, and one of the best stories in all of Final Fantasy.

“One of the things that really struck me was the immense praise we received about the story from players around the world.”

- Naoki Yoshida

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Square Enix

Yoshida notes the difficulty of focusing on storytelling in an MMORPG. The ongoing nature of the genre and the need for lots of repeatable content often drive other MMOs toward shallower stories.

The story of Shadowbringers flipped FFXIV on its head, transporting players to a new world for the first time, where they became “Warriors of Darkness,” as opposed to the “Warriors of Light” they’d been dubbed since the game’s beginning.

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Dancer and Gunbreaker were added as new high-level jobs, and two new races were added: the female-only Viera and male-only Hrothgar.

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Both were so popular that the upcoming Endwalker is adding male Viera, and female Hrothgar are in the works.

1. Endwalker

November 23, 2021

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As Endwalker approaches, FFXIV has gotten an influx of new players, some coming from another giant of the MMORPG genre, World of Warcraft.

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Some players worry that WoW refugees” could bring toxicity into the friendly FFXIV community, but streamers we talked to are not worried.

“New players have been so kind! I have been playing with many WoW refugees, and it’s been great. It’s always nice to see more life in the game.”

- FFXIV streamer Brian Ricardo

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“It’s been reinvigorating as a content creator and honestly endearing in-game seeing people learning new things for the first time.”

- FFXIV streamer MrHappy

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Square Enix

FFXIV heads into Endwalker with an estimated 3.07 million daily players as of August 2021. Yoshida says the expansion concludes an eight-year story arc and sets up even bigger things to come.

“Gearing toward another decade of service, I’m aiming for huge leaps as we further advance on our journey.”

- Naoki Yoshida

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