FINAL FANTASY XIV’s newest expansion, Dawntrail, is available for preorder NOW on PC/Steam, PlayStation 4/5, and on Xbox Series X/S.

At the conclusion of Day 1 of the Dawntrail Media Tour, members of the media were permitted to submit questions for Naoki Yoshida, the producer and director of FINAL FANTASY XIV Online, to answer over an hour block of time. The gamut of questions ranged from suggestions for gameplay about Materia to whether or not Dawntrail is the start of a new saga for FINAL FANTASY XIV Online.

Below is a summary of that Q&A for all of the questions asked.

This Q&A has been edited for content and clarity.

Are there any examples of “improved reward” as shown in previous PLL [OR Note: Producer Letter Live] and also today’s presentation? Is it more tomestones cap over 7.x patches? Is it more gear drops from 8man/24man raids or existing contents? Or simply just more rewards like cosmetic purposes (minions/mounts)

Yoshida-san made it clear the tomestones cap will not be increasing. [OR Note: It was announced earlier this week that new tomestones will be released and others will be discontinued, however.] Some of the feedback they’ve received is that the rewards are lacking (including in amount) for a lot of the dungeon content, especially for the variant dungeons. They did not have the resources to allocate towards having player-fulfilling rewards for offered content, and so they want to improve upon the rewards given and to increase the reward amounts for dungeons. This does not mean just for minions and mounts, but gear and weapons.

Another factor is they want to bring in different content than what has been offered before, and those rewards will be to fill in gaps – the gear drops may not provide maximum iLvls, but they will still raise average iLvl to midlevels. Yoshida-san admitted it is hard to explain in words, but to look forward to Patch 7.1 for more information. He did reiterate they will increase the amount of gear given as a reward.

I would like to know if there are plans to create a central Party Finder since many raiders DC travel to Aether for NA if they want to find groups. We could even tie in the Oceanic region as well!! This leaves players without access to FC buffs, mail, retainers, etc while they are trying to fill groups. Also, since we are getting many graphical and system updates in Dawntrail, are there plans for a modernized friends list similar to Blizzard’s Battle.net or Steam friends?

Yoshida-san said they are aware players want this, but he said traveling between different physical data centers and having different party finders will need a separate system to manage. If they had this in place, it would solve a lot of problems, but it would be nice. It would take two to three years of work to make happen, and so they wonder if there is an alternative method that would work. They are currently focusing resources on 7.0 at the moment. Once that has settled down, they will talk more about this subject. Yoshida-san said that he does want to solve this, he isn’t giving up on it, but they have to talk about it more.

As for the friends list and improvements, there has also been a lot of feedback for it. But they are improving the blacklist first, and once that has settled down, they are looking at adjusting the friends list as well. Yoshida-san noted that Battle.net, etcetera, are things companies have put their full resources into. They will try to do their best.

Pictomancer job
Pictomancer and Viper are the two new jobs being introduced in the Dawntrail expansion. © SQUARE ENIX


In terms of new player experience, can we see more skills becoming available to players at low levels (as has been done in the past) to refresh that starting experience?

Yoshida-san said with the level cap growing to 100, the team had to review each job’s available actions and their level distribution. He said they tried to keep a good balance across the levels, but they aren’t completely sure about the lower levels, and they do welcome specific feedback on the forums.

It does raise a question about striking a good balance, because people expect they will get new actions when the level cap goes up. They can always increase the number of available actions, but there can be too many and it will be cumbersome. He pointed out that conversely, if you learn it all at lower levels, then what is the purpose of leveling at the higher levels? Furthermore, they don’t want to decrease back to, say, level 50. They said they do think about this, and they are trying to do their best too.

If you could recommend any quests (job, side content, etcetera) to complete before Dawntrail, which would you recommend for players really into FFXIV lore?

Yoshida-san pointed out that if people are really into lore, then they would have already done a lot of the side content. He said he doesn’t want to give away too much, but the most recent alliance raid, Myths of the Realm, would give background information. He also referenced the names of all 14 seats of the Convocation. He said that is a good place to start to get into FINAL FANTASY XIV Online lore.

What were some of the inspirations for Dawntrail?

Yoshida-san referenced what he said during the Fan Festivals, and that one of the inspirations was giving a summer vacation for players. He stated they previously went to the edge of existence in Endwalker and to the Thirteenth in more recent patches. He said what they were doing started to feel all narratively similar, and so they wanted to bring in a new perspective in the Source with a new adventure and new lands and diverse cultures and people with different values. The theme is more uplifting and with adventure – to bring that kind of vacation feel.

Yoshida-san drew a comparison to the real world and all the sad news about war and chaos taking place. He stated with FINAL FANTASY XIV Online, they want to focus on relationships between people for both in-game people and real-life players with different values. They are showing this through the history of Tural and the cultures they represent and how they interact. He hopes it brightens the real-life future as well. Additionally, Warriors of Light wouldn’t be excited with just relaxation, and so there are exciting battles and content ahead, and Yoshida-san encouraged people to play all the way through 7.0.

Dawntrail | Different races enteracting together in Tural.
During my brief hands-on time with Dawntrail at the Media Tour, it was evidence that different races were getting along inside Tuliyollal. © SQUARE ENIX

With the introduction of Viper, there are now six melee DPS. Within these six jobs there are: Striking, Scouting, and Maiming left-side gear as well as Slaying and Aiming right-side accessories. As you can imagine, these make managing gearsets and Materia melds (specifically for skill speed) very hectic. Are there any plans moving forward for either consolidation of melee gearsets and/or Materia loadouts?

My suggestion to fix this easily would be to have players meld material onto their job stones or a skill tree instead of directly onto gear which is being shared across multiple jobs.

Yoshida-san said he is always wondering what direction they want to take simplifying into and how much they should support that. He stated how they wanted to bring a more fulfilling gameplay experience from 7.0 into the 7.x patches, and they talk about how to make more robust content that will challenge players. They looked at more recent content, including battle content, and it started to feel more similar to each other. They have used unique mechanics in the past where parties had to get creative about it. Over the years though, the development team has gotten more conservative about those mechanics, and the player feedback has been harsh about it too. The development team therefore included less unique dungeon elements.

He said they want to address any ‘pain’ points for players – and he described the targeting circle sometimes being as big as the entire field as an example of that. They are trying to shift focus into more robust gameplay, such as the main tank and off tank having specific tasks to be doing or removing one of the DPS and having them fighting a different enemy. They want to introduce fresh mechanics into battle. They’ve also heard comments about how a lot of the content feels similar. He also pointed out that there is feedback from players about how one job has a particular action and yet another job does not. They are not saying that player feedback is bad, but they want to make sure that players are having fun with the game.

Yoshida-san feels, though, that they have gone a bit too far. They would love to go into the various jobs and make them all individual but won’t do it at the same time as they are adjusting gameplay content, because doing it all at once would be a problem. Their current goal is to work through 7.x series to improve on content and then bring a fresh a new perspective to players. Yoshida-san then said that it comes down to different jobs and how much do they accommodate that kind of support on the developer side. He explained that with the different jobs available, if they make it simpler to manage melded Materia for gear – like making it one-button clickable to replace the Materia – the question becomes if it will contribute to a fulfilling gameplay experience.

They are serious about the adjustments and the choices they make but the team does feel they have introduced too many types of Materia, and they should revise that system. Yoshida-san stated this was a good idea that was put forward in the question, and that he may talk with the team about among the other discussions.

How is Dawntrail shifting away from the single player orientation brought about during Shadowbringers to encourage collaborative play [among] the Warriors of Light?

Yoshida-san said that he, and other core team members, wanted to emphasize they are watching your streams and that they want feedback. He said it is not a shifting away, per se. The development team have a long-term goal to accomplish – and this is part of it. The biggest reason people hesitate to play an MMORPG is because people don’t want to play with other players. He wanted to change that hesitation, and he said that one advantage they have is that the story is so good. He wanted to pull people into FINAL FANTASY XIV Online without them having to deal with the pressure of working with others. If he got those people who hesitated to jump in, then that increases the number of players who are available to play together. They decided to make solo-focused gameplay because of it.

Yoshida-san further explained this solo-based content built a playerbase that allows them now, with Dawntrail, to go back to the MMORPG elements to play together in a new stage of the game. He said he is sure that people will find out that the FFXIV community is kind and helpful, and he said if a Sprout fails a mechanic, then they aren’t going to be yelled at or anything. He further explained the solo runs are used by some people as ‘practice runs’, so that when they are grouped with other people, they will have knowledge of the dungeon so it will go more smoothly.

Ihuykatumu Dungeon Combat as a Pictomancer
While spending time in the Ihuykatumu dungeon, I found that a lot of the miniboss fights require familiarity with dungeon mechanics that are homed in from prior expansions. That said, in my personal experience, the player community is always welcoming to new players who are tackling new content. © SQUARE ENIX

Ihuykatumu Dungeon Combat as a Pictomancer

In the future, are [there] plans to rehaul the iLvl sync system? Currently, the calculations are very convoluted and confusing for new players when syncing for various contents, including high level raids, where the higher iLevel gear may not actually be best in slot. For example, this is in part due to Materia stats not being included in syncing.

My suggestion would be to include Materia stats, in addition to the base stats, but also put a cap on them.

Yoshida-san said that calculations for iLvls are quite complex, and it does put a load on the servers. He said they are aware there is a misalignment with Materia. The iLvl system comes from FINAL FANTASY XI Online and the formula for it was developed solely by Mitsutoshi Gondai. [OR Note: iLvl was introduced in 2013’s Seekers of Adoulin expansion.] With the iLvl sync system in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online, they got Gondai-san to program it in. He was also the first battle director for FFXIV. He is still involved with FFXIV, and he is a very dedicated team member.

Yoshida-san further explained that iLvl system in FFXIV was rather rushed, because they were trying to get the game ready for launch. He said it was a good idea and they will take it back and discuss it further while trying to also keep a lower load on the servers.

In Producer Live Letter 81, you stated that the discussions for the next expansion -8.0- had already started. Is Dawntrail the start of a new saga that will be continued into further expansions, or is it intended to be a standalone story?

Yoshida-san opened by saying that whether or not they want to make Dawntrail an ongoing saga or not has not been determined yet. He said that this is because when they released Heavensward, they did not know it was going to be one long saga. At the time, they were focused on rebuilding FINAL FANTASY XIV Online after the harsh 1.0 launch, that they wanted to just make sure to continue the game and that it would continue to exist. He said that at that time, it was just one step at a time, and they didn’t have a mind to go to SQUARE ENIX and tell them that it would be just one long saga because they would just call it crazy.

He said that around the time of Stormblood, they started to say it looks like it is just one continuous story for them to tell. He said that there was some foreshadowing in Heavensward and Stormblood in the hopes they would be able to depict a larger overarching story. In similar fashion, there will probably be some foreshadowing that might lead to something throughout Dawntrail’s story.

Yoshida-san said he has to wait to see how players react to Dawntrail’s story and the finale of the expansion. But they do have several ideas in their pocket about where to go to. They have something incorporated into 7.0 that is exciting that they can’t say quite yet. Yoshida-san said that they will wait and see what the future holds. He said in his mind, there are storylines for the next two expansions, and so he hopes that players will continue to be excited over FINAL FANTASY XIV Online and he will see the players reactions to Dawntrail. He said Dawntrail is all about a summer vacation, so next time may be all ice and frozen. He concluded that rather than worrying about it all being one long saga or not, he wants to bring excitement, new exploration, and new elements to players for them to enjoy in Dawntrail.

Please check out my thoughts on the new Viper job, on the new Pictomancer job, and what my overall thoughts are for the Dawntrail demo.

If you want more FINAL FANTASY XIV Online-themed content, then be sure to check out my ongoing cooking series, Cooking Eorzea!

Also, check out what eleven FINAL FANTASY XI Online enemies that I think need to be part of the upcoming Echoes of Vana’diel raid series in Dawntrail.

What new features would you like to see in Dawntrail and in future expansions?

Are you ready for a summer vacation in Tural?

Let us know in the comments below!

Quentin H.
I have been a journalist for oprainfall since 2015, and I have loved every moment of it.