Welcome to the Letter From The Producer Live: 14-hour broadcast, Lopporit Nightmare Edition.
Here's your short and sweet recap of everything you might've missed.
A Cause For Celebration
After introductions, the CEO of Square Enix Yosuke Matsuda joined Director and Producer Naoki Yoshida for the first segment of the broadcast. Celebrating that Final Fantasy XIV has reached a milestone of 27 million registered users! And by the time this goes live, this number is already close to 28 million. The next major milestone would be reaching 30 million registered users, with the 10-year anniversary of A Realm Reborn coming up next year and Final Fantasy XIV as a whole just celebrating its 12th anniversary that once far-fetched dream might soon be a reality.
(You can read more about it in our recap covering Final Fantasy XIVs journey from a struggling MMORPG that almost killed Square Enix to a powerhouse in gaming.)
Those 27 million registered users include everyone who has created an account even under the highly memed free trial. They also mentioned that the Final Fantasy XIVs player base has grown by 12.5% over the last year, which comes on the heels of last year's announcement that Final Fantasy XIV has taken Final Fantasy XIs place as the most profitable Final Fantasy entry.
Patch 6.2 Recap
We're almost two months into the current patch of Endwalker, Buried Memory and Yoshida took some time to recap player feedback and explain some quirks of that particular patch. He talked about the 6.2 trial, Barbariccia, and how they designed it to be a fast-paced fight with no puzzle elements. And how they avoided mentioning the trial leading up to patch 6.2 in order to keep it a surprise.
Many expected Endwalker to be full of Final Fantasy IV references, but Yoshida promised himself and the team that they would keep it tame until players reached the moon. Now that Endwalker is behind us and players visit the moon regularly for hunts or gathering, the team is fully prepared to unleash a wave of Final Fantasy IV references.
The team was also very happy with the release of the new Raid Tier: Pandaemonium Abyssos. Especially the return of the character Lahabrea who has been in the story since A Realm Reborn and exited it in the finale of Heavensward. The team was very excited to dive deeper into him as a character, now that we understand the full scope of his arc. And the final set of Raids with 6.4 will unveil even more secrets. With Yoshida promising we'll also meet another figure from the past.
Yoshida was also really happy with the raid tier's design and difficulty. Stating that thanks to their increase and budget, they were able to include numerous voice lines into the fights, something they usually don't do for non-MSQ-related content. But every now and then we get treated to some voice acting in side content. One of the reasons why this is hard to implement is because Final Fantasy XIV is vocally localized in six different languages.
They also addressed the issue with the final fight of the Abyssos raid tier, in which the damage check on the door boss was so tight that players in certain party compositions couldn't get past it in the first week. Yoshida went into detail on this issue in a Lodestone post here. The short version is the team testing the fight got so good while testing it, they felt that adding 1-2% more health to the fight would be appropriate. (Considering that most players going for a week one clear are better than them.) But that calculation didn't work out this time.
That issue with the last boss of the tier having too much HP in the savage difficulty has since been fixed and the team plans to roll out some job adjustments in the coming two patches. But we'll get more details on that in the near future.
Patch 6.25 Release Date
We also got a release date for Patch 6.25. Expect it relatively soon — Tuesday, October 18. Patch 6.25 will include the highly anticipated relict weapons and the continuation of the Hildibrand questline. Do keep in mind, if you want to start the new relict weapon questline you also have to be up to date with the Hildibrand quests.
With the 6.25 Patch, we'll also get the Variant and Criterion Dungeons. A completely new type of light party content that goes back to more traditional dungeon design. While we don't know the full scope of the rewards yet. We do know that the Variant Dungeons are more of a choose-your-own-adventure kind of content. Here players need to choose between different paths to unveil new parts of the story. It's meant to be replayable and you can play it solo or with up to 3 other players.
The Criterion Dungeons on the other hand are a more tough ordeal. Players will have to group in light parties and make their way through difficult groups of monsters and bosses. Unlike the Variant Dungeons, Criterion Dungeons are linear but come in normal and savage difficulty. While they are scaled for small parties for four players, they scale in complexity and pace compared to their full-party counterparts.
North American Data Center Expansion
With a bit of delay, the North American region is the last one to receive an upgrade to its server structure in this first phase of Final Fantasy XIVs server expansions. Originally planned in August, the North American servers will see a brand new data center added to the current three. So added to Primal, Aether, and Crystal is now the Data Center Dynamis. Especially since housing is scarce on most of the North American servers, four more servers should try and mitigate the problem. And with Data Center travel already implemented, many people will probably eye the launch of the Dynamis Data Center.
On Tuesday, November 1, we'll see patch 6.26 which will not only doe some further balancing to combat, but also make the new Data Center available. There will most likely be rewards and incentives for players to create new characters on the Data Center or move over. For previous server expansions, the rewards included free playtime, Gil rewards, refunds for housing, and other special rewards.
The housing lottery for those servers will open on Saturday, November 5 so relatively early. If you plan to make the move and snatch a house, make sure to prepare some gil!
Fan Fest Returns
The last in-person Fan Fest was in 2019, over the course of three events all across the globe we bore witness to the slow and steady reveal of the Shadowbringers expansion. Due to the Pandemic, however, the 2021 Fan Fest had to be canceled and was held digitally with in-game events and live streams. It was nice, but not the same. Last year in April, Creative Business Unit III revealed the Endwalker expansion and Director and Producer Naoki Yoshida cosplayed the new Reaper job.
Now with the Fan Fest being announced for 2023 and 2024, we can make a decent estimate of when we can expect the next Final Fantasy XIV expansion. Which will no doubt be the main event there. But since so many new players joined the community since the 2021 digital Fan Fest, some explanation is in order. To put it short, the Fan Fest is a convention Final Fantasy XIV holds for all their major regions in North America, Europe, and Japan in the lead-up to their next expansion.
Not only does the Fan Fest give players the opportunity to meet the team behind Final Fantasy XIV. The event is also stacked with panels, prizes to win, and lots of Final Fantasy XIV. The highlight is usually the keynotes at the start of each Fan Fest, in which Naoki Yoshida talks about the next expansion and the concert by developer band The Primals that closes the event.
If you're interested in visiting the event, the North American Fan Fast will take place from July 28-29 in Las Vegas, Nevada. The European Fan Fest will open its doors from October 21-22 in London, UK. And the Japanese Fan Fest is yet to get a date but is considered for early 2024. This puts the release of 7.0 sometime in early 2024 as well!
If you don't plan to attend, don't worry most of the on-stage action will be streamed live on Final Fantasy XIVs various social media channels and we will, of course, have detailed recaps of them right here at ESTNN.