"Alphinaud would be a Redditor" - Naoki Yoshida on "FF14: Endwalker"

When Naoki Yoshida took over as director and producer of Final Fantasy XIV in 2010, shortly after its launch, the MMORPG was in dire straits. Most PCs couldn’t handle its absurdly detailed surroundings, an odd adherence to old-fashioned role-playing mechanics made combat mirthless, and even simple moves like jumping were surprisingly lacking. Yoshida knew that virtually everything had to be rebuilt from the ground up.

The world and characters of Final Fantasy XIV, however, have remained a narrative base. With each minor update or massive patch that fixed the game’s technical issues, its storyline would also slowly fit into what many consider to be the best in Final Fantasy history. Especially after the hugely popular and critically acclaimed Shadowbringers expansion was released in 2019.

Endwalker will be the biggest expansion for Final Fantasy XIV to date, and the development team is looking for a single Shadowbringers, including its story.

“Endwalker’s story is going to be huge,” Yoshida says. “There will be a lot of interesting quests with fully voiced cutscenes. And of course, tons of new battles that we hope players will enjoy.

The mere notion of outdoing Shadowbringers is like saying your Star Wars movie will lead The Empire Strikes Back. It’s one thing to say it, but another to do it – a sentiment that’s all too prevalent among Final Fantasy XIV players. Heck, most of them don’t even believe that Fandaniel, one of Endwalker’s new villains, will be holding a candle next to Shadowbringer’s big bad, Emet-Selch. Yoshida is far too familiar with the folks who paint the cool, nefarious face of the city, however.

“I think the fans had a similar reaction to Emet-Selch as they do now with Fandaniel,” Yoshida explains. “When Emet-Selch first appeared as Emperor Solus zos Galvus in patch 4.4 or 4.5, I remember everyone saying ‘Ugh, not another ascian’, claiming he was too dramatic and exaggerated. ”

Then, of course, Emet-Selch became arguably Final Fantasy’s biggest villain. The fans just had to, you know, give it a chance. However, Yoshida wants everyone to know that directly comparing Fandaniel to Emet-Selch is an unsuccessful endeavor, as they serve different purposes in their respective histories.

“Emet-Selch was the main antagonist of the Shadowbringers,” Yoshida says. “He was the flip side of the player’s coin, your opposite in many ways. You were trying to prevent another dark calamity while Emet-Selch was trying to bring about one. That’s not Fandaniel’s role in Endwalker, as he’s not even the last boss in this expansion. That’s all I’ll say for now.

The more Yoshida enters the history of Final Fantasy XIV, the more it becomes evident that he is as invested in his characters as the fans, which is not surprising. After all, he’s worked hand in hand with the game’s writers for over a decade. Endwalker will serve as the finale for several members of the Final Fantasy XIV character cast, including its central heroes: Scions of the Seventh Dawn. For the most part, it’s hard to pick a favorite, but not for Yoshida.

“It would be Alphinaud,” Yoshida said, barely needing a moment to respond. “I don’t have any siblings, so Alphinaud is like a little brother to me. He is studious, excellent in his studies, but he is also passionate about bringing peace to the world.

Yoshida believes that Alphinaud’s propensity to speak, usually before thinking, is part of the character’s charm.

“Alpinaud talks so much,” Yoshida says. “He would be like this kid who posts his ideals on Reddit. But faced with reality and its failures, Alphinaud learns to become more humble and to accept the people who extend a hand to him. I think he’s a protagonist among the NPCs that appear, so I encourage players to be very careful with how he grows up in Endwalker. But yes, this is my favorite Scion. I think he’s cute as a button. But because I think he’s my adorable little brother, I’m tough on him too.

there is no doubt. After all, accusing a loved one of being a Redditor isn’t exactly flattering.

“He would absolutely be a Redditor,” laughs Yoshida. “He would be on [Reddit] scream about how the world should be. Once he got to Ishgard, however, he went from being a Redditor. Although I think he is still hiding to see what everyone else is saying.

Whether it’s the magical stuff of Final Fantasy VII or entire raids devoted to the world of Ivalice from Final Fantasy XII, Final Fantasy XIV has a long history of referencing previous entries. Endwalker seems to be pulling his hat generously in the direction of Final Fantasy IV, especially with all of the interstellar iconography. It’s a curious decision considering that many tropes associated with the series started there. However, Yoshida insists that the parallels between the two games are simpler than most fan speculation would suggest.

“Whenever we discussed going to the moon, the development team and I naturally thought about Final Fantasy IV,” Yoshida explains. “I’m sure all longtime players feel the same. Of course, Endwalker is going to be completely his own story. But we wanted that Final Fantasy IV aroma to linger in the background.

That nostalgic scent encompasses much of Endwalker, not just for previous entries, but for anyone who has stood in the radiant light of Hydaelyn. From gamers eager to see how this chapter in Eorzea history ends, to a development team that has invested every fiber of their being in Final Fantasy XIV over the past decade – on November 23, 2021, they will all be able to walk to an unknown country. Yoshida only hopes the trip is worth it.

“We would like players to enjoy the main storyline quest for sure,” he said. “Even though we’re not quite done doing it yet. “

Written by Kyle Campbell on behalf of GLHF.

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