How Endwalker's system changes set the stage for 10 more years of Final Fantasy XIV

Final Fantasy XIV‘s fourth expansion Endwalker is right around the corner, just two months away. The finale of the “Hydaelyn and Zodiark” saga has story tendrils stretching as far back as the first version of game (Version 1.0), and is set to conclude in Version 6.0’s main scenario.

In his closing remarks to this weekend’s gargantuan, six-hour Live Letter broadcast, producer and director Naoki Yoshida said that he is excited to share what new ideas the team is planning for the game over the next ten years – as one arc of FFXIV is concluding and another begins. If that plan holds, this moment could effectively mark the midpoint of the game’s run.

And FFXIV is certainly having a moment. With active players and subscribers at record levels in what’s normally a lull period in the patch release cadence, more people than ever are checking the game out for the first time or returning after long absences. This is due to a multitude of reasons, but the game has generally seen an upward trend, gradually picking up new players with each expansion as it enters its eighth year of service and tenth year of existence.

After releasing expansion after expansion, it’s hard not to notice the team’s effort to adjust and address the large amount of content and features that have now come to coexist in the game. This includes implementation of cuts to the quest count in the A Realm Reborn era and New Game Plus, which allows you to replay many different scenarios at your current level, allowing for a way to experience the game’s story without starting a new character. With a game, especially a MMORPG, as story-focused as Final Fantasy XIV, maintaining that critical path is understandably important.

Other system level changes planned for Endwalker are necessary not only for adding, designing, and scaling content long-term, but to prevent years’-old formulae from causing inflated or undesired results. Large numbers in flying text in quick succession can lead to graphical performance and display issues, according to a previous explanation from Yoshida. The formulae designed at the start of A Realm Reborn wasn’t necessarily intended for content extending over a 20-year lifespan. As Yoshida states: “we didn’t know how far we could go.” The trigonometry involved would simply scale players at an every inflated level – and is even causing problems at present with enmity calculations. Deflating, or compacting the numbers, will aid in the design of new encounters.

Specifically, Endwalker will downscale or compact HP and damage values between level 50 and 80. If you’re using the Undersized Party option in the duty finder, Enhanced Echo will bring the balance back in line with the difficulty we experience now – to compensate for the new math. Yoshida states that in unsynced duties, enemies within this range may feel a little bit tougher and require a little more effort than before, but it’s an adjustment you can get used to quickly. The values themselves will be reduced to roughly 20% of their current values and the potency of meals, medicine, and materia are also being brought in line with calculation.

Even the core damage calculations needed to be rethought

The levelling experience is also going to feature some important adjustments, where the current experience growth rate is inflated due to the current scaling. The team reviewed the growth curve across all expansions to account and adjusted it accordingly. “Rest assured,” Yoshida says, that the new growth curve won’t be too slight, necessitating the repeating dungeons or other content to meet quest requirements.

Another big change is the reduction or elimination of HQ (high quality) items in an attempt to streamline crafting and gathering for the long-term. This includes gathered items, enemy drops, token exchange materials, and non-craftable materials obtained from certain content. While more information will be shared closer to Endwalker, it’s clear to see immediate benefits when it comes to recipe complexity and the inventory space involved when many items have a NQ (normal quality) and HQ iteration – and cuts down on the sheer number of unique items in the game overall. After Endwalker, these HQ items won’t be deleted from your inventory should they still be there, they simply will function the same as NQ items. Naturally, quests and other turn-in requirements that ask for these HQ items will be adjusted as well.

Teleportation fees are also going to be adjusted, removing the 999 gil cap. Right now the fees are based on the distance from point A to point B, and the same is true after Endwalker, but they’ve been rescaled. While it’s not immediately clear why this rework is needed, I suspect that establishing a new baseline for these costs pertains to the areas we’ll be going to in this and future expansions.

As Final Fantasy XIV moves into its fourth expansion and beyond, introducing even more content and features, it will be interesting to watch how Square Enix chooses to maintain it all. As we’ve seen with the recent A Realm Reborn revamp that pruned a boatload of quests to move players more expeditiously through the main scenario, it’s clear that the team is keeping a close eye on how new or returning players interact with the game’s many systems. I’d like to see further improvements by reassessing some of the duties that close out 2.0: namely Cape Westwind, Castrum Meridianum, and the Praetorium.

Final Fantasy XIV is now available on Windows PC, PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, and Mac.

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About the Author

Tony Garsow Tony joined Nova Crystallis in 2015, and has spent more than a decade writing in the Final Fantasy community. He also contributes to the Nova Crystallis Twitch and YouTube channels, where you can watch select gameplay highlights, previews, and streams.