Final Fantasy XIV Live Letter 68 Summary - first graphical update and patch roadmap detailed

In the 68th Letter from the Producer Live broadcast, Final Fantasy XIV director/producer Naoki Yoshida and global community manager Toshio Murouchi (with translation by Aimi Tokutake) revealed information on the future of the game as well as answered a number of questions fielded by fans.

We’ve summarized the major information below — check it out!

A Decade of FFXIV

Newfound Futures

Looking forward to 7.0…

  • Advancements as a solo and multiplayer RPG experience.
  • The game’s first graphical upgrade. This does not necessarily mean that PS4 support will cease in 7.0.
  • Patch 6.x series roadmap.
  • Future concept #1: an even better RPG – alone or with friends.
  • In talking with fans at Fan Festivals and conducting market research, the team seems unable to answer two questions. The first is the group of Final Fantasy fans who have played them all save FFXI and FFXIV, which is a point of frustration.
  • Final Fantasy XI received updates to make the game more solo friendly, but XIV plans to go beyond that. The second point are players who don’t want to deal with interacting with others.
  • In the next 10 years, Yoshida wants the game to appeal to players who want to play alone or with friends.
  • Towards this end, the Trust system will grow to be compatible with all main scenario dungeons and 4-player trials will be added through patch 6.1 through 6.5. These will be added incrementally.
  • In Patch 6.1, all A Realm Reborn (2.0) scenario duties will be Trust compatible. Further improvements will be made to low-level main scenario dungeons and trials. No plans for 8-player trials at this time-they’ll be considered for 7.0 or later.
  • The expansion of the Trust system does not mean player matchmaking is going away. This system is intended for those with a strong desire to play solo.
  • The second trial in Endwalker was a testing ground for a trial with 7 Trusts, but due to the resources involved, retrofitting previous trials is more of a long-term project for 7.0 or later.
  • There are some A Realm Reborn dungeons were members of the Scions aren’t nearby or available to help, so in this case, members of the Adventurers’ Guild will step in.
  • However, there are key points in the story where players would want an important NPC to join you. Yoshida cites the Nidhogg battle and having Estinien join you as a trust – some tweaking must be done with the script.
  • To accommodate the Trust system a little better, ARR dungeons must be revisited or tweaked. Toto-Rak’s goop that slows you down will be removed! Lighting will also be adjusted in some dungeons.
  • Cape Westwind is being rebuilt as an instanced story battle.
  • Castrum Meridianum and The Praetorium will be rebuilt as 4-player instanced dungeons. The battle with the Ultima Weapon will also be a 4-player battle. The final battle with Lahabrea will be an instance story battle.

FFXIV’s First Graphical Update

Preparing for years of service to come.

  • Preparations for this will be for long-term operation of the game, and this will transpire through Patch 6.1 to Patch 6.5.
  • “Our game has been in operation for 11 years, and we have an insane amount of assets. If we attempted to update every asset at the same time there would be issues with conversion errors or would take a lot of time. Consulting with the graphics team, it’s best in phases,” said Yoshida.
  • Planned to be implemented in 7.0, development and preparation will be on going through the 6.x patches, including testing shaders, writing programs, converting assets. They are aiming for a screen-wise aesthetic appeal suited to a multiplayer environment.
  • Yoshida says don’t expect an update that makes the game look like Horizon Forbidden West, after all they need to render a lot of player characters and still run on everyone’s hardware.
  • Updates to the animation and lighting systems are also planned. The game’s minimum operating specs will change as of 7.0. The team will try to accommodate as broad a range of hardware specs as possible.
  • With an update to the animation system, they could make longer emotes, and with lighting updates they could add more lighting to further improve the overall image.
  • Yoshida wants you to repeat this before you go to bed: “Don’t expect the graphics to look like a stand-alone title” like Horizon Forbidden West or Final Fantasy VII Remake.
  • The team will plan to optimize the PlayStation 4 version before the next expansion.
  • The team wants to implement more options in the PlayStation 4 version, such as selecting a frame rate mode or a graphics mode.
  • They are not planning or aiming for a realistic graphical style. The team has been testing graphical updates for about five weeks. They are encouraged by the results and will aim for even higher. Here’s the first look:
  • The team is still in the early stages of testing, and these are all the samples they have currently. Perhaps the next update will be at Fan Festival.
  • The primary features and goals are: higher-res textures for hair, skin, gear, etc. Improved material qualities on skin, metal, fabric, etc.
  • Better lighting and shadow effects, especially for players’ shadows, etc. The overall appearance of player characters will be altered as little as possible. This will be applied to old NPCs where possible from 7.x onward. Testing for additional improvements in the future.
  • There is a lot of gear in the game, and the team wants you to understand that it may not be possible to review every piece. However, gear implemented at 7.0 onward will be higher quality.
  • The team knows that there are certain glamours that are favored by players and will be reviewing them with priority. In the 7.x patches, the rest of the gear will be reviewed for upgrades.
  • What about all the NPCs? The team won’t be able to address all the NPCs by 7.0 – some will get graphical upgrades and some wont. It might be a bit disjointed, but being selective is how they can tackle this without being overwhelmed.
  • Characters that are built with the same parts that players use in the creator will see improvements, like Teledji Adeledji, as much as he doesn’t deserve it.
  • When asked about clipping, the team won’t be able to address this without implementing a new physics system, which would throw off every other update in the schedule.
  • The updated lighting allows the team to place more lighting points. Note the shadow under the desk and the gradient across the back wall:
  • The additional lighting also shows off more detail in the surrounding environment that was already built in.
  • The red light in the right image is an example of how the lighting update will work, not necessarily to be intended in this specific stage.
  • What they are trying to show in this example is how placing additional lights can bring out the form and texture of the assets in the stage.
  • In this next example, metallic surfaces like gold have been improved with reflectivity. This is not Yoshida’s house:
  • The team will also be able to place a greater density of objects. This is shown off in the example below:
  • Note how the ground texture has additional texture with an added layer. This wasn’t possible before.
  • Yoshida was frustrated when there was a scene in the Endwalker scenario that didn’t look good due to the grass quality, and wanted it removed for that specific part. This is the current testing result:
  • Additional lighting points will improve visual quality, depth, and immersion and higher-resolution shadows will have increased movement and decreased flickering effects.
  • In Mare Lamentorum, they wanted the lighting to exude that it was being emanated from a distant source, but there were areas where the shadows would flicker. They hope this update will make them look crisper.
  • The team is still testing ambient occlusion and fog effects, but samples aren’t ready to present.
  • These features affect the overall performance of the game, so they want to proceed carefully.

6.1 Series Roadmap

  • 6.1 is planned for April. Hildibrand returns in “Somehow Further Hildibrand Adventures” in patch 6.1 through 6.5.
  • A new series of sidequests called “Tataru’s Grand Endeavor” will be in patch 6.1 through 6.5.
  • 6.1 will include the first alliance raid in the ‘Myths of the Realm’ series.
  • ‘Crystalline Conflict’ will be added as a new PvP mode.
  • Arkasodara tribe quests and dailies will be added.
  • Dragonsong’s Reprise (Ultimate) will be added, and the Unreal trial will be Ultima’s Bane.
  • The team wanted to move away from calling them “beast tribe quests” and now refers to them as “tribe quests.”
  • Re: Dragonsong’s Reprise (Ultimate), Yoshida says it will release in 6.11. He says it’s very challenging! The want you to enjoy the main story quest first before having to worry about Ultimate.
  • In the 6.1 series, the Trust system will be expanded for 2.0 MSQ dungeons. The ‘Calling Card’ UI will be implemented as a reward-type system. New hairstyles for hrothgar will also be added.
  • The Empyreum (Ishgard housing) will open and custom deliveries for Ameliance will be added.
  • In 6.2, the Trust system will expand to 2.x main scenario dungeons and 2-3 Heavensward MSQ dungeons.
  • New weapon enhancements will be added.
  • A new “Criterion” dungeon with variable difficulty will be added.
  • Island Sanctuary (slow-living content) will be added.
  • The next update to glamour will be to glamour plates in the 6.1 series.
  • The “Criterion” dungeon is a dungeon with variable difficulty for 1-4 players. The difficulty will scale on the number of players, and it’s content where players can challenge themselves. It’s coming along nicely and checks are being performed. New info will be available towards 6.2.
  • In 6.3, Trust will expand to the remaining Heavensward MSQ dungeons. The third Deep Dungeon will be implemented. Ultimate Duty #5 will be implemented. Island Sanctuary will be updated.
  • In 6.4/6.5, Trust will expand to all Stormblood MSQ dungeons. Criterion dungeons #2 and #3 will be added.
  • Additional area for Island Sanctuary will be added.
  • Another tier of Pandaemonium, Myths of the Realm, Faux Hollows, other trials, and more.
  • Blue Mage will get an update, but they’re not sure when quite yet.
  • More plans for the 6.x series patches will be announced, this roadmap doesn’t include everything just yet. Another tribe for quests/dailies, Gold Saucer updates, etc.
  • The major patch cycle cadence will be adjusted. Previously, it was 1 major patch every 3.5 months. Going forward it will be one major patch every four months. Roughly two weeks longer.
  • The team asks players to allow them one extra week for each implementation and fine-tuning. Additionally, there will be one week added for summer and New Year’s holidays.
  • Yoshida says looking at the past years and the schedule they’ve kept – he wants the team to take the necessary breaks. There were areas they may have been pushing too hard in the past.
  • Comparing 3.3 (Heavensward) to 5.3 (Shadowbringers) there’s a larger volume of content and work that’s involved:
  • Thanks to the monthly subscription the team has been able to hire additional staff, but this isn’t an assembly line. Training and experience developing the game is required. Not every developer is as familiar with the game as the most veteran staff.
  • The team doesn’t want to compromise on the quality and tuning of the content that’s coming, so that’s why the two weeks was necessary.
  • Data center travel is planned for patch 6.18.

Question and Answer Session

Endwalker main scenario spoilers follow. You have been warned.

  • What was Azem up to during the Final Days? How did they part with Emet? Will there be more Azem in the future? It’s a secret. We have an idea, but we don’t know if we’ll have a chance to talk about that in the future. You are the Warrior of Light, what would you have done?
  • Why did Zenos appear in the Final Days? Why as a Reaper? Varis is his father, his grandpa is Solus. He’s a direct descendant of Emet-Selch. Passed down through DNA, dormant for a generation, but re-appeared. Read Tales from the Shadows, there’s a hint. It’s a secret why Zenos became a Reaper. It’s not that they haven’t thought about it, they just can’t say.
  • How did the unsundered Ascians avoid being sundered? Emet implied Venat let him live on purpose. She left a tiny flaw in her sundering, a way for Emet to “wiggle through.” It was her intention.
  • When Hydaelyn sundered the world it was the limit of her power, she couldn’t guarantee that Emet would live, it was a gamble.
  • During the sundering, Emet was Lahabrea and the Elidibus of the time, and escaped into the Rift without being sundered.
  • In short, the unsundered Ascians worked together to escape the sundering.
  • Are there sundered Ascians still around? What about Gaius’ masks? It’s a good question! They think they’re still around… Where are they? They can’t say.
  • Gaius’ masks belonged to Ultima and Deudalaphon. However, just because he has those masks doesn’t mean he vanquished them. There’s been a lot in the story about what it takes to defeat an Ascian…
  • It’s hard to say how much time has passed in the FFXIV story. They try to match it to you the player, as if 2-2.5 years have passed. The trailers don’t reflect the game themselves necessarily, so separate them in your mind.
  • We haven’t had an example of someone who is unsundered be reincarnated through the Aetherial Sea. Maybe they’d be cooler than the average person?
  • They’ve completed all they want to do and would have no reason to reincarnate really.
  • Does anyone else know the name of the planet is “Etheirys”? Only those close to the Warrior of Light or those familiar with the ancient world leading up to the Final Days. The average person will probably continue to call the planet Hydaelyn.
  • There are people in the East in the New World who don’t call the planet “Hydaelyn” but something else altogether. They’ll have to loop PR in going forward, there was actually a problem referring to the game’s world as Eorzea versus Hydaelyn.
  • Is Zenos truly gone? Zeno’s body is in a dimension separate from ours. We depicted his ultimate fate at length in a cutscene. Watch that and see how you feel.
  • How did mankind’s races become varied (hyuran, miqo’te, roegadyn, etc.) . During the sundering, all life became “incomplete” but that incompleteness allowed them to develop the differing racial traits. Over time these traits diverged.
  • Yoshida doesn’t know the exact lore, but there may have been a necessity for miqo’te to hear better, developing large cat-like ears etc.
  • Emet mentioned the ‘treasure islands of Blindfrost’? Will we go there some day? There’s been a lot of locations name-dropped in the game’s story that we eventually went to – Ishgard, Thanvair, etc… They want to continue visiting places they mention.
  • In Elpis the Ancients appear much larger than humans, but when summoned with Azem’s magic they appear smaller.
  • Ultima Thule reflects your internal emotions, which is why they appear with that height – as it matches your memories and internal conception of them.
  • Where are the Thavnairian Onions in Thavnair? Yoshida asked the lore team. They are a unique cultivar and are rare even in Thavnair. This is dictated by the non-combat designers. It’s their fault.
  • Are Zodiark and Hydaelyn gone for good, or are there parts of them elsewhere? Hydaelyn was completely destroyed. Fandaniel crushed Zodiark’s heart, and therefore completely destroyed him. Parts of Zodiark are in reflections, but they fade with his main body.
  • Why didn’t the Warrior of Light create an alternate timeline in Elpis? Yoshida says you can come up with your own theories, but that the timelines would play out the same no matter what. Or Venat worked hard to preserve things to prevent changes so that WoL could succeed.
  • Meeting Argos was “proof” in a way that these timelines would converge in the way that Venat hoped. Think about this question when you replay the Endwalker main scenario in New Game+ in 6.1.
  • The WoL ages, but will other main characters? Alphinaud? Alisaie? It’s hard to say… As a director/producer it’s fun to think about aging those two up – but he wonders about comments stating “I liked them better before.” You can’t undo that change. It’s a hard choice.
  • In manga like One Piece, Eiichiro Oda will draw “what if” scenarios with aged up characters, so maybe in that context they can do something.
  • Souls are also made of aether, Venat!Hydaelyn used so much aether that her soul also dissipated. Zodiark could only use aether aside from their souls, due to the different type of summoning. In 5.2 Venat’s group discussed this.
  • Venat!Hydaelyn expended her very soul to fight the WoL to prepare them for the final journey to the edge of the universe.
  • What happens to the Blessing of Light? They don’t think it will disappear and wouldn’t want it to. Perhaps Venat!Hydaelyn re-granted it. “My love will be with you forever my dearest children.”
  • What exactly are the red seals that appear over the Ancients/Ascians faces? It’s a limiter to constrain the “grand magic” the Convocation uses. Each sigil defines the seat on the Convocation. It ties in with the Convocation’s duty and obligation to their society in that role. If you give up the seat such as Venat did, you would lose the sigil.
  • What was hard to wrap-up? Yoshida asked Banri Oda about this. It’s not unusual for things to change or disappear as they write the story. Not true of Endwalker, but things didn’t retcon correctly from 1.0 like the Path Companion.
  • When you make this world, sometimes you have to ignore inconvenient things. However, in most cases they try to wrap up things neatly, and maybe other bits in the future.
  • They have decided the names and true identities of every member of the Convocation of Fourteen. Whether they reveal them depends on where the plot takes them in the future.
  • Was Venat sundering the star truly the only way to save it? Yoshida consulted with Ishikawa, and says as Y’shtola theorized that the Ancients were so dense in aether that they could not control dynamis.
  • Other Ancients concluded that Zodiark was the solution to Meteion’s song of oblivion, but Venat concluded that they could not change as a people and would be their own undoing.
  • In The Dead Ends, the Da’la boss may have been a similar fate awaiting the Ancients in a different future. For that reason, she chose to sunder the star and dilute aether so that mankind could control dynamis and silence the song of oblivion.
  • Venat herself concludes that this is not a moral or just decision and deeply agonizes over it. People have a lot of feelings about this.
  • It was that decision, to sunder humanity so that they could control dynamis and kill the Endsinger that said that “Venat is really an Ancient, huh.” A parallel to Emet’s decision and judgment of humanity at the end of Shadowbringers.
  • Hermes erases his own memory to, on his terms, judge humanity’s worth. That’s what ties Venat, Emet-Selch, and Hermes together.
  • Emet-Selch is popular, but Yoshida agrees with Alphinaud telling him “what right does he have to do that?” If you go back and look at these parallels you might find them interesting.
  • Was Etheirys the only planetary body that was sundered? Apparently the reflections’ moons have their own significance… he can’t tell us what that is!
  • Sundered moons would have contained pieces of Zodiark as well, and apparently we’ll get more about this in the story at some point.
  • What parts of Endwalker were you a perfectionist about? Yoshida is most particular about the direction characters were looking in cutscenes, the time between dialogue and the motions between lines.
  • Yoshida was particular about things not being misunderstood, but there were some interpretations that they did not want to convey. Ishikawa was very busy writing the script until the last minute and couldn’t do all the checks, so Yoshida had to stand in.
  • This expansion was the game’s first finale, and he is a big fan of Yoshitaka Amano, so it was important for him to make sure that Amano’s designs were properly depicted within the game. When he asked Amano to draw the Endsinger, he asked him to draw “despair.”
  • Yoshida and Amano have a back and forth about “despair” and what comes to mind. The bird imagery was important. After 15 minutes Amano, said “I got it.” He really wants to show us the original Endsinger design Amano created.
  • Yoshida was also particular about the story instanced battles and the subquest timing. With the Final Days going on, they had to be careful with some of the more chore-like quests and having your map explode in quest marks.
  • In order to create a good experience Yoshida played through these quests himself, pruning anything he felt was excessive. He was particular about the Hydaelyn encounter and the Trust dialogue, writing some of it himself.
  • Are there plans to make healers more viable? A warrior solo-cleared Pandaemonium’s First Circle Normal. Yoshida says the first raid’s tier holds back on the damage output to allow for more people to clear.
  • You’re probably comparing the raid to 5.4, but they want to give people time to clear this tier before increasing the difficulty in the next two tiers. If you want more challenge, try the Ultimate and suffer.
  • Dark Knight’s Living Dead/Blood Weapon are more difficult to use than other tank mechanics? A whole bunch of jobs, in addition to Dark Knight, will be adjusted in Patch 6.1. They are monitoring feedback and aiming to fulfill many of your requests in 6.1.
  • They will definitely be adjusting Living Dead. They’ve also seen the feedback on White Mage and Machinist struggling and ask those players to hang on. Dragoons are concerned the jump animations are too long, and will be adjusted.
  • With Sage and Reaper added, will we get more Glamour Plates? There’s various issues they want to address, but they have to do them slowly and systematically. In 6.1 the number of plates will increase. Number of plates isn’t final but should be sufficient for the time being. More storage for the glamour dresser are on deck for the 6.x series.
  • Will there be glamour for Imperial soldiers or Sharlayan forum members? After the Garlemald chapter in Endwalker it’s possible we could see Garlean themed gear implemented.
  • In 6.1 there will be an Orchestrion Roll, with the theme you hear on the radio in the Garlemald. The version with distortions will be implemented first.
  • What about Sharlayan housing? Please just try living in Ishgard first. We can’t keep up.
  • Will there be Emet-Selch, Hades and Zenos minions? Yoshida decides who they put out as minions. They hold back on characters whose role in the story has ended… but yes they may consider those characters.
  • What’s the update on female hrothgar? The art team drew a variety of styles and they’ve picked two of them. It’s going to be some time before they can implement them as a race, but they are making progress.
  • Yoshida says it’s not like everyone needs to use all races equally People will decide what characters to use for whatever reason, that give the world flavor and variety. They’re not focused on if it will be used equally, but as long as people have a good time.
  • Yoshida asks you to remember when they debuted viera and hrothgar and he said “this is the last time we add a new race.”

Housing Plot Sales from Patch 6.1

Patch 6.1 will introduce the lottery system for plots. Each player may only enter the lottery for one plot of land during each lottery period. Each member may enter once when purchasing land for a Free Company. FF14 is a multiplayer game, and if you have a big free company they want you to have a house, which is why they have a bit of an advantage in this system.

If you all enter for the same plot you’ll have an advantage, but if you split up and try to get many different plots you may have less of a chance of getting one. In order to apply for this lottery system, a FC member must be given permission. Adding random people might be risky…

Players must pay the full price of the plot upon entry – unsuccessful players will be refunded in full.

As of 6.1, there’s four ways to purchase.
• Lottery (FC)
• Lottery (Individual)
• First-come First-serve (FC)
• First-come First-serve (Individual)

One of the four purchase systems will be applied to each ward (for example, Empyreum ward 6, Mist subdivision ward 3). They are able to change these every patch. You will be able to confirm which wards are subject to which systems in-game.

In Patch 6.1, all wards will use either the individual or FC lottery system. They will consider making a few wards first-come first-serve if there is strong demand.


  • The free trial will resume on February 22.
  • The next Live Letter will be on March 4th at 3:00AM PST, and will the first of a two part showcase of Patch 6.1 content.
  • Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker Original Soundtrack is releasing on 2/23 for 5500 yen plus tax. 62 songs and includes a Wind-up Vrtra minion.

About the Author

Erren Van Duine As a self-professed Final Fantasy fan, Erren created Nova Crystallis in 2009 as a place to collect the latest information on her favorite series. As owner and Editor-in-Chief, she also spends her time as a freelance illustrator.