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Final Fantasy 14 to get easier solo play and visual upgrade

Square Enix pledges to support MMO ‘for the next 10 years’

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A test comparison of upgraded visuals for Final Fantasy 14 Image: Square Enix via Polygon
Oli Welsh is senior editor, U.K., providing news, analysis, and criticism of film, TV, and games. He has been covering the business & culture of video games for two decades.

During a marathon “Letter from the Producer” livestream, Final Fantasy 14 Online director and producer Naoki Yoshida laid out plans for future improvements to the hit massively multiplayer online role-playing game. Expanded support for solo play is coming soon, with a graphical upgrade a little further down the line.

In a show of confidence in the MMO’s blossoming fortunes, Square Enix said in an accompanying press release that it will continue to support the game “for the next 10 years.”

Starting with patch 6.1, which is set for release in April, the Trust System that allows a solo player to tackle main scenario dungeons with a squad of non-player characters will be expanded. To begin with, all main scenario dungeons from A Realm Reborn will be made compatible with the system. Trust System support for dungeons from later expansions Heavensward and Stormblood will come in subsequent patch cycles up to 6.5. These updates will make it much easier for a solo player to follow the game’s story at their own pace. With new players in mind, some low-level dungeons and trials will also be adjusted to support an “accessible” solo experience.

Yoshida also revealed that work is underway on Final Fantasy 14’s first-ever visual overhaul. The graphical enhancements will launch alongside the game’s next expansion, with more to follow. Both character and world visuals will be upgraded with higher-resolution textures, improved materials, and better lighting and shadow effects. Showing some early test images of characters’ faces, Yoshida said that photorealism was not the goal, but more subtle enhancements that stayed true to the game’s art style.

Yoshida also shared a partial roadmap for content additions in the next few patches. A new main scenario questline will span patches 6.1 to 6.5. Patch 6.1 will bring a new alliance raid and player-versus-player scenario. New weapon enhancements will arrive with patch 6.2, along with a variable-difficulty “Criterion” dungeon and the Island Sanctuary where players can relax, build and grow crops. Patch 6.3 will add a new roguelite-style Deep Dungeon. Patches 6.4 and 6.5 will bring more Criterion dungeons and expand the Island Sanctuary.

If all of this tempts you to give the game a try, the Final Fantasy 14 free trial will reopen for registration tomorrow, Feb. 22, after a hiatus to ease pressure on servers following the launch of the Endwalker expansion. The newly expanded, unlimited free trial will include all content from A Realm Reborn and the Heavensward expansion, plus one additional playable race (Au Ra) and three more playable jobs (Dark Knight, Astrologian, and Machinist).

Yoshida also answered players’ concerns about NFTs, stating that “we don’t intend on incorporating any sort of NFT element in the game at this point” (according to FanByte). His comment followed a statement by Square Enix CEO Yosuke Matsuda predicting NFTs would become a “major trend” in gaming.

Final Fantasy 14 now boasts more than 25 million total registered players — quite a turnaround from its initial failed launch in 2010. Yoshida took over the game and revamped it for the well-received A Realm Reborn relaunch in 2013. Since then it has steadily climbed in popularity, before seeing explosive growth in the past year as it won players from rival MMO World of Warcraft. In October 2021, Square Enix announced that it was now the most profitable Final Fantasy game ever.

You can watch the full Letter from the Producer livestream below.

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