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We almost didn’t get FF14’s decade-long first saga, reveals Yoshi-P

Over a decade later, Final Fantasy 14 is now one of the most praised MMOs, though its epic saga was never a guarantee during its rocky development.

FF14 A Realm Reborn saga Naoki Yoshida Dawntrail: A diagonally split image with a masculine knight wearing armor and standing in front of a planet on the left side, and Naoki Yoshida dressed up as Thancred on the right side.

Nowadays, Final Fantasy 14 is widely considered one of the best MMOs of all time, with its unique narrative-led adventure delivering an epic decade-long saga. However, it wasn’t always this way. FF14 director and producer Naoki ‘Yoshi-P’ Yoshida has revealed that when A Realm Reborn rebooted in 2013 – three years after FF14’s disappointing release – he “wasn’t actually sure if Final Fantasy XIV would be able to develop it into a long-spanning saga.” Now, the upcoming FF14 Dawntrail expansion charts a new second saga for PlayStation and Xbox fans.

In an interview with Play magazine discussing what is now considered to be one of the best games of all time, Yoshida reveals that the large-scale FF14 story we’ve been treated to was never a guarantee. The game’s incredible story has cemented it as one of the best MMOs for over a decade, but it was never set in stone.

“Originally when we released A Realm Reborn, I wasn’t actually sure if Final Fantasy XIV would be able to develop it into a long-spanning saga,” Yoshida laments. “So we went on to create Heavensward, and we were working on things in the background, but it was only when we were in the development of Stormblood that I came to the realisation that we could create this into kind of an epic saga, and we could develop on this idea of the battle between light and darkness and create something really big for the players.”

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Even still, there was significant doubt and concern over how this would pan out – and whether players would hang around for the big payoff. And so, “throughout the development [Yoshida] had put in foreshadowing here and there with the hopes that [they] would eventually be able to deliver the future for the players.”

“We never just completely develop straightforward”, shares Yoshida. “We do have elements of ad lib here and there, so sometimes we will switch things around, sometimes we will switch things back. But the ultimate aim that I have is just to create something that excites the players and eventually something that will be epic for our players.”

Evidently, this focus on crafting an engrossing narrative within the traditionally gameplay-led MMO framework paid off, with FF14 not just becoming one of the best multiplayer games on PS5 and Xbox, but also one of the best RPG games.

Reflecting on how 2021’s Endwalker expansion capped off this rollercoaster of a saga and the upcoming Dawntrail’s position going forward, Yoshida shares “that it would be great if it is the beginning of something big.” Paving the way for version 7.0 is Dawntrail, the game’s fifth major expansion, and the MMO legend already has ideas for updates 8.0 and 9.0, but whether this narrative thread continues “depends on the reaction of the players.”

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“The important thing with MMOs is that we need to constantly get new players in, otherwise the overall scale of our game would shrink,” Yoshida admits. Maintaining one of the best open-world games with so many players is no easy feat, though the team is still dedicated to the long-standing title.

However the next arc plays out, we’re sure FF14 will remain among the most popular games out there as it’s showing no signs of slowing down – especially not now that the 14-year wait for Final Fantasy 14 on Xbox is finally over. In fact, the ambitious graphical updates on the way are to pave the way for new players as well as improve the experience for veterans and developers alike.

If you’re currently lost in Final Fantasy 7, check out the FF7 Rebirth Performance Mode improvements on the way. In other news, the similarly staggeringly large RPG Baldur’s Gate 3 takes up a whopping four discs on Xbox because of a pesky 500mb, which makes us wonder just how many discs FF14 would take.