New Jobs, New Races: Details from the FFXIV Tokyo Fan Fest 2019

The third and final FFXIV Fan Fest of 2019 is currently underway in Tokyo, Japan. As expected, Final Fantasy XIV producer Naoki “Yoshi-P” Yoshida opened the show with a third keynote address featuring news on the Shadowbringers expansion, along with some exciting, surprising, and controversial reveals. Writing that sentence, I realize I’m going to have to do an opinions article about all of this just to figure out where I stand.

As is typically the case, this event began with an even more extended version of the 5.0 trailer. This one includes multiple new segments showing things like a Viera dancer and obese Miqo’te (a.k.a. actual fat cats). You’ll probably also notice the background music is the complete version of the new theme. As the trailer transitions to the Crystal Tower scene, a rendition of “Eternal Wind” from Final Fantasy III starts up. You may remember a version of that song playing in the final cutscene of the Crystal Tower raid series back in A Realm Reborn, and Yoshi-P would later explain that the Crystal Tower is a major plot point of the 5.0 main scenario. That’s a teaser, some lore building, a callback to 2.x within a callback to FFIII, and a simply beautiful musical flourish, all wrapped up in one minute of a trailer. This game is something.

The presentation moved into some deep lore cuts following the trailer. As the forum kids have speculated, the story of Shadowbringers deals with The Source and The First – the whole concept around our world in FFXIV being part of a group of worlds, alternate reality style. Toward the end of Heavensward’s patch scenarios, we encountered the Warrior of Darkness and his story helped establish this premise. If you’re wondering how and why our current drama with the Garleans leads to us traveling to what is essentially another dimension, Yoshida suggests both re-watching some of those cutscenes, and of course playing Patch 4.5b when it drops this Tuesday.

So, our world is The Source. The world we’re traveling to in Shadowbringers is The First. We don’t have specifics about their plight but we know it’s a world where only light exists. This manifests in a ton of different ways, most notably in that there’s no nighttime. Since The First and The Source are fragments of the same place, 5.0 has a lot of familiar areas with unusual details. One example of this is the city of Eulmore, which is something like an end-of-the-world party version of Limsa Lominsa. They also represented the differences in a video for the Lakeland area, which seems to be in the same geographical location as Mor Dhona… assuming that’s how coordinates work in other dimensions.

Following this, Yoshi-P led us through a recap of the things they’ve already announced (level cap, new dungeons, YoRHa etc.). In this segment, they finally backed down from the “Y’shtola is not a black mage” ploy, by directly referring to her as that job when they covered the Trust system. Again, I’m going to have to do an opinion piece, because I have all kinds of feels on this topic. World Visit and New Game + were also referenced, with the promise that we’ll get more information on these features in the next Letter from the Producer Live, which will take place later today. We’ve also covered these features in our previous Fan Fest recap, which you can check out here.

Then, it was on to the drama. They announced the dancer job with a short gameplay trailer (and a joke about why Yoshida, a 46-year-old man, didn’t dress up like a dancer for this keynote). Dancer is a ranged DPS job, taking up the same party role as bards and machinists. That red outfit you see is the dancer class-specific outfit, and they wield a “throwing weapon”. We see them using chakram right now, but they indicated it’s called a throwing weapon because dancers will wield other types of tools. Koji-Fox, the FFXIV lead story writer, gave shurikens as an example. It’s obviously too early to give specifics on their mechanics but what we have now is the statement that “These dances will not only be used to attack, but some of them are for enhancing not only yourself but party members.” The drama, of course, comes from the expectation that dancer would be a healing job. The community is still reeling after this twist for a variety of reasons, but the development team has indeed confirmed that our two new jobs for 5.0 will only be dancer and gunbreaker: DPS and tank.

We moved on to my new favorite part of Shadowbringers: new beast tribes. In The First, Lalafells are not Lalafells. They’re instead Dwarves, which are hearty, mining Lalafells who never remove their helmets or beards. They live in their own literally little colonies, residing in homes handcrafted from stone. The phrase “Lala-land” was used by Yoshi-P himself. Since these homes are Lala/Dwarven made, they’re small enough that they can only be entered by Lalafell player characters. Every other race has to peer into these structures through windows. Greatest design choice ever?

The next segments briefly addressed the enemies we’ll encounter in The First. (On The First? They used both.) The major enemies are monsters called Sin Eaters. One Sin Eater known as Innocence will be a major part of the main story. For the sake of speculation, it’s appropriate that a world without darkness is patrolled by creatures named after real-life sin eaters: people who were tasked with “consuming” sins as a ritualistic analogy for absolving a dead person’s soul. The First’s Sin Eaters are created in a world without darkness, just as Voidsent are created in The Thirteenth, which is a world without light.

Yoshi-P then covered the new endgame raid. The follow up to the Omega series we just completed will focus on Eden, a major summon in a few other games, perhaps most notably Final Fantasy VIII. In the Shadowbringers plot, The First has no weather elements, so that’s something we’ll be trying to fix in this raid’s story. As in the 5.0 24-player raid, we’ll have another guest creator. For this they went with Tetsuya Nomura, who might be the most legendary figure in the history of Japanese games. He’s known for his work as the artistic director of Final Fantasy VII, VIII, and X, and for his role as creator of the Kingdom Hearts series. The whole JRPG trope of effeminate/androgynous male characters with spiky hair and lots of inexplicable zippers and buckles originated with his work. At this point we’ve only seen a preview of his FFXIV stuff, in the form of concept art for a character named Gaia. They closed this segment by saying “Please look forward to it. The Eden high-end raids will be coming in 5.0.” This could be meaningless or it could imply that raids will be available in Shadowbringers on day one. Typically raids are added two weeks after launch, so this would be a significant change for the hardcore raiding community. I suspect we’ll get clarification well in advance of the release, probably in today’s Live Letter.

They confirmed that she’ll have unique hammer attacks but they don’t know if she’ll have a job in the game’s sense.

The final bit of news from this keynote was our second piece of drama. Yoshida announced and revealed a second playable race: The Hrothgar. They’re a male-only race of lion people, with a character model that is significantly different from anything else in the game currently. In the same way that Lalafells are known as Dwarves on The First, Hrothgars on The First are called Ronso. This announcement also confirmed that Viera will be a female-only race and this is the source of the intense outrage over the 5.0 races. Male Viera exist in the lore of both Final Fantasy XII and FFXIV, even though we never see them in those games. Female Ronso exist in Final Fantasy X, and are actually visible in game. Yoshi-P never gives a specific reason why these races are gender locked, and the community is chalking it up to laziness. I’m sure we’ll hear more about the development team’s reasoning for these choices in the next Live Letter Q&A section.

Speaking of, next up for the Tokyo Fan Fest is the Letter from the Producer Live. I’m sure the original plan was to go into more detail about these announcements, and outline some of what we can expect in Tuesday’s patch. Now, given how upset fans are over Viera and Hrothgar genders and the lack of a new healing job, I imagine those conversations will dominate the Live Letter. Either way, we’ll have a recap of it here, a few hours later.

Update: The Letter from the Producer Live 50 presentation was both super short and extremely light on information. It was more of a development panel on the game’s lore than an information-driven stage show. As a result, I’ll just drop the key details here, but if you’d like to see a full breakdown of the lore Q&A, Nova Crystallis did a great job covering it here.

Key Live Letter 50 Details

  • The crossover event with Final Fantasy XV runs April 16th - May 27th. Rewards include the game’s first 4-player mount and some FFXV glamours.

  • Patch 4.57 releases April 23rd. This is the World Visit update.

  • The Shadowbringers benchmark will allow players to create Viera and Hrothgar characters.

  • The Daddy of Light TV show is being made into a feature film in Japan.

Everything else was related to them spinning up new servers, or part of the lore Q&A. The negative reactions to the Fan Fest keynote announcements were not addressed.

In closing, the keynote ended with a short comment on the enormity of the situation from Yoshida. He expressed how nine years ago, when he joined the dev team, he never expected to be presenting the third Final Fantasy XIV expansion in front of a live audience of fifteen thousand, and took a moment to say how thankful he was for the fans. It’s not a big deal but it connected with me, so I thought I’d share.

“That’s the three most important people at Square-Enix on that stage right now.” Yosuka Matsuda and Shinji Hashimoto address the crowd following the keynote.

“That’s the three most important people at Square-Enix on that stage right now.” Yosuka Matsuda and Shinji Hashimoto address the crowd following the keynote.

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