Final Fantasy XIV Director Explains Why Viera And Hrothgar Are Gender Locked
Square Enix excited a lot of fans when it announced Shadowbringers, the latest expansion coming to Final Fantasy XIV. In addition to the epic trailer reveal, it was also announced that the expansion’s two new playable races – the Viera and the Hrothgar – would be gender locked upon release, with players only able to create female Viera or male Hrothgar. This in turn incited a significant amount of backlash, with the developer responding only by stating that the team was “reviewing fan feedback.” Now, game director Naoki Yoshida has opened up about the ‘why’ behind the races being gender locked, and how adding more genders – and even more races – would have adversely affected the game’s overall development.
Yoshida-san recently took to the Final Fantasy XIV forums to answer questions regarding the upcoming Shadowbringers expansion, many of which involved the new gender locked races. According to him, arguably the biggest reason behind the decision to restrict the races involved the sheer size of Final Fantasy XIV and how new races and playable genders would drastically weigh down the overall smooth development of the game. “I’m sure you all understand that a new race will require new faces, hairstyles, bodies, and other assets,” Yoshida-san began. “Each race has a unique frame and body type, and so every piece of visible equipment needs to be carefully adjusted to display properly on Hrothgar and Viera models. A cursory search will show that FFXIV has around ten thousand equippable items already implemented, all of which must be manually modified by our designers. This is an immediate and unavoidable development cost incurred when adding a new race.”
The addition of new playable races will impact more than the development cost of the items added in 5.1 and subsequent updates. Not only will we be transitioning from twelve variations (six races, two genders each) to fourteen, but we will also need to commit more resources to the development of new emotes. While FFXIV will continue to strive to maintain a regular 3.5 month major update cycle, we must also ensure that sufficient time is secured for the meticulous development of new content—or else the quality will invariably drop. This is a complex problem that can’t be solved simply by throwing more money or people at it, as it impacts both debugging and QA.”
Yoshida-san then goes on to talk about the balancing act between offering players more choices within Final Fantasy XIV – in this case playable races – and keeping things within the realm of reasonable expectations for the dev team. “Character creation is about providing players with options, and while there’s no telling how many people will utilize these options, we also believe that there is value simply in having them exist—in empowering people to fill the world with greater variety,” he said.
We understood that some players would be upset if they were unable to use their preferred gender, but even so, after much internal discussion, we decided this approach was the best way to improve the overall game experience. We could have decided to implement only male and female Viera, or only male and female Hrothgar. However, we instead went with an approach intended to expand the possibilities in multiple ways.”
The Q&A ended on a positive note, with Yoshida-san revealing that as you play through the Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers expansion, players will learn that both male Viera and female Hrothgar exist. “While you won’t meet any in person, if we developers can find a way to address the various problems which are preventing us from implementing them, then perhaps someday you’ll be able to see them for yourself. I want to be clear that this does not mean it will eventually happen, and that I cannot make any promises at this time. I hope you will understand and bear with us.”
Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers launches on July 2, 2019.
So, thoughts on the latest statement from Yoshida-san? Do you agree that implementing the other two genders would have been too big of an ask for the developers? Let us know in the comments section below, and as always, stay tuned to Don’t Feed the Gamers for all the latest gaming and entertainment news! Don’t forget to follow DFTG on Twitter for our 24/7 news feed!
Ryan "Cinna" Carrier2427 Posts
Ryan is a writer and the head editor for Don't Feed the Gamers. When he isn't writing, Ryan is likely considering yet another playthrough of Final Fantasy IX. He's also the DFTG cinnamon bun.