A competition between 3D artists to create a short scene centered around the same animation has drawn over 2,400 entries, and the top 100 of them have been compiled into a nearly 9 minute long montage of animation talent. The Alternate Realities CG challenge, run by 3D artist pwnisher via YouTube, provided nothing but an animation to work from. The results are pretty fascinating, running the gamut from hilarious to serious, from pop culture to wildly original worlds and historical vistas.
Every rendered scene revolves around the same walking animation, someone clearly pulling a heavy load or hauling it on their back. The range, from there, is incredible: Sci-fi vistas, gods, and monsters. Otters in Napoleonic uniform with a cannon. A dad hauling a huge teddy bear on his back for his daughter. There's poignancy too, like a gruesome scene at a World War 2 concentration camp. It's all set to mesmerizing music from Spotify creator Feverkin.
The top 5 competitors received prizes from major producers of hardware related to 3D art, and the top 100 were honored in this video. A later compilation, three and a half hours long according to pwnisher, will include all 2,400 of the entries.
For at least a short time, Electronic Arts will let players in FIFA Ultimate Team look inside a loot box before they buy it. The new Preview Packs can be "opened" before they're bought, allowing players to see the opening animation and check out the contents before proceeding to purchase the pack with either freely-earned FUT Coins or real-money-purchased FIFA Points.
It increasingly seemed like EA would be the last big company to move away from the loot box model, which has come under increasing scrutiny in the past few years for its addictive nature and similarity to gambling. FIFA Ultimate Team loot boxes are a huge part of EA's revenue stream, as was shown in a set of leaked documents earlier this year.
The new Preview Packs can be bought once opened, or ignored. After a timer expires the pack will disappear and a new one will take its place (the example in EA's posting shows a timer of 20 hours and 35 minutes, so an educated guess might be a 24 hour timer between pack previews). Opened "time limited" and "limited quantity" packs will also become unavailable if the time limit, or the quantity of limited packs, runs out before your preview timer is up.
The Preview Packs will be the only ones available to purchase for a while, until the Festival of FUTball event ends on July 16, 2021. Other kinds of packs, those not obtained from the FUT store including Objective, SBC, or Division Rivals reward packs, will not change. You can read more about the time-limited Preview Packs on the FIFA Ultimate Team website.
There's no real question that these packs are a test brought about due to widespread concerns, especially among European regulators, that loot boxes are gambling. EA was facing fines of up to €10 million in the Netherlands last year for violating local gambling laws. A lawsuit in Canada against EA alleges that it ran an "unlicensed, illegal gaming system." Finally, last year, the UK House of Lords recommended that loot boxes be classified and regulated as gambling. Researchers into addiction have said in the past that there is a clear connection between loot boxes and gambling addiction, calling it a matter of "life or death" for problem gamblers.
Your gaming setup is ready for an upgrade. And, whether you have a lot of space or just a little, Gigabyte’s latest fleet of high-performance gaming monitors are built to fit while delivering the latest 4K visuals paired with the 144Hz refresh rates you need for competitive gaming.
Gigabyte has four new gaming monitors ranging in size from 28 inches all the way up to 48 inches, and each delivers 4K at 144Hz and even brings HDR onto the scene, giving you fantastically sharp, wonderfully colorful, and silky smooth gameplay visuals. They’re also ideal for multi-device setups thanks to built-in USB hubs with a KVM switch to let you use the same keyboard and mouse with multiple devices connected to the monitor. With dual HDMI 2.1 ports, a DisplayPort 1.4, and a USB-C connection on each monitor, they’re ready for the latest gaming consoles and PCs.
The Gigabyte M28U kicks things off with a small-desk-friendly 28-inch display. That 4K/144Hz display uses a Super Speed IPS panel that can achieve 1ms GTG response times for a clear picture. And, with the vibrant colors of IPS, it’s able to cover 94% of the DCI-P3 color space, letting you make the most of your cinematic viewing and gaming experiences alike.
For a little more screen and a bit more color, the Gigabyte AORUS FI32U is ready. Its 32-inch display also uses a Super Speed IPS panel for that fast, 1ms response time. And, by using Frame Rate Control, the display is capable of supporting a 10-bit color depth for even more vibrant HDR. Audiophiles will get a boost from the AORUS FI32U as well, as it features a built-in ESS Sabre HiFi chip to power your headphones.
If 28 inches and 32 inches sound a little small to you for enjoying an extremely sharp 4K image, then Gigabyte’s next two gaming monitors have something in store.
The Gigabyte AORUS FV43U dials everything up to another level. You’re still getting the 4K/144Hz, but in this case, it comes with a true 10-bit color depth from a 43-inch Quantum Dot display that can achieve 1000-nits of brightness. This brings another level of HDR visuals to your games. As this monitor is breaking into TV-size territory, it’s also got a beefier pair of speakers to match, so you don’t always have to rely on headphones when you want a more relaxed gaming session.
The AORUS FO48U brings even more screen, and it’s a special one indeed. This 48-inch gaming display features an OLED panel. That technology delivers extremely rich contrast for stunning HDR visuals while still maintaining that sharp 4K and smooth 144Hz experience alongside a fast response time.
If you’re after a home gaming setup that you can really flex, having the M28U or FI32U at your desk and the FV43U or FO48U on your media center will let you enjoy 4K/144Hz HDR gaming wherever you choose to play.
For more info, you can check out the M28U here and the Aorus 4K monitors here. And for a limited time, if you pick up one of Gigabyte’s Aorus monitors, you can get free digital code for Outriders to redeem here.
Co-op ghost hunting/found footage horror/cheesy documentary simulator Phasmophobia has rolled out a fat new content update today, alongside the announcement that the solo developer behind Kinetic Games has hired on two new hands to help manage the runaway success Phasmophobia has found. The early access release was a hit last year, consistently sitting in Steam's top-sellers list and enjoying big Twitch viewership for several months.
The new update adds a map, the cramped and closet-less Willow Street House, and two new ghosts. The Yokai is a grumpy ghost that dislikes when players talk, which can cause it to go hunting much earlier in the mission than other ghosts. The Hantu is an upredictable thing that moves faster in cold rooms, but slower in warm ones, so keeping the power on is vital to preserving your chances of escape. The spawn rate on these new ghosts will be tripled until the next update so it's easier to jump back in and see them.
Additionally, the game's dreaded Dirty Water objective is back—well, kind of. The objective is a Phasmophobia in-joke because it was so hard to complete, not because photographing a nasty-looking sink is hard, but because the ghost so rarely did its job and filled a sink with muck. Dirty Water was removed as an objective in March, and has now been added back in as a daily challenge rather than a proper objective.
The new additions at Kinetic Games are a programmer and an artist, each now working on the game alongside the original developer. Last year, Phasmophobia's solo developer said he was reconsidering his Early Access timeline in the face of the game's success.
There sure have been a lot of recent reminders of how terrible the Chernobyl disaster of 1986 was. I didn't really grasp the magnitude of the event until I watched HBO's Chernobyl show in 2019. The early episodes were vivid depictions of the brutal conditions people faced in the first hours of the meltdown. Watching ill-equipped rescue workers jump headfirst into a radioactive hellscape was so unnerving that I never finished the show.
That dread returned tenfold while playing a demo of Chernobyl Liquidators Simulator in the Steam Next Fest, an hour-long journey in the boots of a first responder working to quell fires and salvage what's left of the doomed plant.
It's almost frustrating that the game calls itself a simulator because, while dousing fires and cutting a path through the facility are true to the job and feel pretty darn good in action, Chernobyl Liquidators is closer to a story-driven adventure than a blue-collar labor game like Farming Simulator.
After learning the basics of your fire hose and refilling water tanks at the base of the facility, you're soon given the monumental task of reaching the top of one of the nearby buildings to rescue any workers still trapped inside. The rest of the demo plays out like a more harrowing, equally improbable chapter of Uncharted—finding alternate paths around collapsed hallways, chancing an uneven footbridge over a 50-foot drop, and the occasional death-defying leap. Water management is also a big part of the game. You only have around 30-45 seconds of continuous water and accurately dousing a fire while keeping a safe distance from the blaze can be tricky. Slipping up and venturing too close to fire (or the glowing blue radioactive debris) rapidly drains HP.
Chernobyl Liquidators has a compelling dedication to the first-person perspective. The way I yank my hose into frame, attack a stubborn door with my shovel, or reorient myself on the diegetic handheld map is immersive and completely convincing. I love that it keeps me in the world and out of menus.
Environments are just as impressive. There's an impenetrable haze in the air that makes every inch feel like a mile. Sirens wail in the distance as the unstable architecture groans like it could give way any minute. An encroaching blue glow and ringing sound alert me to nearby radioactive debris, a danger obvious to me and not my firefighter. I shouldn't be anywhere near this stuff, but the best I can do is shovel it away and soldier on. By the end, my firefighter's coughs had turned into vomiting and I was nearly at my limit. If this were a VR game, I'm afraid I'd suffocate out of empathy.
It's a really strong demo that's sometimes hard to play, both for emotional and technical reasons. The Unity game hitched up a fair amount on my mid-tier RTX 2060 build each time a new area loaded in and not every control is as intuitive as the basic hose action. You do a lot of climbing in the back half of the demo that reminded me of the stiff tower climbing in recent Far Cry games (jump, mantle, jump mantle, etc). I also really wish the secondary tools like the bolt cutters and crowbar were fully usable, but they're only equipped for canned animations.
It can also be hard to tell at times when you're losing health unless you hear the faint burning sound or glance at your health bar. It's a demo for a game that still has a ways to go, so these observations may not apply by the time it releases.
Speaking of, it's hard to tell where exactly Chernobyl Liquidators goes after the demo ends. The trailer on the Steam page suggests there are daytime missions that presumably take place sometime after the incident. There's a brief glimpse of the other 'liquidator' roles playable in the rest of the game, including one that's scanning the environment with what I think is a Geiger counter. Interesting!
I've been trying out a lot of demos from Steam Next Fest the past few days and none have left as lasting an impression as Chernobyl Liquidators Simulator. Confusing name aside, this is one worth paying attention to.
The next Battlefield game is Battlefield 2042, thrusting the large-scale FPS series into a near-future earth (think Boston Dynamics-style robot dogs, not laser guns) where stateless mercenaries fight for superpowers. That's all fine, but for once the new setting isn't the focus of a Battlefield reveal.
The big news is that Battlefield 2042 doubles the player count to 128 and redefines the class system to feature "specialists" with unique gadgets. The previous Battlefield games have all tweaked the basic Battlefield format, but this feels like the most significant change to the series since it started in 2002, almost 20 years ago.
On top of the usual Conquest and Breakthrough game types, there are also two mystery modes. Battlefield developer DICE hasn't fully explained what they are yet, but has said is that they're not battle royale modes, and has made a few other comments that have us real curious—read on to find out more about that and everything else about Battlefield 2042.
Battlefield 2042 will also release on PS5 and Xbox Series X/S, but if it exists, crossplay support hasn’t been announced. A version of Battlefield 2042 is coming to the older PS4 and Xbox One consoles, too, but those versions won’t support 128-player matches.
At the top of this article, you'll also find the cinematic trailer that revealed the game before E3. It includes some great renditions of Battlefield stunts.
The big changes: 128 players, specialists, no singleplayer
The max player count has been doubled to 128 (two teams of 64) on PC and current-gen consoles.
128-player maps are divided into sectors containing clusters of control points; capture all the control points in a sector to control it.
Classes have been replaced by specialists, characters who have unique gadgets but can carry any gun. (Specialists themselves belong to Battlefield classes such as engineer, assault, and support, but you won’t play as a generic ‘support’ soldier.)
Gadgets we’ve seen: a grappling hook, a health/revive gun (think Doc in Rainbow Six Siege), an auto-turret (think Team Fortress 2), a movement sensor (to catch people sneaking up on you while you’re sniping), a wingsuit.
No battle royale mode
No singleplayer campaign
How do 128-player maps work?
The increased player count is accommodated by bigger maps that are divided into sectors. Within each sector, there's essentially a mini-Battlefield match playing out. In the standard Conquest mode, teams can hold a sector by holding all of the points within it. It sounds like you could spend all your time hanging out in one map sector, but there's nothing stopping you from calling in a vehicle and heading elsewhere. The near-future tech doesn't include mechs—sorry Nat!—but you can get a tank dropped from the sky with maneuvering thrusters. And yes, you can drop them on snipers to squash them.
How do specialists work?
What will likely be the most contentious change in Battlefield 2042 is the introduction of specialists. They're sort of like Rainbow Six Siege operators in that they have names, backstories, and special gadgets and abilities, but they're more flexible, because they can use any weapon you've unlocked. Battlefield class archetypes like 'assault' and 'recon' are still there, but DICE now describes them as categories which specialists fit into.
There will be 10 specialists at launch, with one new specialist released each season, and four seasons per year, so there'll be 14 specialists in total within a year of launch.
It's a huge change. Battlefield classes have been fairly strict until now: You get themed gadgets and only certain categories of weapon. Engineer gets SMGs, recon gets snipers, support get LMGs, etc. That's all over. At launch, Battlefield 2042 will include 10 unique gadgets which can be paired with any gun. You can also change your gun attachments on the fly, allowing you to, say, swap from close to long range optics to zoom in on a sniper who's harassing you. It's way more loadout decision making than has ever been in a Battlefield game.
What specialists have been announced?
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So far, DICE has revealed four specialists. Here's who they are and what they do:
Wikus "Casper" Van Daele
Birthplace: South Africa Class: Recon Specialty: OV-P Recon Drone (what it sounds like, a remote control spotting drone) Trait: Movement Sensor (he's alerted to people sneaking up behind him, at least if they move too quickly)
Birthplace: Canada Class: Assault Specialty: Grappling Hook (the 'zip and you're there' kind, not the swinging kind) Trait: Nimble (he moves fast)
Birthplace: Germany Class: Support Specialty: S21 Syrette Pistol (heals or revives from a distance, like Doc in Rainbow Six Siege) Trait: Combat Surgeon (revives teammates to full health, instead of partial health)
Pyotr "Boris" Guskovsky
Birthplace: Russia Class: Engineer Specialty: SG-36 Sentry Gun (like Team Fortress 2 or Overwatch's turrets) Trait: Sentry Operator (sentry guns are more effective when he's nearby)
Battlefield 2042 modes: no singleplayer, no battle royale, two mysteries
Battlefield may have finally given in and become a character shooter, but it hasn't been tempted again by that other modern shooter trend: There's no battle royale mode, and there are no plans to make one. The Battlefield 5 Firestorm mode is not returning, at least not for now. There's no singleplayer campaign, either, although you will be able to play multiplayer-style matches entirely against bots and progress that way, if you want. Apparently the AI has gotten a lot better. (I'll only agree when I see a bot steal the helicopter I wanted, crash it into the side of a hill, and lie down to snipe for the rest of the game.)
All-Out Warfare is the term DICE is using to encompass your standard Battlefield modes: Announced so far, that's the classic point capture of Conquest and the more linear attack-and-defend battles of Breakthrough.
Beyond All-Out Warfare, there are two mystery modes. One is called Hazard Zone, and will be a "high-risk," squad-focused mode, but not a battle royale mode. That's all DICE will say, but based on that description and the name, I think we're pretty safe in assuming that inspiration has been taken from The Division's Dark Zone, Hunt: Showdown, and Escape from Tarkov. I'd be surprised if it's nothing at all like those infiltration and extraction shooters.
A third mode was created by DICE LA, and will be revealed at EA Play Live on July 22. It's described as a "love letter" to fans of the Battlefield series. In that case, I really have no idea what it is. Maybe it's a back-to-the-basics mode that reintroduces spending half the match running and swimming? A full Battlefield 1942 remake? Something smaller and more experimental?
So, to recap, the Battlefield 2042 modes are:
All-Out Warfare: The traditional Conquest point capture mode and the Breakthrough attack-and-defend mode.
Hazard Zone: A squad-focused mode described as “high-risk.” Might be inspired by Escape from Tarkov and games of that kind.
DICE LA mode: A mode that is being pitched as some kind of fan service. We’ll see it at EA Play on July 22.
What are the setting, vehicles, and maps like?
Battlefield 2042 is set just 21 years in the future, so the tech isn't too out there: drones, robot dogs, etc. The premise is the usual galaxy brain speculation: Due to global warming, a number of the world's countries have collapsed, leaving large parts of Earth's population stateless. Naturally, stateless people ("Non-Patriated" or "No-Pats") have formed elite mercenary armies who now fight on behalf of the US and Russia—or maybe for themselves. Without a singleplayer campaign, this'll all be explored through the seasonal updates.
The vehicles are near-future versions of jets, helicopters, tanks, and other ground vehicles—and you can call them in from the sky.
The maps look cool, and have big destruction set-pieces, such as the rocket on Orbital, which can either have a smooth launch or a not-so-smooth launch. (We asked whether players could affect that outcome, and didn't get an answer, but probably yes.)
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Here are the seven All-Out Warfare maps that'll be at launch, described in EA's words:
Kaleidoscope: Set in Sogdo, South Korea. Forces here will clash to control a quantum powered disinformation hub after an attack threatens the global network.
Manifest: Set in Brani Island, Singapore. Players will see a strategic flashpoint emerge as global trade chokes this location which is vital for the American supply lines.
Orbital: Set in Kourou, French Guiana. The battle here is over a rocket launch site as a controversial space launch becomes a race against time.
Discarded: Set in Alang, India. Here you see shipbreakers facing tidal extremes as factions fight to secure rogue nuclear assets.
Renewal: Set in the Eastern Desert, Egypt. Players will fight for a groundbreaking agriculture technology centre in the Egyptian Desert.
Hourglass: Set in Doha, Qatar. Shifting sands and a lost shipping convoy tear a city center apart.
Breakaway: Set in Queen Maud Land, Antarctica. Struggle over oil and gas that pushes soldiers to the brink as an industry clashes with nature and ice gives way
Pre-launch and post-launch plans
There'll be a Battlefield 2042 technical test in early July for "players identified as Battlefield veterans." They'll be under NDA for that.
The next big public reveal will take place during EA Play Live on July 22. That's when we'll find out what DICE LA's mystery "love letter" mode is all about. We should find out about Hazard Zone at some point soon, too.
At some point after that, Hazard Zone will be available to play early, and there'll be a Battlefield 2042 open beta for those who preordered. (Though none of the early release for subscribers stuff EA used to do, at least that we've heard of.)
Battlefield 2042 will release in full on October 22. As usual, the PC version will be available on EA's Origin store, but this time it'll also be on Steam and the Epic Games Store. (It'll definitely launch a mini-Origin client even if you buy it on Steam, but it's still nice to have Battlefield there again.)
New specialists and maps will come in seasons, and there'll be four per year, each which includes battle passes with free and paid tiers. EA has said that new maps will always be free for all players.
Will snipers still spend the whole match lying on a hill?
Developer Hazelight shared news of the game’s milestone on Twitter, where the developer said it was “amazed by the Passion” players have shown for the game. It also said it “couldn’t be happier” seeing so many fans of co-op.
The game co-op game follows Cody and May, a couple on the brink of divorce. In it, they will need to learn how to overcome their differences and work together as one.
The two humans have been turned into dolls by a magic spell, and trapped in a “fantastical world,” where they will face unpredictability and challenges with saving their fractured relationship.
In it, you will work together across a variety of disruptive gameplay challenges such as piloting a pair of underpants or DJing at a club. It also features connected character abilities in every new level.
Our five-star review called the game a “childlike co-op adventure for everyone,” with Tom adding that it was one of the most “pleasant surprises” in video games he’s ever had.
It Takes Two is available on PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One, and PC via Steam and Origin. All players who own the game on last-gen consoles can upgrade the game to PS5 or Xbox Series X/S for free.
Warzone shotguns might not be the most popular weapons on the battlefield, but there’s no denying their uses. Long-range kills from sniper rifles are only good if you can keep distance between yourself and your enemies. When that fails, the shotgun is your best friend.
The future Warzone time to kill (TTK) update could significantly change what makes for the best Warzone shotgun. For now, we’ve picked out the fastest and strongest shotguns to make short work of your foes.
The Jak-12 is still the best Warzone shotgun, even after being nerfed in recent updates. Jak-12 is fully automatic with an impressive rate of fire and short TTK. In normal speak, that means you can fire a lot of shots at once, and it won’t take many to down an enemy.
It’s big weakness is range. While you could make a Jak-12 loadout to augment that, your best bet is increasing its hipfire accuracy. Jak-12’s automatic rate and high power means is a shotgun for running in fast and taking down as many enemies as possible.
How to unlock Jak-12 in Warzone
You’ll need to score three hipfire kills across seven separate matches to unlock Jak-12.
Best Jak-12 Attachments
Our Jak-12 loadout fixes the range issue and gives you a deadly boost in speed and sprint fire.
Best Jak-12 Attachments
ZLR J-3600 Torrent
FORGE TAC Marauder
Stippled Grip Tap
20 Round Drum Mags
Best Warzone shotgun for fire rate
The crown for best shotty is often shared between Origin and Jak12 for good reason. Origin lacks in fire rate and raw power compared to Jak12, but it makes up for that with a few key strengths. For one, it boasts a bigger magazine.
It might not hit as hard — especially not at very close range, after 2020’s Origin nerf — but it basically never stops firing. When it does, you’ll find Origin reloads a bit faster than Jak12 as well. Like most shotguns, you don’t really want to waste time with ADS. Focus on improving the spread to deal more damage instead.
How to unlock Origin in Warzone
The only trouble with Origin is that it won’t unlock until level 31, so it’ll take a while to get this one.
Best Origin Attachments
This loadout reduces ADS speed, but makes up for that with better pellet spread and mobility.
Best Origin Attachments
FORGE TAC Impaler
25 Round Drum Mags
Best Warzone shotgun for mobility
Raven might have issued a Streetsweeper nerf in Season 4, but it’s still one of the game’s best shotguns. The Streetsweeper is another fully automatic shotgun with intense power, but only at close range thanks to that nerf reducing effective damage range.
Still, it ranks high in mobility compared to its competitors, which means you can dash in and clear a room at close range without having to worry about setting up shots. That’s a good thing, since the Streetsweeper’s reload time is pretty long.
How to unlock Streetsweeper in Warzone
Unlocking the Streetsweeper involves a bit of work. You’ll need to get three shotgun kills without dying in 15 different matches. You can also purchase the Shock Value DLC bundle if you don’t feel like completing the challenge, but we recommend the free route.
Best Streetsweeper Attachments
This loadout maximizes Streetsweeper’s potential for fast, heavy damage at close range. Your ADS speed goes down, but really, you shouldn’t be using ADS for most shotguns anyway.
Best Streetsweeper Attachments
13″ Reinforced Heavy
STANAG 18 Round
SWAT 5mw Laser Sight
Best Warzone shotgun for raw power
The R9-0 remains one of the most powerful Warzone shotguns even after being nerfed, though there are a few caveats. R9-0 has a quirk where there’s a brief pause after a burst of rounds. The upside is that initial burst is enough to down an opponent, since a kill usually just takes two shots from the R9-0.
The Dragon’s Breath rounds won’t give you as much damage as it used to. However, the extra damage it deals makes it a useful workaround for the pause in fire if you didn’t finish someone off with the initial round.
Shotguns aren’t normally built for range, but the R9-0 features better range than your average shotty. It’s still better played in close quarters, but the added versatility is never a bad thing.
How to unlock R9-0 in Warzone
Fortunately, R9-0 unlocks at Rank 1 in Warzone, so you can try it for yourself immediately and switch to one of our other picks if it doesn’t suit your style.
Best R9-0 Attachments
Dragon’s Breath might have been nerfed, but it’s still the best ammo to take out enemies fast. The rest of this loadout boosts your speed so you can clear groups of enemies fast.
Best R9-0 Attachments
Dragon’s Breath Rounds
Stippled Grip Tape
FORGE TAC Sentry
If you’re looking for the best Warzone loadouts, we’ve got the list for you. Meanwhile, check out our other Warzone coverage, including:
While his development studio is now making the sixteenth entry in the series, it’s clear that Naoki Yoshida’s heart will forever belong to Final Fantasy 14.
After all, it’s the beleaguered MMO that he rescued from disaster, transforming it from a franchise-endangering misfire to what is widely celebrated as one of the best episodes in a very beloved franchise. That transformation also made Yoshida into a beloved gaming celebrity and a vital piece of Square Enix’s inner apparatus.
Nowhere is Yoshida’s love more apparent than during the regular FF14 Fanfest events. Usually physical events around the globe that sees fans descend to celebrate the MMO and learn more about what’s next for the world of Eorzea, this year it took on a different form thanks to the pandemic – an online, socially-distanced affair with many of the same events taking place but through live streams.
Yoshida continued his traditional role beyond simply being the Director and Producer of the game, essentially being the main star of the event, appearing throughout both to disseminate information on upcoming expansion Final Fantasy 14: Endwalker and to just delight fans through the presence of him and his team. We had an opportunity to catch up with Yoshida – and talked about working through the pandemic, fan service, and specific questions about Endwalker.
VG247: First of all – congratulations on fanfest! It was really lovely to see fans focused on not just the game, but you, your team, and the community. I imagine that must be really energizing after what I’m sure has been a tough year – so let me ask you… you’ve mentioned that you and several others work in the office to maintain space between life and work. Given the pandemic and running a huge MMO, what have you done to unwind and keep that balance?
Naoki Yoshida: First of all, thank you very much for your feedback on the Fan Festival and for your kind words. We were unfortunately forced to cancel our previously planned Fan Festivals due to this difficult global situation, but I am glad that we were able to hold one in a digital format. It was a great motivation for us to see the positive reactions and voices of the community and players. Once again, thank you to all the players and communities around the world!
As for your question, my key to relaxation is… well, it’s not so much a major change but I suppose it would be ‘punctuating’ the aspects of my daily life. Constantly doing the same thing over and over again, or staying in the same environment, can unintentionally lead to stress. It’s true that I lead a busy life with work, but I try to change things up when I feel like I need a break. So, I’ll have a day where I don’t work at all. I might just watch films, read a book or focus all my attention on playing a game. I also love snowboarding, so I’ve taken all the necessary safety precautions against COVID-19 and have driven to the mountains in my own car, complete with my mask. I think this form of switching between mental and physical stimulation is important.
VG247: Switching to talk about the game, since Endwalker is the conclusion of the Zodiark/Hydaelyn arc, are the locations we’re visiting a “wishlist” of sorts?
Yoshida: If anything, there are two things I wanted to do. The first was expressing the “current scope” of the planet Hydaelyn based on how far players can go, which had been conceived and created since the original FF14. This is just one part of elements that will continue to expand in scope. The other is to do with the scale of the world and story’s expansion in FF14. In Shadowbringers we demonstrated the possibilities of journeying to the past, future and the various reflections of the world. Now, just how far will these aspects expand?… please look forward to it.
VG247: With the level cap increasing yet again, how does the team plan to keep the lower-level experience engaging?
Yoshida: I think it’s also affected by the amount of “time” you spend in the “lower levels”. If players would want the low-level experience more engaging, I believe they’re expecting that much time is spent in the low levels. However, apart from the time spent on the story, [with the rise in level cap] the experience is changed so that players don’t forcefully have to grind away in battles, and they can progress more comfortably as they level up rapidly and learn new actions. With each new expansion pack, we make sure to fine-tune the required time and EXP balance for each level tier.
Furthermore, if the early game experience goes by too quickly or players find themselves too busy, conversely it might come across as a difficult aspect among players and lead to player withdrawal. This is a constant concern for the development team and we’re continuing to make sure that is accounted for in this next expansion pack.
The reason why FF14 has been able to grow so much is not only thanks to the existing MMORPG fans, but also because of the importance we place on customers who are new to MMORPGs. It was our intention to design the early stages of the game with care, although they can be a little boring for seasoned veterans of the genre.
VG247: When you took over with ARR, it pretty much immediately started feeling like we began to see more fanservice and cameos, referencing past FF games. With Endwalker, you’re of course going hard with the FF4 references – but are there any particular elements from classic FF, or any specific games, you’re yet to reference but would like to squeeze into FF14 someday?
Yoshida: I took over the original FF14 project, so A Realm Reborn was released three years after I first started working on FF14. I’d just like to add that point. One of the concepts of FF14 after I took over was that FF14 should serve as a theme park of sorts for the Final Fantasy franchise. It’s about making sure we don’t neglect fan service, while respecting the past titles and fans, even if the story in FF14 is original.
The same types of homage and respect can be found within Endwalker, but it’s not like we have plans or requests made up for those in advance. Rather, they just ‘end up’ in the title. The reasoning behind that is if they were planned then the game design would be there for the purpose of incorporating these elements, but I feel that is the opposite order of what should be followed in the production.
The workflow I use is that first and foremost we have an experience and a story. If there are elements [from previous FFs] that would be a good match, then we might pay homage to it. It’s also for this reason that I don’t think we’ll be needlessly throwing in so many quotes from previous titles in the future either.
VG247: With recent expansions, the team seems to be thinking deeply on what it means to be a hero or perform heroic acts. How have your own opinions or experiences shaped your perspective on heroism?
Yoshida: It’s a very deep subject, but I believe that in real history, what is right and wrong or just and unjust, are only the claims of the victor. No matter how right or ideal one’s idea may seem, if that party is eliminated in a conflict, their claims may not be recorded in history.
What’s more, in the worst of cases, the facts may be altered and that party regarded [by later generations] as “evil”. In the midst of such ups and downs or throughout history, I think that a hero is a person who can lead the way against difficulties while holding on to hope, following the path he/she believes in and understanding the will of those around him/her.