So far, Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail feels like housekeeping (not that it’s a bad thing!)
I love Final Fantasy XIV – and like any other player I have been eagerly awaiting when we would get to learn more about the title’s upcoming 7.0 Expansion; and with the reveal of Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail, it’s become abundantly clear that the main focus for next year’s release will be tackling all of these little complaints that the playerbase has had over the years.
I’m not talking about the new story, or any of the new content that’s slated to launch alongside the expansion – but rather updates and features that apply to specific aspects of the game. Adding in an additional dye channel, allowing players to further customize their Warrior of Light’s appearance, an increase in the amount of furniture that houses can hold, and – my favorite – a proper raid strategy planner, complete with visual indicators and all.
Alongside the previously-announced graphics update – which, of course, was also heavily showcased during the Fanfest 2023 Keynote – and the long-awaited Xbox console port, Square Enix and Creative Business Unit 3 have made it abundantly clear that Final Fantasy XIV in it for the long haul. Furthermore, that the team is committed to honing in on the game’s strengths (glamour, housing) while also making smart changes to improve existing weaknesses (Party Finder).
Perhaps it all stands out even more seeing just how similar the new content that Dawntrail is slated to bring currently sounds remarkably similar to the slate of new content that was added with Endwalker; the requisite new dungeons, trials, and raids. A new Deep Dungeon, new Variant and Criterion Dungeons, new casual content similar to Island Sanctuary, and PvP and Gold Saucer updates.
Endwalker also featured its fair share of housekeeping, of course. Across the life of the expansion the team has made great strides to overhaul earlier content in order for duties such as Dungeons from A Realm Reborn through Stormblood can be completed entirely solo with a set of Trusts; the addition of a new Residential District in the Empyreum, new servers and Data Centers across the world, including the introduction of the first Oceania Data Center.
All of that, understandably, got overshadowed by Endwalker’s role of concluding nearly a decade’s worth of story; while during Fanfest we had Naoki Yoshida saying as much that Dawntrail is envisioned as sort of a “Summer Vacation” for players. While I’m sure it will set up the next phase of the game’s story, the expectations have been set that whatever events happen in 7.0 and its patches likely won’t feel as important as what has come before – at least, not at the start.
Part of me does wish that 7.0 could be a more drastic reinvention of what has come before, and to take full advantage of the benefits that a new beginning might bring – much as A Realm Reborn so boldly did back in 2013. Yet I also fully understand that once a game has become as successful as XIV has, you have much less leeway to make such sweeping changes; so it appears that Dawntrail prepares to blaze a new path ahead for Final Fantasy XIV, not by revising what already works, but rather by building upon what has made it such a success in the first place.