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While players are the main motive, Final Fantasy 14: Dawntrail's visual makeover is also meant to help devs 'advance their careers', says director Yoshi-P

 An image of Krile, a lalafell in a kitty-cat hoodie, smiling confidently amongst verdant surroundings in Final Fantasy 14.
An image of Krile, a lalafell in a kitty-cat hoodie, smiling confidently amongst verdant surroundings in Final Fantasy 14.

Final Fantasy 14's due a new coat of paint, and if you've been following the ramp-up to Dawntrail, you know it's getting one. Better lighting, shinier models, and an overall tune-up to a game that's past its 10th anniversary by now. In a recent interview with Play magazine (thanks, GamesRadar) Naoki Yoshida—also known as Yoshi-P—let readers in on the team's reasoning for the upgrade.

First and foremost, Yoshida says he wants to reassure long-time players that the game has a bright future ahead of it: "With Endwalker, we were able to bring one big saga to a close …  I think they would be happy to have seen that conclusion, but I think they probably must have also been a bit concerned about what will happen moving forward."

Pouring resources into a new look for the modern era, though? That's a sign your favourite game is still going to get some love. "When players would see the graphics updates, they would realise that Final Fantasy 14 will still push on … I think it would give players a sense of ease, so they would not need to worry about that."

The second reason he gives is a bit more material—Yoshida worries that players (especially younger ones) will draw comparisons between FF14 and other, newer kids on the block, and "think of it as an old game … But the important thing with MMOs is that we need to constantly get new players in, otherwise the overall scale of our game would shrink … by implementing the graphics updates, we can actually improve the appeal for 14 to those types of players."

That's fair enough, MMOs are expensive and constantly updated, and you've gotta keep the lights on somehow. But it's not just the players Yoshida's looking out for—it's the devs, too.

"A Realm Reborn was released back in 2013 and when we look at the graphics pipeline, it’s now two generations old. The artists who are working on Final Fantasy 14, I wanted to give them a better environment."

While you can do plenty with an older engine and a handful of polygons, Final Fantasy 14's 10-year-old tech likely still interferes with its artists' visions. I was staggered by some of the earliest previews of the 7.0 graphics overhaul, mostly by how different the lighting was in familiar areas.

"So, there’s a benefit for both in the sense that players can benefit from better quality and graphics, but our artists and engineers in the team can benefit by using more advanced technology and can advance their careers." While Yoshida says the graphics overhaul is "quite a difficult endeavour … I think it's because of those benefits [that] we really want to give it our best and see it through."