This year’s Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival in Las Vegas has played host to a number of big announcements, including the reveal of the game’s next major expansion in the shape of Shadowbringers, and amongst them one of the most interesting was the Trust NPC system. Final Fantasy XI players may well recognise the name, as a similar system existed for the older MMORPG and allowed players to call on alter egos of characters they’d met in order to tackle certain content as a solo player.
While Final Fantasy XIV’s producer Naoki Yoshida has said that it’s not an exact replica there are some clear similarities, and in the case of XIV it’s designed to help players who are more used to the solo Final Fantasy experiences to get onboard with Square Enix’ incredibly successful MMORPG. We were able to catch up with Yoshida-san at the Shadowbringers press conference to get his thoughts on who the system is aimed at, and asked whether Trust was going to make Shadowbringers the next single-player Final Fantasy experience.
“This isn’t meant to make Final Fantasy XIV a singleplayer game at all actually… I believe that the good thing about MMORPG’s is that you have a lot of players coming on and playing together and I, as an MMORPG player totally understand that it is necessary for a lot of people to play together.
But at the same time there are players that are familiar with Final Fantasy that are more comfortable playing Final Fantasy as a standalone single player game, and there have been voices that we’ve heard that say XIV is not their cup of tea only because of the multiplayer elements and you have to play with other people. Or they don’t want to go through some of the content that requires for them to party up with other people.
The challenge that we are taking on here is that, at least for the main scenario quests we would like for there to be an option if you’re more comfortable playing in a solo environment, and to have the choice to go through the main scenario quests with an NPC and play solo, and that’s the basic concept we have for the Trust system.”
For a certain subset of Final Fantasy fans this news will be music to their ears, as so much of what they love about the franchise is present in XIV. The MMORPG plays host to the same fantastic production values that the series is known for, and has arguably the best soundtrack of any modern Final Fantasy game, but the jump into playing through a narrative with others is potentially daunting, whether through time issues, social anxieties or a simple distaste for multiplayer games. The Trust system looks as though it’ll serve as a way to introduce new players to the game by bringing it closer to the Final Fantasy experiences they’re more used to. However, Yoshida-san made it clear that Trust is meant as an introduction to the world of the MMORPG, rather than as a replacement for playing with others;
“So, that being said, playing through the singleplayer quests with an NPC will become harder as you progress in the story as the content will become more challenging, and having an NPC won’t allow for you to clear the content or not even to enter certain content. What I would like players to experience through the Trust system is that they’re going to learn the basics of Final Fantasy XIV and the MMORPG elements and shift or transition into playing with other players like a buffer or a gateway to the game.”
The Trust system will launch alongside the Shadowbringers expansion which is set to appear early summer 2019.