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Need to catch up with FF14 before Dawntrail? Best start now: there won’t be a free way to skip its story soon

Yoshi-P wants to keep the story a ‘main focus’ of the lengthy MMO and avoid ‘diminishing its value’

Estinien attempts to calm things down in the trailer for Final Fantasy 14 expansion Dawntrail
Image credit: Square Enix

Fallen behind on Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn’s story? Whether you’re still yet to finish Endwalker or are looking to pick up the MMO for the first time in anticipation of enjoying a lovely summer holiday with your fellow Scions of the Seventh Dawn, you’re going to have to work before your Warrior of Light can kick back in next expansion Dawntrail; there won’t be a free way to simply jump to the latest chapter of the story for free anytime soon.

That comes from FF14’s director-producer Naoki ‘Yoshi-P’ Yoshida, who spoke to PC Gamer about the idea of being able to leap past the dozens-to-hundreds of hours of cutscenes and conversations across A Realm Reborn and its four expansions to date: Heavensward, Stormblood, Shadowbringers and Endwalker.

It’s an understandably difficult thing to balance, with brand new players facing an ever-higher barrier to enjoying the latest content added in each new patch and expansion, with this summer’s Dawntrail being the latest. At the same time, FF14’s sweeping story, character development and genuinely emotional moments - which land with extra impact after spending such a long time with your companions - have undoubtedly played a big part in the game’s rapturous critical acclaim and enduring popularity. For many players - but certainly not all - seeing the story unfold as its writers intended is a major part of The FF14 Experience.

Yoshida himself admitted that the idea of skipping the story leaves him “constantly torn”, referencing the introduction of Endwalker’s in-game lore bible, the Unending Codex, and cutscene library Unending Journey as ways that the developers have looked to make it easier for players to recap what happened hours ago (or see what they missed if they blasted through the first time).

Alisae prepares to bite into a fruit in Final Fantasy 14 expansion Dawntrail
Image credit: Square Enix

Even so, Yoshida seems unconvinced that making it easy to whizz past the story would do A Realm Reborn and its expansions justice, and goes against the team’s efforts at putting its narrative front-and-centre - something they intend to keep doing.

"I'm concerned that if the globally acclaimed storyline can be skipped through a function, the value of the FF14 game itself will be diminished," he said. "So far, FF14 has been able to continue to grow while keeping the story as the main focus."

Of course, there is an existing way to skip past Final Fantasy XIV’s story, but not for free. The game’s real-money shop sells Tales of Adventure items for A Realm Reborn, Heavensward, Stormblood and Shadowbringers, giving players a way to automatically complete all of the main scenario quests up to the end of the respective story arc. (The items don’t increase a character’s level accordingly, but there are separate Tales of Adventure items for job groups that will boost them straight to level 80, ten levels off the current cap.)

Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker

Whether the existence of a way to skip past the story - albeit by paying almost £20 for the privilege - somewhat undermines Yoshida’s comments is up to you. But, at least for now, he isn’t keen to throw open the ability for anyone to freely fast-forward hours of story without having to pay.

"For the story we are not currently planning any kind of new skip feature," Yoshida confirmed, acknowledging the potentially intimidating nature of tackling a decade of story for newcomers before saying he would continue to “think about it some more”.

Unless you’re willing to part with your cash, you’ve still likely got a bit of time to get up to speed with FF14’s latest patches before Dawntrail lands. We know it’ll be out this summer, but Yoshi-P has shied away from putting a hard date on its release to avoid a last-minute delay like Endwalker.

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