FFXIV’s 7.0 patch gears up for Dawntrail by polishing its graphics, hiding quest-giver crowds and making stealth quests less annoying

We’re only a couple of days away from the early access launch of Dawntrail, Final Fantasy XIV’s latest expansion and first in over two years since the climactic Endwalker. As the summery story expansion prepares to drop, Square Enix have run down everything else arriving in the MMO’s 7.0 patch, which notably includes its long-awaited graphical overhaul along with several other nice-to-have improvements whether you’re playing Dawntrail or not.

As well as Dawntrail’s story quests, locations, dungeons and new jobs – we won’t spoil anything here – 7.0’s headline feature is a total visual overhaul of the now decade-old game. Comparisons in the 7.0 patch notes show just how much sharper we can expect environmental textures to look, with other polishes including more fluid animations, better hair and skin textures on characters, softer shadows and more light sources, and various other additions down to more subtle eye movements, glasses lenses, and effects for water and wind. There’ll be some technical additions too, including support for FSR and DLSS upscaling for AMD and Nvidia users respectively, TSCMAA anti-aliasing and an alternative SSAO using GTAO. Plus DualSense owners can now use the PlayStation controller natively on PC.

In case the graphical changes make your character look a bit different, everyone will be gifted a Fantasia to let them remodel their character for free rather than having to buy one from the real-money shop. Character creation itself has been expanded with new lighting options, combat voice line previews and a 60-minute grace period during which you can hop back in to tweak your appearance without using another Fantasia. There’s some new hairstyles and the option to combine glasses and hats for the first time, too.

The patch notes are extensive, but a few other quality-of-life changes stand out. The first is especially well-timed given the inevitable rush of players working their way through Dawntrail’s main scenario: you can choose to hide other players around quest-giver NPCs, either when you’re just nearby or when you’re interacting with them. It’s a small but welcome tweak that should help with the mess of trying to click on an NPC amid dozens of fellow Warriors of Light.

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The other change is to Final Fantasy XIV’s stealth missions that involve tailing a certain NPC. While there aren’t many in the MMO, the few that are required can be a frustrating exercise in suddenly being spotted and having to restart. Now, NPCs will have a very clear indicator around them that shows whether you’ll be spotted if they turn around, along with a glowing AoE-like zone around them when you need to stay clear.

I’m also personally relieved to see you can now just click on an emote icon in the Duty List when having to perform specific emotes during a quest, rather than typing them out everytime.

There’s plenty more – such as new house furnishings, including a light fitting that looks suspiciously similar to Endwalker’s iconic low-poly grapes – all of which will be available once FF14 returns from going offline for maintenance ahead of the new expansion tomorrow.

Don’t forget – as if you need me to remind you – that there’ll be new queue and AFK measures in place to help alleviate the expected server slam caused by Dawntrail’s arrival too, so maybe steer clear for a bit unless you absolutely plan to be making your way through the new expansion and don’t mind waiting a while to get in.

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