When patch 3.35 goes live in Final Fantasy XIV, it will unlock the Deep Dungeon, a 50-floor instance with randomly generated maps that's inspired by roguelikes. It sounds pretty rad. The Deep Dungeon, also known in English as the Palace of the Dead, is designed to both channel old-school Final Fantasy spelunking and to switch things up a bit for longtime FFXIV players.
During an interview at E3 in Los Angeles this week, game director Noaki "Yoshi-P" Yoshida told me a bit about what they have planned for the dungeon, which will be way different than anything else in the popular (and excellent) MMORPG. Rather than use standard levels, the Deep Dungeon will have its own progression system. Your character has to be level 17 or higher to enter, but once you join the fray, you'll start right at level one. You'll be able to level up in the dungeon and get better weapons and gear as you go, although those items will only work inside the Deep Dungeon, at least until you do well enough to win them as permanent rewards. (It's reminiscent of the Ancient Cave from the SNES role-playing game Lufia 2.)
"There are 50 floors," Yoshida told me, speaking through a translator. "You continue to go as deep into the dungeon as you can." Every 10 floors you'll find a checkpoint, but if your party dies, you'll lose a whole bunch of progress. Die on floor 11 and you'll go back to 10. Die on floor 19 and you'll also go back to 10. Get past the boss on 20, however, and you'll be able to save from that point.
It's an experience unlike anything else in Final Fantasy XIV to date. "Within this Deep Dungeon, there are special items and traps as well," Yoshida said. "There might be an item that transforms you into a powerful monster so you can clear out your enemies in one shot. You might run into booby traps -- turn into a toad or something like that."
Sounds interesting, no? Also interesting: The Deep Dungeon won't force you to form any sort of strict role-based party. In fact, you don't have to have a party at all. The dungeon is open to groups ranging from one to four, of any composition: You might go in with four DPS characters or even try to solo the dungeon as a healer. The goal, Yoshida says, is to create something totally new. It's meant to feel more accessible than high-level raids or other chunks of endgame content that require people to play through hundreds of hours worth of story.
"There are actually two large concepts behind the Deep Dungeon," Yoshida said. "The first is to have veteran and new players come together and play this content."
The second, he added, is to switch up the rhythm of typical dungeons and boss fights and create something that's easier for casual players to jump into. The dungeon will have its own story, but it will feel very different, which should be welcome to lapsed or new Final Fantasy XIV players.
Yoshida said he also plans to add more floors in future patches and that he wants to add a ranking system of some sort to the dungeon. It will go live when patch 3.35 hits.