Final Fantasy 14's zen farming mode had an unexpected inspiration

A grey-haired Viera in Island Sanctuary
(Image credit: Square Enix)
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When Final Fantasy 14's Island Sanctuary (opens in new tab) was introduced in Patch 6.2, it was a great escape from all the stress of savage raiding and saving the world. Gathering materials, petting animals and building cool structures to relaxing music is exactly the kind of wind-down a Warrior of Light needs. On the surface, you'd assume i's a mode inspired by the likes of Animal Crossing, Harvest Moon, and Stardew Valley. Right?

Wrong, according to director and producer Naoki Yoshida. As reported by GamesRadar (opens in new tab) (via USA Today (opens in new tab)), the idea for Island Sanctuary came from a very different source. "The initial inspiration for Island Sanctuary was not actually a game, but rather from a segment in a TV show called The! Tetsuwan! DASH!!" Yoshida said. "Basically, in this segment, the participants are tasked with developing facilities themselves on a deserted island that shows signs of having been inhabited in the past, using scrap wood, timber, and debris washed ashore."

As GamesRadar points out, a close Western equivalent of that would probably be the Survivor series, a show that's remained fairly popular in both the UK and the US. The two share a pretty similar concept—fend for yourselves on an island—though when Tetsuwan Dash originally premiered in 1995 the goal was more oriented around getting "Dash" put on a map, which Japanese boyband Tokio did by creating a village in Fukushima. The focus eventually did shift into more of a Survivor-type show though, pivoting more towards doing things without the assistance of modern technology. Think: less drama, more educational.

FF14 Island Sanctuary

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Island Sanctuary remains one of Final Fantasy 14's more unique activities in the MMORPG, and variety is something Yoshida thinks is vital in the genre. "Ideally, the more types of content an MMORPG has to offer, the better," he said. "Naturally, the most common requests are those for battle content, but if you were to ask if that alone is ideal for the development of an MMORPG, I think the answer is 'no.'"

The mode is still relatively new, only releasing in August 2022, with many already sitting on maxed-out island ranks and awaiting more. We've had some additions with the release of Patch 6.3 (opens in new tab) on January 10. Two new island ranks and a new building have been introduced, along with new gathering modes and materials. There are also new recipes, animals and items to obtain along with some general quality-of-life adjustments. 

It's still a fairly linear mode though, one which people wish had a little more freedom of personalisation. Yoshida says he has a few things in mind for how to make that happen. "The very first thing would be the ability to place outdoor furnishings in the Island Sanctuary, he said. "After all, if this becomes possible, players will have much more scope to customise the area around their island hideaways to their liking!" 

I'll take any excuse to finally use my ever-growing collection of unused event furniture, thanks.

Mollie Taylor
Features Producer

Mollie spent her early childhood deeply invested in games like Killer Instinct, Toontown and Audition Online, which continue to form the pillars of her personality today. She joined PC Gamer in 2020 as a news writer and now lends her expertise to write a wealth of features, guides and reviews with a dash of chaos. She can often be found causing mischief in Final Fantasy 14, using those experiences to write neat things about her favourite MMO. When she's not staring at her bunny girl she can be found sweating out rhythm games, pretending to be good at fighting games or spending far too much money at her local arcade.