Final Fantasy 14: Dawntrail's new benchmark will get a 2.0 version after player upset over lifeless eyes, flattened faces, and cursed lalafell dolphin teeth

An example of the lalafell's teeth in Final Fantasy 14: Dawntrail's benchmark software.
(Image credit: Square Enix)

Final Fantasy 14—a game that itself received a complete 2.0 revamp—will get a 2.0 version of the preview benchmark tool for its upcoming expansion, Dawntrail. History doesn't repeat itself, but it often rhymes.

Why? Well, FF14 is having a massive graphics overhaul for its 7.0 update. This isn't just a few new shaders slapped onto an ailing engine, it's a complete remodelling of the world's characters (akin to World of Warcraft's revamp during Warlords of Draenor) as well as various lighting systems.

The benchmark uses this graphical revamp, so it's the first time players have been able to see their transformed Warriors of Light. And while community outrage over some model updates does seem a touch over-the-top, I do think FF14 attaches you to your player character more than other MMOs—especially since it's a pretty alt-unfriendly game.

In a recent blog post on the game's website, game director Naoki Yoshida (Yoshi-P) has promised that the benchmark tool will be overhauled so players can rest easy: "While we have received positive feedback and reactions from players, we have also seen others express their concerns. Therefore, I would like to share the current situation regarding these factors."

First up, players have been worried about the "lifeless" eyes and various oddities in the character creator. Yoshida explains that, "although [the character creator] used the same processes as the actual game, certain aspects (such as weather) were combined to create special conditions exclusive to character creation … its light sources take advantage of backlighting which, in this case, proved detrimental for showcasing the upcoming graphical update."

As this player points out on the game's subreddit, even just rotating your character to face the sun changes things considerably.

Just to prove my claim that angling your camera does matter, we can see how simply shining your face in the direction of the sun makes a world of difference. from r/ffxiv

"We are currently expediting a rework of the environments and light sources of character creation for both the actual game and the benchmark; once that is complete, the current benchmark will be replaced," writes Yoshi P. He calls out "lifeless" eyes, "facial contours appearing flattened due to incorrect lighting conditions", and "a lack of gloss or excessive appearance of gloss" as things that should be addressed going forward.

Yoshida also notes that there have been several "issues in the data, and certain processes which manifested due to our need to modify an enormous amount of data … these issues remained in the benchmark due to simple data-related errors or neglecting to reflect the upcoming changes to the benchmark environment."

In essence, overhauling an engine's graphics takes a lot of time, and the benchmark itself isn't the final (fantasy) product you'll be getting when 7.0 finally releases. Among the issues involved, such as a lack of high-res textures for certain races, Yoshida notes that there's been an "uncorrected scaling for the mouth of certain playable races". This seems like a reference to both lalafell's terrifying dolphin teeth and the Keeper of the Moon's defanged gobs both.

(Image credit: @BizuArt on Twitter/X.)
Lala evolving into dolphin? I can't unsee these teeth from r/ffxiv

While my own hyur walked through the proposed update unscathed, I can see why the knee-jerk reaction has been so pronounced here. Even with the understanding that the benchmark is still a work-in-progress, FF14 has you staring at your Warrior of Light for hundreds of hours of story cutscenes, so growing attached to a specific look is only normal. Even I had a brief wobble of concern while my brain updated its understanding of what my lad looks like.

Still, it's equally wild to me that an entirely new benchmark software will be released to address those concerns. Since the team needs "some time to investigate the issues and reconstruct the benchmark environment", there's no sign of a date, but I'm almost certain it'll be before Dawntrail itself releases in early access June 28.

Harvey Randall
Staff Writer

Harvey's history with games started when he first begged his parents for a World of Warcraft subscription aged 12, though he's since been cursed with Final Fantasy 14-brain and a huge crush on G'raha Tia. He made his start as a freelancer, writing for websites like Techradar, The Escapist, Dicebreaker, The Gamer, Into the Spine—and of course, PC Gamer. He'll sink his teeth into anything that looks interesting, though he has a soft spot for RPGs, soulslikes, roguelikes, deckbuilders, MMOs, and weird indie titles. He also plays a shelf load of TTRPGs in his offline time. Don't ask him what his favourite system is, he has too many.