In an interview with Famitsu yesterday, Naoki Yoshida—director and producer of Final Fantasy 14, also known as Yoshi-P—revealed that his team's been preparing a second starting point for new players. This would allow players to skip the bulk of Final Fantasy 14's story in the wake of the game's new expansion, Dawntrail.
This was confirmed and translated by aitaikimochi on Twitter, who wrote: "He says that the team has prepared in-game features that allow you to read the lore and background of the characters and world up until [patch 6.0], and technically you can start your adventure from [patch 6.1] and onwards."
This hypothetical skip—one which can currently only be done via a microtransaction from the game's online store—won't let you off the boat at Dawntrail, however. Patch 6.1 marks the start of Endwalker's post-release story, meaning players would need to play patches 6.1 to 6.55 before starting the new expansion.
Yoshi-P recommended, however, that players ought to start from the beginning anyway. He noted in the interview that the game's earlier expansions have been improved—which is true, several patches during Endwalker's cycle have been dedicated to facelifting old dungeons and making the game soloable. He used the metaphor of a TV drama, saying it would be less natural to start watching a show from "season 6".
Regardless, the proposed skip might not even make it into the game with Dawntrail's release next year. Yoshi-P stated in the interview: "Although we are preparing for it, we are still undecided whether to actually implement it as a measure in 7.0" (via Google translate).
I've drunk deep from the cups of Final Fantasy 14's mammoth story, and while I think anyone who skips to 6.1 is robbing themselves of one of the best tales in Final Fantasy—and perhaps the RPG genre as a whole—there's something to be said for a game buckling under the weight of its own narrative.
Right now, Final Fantasy 14 takes hundreds of hours to complete for most players. Even if you were—dare I even say it—skipping cutscenes, it would still take a long time to catch up to your friends. That kind of mandatory homework gets less plausible the longer an MMO like Final Fantasy 14 lives, even if there is something to be said for reading your friend's panicked Discord messages as they have their hearts ripped out by Heavensward for the first time.
Endwalker also wrapped up a story arc 10 years in the making, while Dawntrail promises to start a new adventure. So if there was any time to include a second entry point, it's now. Still, story is half of the reason to play Final Fantasy 14 in the first place. It's a smashing MMO, don't get me wrong, but it's also five well-written single player RPG experiences. Skipping over that journey means you'll be missing out on most of what makes the game special.
It'll require some finesse from a design perspective as well—Endwalker's dungeons have some teeth in terms of difficulty, ones that new players might not be able to handle. On the other hand, all of my recommendations for this game come with the caveat of "do you think you'll have 500 hours to spare in the next few months?" Which is a tough sell. I do also want to be able to make an alt without having to blitz through five expansion's worth of game, so a skip like this has been a long time coming.