Oh man, the fan fest starts in like 40 minutes as I type this!
Tonight marks the big reveal of a lot of remaining details about the upcoming Endwalker expansion for Final Fantasy XIV, an expansion that has the unenviable task of following the outstanding Shadowbringers expansion which marked a high-point for FFXIV in terms of player count, engagement, and critical praise for the game.
The initial unveiling event in early February was well-received and marked a lot of interesting points of discussion. The game is moving to a new narrative such that the existing structure is being upended, with the full story of “Endwalker” as defined by Square Enix contained solely within the initial expansion launch, with the patches to Endwalker launching a new narrative arc for the game. This is huge because the conflict of Zodiark and his disciples with Hydaelyn and…us has been the single pivotal point upon which most of the major story arcs of the game have rested.
To recap, we got the following news back in February:
-Two new jobs, one is the shield-healer Sage, the other a melee DPS that is not yet announced
-New zones, with a focus on Garlemald and Thavnair, with one of our capitals being Radz-at-Han, the capital of Thavnair
-The 8-player raid series “Pandaemonium” which is a story about Ascians, with the concept art featuring Lahabrea
-An unnamed 24-player Alliance Raid series that is not a crossover or collaboration, but instead a new story with deep ties to the lore of FFXIV, exploring a topic that “has remained steeped in mystery for a long time.”
-Stat Squish and the removal of Waist equipment
-Role quests continue but with an expansion to split Ranged DPS into Physical and Magical
-Trust system expanded with Estinien as a new companion
-Ishgard housing to come in 6.1
-The originally planned final Shadowbringers Ultimate raid in 6.1, Dragonsong War Ultimate
-Data Center Travel System
-Island Sanctuary system
-New dungeons, raids, and beast tribes
-Anima from Final Fantasy X appearing, likely as the first trial
So there’s quite a lot there! But more still to come, as we don’t know lots of details. Let’s discuss my big hits and hopes!
The Full Theme Song
Masayoshi Soken is a fucking music wizard and I love his work. The Endwalker theme is already sufficiently great, but I really look forward to hearing the full version of it, mapped to the full trailer.
Zone Previews In-Game
My suspicion is that we’ll see a few additional zones unveiled, but we’ll get to see flythroughs of several of the zones as is common at the later Fan Fest events in a normal, non-COVID cycle. I suspect we’ll get a secret zone that won’t be revealed until launch, and it will likely be the moon. I agree with speculation from other content creators that Sharlayan feels likely, as does an additional zone or two in Thavnair to keep things feeling fresh.
The New Job Unveiled
Duh. I don’t know if I can call this one, because I really like the idea of Necromancer and there are hints in that direction, but I don’t know if I think that works in FFXIV as a player job, especially in melee. On the other hand, the Heroes’ Gauntlet dungeon had another world Warrior of Light with the job, and it feels like a pretty apt fit for a world-ending catastophe.
Preview of the Alliance Raid
I think we’ll get some detail on what the Alliance Raid is called and some concept art, but I do expect them to be somewhat cagey about it, as the story driving it may actually push them to be secretive. They almost certainly need something to share to hype people up, but in the past, Alliance raid reveals have been sort of interestingly threadbare prior to launch, as they usually don’t start until the x.1 patch as-is. YoRHA: Dark Apocalypse was largely concept art until after Shadowbringers launched as well, and that went pretty well.
More Details on the Island Sanctuary
This mode is going to be a big casual draw, as it could combine the delight of FFXIV’s housing systems with accessibility for all and some gameplay implications outside of the basic growing you can do in a house with flower beds. I expect to see a fair amount of detail here, as it feels the most likely to be detailed without story spoilers.
Patch 5.55 Release Date
All of the future of the game hinges on getting us into Endwalker, but we still have one last micro-patch for Shadowbringers to go, with the remaining story hooks, the rest of the Resistance Weapon questing, and the gameplay quality of life improvements that bring people back before launch (unlimited looting from the final 8-player raid, etc). May was given as the date, and we have about two and a half weeks left, so we’ll probably see it next week or the week after!
Second Trial Unveiled
Anima being the first trial is an interesting play, because it brings a distinctly Final Fantasy X flavor into an expansion with a lot of Final Fantasy IV in it. There is an aeon from FFX that made its first appearance in FFIV, however…the Magus Sisters, and there was a piece of concept art in the first Endwalker presentation that looked like they might be present, especially with what we know now thanks to the 5.5 MSQ. I suspect and agree with MrHappy’s speculation that Magus Sisters will be our second launch trial.
Couple small things I think we could see, but am less sure of. I think a PS5 formal release date will be given. Along with that, I think we’ll get the actual expansion launch date, and I would bet on early October. There is a small possibility of further engine overhauls, bringing the PC game up to DirectX 12, but at the same time, the game as-is runs pretty well on DX11 and programming for DX 12 well requires some additional work since it is a low-level API. The Collector’s Edition of the game is almost certain to be unveiled, along with possibly pre-order dates, details, or bonuses that would likely come with patch 5.55.
I don’t expect to see much on the 8-player raid series. Eden was pretty well protected except for the contextless Gaia reveal at the last fan fest before Shadowbringers, and while I think we might get a couple very well-staged screenshots, much else is off the table. I don’t expect a job actions trailer, as that is usually held for the media tour about a month from launch, and while in a normal year, sure, that would be around now, it will not be the case this time.
Let the hype begin!
Fan Fest always does a good job of hyping the future of FFXIV on the basis of content more than as an event, and I expect that FFXIV fans will have a lot to be excited about starting in…six minutes!