Endwalker in Eighty Days – The Road Ahead

The wait for the next Final Fantasy XIV expansion, Endwalker, is about to get very, very exciting.

First and foremost, there are just eighty days remaining before Endwalker early access kicks off, functionally launching the expansion and seeing us all off into the Final Days. The road to the expansion is fairly clear, given that FFXIV thrives on a stable, dependable schedule – the day before early access we’ll probably have an all-day or most-of-the-day maintenance window before launch. With the Fan Fest events complete and the Endwalker Benchmark available to download, we have only a few major events on the road to Endwalker waiting for us.

The first is the next Live Letter, number 68. Scheduled for September 18th, this should be the big reveal of combat changes for the upcoming expansion. Combat changes being the theme likely means a Job Action Trailer. For those who have not been around for the expansion pre-release window for FFXIV before, a Job Action Trailer is where we get new actions for each job shown off. They’re not typically labeled or explained – just a UI-less video of a character hitting a target dummy or posing with a new visual effect. If there’s a new Job Gauge update they want to tease, you might get to see that UI element, but everything is kept tightly under wraps. The Job Action trailer will prompt a flood of discussion – if you follow FFXIV-centered streamers or YouTubers like Zepla, Larryzaur, or MrHappy, these videos will prompt a flood of speculation and analysis videos. Abilities shown in the Job Action Trailers are generally correctly targeted for what they do, so you’ll get a vibe for what is defensive, offensive, or healing based on what targets are chosen and what is shown.

For the new jobs of Sage and Reaper, the Job Action Trailer is likely to be our first decent look at how they play. We’re likely to see Job Gauges for both (as applicable) and we should get a good mix of abilities. For existing jobs, it will mostly be the things gained or modified in the level 80-90 sprint, sprinkled in between things veteran players will recognize.

After that is likely to be some sort of Press Tour. In the past, the press tour has been a physical, in-person event where media outlets and content creators are able to visit the developers, speak with them, and then play a build of the expansion and capture footage of it to share. With COVID still a going concern, the shape these events could take for Endwalker is…unknown. Currently, such an event is listed for “mid-September” – given that the build for press tour is reportedly usually very locked down within the game itself, there’s a reasonable expectation that limited access could be offered to media from home under an NDA, or some sort of COVID-safe bubble arrangement could be made, although how many press and content creators would be likely to want to adhere to a bubble with quarantine requirements is an open question.

Typically, press tour coverage offers about what you’d expect from each outlet. The mainstream gaming sites offer vapid takes about how pretty the game looks, or that the gameplay continues the expected evolution of the Final Fantasy XIV formula, while most YouTubers and streamers that try it offer unique takes – trying to filter out lore tidbits from tooltips and names, breaking down the rotation and gameplay, or a smorgasbord of analysis based on everything.

Usually then, we’re on board the hype train and riding it right up to the final pre-launch Live Letter. If combat changes are the sole focus of our September 18th live letter, then the pre-launch one should be the “everything else” of the expansion. Generally, pre-launch live letters break down the combat changes (with a Job Action trailer), detail the NPCs and major plot moments that have set the stage for the expansion, describe the new content we’ll get at a very high level (if FATEs have any special tweaks, or Hunts are changing, that will be here), describe the job quest-replacements we get for DoH/DoL jobs (in Shadowbringers they replaced job quests for crafters/gatherers with the Crystalline Mean quests, so something similar is very likely for Endwalker), detail a little bit more around the first tier of 8-player raiding, and most importantly – we get the full schedule down to the minute for how the launch window and content rollout works. Similar to many other MMOs, expansion launch day is not an immediate opening of all content but instead rolls out a majority and then elements like special events, new features, or the raid opening are all for later.

Usually within a week or so of launch, we get the preliminary patch notes for the expansion patch. Details are tightly contained but they’ll generally give some hints that are helpful for the day 1 rush, like who the expansion MSQ quest giver is and where they are to start as well as the starting location for the new job quest starters for Sage and Reaper. These will also include any prerequisites, which is great for making sure that you have things knocked out prior to maintenance. Usually, these notes receive rounds of updates for Early Access and the actual launch day to add details, usually expanding on the Known Issues section.

Then, of course, there is launch day for Early Access, when spoiler lockdown creates an eerie quiet outside the game while everyone is busy inside it, smashing through the MSQ and making their way towards their goals and desired content.

Meanwhile, however, the in-game content on the road to Endwalker is not just as easy as “the dying days of Shadowbringers.” Through holiday events and some special event returns, the game will have things to do prior to Endwalker other than simply continuing with Shadowbringers content or getting frantically caught up. First is the Rising 2021, which is an anniversary event that commemorates the ARR relaunch of FFXIV. It’s running now through September 9th, and each year has a special questline and some cool bits of story that are fluff. On September 13th, the Final Fantasy XV collaboration event returns. This event has a story quest crossover with FFXV and offers you the ability to buy the Regalia from that game as a 4-seater mount for MGP from the Gold Saucer. This event will run for a limited time, so if you want the car in particular, you can start playing Gold Saucer games now and stockpiling the MGP. On October 19th, likely through the Early Access launch, there will be a Moogle Treasure Trove event. These events offer Irregular Tomestones as prizes for certain critical duties that are often hard to fill, like Main Scenario Quest queues from level 50, Alliance Raids, and more. Irregular Tomestones are locked to the event they are earned from and can be used to buy a selection of things that are typically available elsewhere in the game, like EX Trial mounts, certain orchestrion rolls, armor for glamour, and usually a Tomestone sink at the top of an event-specific cosmetic neck glamour with some fun and whimsical theme.

Lastly, while I was somewhat dismissive above about current content, the very nature of an MMO is to run current content and keep your character up to date. If you haven’t been doing so, have room to still improve on item level or stockpiles of materials, then this last section is for you!

The breadth of available activities are as wide as they can be, depending on your familiarity and progress within FFXIV. Obviously, for a lot of my fellow bloggers, the MSQ remains the viable option right in front, and progressing that first job to the current level cap of 80 while experiencing the epic story of FFXIV is valuable in its own right. You can level an alt job, pickup crafting and gathering, work on side quests, grind out Relic weapons past or present, build up your glamour collection from in-game drops, finish getting Aether Currents in existing zones, work on long-term goal achievements like the tank mount achievements, and more.

The basic MMO endgame slave model works too, and right now, you have a few goals you can work towards if this description fits you. There’s endgame raid grinding, as there are no loot restrictions in place at this time for any of the current content including Eden’s Promise (Savage) and The Tower at Paradigm’s Breach. Current tomestone armor is 520 item level, with upgrades available via Clan Nutsy or through one coin from each of the 3 NieR raids to bring the armor up to 530 item level. Normal Eden’s Promise drops tokens for 510 armor and the weapon token you can save up to buy a 510 weapon from E12. The Tower at Paradigm’s Breach drops left-side armor only at 520, in addition to a couple of fun minions, Triple Triad cards, and hairstyles. The Resistance Weapon grind in Bozja rewards unique weapon models, some armor with interesting looks, some choice dropped rewards from lockboxes and the special raid endbosses, and then there is cluster farming. Also, the Resistance Weapon itself is pretty good for the vast majority of players, so worth a look!

The next few months are exciting, exciting times in FFXIV, and there’s both a lot of new stuff to look forward to and a lot of fun existing content to still tackle!

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