The Preliminary Patch Notes for Endwalker – A Brief Analysis

Last night, ironically while I was playing FFXIV, a day-early surprise – the preliminary patch notes for 6.0, the patch that delivers Endwalker content to FFXIV, were posted to the Final Fantasy XIV site. You can read them here.

For those new to FFXIV’s patching, the patch notes usually come in waves – a preliminary set of notes at reduced detail to give the big beats of coming content, the launch day minus a few hours notes that add details crucial to have for launch, and then any edits or revisions get baked in by a few days or a week in, like documented issues with the game in that patch or added details that would have been too spoilerriffic for the day 1 notes.

After all the hype events for the expansion, the Live Letters, Fan Fest streams, and the Media Tour, this is our first real, actual look at the expansion. Like the game’s past expansions, Endwalker expands (ha!) on the proven formula of FFXIV with some interesting changes that improve on the formula without reinventing the wheel, and these notes give us an interesting glimpse into the things that the development team has targeted. Preliminary patch notes for an expansion always tend towards mostly quality of life changes, as the actual expansion details are usually just the most vague of hints about the added content.

The drop of these notes has some genuinely cool surprises, and some interesting points to chew on as we are now firmly in the final day of Shadowbringers before 24 hour maintenance and the expansion launch over the next two days. Let’s discuss!

Aether Current Reductions

This one was a surprise, because while Aether Currents could sometimes be annoying (trying to find that one in the Lochs that’s super far away through a literal maze!), they weren’t really that bad, especially since it was a one-and-done kind of activity. The notes indicate that AC counts for all existing zones are being reduced, although which currents are being removed is not documented, and if you have all of the currents that remain after the patch, you will have flying if you don’t already. This likely signals that Endwalker zones will have fewer Aether Currents than before, and overall, it’s a nice QoL change, although it will make old guides for Aether Currents a potential point of frustration (being guided to points on the world map where they no longer are).

Continuining Shadowbringers Currencies

Both the FATE reward system and Clan Hunts in Endwalker will continue to use the currencies already in-game for these rewards from Shadowbringers – the bicolor gemstones and Sacks of Nuts, respectively. While this is odd from a lore perspective, it does make sense in some fashion as a gameplay easing move – less database jank, less cluttered UI, and the like. It also means that doing some hunts and FATEs in Norvrandt prior to maintenance could have increased value for the rewards to come, which affirms my own decision to run a full set of hunts last night!

The Final Days of Belts

We’ve known that belts are going away since the first unveiling of Endwalker, but the patch notes confirm exactly what happens. Belts won’t be gear items without a slot, but instead will turn into items with flavor tooltips that lose most of the gear capabilities they currently have – like extracting a materia from a full spiritbonded belt and repair. It seems like the best benefit will be to unequip and pull all belts prior to logging out for the last time before maintenance, to extract materia, retrieve slotted materia, and to desynth them for maximum potential benefit.

Artifact Gear Changes

Artifact gear in FFXIV is the capstone sets you are rewarded with for each level cap, with a unique job aesthetic and a full set of left-side armor and a weapon. AF gear has come with restrictions on dye in the past, requiring you to do some varying activity per expansion to get a dyeable version of the set. We have two exciting bits of news with the patch notes on AF gear from the past – that Reaper and Sage will have a level 80 set in the same place as everyone else that they can grab on their way to level 90 (although since you can buy Augmented Cryptlurker gear with Poetics on Friday that is 110 item levels higher, the value is…questionable!), and that the restrictions on dyeing your AF sets are being lifted, giving you the ability to dye them at a point of MSQ progress. This opens a lot of cool customization options that many players didn’t bother with – at least, I know I certainly didn’t.

Endwalker Content Theories

This part is the one that most fascinated me. Firstly, a screenshot of the Shared FATE UI for Endwalker seemingly confirms my theory – that we will be seeing 6 zones in Endwalker and that there are indeed two zones waiting to be unveiled – the name of the floating Amaurotine city being one and then a final, complete mystery zone. If the fucking Moon wasn’t worth holding as a surprise comparatively, then I am deeply fascinated by what these zones will contain.

Secondly, the trials remain so tight-lipped as to be complete mysteries. Anima being one of them still feels quite possible, but this also feels like a measure of protection that would be unnecessary if she were, indeed, a trial.

The MSQ as a whole is under quite tight wraps, such that the preliminary notes don’t even tell us where the first quest is to pick up. My suspicion is that we’ll get this in the launch day patch notes, but even then, it seems sort of odd to hide that!

For Reaper and Sage unlocks, these are confirmed for Ul’dah and Limsa Lominsa, respectively, so if that’s your flavor, you know where to go for sure now.

Overall, a short post on this topic because the hype is so high already and I don’t have much to add on speculation, but damn, it is exciting times in FFXIV.

This patch is probably the biggest MMO event this year, in my estimation. FFXIV has been the primary beneficiary of a player exodus from World of Warcraft, and this expansion launch is the first patch and expansion where many of these new players will have a chance to dive in concurrently with all of us who’ve been playing FFXIV, and I think the team at Square Enix knows that. Right now, it’s easy to believe sincerely that FFXIV has overtaken that top MMO slot in the genre, and Endwalker will have the most eyes on it of any expansion for the game – both because of new players but also as everyone in the industry watches to see how the pressure affects the game.

An interesting theory I saw on the FFXIVdiscussion subreddit last night summed this up rather interestingly and tied it to the delay – a two-week delay meant polishing and touch-ups to ensure the game is ready for the massive increase in scrutiny the game will be receiving, because there is a lot of potential to solidify FFXIV as the number one MMO worldwide with a solid expansion launch.

Will Endwalker meet the high bar set by Shadowbringers? A part of the excitement for me is seeing if it does, because I think it will. Shadowbringers had an exceptional story that benefitted from a lot of world-building and years of lore, but also by how it wove between a tale of an alien world and themes that connected us back to our home on the Source, coupled with relatable characters and very humanistic, centered storytelling. Endwalker has every possibility of meeting or exceeding that bar, and there’s also the potential for it to be good but to not quite stack up.

Either way, there’s not long to wait now, and with the patch notes to set a map for our journey into the end, I am vastly more excited than I already was.

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