Wisdom of Nym: The next few months for Final Fantasy XIV
That having been said, we are going to have more stuff to do over the next few months. Depending on when in the day you read this, the game might be down for maintenance right now with one of those patches along the way. So let's talk about the road to June 20th, what we know is coming, what we can reasonably expect, and what we don't yet know about but might help fill the gap.
March: Delivery, Proto-Ultima, and Diadem?
We just can't stop going back to the Ultima well, can we? The 24-person incarnation will be offering accessories, and that's cool; part of me wonders if it's going to actually be handled in much the same way as Alex accessories, so you won't have to roll against people too aggressively. It's nice to have another 270 ring option, at least, and I'm sure someone will figure out the best-in-slot pieces before all is said and done. I wonder a bit on the bar for execution, though, since Odin (a similar trial originally found at the fan festivals) wound up tripping people up for quite a while.
Really, though, I'm more interested in the whole delivery system. As messy as gathering and crafting has been this expansion (albeit better than before), having something new aside from simply rote gathering of scrip is probably a good thing. Considering the promise that it will include a fairly strong glamour game, this also seems like content aimed at getting people involved who might otherwise opt out.
Also, we've supposedly got our new Diadem expeditions heading along in a week or so, which will serve to keep people a bit more engaged. I've said before and will say again that I'm not really on board with the revisions that have been made, as it seems in no small part like the final agreement that the Diadem just didn't work as intended. I'd rather have seen it refined and improved until it did rather than split into what amounts to another form of instanced dungeon, but we are where we are. The fact that it's there should get people to try it out, even if they previously hadn't had much interest in it, and a lot will depend on its overall reward profile.
Of course, there are some conflicting reports of when we'll be getting the additional Diadem content. More on that as it develops.
April: The end of the story, and perhaps more
The next MSQ patch will be rolling out by the end of March, and that means that by the time we're into April we'll be into our last stretch of the story. Will there be a new trial to go along with it? I'm going to go ahead and speculate yes, but we can't be sure. You can be sure that if we do, it won't be as roundabout as Steps of Faith was, so that's something. (I liked Steps of Faith, but the mechanical hurdles really left some people in a lurch.)
What I see as the big question is whether or not we'll have more to go along with that. Obviously, it won't be anything massive, but the end of March would be the perfect time to roll something out. We might also see something more content-based, like unshackling the usual weekly tomestone limits or our current Dun Scaith limitations. Enough to give us more motivation to do what we're already doing, in other words.
If that doesn't happen at the end of March, though, I expect it will happen at the end of April. By this point we'll know where we're going first between Othard and Ala Mhigo, and we'll probably have several previews about the zones and a loose picture of where we're going. Which sets us up nicely for the final countdown.
May: Previews and farming
By May, we'll be hearing about how the systems of the game are going to change. This isn't really controversial; Yoshida has all but said as much. We'll also be knee-deep in that time-honored tradition of mining out all of the power we can before the next expansion to start out at a slight advantage, including future Samurai players hoarding Monk gear and future Red Mage players hoarding INT gear unless maybe it's not INT gear because we honestly still don't know.
I'd rather like DRG gear myself, but the point of "we don't know" is that we don't actually know, see.
If tomestone caps and weekly lockouts haven't been changed by this point, I'll be surprised. This is around the same point when they would be relaxed anyway for the next patch, so this just means extending things a little bit earlier. It's also a good time to finish up any last bits of farming you need to do, although you'll still have a little while longer. I doubt we'll have any actual new content at this point, but we may get some new apartments.
June: The testing
I would honestly not be surprised if the inventory expansion goes live before the expansion proper does; it's been hinted as a possibility, and releasing it here would be a good chance to stress-test everything before prime time. It's also the last chance for players to get all of their metaphorical ducks in a row. No lockouts on anything, tomestones rain from the sky like particularly hard and rectangular rain, and everyone gears up everything all the time in soon-to-be-deprecated equipment. Everyone wins! Except bosses, those guys lose and get hurt a lot more at this point.
By now we should know the broad strokes of all of the system changes coming down the pipe, too. We won't know the specifics yet, because that seems to make the game burst into flames or something, but we'll know what our action bars will look like after the 4.0 patch hits.
Expect another day of downtime before the full patch goes live, too. And expect server issues once early access starts up. Also, expect a crowded dock somewhere, as I expect we'll be getting on a boat to head over to Kugane first. Basically, expect a lot of familiar things from Heavensward to come back all over again. It'll be pretty great.
Of course, we still have some time until that happens, which frees up people like myself to speculate about what abilities we'll be waving farewell to once the ability revision comes around. So that's going to be what I talk about next time around; feel free to leave your own speculation and thoughts down in the comments or mail them along to firstname.lastname@example.org.