Wisdom of Nym: The next stop on Final Fantasy XIV’s magical expansion tour

    
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Somewhere, across the sea, somewhere.
The next expansion for Final Fantasy XIV will be announced this year. We all know it. I suppose there’s a chance it won’t happen, that the fan festival isn’t going to contain any announcements of the sort, but only in the super-technical sense that it could happen rather than any realistic outcome. So another expansion is being revealed in nine-ish months, and that prompts the obvious question: Where are we going now?

This isn’t an idle question, either. The fact that the first expansion brought us to Ishgard meant that the entire story of the game went in a different direction than if we had gone elsewhere, focusing upon the known but somewhat intentionally vague Dragonsong War and making it the central point of the story. As we prepare for the next expansion, I can see three obvious areas that may lead us onward into the world, and each one brings with it certain assumptions and stories that we have yet to hear.

Ala Mhigo, Gyr Abania, and Xelphatol

The old way it was.If you asked me to rank the most likely destinations of the game’s next expansion – and that’s kind of what I’m doing here – this would be at the top by virtue of Heavensward on a conceptual level. After years of staring at the gates and wondering what lay beyond, it seemed almost silly to imagine that we wouldn’t gain access to Ishgard at long last. Ala Mhigo and the regions surrounding it are the next obvious locale for players to explore.

Of course, the difference between the two is that Ala Mhigo is controlled by the Empire. Right now.

To say that the Empire will control Ala Mhigo forever is to ignore a whole lot of plot leading up to its possible liberation… and the fact that the Empire as a whole and the Emperor in particular seems to have a differing set of priorities than it did when the city-state was first conquered. The city’s continued value as a central staging point seems to be diminishing, especially with the Empire’s new flagship no longer having to deal with the threat of a certain elder wyrm tearing it out of the sky. The avowed reaction to what happened in Doma makes it clear that Empire is willing to give up a nation now if it believes that it can always come back later or make sure that no one gets it.

Even if the city itself remains hostile and the expansion’s “hub” is an offshoot, however, there’s plenty to do in the region that we already know about. The Ixal originally hail from this area, for example, and we know for a fact that Ala Mhigo was easily the most technical of the states before it fell. Opportunity exists to cover all manner of jobs as we explore the region, as well as to place a renewed focus upon the war against the Empire and the ultimate goals of Garlemald.

There’s also the simple fact that the concept art for it exists right in the original collector’s edition art book, which suggests that it’s not something the designers have just started thinking about. Much like Ishgard, it’s an obvious trigger just waiting for the right moment to be pulled.

Doma and the lands of Othard

On the one hand, this seems really backwards compared to what was just listed. Really, if Ala Mhigo can’t be retaken, why would Eorzeans decide to move across the sea and retake Doma? Especially when Doma itself was largely demolished by the Empire as a punishment for its attempted rebellion?

Of course, the Empire isn’t going to be as heavily focused on a region that it’s fairly certain it has destroyed and no longer has much value to the emperor as a whole. It would also serve the purpose of surprising people who expect everyone to stay on Eorzea, and I can definitely see it being put forth (with FFXIV‘s usual odd view of geopolitics) as an ideal spot for refugees currently crowding the various cities. Taking Doma back and exploring the space around Othard has a great deal of appeal to the au ra and the otherwise nationless Domans still chilling in Mor Dhona, to boot.

Not so far east after all.

This sort of expansion would also allow the game to start moving beyond the single continent, which is important; there are five continents in the world that we’re aware of, and staying just in Eorzea for long enough diminishes the impact of the others. Places like Radz-at-Han have been mentioned extensively and have brought their own materials to Eorzea, but we have yet to see anywhere beyond the existing and well-known region of the world. There’s plenty of space to expand.

All the talk of Samurai would certainly fit into this sort of setting without a problem, I’ll note.

Much of what happens in the next few patches will determine whether this or Ala Mhigo seems more obvious. But there’s another option that I don’t see discussed much, a third potential destination that would bring players into a very different sort of conflict.

Sharlayan and the lost bits of Eorzea

How the heck did we get here?It might seem odd, but it is possible – if not exactly likely – that the next expansion won’d send us anywhere in huge numbers. Rather, it’ll send us to where we’ve already been, but in greater depths.

One of the elements that was mentioned in an offhand interview before the release of Heavensward was that Yoshida had to decide between a flying expansion and an aquatic expansion. Obviously, we got the former, but there’s room to speculate about what the latter might mean. There aren’t a great number of things to explore beneath the waves… unless you count off of the coast of Western Thanalan, which lost large amounts of land mass when the Calamity struck. Unless we start crossing the sea to the Sharlayan island. Unless there is more underwater than we know about. This is the sort of thing that could easily be used to hang no shortage of content, exploring sides of the existing three regions that we know about from 1.0 but have since been unable to access.

Lots of dungeons and regions from 1.0 are no longer accessible, including three-quarters or so of Mor Dhona, chunks of the Black Shroud and La Noscea, and bits and pieces of Thanalan. A trip to Sharlayan suggests a reason for turning inward, with grounds for new jobs within the existing city-states as well – we’ve never actually accessed the Musketeer’s guild, and the currently sealed state of Ul’dah’s Milvaneth Sacrarium suggests that something could lie behind it.

That’s on top of the fact that we already have prominent Sharlayan NPCs as major elements of the game’s ongoing storyline, with another one joining us not coincidentally with the last patch. And then there’s another matter to consider…

Click to reveal spoilers concerning Astrologian job quests.
Astrologians hail from Sharlayan, and the job quests make it clear that Sharlayan is not liberal with its knowledge to the point of killing citizens who attempt to share information with the other nations. We also know that there was free exchange when it formed a de facto sixth city-state on the mainland, as well. In short, there’s a conflict built-in there, with the Sharlayan base knowing things that the rest of Eorzea does not, and quite possibly keeping people in the dark for good reason.

I think we have an expansion or two before we start looking inward once more, but I also don’t think that hanging an entire expansion off of Sharlayan is absurd in the least. It’d be unexpected, to boot, but it would tie in to subtle hints that had been dropped here and there.

None of this is certain, and it’s quite possible that these options are less exclusive than we think. It’s possible to have an expansion exploring Sharlayan and Ala Mhigo, for example. But I think all three are viable possibilities. And we’ve got, oh, nine months to see what looks more likely.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next time around, I’m going to go ahead and keep this train of speculation rolling along by talking about obvious (and less obvious) candidates for our next set of jobs.

The Nymian civilization hosted an immense amount of knowledge and learning, but so much of it has been lost to the people of Eorzea. That doesn’t stop Eliot Lefebvre from scrutinizing Final Fantasy XIV each week in Wisdom of Nym, hosting guides, discussion, and opinions without so much as a trace of rancor.
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xania
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xania

I think the chance it’s not Ala Mhigo is the same as the new expac not being announced this year – sure, it’s theoretically possible, but anything is theoretically possible. Doesn’t mean it’s likely.

My main worry is that Ala Mhigo and Garlemald are going to share an expac. I’d really rather see each of them in depth, especially Garlemald.

thatchefdude
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thatchefdude

Flimflamberge thatchefdude I also feel like there are some discrepancies between in game descriptions from 1.0 compared to info in 2.0 and 3.0 series….

Yoshi-P specifically said when ARR launched that original content of 1.0 is still viable canon, but I do feel like they may have their backs against a wall a bit soon, because some of the descriptions between both games don’t add up well.

Flimflamberge
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Flimflamberge

thatchefdude Radz-at-Han is the city state that dominates the island of Thavnair. The lalafell came from islands between Aldenard (the landmass of mainland Eorzea) and Meracydia, hinting the possibility of Meracydia itself before that. (Meracydian ruins bearing the mark Azeyma may be a clue to that.)
However, you’re forgetting the New World, a continent to the West (re?)discovered by Merlwyb herself. Most of what we know about it comes from the description of several plants. There’s also major islands to the North, including Sharlayan and the Sea Wolf ancestral homelands. (Though the latter may be part of Ilsabard. It’s vague.)

thatchefdude
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thatchefdude

Eliot_Lefebvre Flimflamberge You can, but it’s highly likely to be Ala Migho….
I think Othard will be expac 3

Eliot_Lefebvre
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Eliot_Lefebvre

si_fi_soul Apparently my wording was ambiguous – I was using Radz-at-Han as an example of a place that we know of without having explored it, not claiming it was located on Othard. The point was “there’s a big world out there full of many locations” rather than “Othard will cover these locales”; we’ve got places to go and stories to explore before Thavnair.

thatchefdude
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thatchefdude

si_fi_soul Totally rewrote most of this above witout seeing your excellent post, sorry

thatchefdude
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thatchefdude

Basing this somewhat upon how little of the other continents we saw in FFXI (We saw a portion of the Eastern and Western continents, but only on region, not the whole continent, and we never saw the Southern or Northern continents)….

I think Expac 2 will be Gyr Abania and Xelphatol

Expac 3 will be Othard

Expac 4 I am going with Garlemald, possibly a story about ending the Empire itself on home turf…

Expac 5 I will see something as an exploration based expac, almost like Adoulin, this may take us to the Southern land that the Lalafell came to Eorzea from, the lands are supposed to be Southeast of Limsa Lominsa…

Looking at Geography of Hydaelyn, we know a few things already (keep in mind that Yoshi-P has said that anything V 1.0 is still considered canon)

There are at least 5 continents, possinly 7 (Although some of them are slightly connected, think North America to South America via Central American region)

1. Eorzea
2. Ilsabard (Continet contains Garlemald) Northeast of Eorzea
3. Othard (Continent contains Doma) Far East of Eorzea
4. Radz-at-Han – unknown if name of region or continent, but its East of Eorzea
5. Thravnair – could possibly be the Western Continent???
6. Meracydia – Southern Continent -possible original home of the Miqote (before they crossed the ice bridges in the last ice age to Eorzea)
7. Unknown Lalafell origin islands, spoken of in the game

SallyBowls1
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SallyBowls1

Eliot_Lefebvre Flimflamberge  Thank you for a very interesting article.  To be pedantic, since none of the posters said they thought it was anything other than AM, the empirical evidence seems to be that you can’t make a convincing case since nobody was convinced. :-)

Ten10K
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Ten10K

So the summoning of creatures .. Riding birds.. Flying in an airship .. And doing magic that’s OK ..
But swimming in plate armor is where you draw the line…
Hahahha ..seriously

si_fi_soul
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si_fi_soul

Oh boy, do I ever have thoughts on this. Beware, spoilers for the story up through Heavensward in here.

Realistically, Ala Mhigo is the only place 4.0 /could/ go. It’s the one remaining unvisited country in Aldenard that has actual cities and non-beastman populations- yes, we haven’t seen Xelphatol or Paglth’an yet, either, but until the game’s story veers hard into dealing with the beastmen in a context other than “oh no primals are bad” (and it hasn’t outside of the beastman dailies and some unfortunately minor parts of 3.0), we’re not going to get an expac that focuses primarily on a region where the majority of the population is Ixali or Amalj’aa. Xelphatol could very well come as a package deal with Ala Mhigo, and realistically we might be able to get the unvisited parts of Eorzea in the same fell swoop- the West Shroud, more of Coerthas and Abalathia’s Spine (volcanoes? Hellsguard homeland?), the Yafaem Saltmoor.

There’s also the matter that a greater focus on both Ala Mhigo and a change in the conflict with Garlemald have been seeded through 2.0 through to Heavensward’s story, particularly in 2.3 and 2.5/2.55. Other than “dramatic effect”, the two lasting results of Before the Fall were setting up Ilberd as a major antagonist and giving the player (and Raubahn, and Alphinaud) a reason to pursue him. And as of 3.0, he is still at large and still aggressively focused on the Ala Mhigan resistance and forcing others to prioritize it as much as he does. Add to that Garlemald’s aggressive new emperor and the introduction of a new, living Tribunus (who is still alive as of 3.1), as well as a major Ishgardian NPC with a stake in the comings and goings of the Garlean Empire, and it seems very likely that we will be heading northeast to Gyr Abania very soon.

Outside of Ala Mhigo, we only have a handful of regions which have been alluded to even at half the level Ishgard was in 1.0/2.0, and none of which have the existing concept art that Ala Mhigo does. As mentioned, there is Doma and ostensibly the rest of Othard, but as of 2.2 Doma was razed by Garlemald to a degree that Ala Mhigo was spared from, and it seems that we’re unlikely to find much of anything there for the time being. There’s also Ilsabard, the Near East- as a tiny nitpicky correction, that is the continent where the island of Thavnair and its capital of Radz-at-Han are located, not Othard. It’s also the seat of Garlemald’s entire empire, which makes it a pretty potent location for an expansion, pending some major plot developments. One might wonder if the Ivalice/Middle East flavor of Thavnair and Radz-at-Han make it feel too similar to Ul’dah for it to be viable, but Ala Mhigo’s more Byzantine stylings seem to be in our near future, so perhaps not. It does have the advantage of thematically and visually being the spiritual descendant of FFXI’s Aht Urhgan. (Smart money is on Blue Mage having its debut in either Radz-at-Han or Ala Mhigo, but only time will tell whether this will happen in either or at all- there’s a chance we’re getting Red Mage instead as our next big job.)

One region that has started to play a bigger role that didn’t get mentioned but which is absolutely worth mentioning: Meracydia. Other than Dravania, this mysterious (but potentially Africa-influenced) southern continent is the other known location on Hydaelyn where dragon’s call home. (Or called: we know Bahamut and Tiamat were Meracydian dragons and that they went to war with Allag when the empire attempted to conquer them- we don’t know how much of the continent’s dragon population survived that war outside of test tubes in Dalamud or bits of stolen ground in Azys Lla.) But it’s another region where we may very well find dragons, and ones that are not likely as ill-tempered towards mankind as Nidhogg’s brood. There’s also been hints that it is not only the original homeland of the Miqo’te, but the home of a race of treelike beastmen- the ones who summoned Sephirot, the Fiend of the Warring Triad and the upcoming primal of Patch 3.2. Admittedly, Meracydia has not been given as much of a spotlight as even Doma, Sharlayan, or Radz-at-Han, but it is absolutely worth considering.