Regardless, the important thing here is that we’ve got our next patch date and we’re ready to go with all of the corresponding anticipation. We’ve also got the spoiler-filled trailer that’s going to prove almost impossible to decipher until we watch it again after playing all of the stories and say, “oh, that’s where that scene is from,” so that helps too.
So let’s piece together what’s going to be our last column working from partial information, before next week we have patch notes to look over and analyze in greater detail. There’s even a 24-hour maintenance cycle to prepare for, you know.
Stand and deliver
I want to be excited about dressing up Kurenai with custom deliveries, but it’s really difficult to get psyched about playing dress-up with lizards when I already do that with several of my characters. So that’s not really going to sell me on the idea unless she gives us new things to dress up in. Similarly, while I’m of course going to be working on the Namazu quests and their corresponding crafting, it’s hard to be super excited about that without any idea about rewards beyond the palanquin.
Not that a palanquin carried by catfish is a bad thing, just that it doesn’t really rewrite the world.
What I am curious about are the Doman reconstruction deliveries, which look like something we haven’t seen before. If I had to draw a comparison, they seem most like the airship construction interface, but it seems likely that they’re ultimately heading in a different direction. What direction that may be remains ambiguous, and it leads me to wonder what we’re getting in terms of rewards.
Obviously, the lone preview image features very little that is difficult for max-level players to acquire and/or craft. But that just indicates to me that there has to be some reward for it other than just a handful of gil or experience; the development team is good about giving us serious rewards for projects like this. So what awaits us? Costumes? Scrips (the obvious reward)? Furnishings? Fun optional buildings around the Doman Enclave? I’m eager to find out.
Of course, having all of these features shoved together makes me think this is going to be our last “big” crafting update for the expansion cycle, with new recipes added but no major shifts until whatever the next expansion may be. Still, I’d love to be wrong and have more custom deliveries coming down the pipe.
Don’t call it a primal
It looks like the next part of Return to Ivalice will feature a tour of Belias and Famfrit, although we can’t yet be certain. One of the interesting elements of the things we’ve seen thus far is a combination of the Lucavi demons from Final Fantasy Tactics as well as the Espers of Final Fantasy XII; the implication in the latter is that these served as the inspiration for the former, but they’re not quite the same thing. And FFXIV is drawing from both lists for its bosses here.
Rabanastre features Hashmalum and Mateus, both of whom are from FFXII and correspond to Leo and Pisces in the zodiac. (Matsuno loves the zodiac references.) It also features Rophocale, though, whose name was in the data for FFT for an unused Lucavi boss. In FFXII, his zodiac sign went to Shemhazai. The last boss, Argath, is also a reference to a character of the same name… whose zodiac sign was Virgo, corresponding to the boss named Ultima in both games. Which would have been difficult to reconcile in terms of names.
This is made more interesting because Belias has shown up before now as Belias-Egi in the Summoner questline. Which raises further questions about the Lucavi/Espers/whatever, and makes me wonder what we’re going to see with our remaining bosses along the way. Obviously, 12 bosses are exactly what we have space for in a series of Alliance raids, so I would think that’s what we’re going to see, but…
As for the actual mechanics, I just hope that it’s not as reliant on Group A being smart to avoid wiping the entire group. We don’t know enough yet.
That sure does look like a Taurus stone in the trailer, though.
Dropping on the story
A lot of people have said, either as speculation or absolute fact, that we’ll be wrapping up the Doman portion of the Stormblood story with this patch. That seems in line with what we’re seeing in the trailer; while there’s more to be done in rebuilding, the confrontation with Yotsuyu’s past is the last lingering thread there, and as much as I like the cast in Othard there isn’t a whole lot more that we as players can deal with. Much like the parliamentary government in Ishgard, player skillsets do not seem suited to handling the further problems.
The hints of “death as a minor inconvenience” seems particularly relevant to me. I’ve been maintaining a theory that whatever we’re seeing is not quite Zenos as we knew him; he seems like the same old person, but there’s the very real possibility that his actions at the end come not as someone losing but as someone who was just possessing knowledge we didn’t have. Some sort of imperfect revival would be interesting…
Or perhaps it’s something even worse involving the Ascians. I mentioned at one point that we’ve eliminated three of these notable enemies so far, but what if this is leading up to the Ascians being far more durable than we know?
For that matter, let’s take stock of what we know about the Empire’s research. We know that the Empire’s laboratories produced the ability to instill an artificial Echo, which is what we faced with both Fordola and Zenos. We also know that the Ascians keep talking about the Echo as something much bigger than the player characters know, right down to calling a merged form “the true power of the Echo.”
What if that’s really the upshot? What if the Empire isn’t trying to give its trusted lieutenants the power of the Echo, but the power to make Ascians? What if Zenos is up and walking around not because his death was somehow faked or reversed by other sources, but by the same process that made him more than human?
In other words, what if that apparent death wasn’t a suicide, but a test run?
That seems like the sort of thing that would point toward more understanding about the Echo. And that seems like something that might take us further afield.
Of course, we won’t find out this week; you can leave your own speculation to agree or discourage mine in the comments or mail it along to email@example.com. Next week, we’ll have patch notes to analyze before the patch itself; that should be fun for the family.