The experience of a Final Fantasy XIV fan festival is a distinct one, a strange beast that sort of creeps into your existence even if you’re not actually there in person. I was not in Paris this weekend, but I still woke up insanely early on Saturday to cover the keynote as it happened, and I spent most of the next two days poring over even the slight details that really don’t directly hinge on anything. Honestly, most of what I personally needed to know was on Saturday, but you still couldn’t ignore the flurry of information, speculation, and so forth.keeping track of my predictions, well… I did pretty well. The stuff I expected us to get we got for the most part, with one notable exception, and the stuff I didn’t expect didn’t happen… mostly. So let’s start going over the big reveals that struck me in as non-boring a fashion as I can manage, yes? There’s stuff to chew on.
Breaking all the guns
So we have our first of what is almost certainly two new jobs (the end of the keynote specifically included the question of “what’s the other new job,” which isn’t proof but definitely pushes that way), and to the surprise of almost no one, it’s a tank. To the surprise of some, it’s also a gunblade job. This is something that I personally had suspected against before the first fan festival, but it turns out that that suspicion of mine was wrong. It’s time to gunblade it up.
And, let’s be real – to a certain extent, this makes more sense. The fact is that if I have to pick what’s more iconic between something with a gunblade and something with a hammer, the former is going to win as being more distinctly Final Fantasy. For that matter, while Yoshida has mentioned wanting to do something unique to FFXIV as a new job, it makes sense to finish out the big obvious ports of call before branching too far outside of that.
Of particular and relevant note in the reveal is the fact that the Gunbreaker is specifically not using the traditional Garlean style of gunblade. That’s worth noting and acknowledging simply because it does more than just excuse when traditional abilities like Innocence (a common buster skill for gunblade-wielding enemies) don’t show up; it also kind of underscores the idea that we are not just grabbing gunblades because we’re heading along to Garlemald. There’s space for this to be a new thing all on its own.
So, now that we’re here, I suspect strongly we’re getting Dancer as a healing job as our second reveal. The odds of a DPS job feel quite low. That’s fine, considering that Samurai and Red Mage got to be the DPS additions with the last expansion.
Glory to Mankind
This announcement was just… bonkers. It was just weird. And I wholly agree with the people looking at this with some amount of confusion on that basis, but not with actual apprehension, simply because none of the issues that exist here are different from the issues with Return to Ivalice.
Yes, it is definitely harder to make NieR: Automata exist concurrently with FFXIV’s world than to make Ivalice fit. But the fact of the matter is that YoRHa has made no claims to be contiguous with the prior setting but simply with the feel, something that is true of two-thirds of the previous Alliance Raid sets. And, as I noted on Twitter over the weekend, the idea of a group of robots fighting a long, lonely battle on behalf of creators that are long since gone is… actually something that’s already in the game on multiple occasions. Omega and many of our Allagan opponents are precisely that.
It’s also important to note, as stated explicitly, that the splash art is based on early concepts rather than being an actual for-the-game crafted image. It’s a slight shift of existing NieR: Automata art. There’s no reason to assume that this is going to be a direct translation of the existing setting so much as the feel and the themes.
And let’s be very real here, this fits with the expansion themes. One of the core ideas in Automata is the question of identity and self-definition, and considering that Shadowbringers poses a shift in the fundamental nature of the Warrior of Light, it’s something that ties in very naturally. You don’t need to do a whole lot of work to make this fit. Make YoRHa a set of Allagan bioweapons fighting against an opponent in the name of the Allagan Empire, and you have both a built-in conflict and space for making the conflict flare up now.
There’s space for this to be really cool, and while it’s roaming further afield than Ivalice, that already raised questions about the integrity of the world… and answered them with a deft hand. So let’s just enjoy something players (including me) literally have wanted in the game for ages in the form of a collaboration and now get in even more fleshed-out form.
Where are all the men?
Ugh. I am so tired. And this one was really, really, really obnoxious from fans and the studio both.
Let’s start with the basics. At this point, there’s really no reason to assume that Viera will not have playable men as well. I mean, technically there’s no reason to assume they won’t be gender-locked if you go by the logic of “there’s no reason to assume anything will be anything,” but the core of the “Viera will only be women” argument is based around trying to justify a leak being entirely accurate.
This requires people to assume that after people were upset about genderlocked races in 1.0 and genderlocked outfits throughout the game now, the designers have opted to design one women-only race and one male-only race… which is exactly the same amount of work as designing one race with two genders. More, even, since Yoshida mentioned that building things to work as helmets and hats for Viera ears was taking a lot of extra work, which makes sense. And it also opens up ages of complaints.
So there’s no real reason to assume that we won’t have male Viera… except for the fact that Yoshida decided to play up his impish side to a wholly unnecessary degree, thus adding in subtext to a situation that was otherwise pretty cut-and-dry. Like, it really would have been enough to just say that the males are coming in Tokyo, or to go the next step and explain that the male models aren’t ready for viewing.
Some of it might have just been the assumption that there was no need to specify any of this, because explaining “yes, there are male Viera” requires it first being a question of whether or not they exist. But while all of Yoshida’s statements pointed to the men just not showing up until Tokyo (rather than hinting that there might be an additional race revealed there), it was more frustrating than necessary to have the weekend somewhat derailed by hints without solid statements.
On a related note, it was not perhaps the best choice to have Fran’s gear as the starter outfit and end on a note of collective giggling. Ah, well.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, let’s talk a little more about what we know for the schedule of patches and reveals over the next few months.