Honestly, I wondered how the heck Final Fantasy XIV could top the revelation about Hydaelyn and Zodiark at the start of this year’s E3. And it turns out that the answer was… it couldn’t, that was the big shocker. The last pre-expansion letter contained some useful information, but nothing that quite compared to the big stunner of that last line… which is apparently not even that big of a spoiler, according to Naoki Yoshida himself.
The crafting connection
I’m glad to see all of the crafting improvements and gathering improvements due to the game when 5.0 rolls around, but at the same time part of me is a bit… well, not precisely sad, but cognizant of what it means that we’re getting Byregot’s Blessing and Steady Hand II as universal things. On some levels, this makes sense, but it’s also redoubling a steady pulling away from any sort of cross-class integration in one of the last fields where it made any difference.
In practical terms, this isn’t a big deal. We’ve long had pretty uniform actions between the various crafting disciplines, and there’s plenty of motivation to level up more than one for melding and repairs in addition to allowing you more things to craft. At the same time… well, we’ve still heard nothing about any additional form of differentiation between characters, and it felt at least relevant to level more than just one crafting class. Now it’s a little bit less so.
Not that this is really a deal-breaker, since Stormblood already melded a lot of actions and gave native versions of bigger buffs to each individual craft along the way. Ah, well.
The actual UI changes and overall shifts coming to the item-based part of the game are universally good ones; having timers for valuable nodes is one of the big quality-of-life things that the game hasn’t yet added in, although I feel like the master books that are being made easier to obtain are ones that are already pretty easy to get. (Maybe not so much for new players.) All good stuff.
What we’ve heard about the reconstruction makes it sound like a sort of environment-enforced crafting/gathering PvP, which is both interesting and faintly worrying. I’m curious about how it’s going to play out, although since it’s apparently scheduled to kick off in 5.1 we have a little time before it becomes intensely relevant.
The few spoilers we get for Eden
Let’s start with something very basic: In the Eden preview we saw, that’s very clearly the same Eden of Final Fantasy VIII lying in the distance. We’ve gotten enough people comparing them to be sure of it by now. So if you’ve never seen the animation, well, here’s a version off of the YouTubes for you.
Well, that was enlightening, wasn’t it? Because we also see during the launch trailer that the same glyph is inscribed over the world. I’ve placed that with the correct timestamp here, as well.
See, this makes it pretty clear that the similarities are not coincidental. Eden is being summoned, and it seems rather likely to me that the entire purpose of the normal raid under discussion is to use Eden itself to restore the mess that’s been made of the planet, beyond the scope that’s possible simply as the Warrior of Darkness.
We don’t know exactly what Eden is within the context of FFVIII, but there’s speculation that it’s literally a ship of the ancient Centra race that all other ships are based upon. Of course, that’s speculation about speculation; what seems pretty clear to me is the idea that Eden itself is some apotheosis of the sin eaters, the equivalent of the Cloud of Darkness for the light-spawned creatures. Given the fact that it hasn’t yet disintegrated, it’s quite possible our last area involves coming face-to-face with it, or at least with some of the forces controlling this creature.
A lot of my personal speculation about the sixth zone of Shadowbringers has involved altered states, like the equivalent of Promyvion, but it also seems perfectly likely that our final zone actually brings us to the moon or somewhere similar. (Sure, Yoshida jokingly dismissed that, but it might have been misdirection.) It seems clear at the very least that Eden will play as large a role in the MSQ as Shinryu did, if perhaps not even more…
And some system spoilers
I’m not sure at this point if Centurio Seals will be used on the First. It’s certainly plausible that they might not, but if not the quality-of-life change making them stack in greater numbers is just the slightest bit cruel. Obviously Goetia and Phantasmorgia for tomestones implies a similar system, but the Ronkan society is the obvious point for where we’ll get our new Allagan-style ancient content.
Or will it be?
Look, the Crystal Tower is still a point of contention, especially because it’s not just similar to our tower but identical. We already know that the tower can reach across the dimensions to some extent, starting with the Thirteenth. Is it possible that the Allagans succeeded at doing this because the Crystal Tower stretches everywhere? Or is there something even more going on with the structure?
It certainly would simplify the tomestone situation slightly, if they wanted to simplify it. Then again, it’s also easy right now to make guesses that aren’t really any easier to prove or disprove. We could, for example, ask questions about where the Scions got bodies within the First… but that’s assuming that all our unconscious companions remain unconscious once the expansion starts up. It’s just as plausible that they’ll be up and about again and get their bodies by, you know, walking in them same as ever.
And that’s the potentially maddening part. We have clear lines about what we don’t know, but also a lot of implications that haven’t been outright said, and this is inherently part of the game. The past few months have done an excellent job of reminding us that what is implied is not the same as what is stated, and it’s very easy to jump to conclusions on that basis.
So maybe the best speculation we can engage in is to just kick back and enjoy the ride. Even if it’s taking a little while longer for us to get onto that ride.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week? It’s the early access survival guide, as always! Pray, return to this column in one week’s time.