Ah, the grand world of the known unknowns! We’re only one patch into this particular expansion, but there’s still plenty of stuff to speculate about in Final Fantasy XIV, and that’s good news for those of us who write about this speculation for a living. And anyone who enjoys reading about it! Which I suppose includes anyone reading these lines in the first place, so we all win in this scenario.
The next Trial series
The bright side with dungeons is that we have a steady stream of them to turn into new hard modes so that the team can always just keep bringing out new ones for the endgame. This is a reliable thing. We get a new stream of dungeons through every expansion, and we’ve got four more totally new dungeons and two new hard modes on tap, in all likelihood. (Not that the developers can’t surprise us with more.) But Trials… Trials we get the harder mode at the same time as we get the normal mode, with only one exception in the last boss of the expansion.
Since I don’t have much interested in Extreme fights, the new series for me will mostly be about lore. And we’re following the same pattern we have in the past by having the first patch give us an Extreme version of the last boss, with the new series of trials not kicking off yet. (Odds are also decent of having a new Trial boss in 5.3, for those tracking.) But my point here is mostly that the team can’t just go back to Heavensward and Extreme up those bosses. We’re going to need new fights, and thus far we’ve gotten no hint of what will link them together.
That’s not to say we have to have a link between them, of course; the mechanics work fine if the trial fights are just a sequence of fights with no overarching narrative. But partly due to the limited nature of the First, we still don’t have a hint of what we’ll be facing off against, and there’s nothing that jumps out as a good set of enemies.
The next Relic series
I’ve talked about this one before. There’s nothing saying we won’t get Eureka 2.0, but there’s nothing saying we will, either. There’s technically nothing even saying we’ll get a new set of relic weapons outside of getting our artifact gear in Weathered state, and that’s kind of enough to imply something for upgrades… and in all likelihood we’re not going to stop there.
Here’s the thing, at least for me: I feel like the trail series could conceivably take place on the Source instead of the First. It would make a certain amount of sense. But our new Relic weapons kind of feel like they should be on the First, and I’m curious about where we’ll go with that one. The First has some hard limits on the space it can explore, and I’m continually eager to see where we bump up against those boundaries.
We know something will happen here, but thus far we’ve gotten no real hint of where or how.
The next big quality-of-life push
You might think that Fellowships and New Game Plus fill this particular void, and to a certain extent you’d be right. Those two systems need a fair bit of expansion compared to where they are at the moment, but they both work and exist mostly as fun ways to explore the content already in the game. But this one is right up there with the expected addition of Ishgard housing in the Firmament as one of those things that feels like we’ll get something more but haven’t heard of it yet.
Quality-of-life is one of those things that’s shot through every single expansion, but here I’m talking about updates or additions to things that are currently underused. We don’t know, for example, if this is when we start getting more egi glamours and get that expanded into a better system overall. More visual customizations in general would work (the addition of the 2B coffer to the Copied Factory feels like a hint about that). Or maybe it’ll be more social features, or more changes to how housing can work, and so forth.
Most major patches seem to feature at least one new feature that’s mostly about making our lives easier and improving our overall gameplay experience, in other words. And while we know about the ones that we’ve gotten so far, there’s not much hinting at what the next one will be, or even what form it will take. Unlike story or system updates, it’s an unknown, but a welcome one.
The next destination
To a certain extent, yes, this is tied to the fact that we don’t know where the bridging story is going because it has just started. I expect we’ll learn a lot more about it in 5.4 and 5.5. (I imagine 5.2 will build up more stuff about bringing the Scions back to the Source, and 5.3 will likely be the big climax to all of that, possibly opening a more permanent bridge between both worlds.) But some of it is also a known unknown because we know we’re getting another expansion, but the obvious next destination feels like it can’t be our goal.
See, there has been plenty of build-up about Garlemald over the years. Ilsabard as a continent sits right in the middle of the map. People predicted it after Ishgard and after Ala Mhigo. But the thing is that as of right now, we don’t know what’s happening with the Empire… and there’s more possibility than ever for the Empire to go in truly weird directions because its two biggest influences are just gone.
Emet-Selch is no longer around to direct the Empire according to his whims, and the Emperor is dead. And it seems that the killer of the Emperor has no interest or intention of ruling despite having an open space to step into. That was the biggest surprise I found from 5.1’s story, that we had someone who could take over but seems wholly uninterested in the notion.
Obviously, this could lead to the next expansion sending us right in to help establish a new government and aid the rebellions cropping up there… but then, that would also be an obvious red herring to show off early before the story moves off in a different direction. Heck, we could be done worrying about the Empire for a while after everything that’s happened. We actually won and held them back! And now things are moving an entirely new direction.
So I find this an equally known unknown, especially now that the gates have been thrown wide and there’s nothing stopping the next expansion from sending us to the Thirteenth or something similar. And I don’t think we’re getting hints for a while longer, but it’s fun to ponder.
Feedback is welcome via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org or in the comments, of course. Next time, let’s talk about Blue Mage in advance of its first big update.