Sometimes it’s just not terribly interesting to do a year-in-review column for a game, and the fact of the matter is that this is that year for Final Fantasy XIV. The only thing that really needs to be said is “Shadowbringers,” and that has been such a dominant thing in the overall discussion that even if you’re reading this column with no knowledge about FFXIV before this moment (and if so… well, thanks, but why), you have heard about it. So I’d rather focus on looking ahead right now.
February: Patch 5.2
The first preview for this patch happened on the Live Letter on December 13th; ironically, this column is actually being written before that letter has aired, so while you’ve no doubt read my column about it last week, most of this column predates it. Still, the feature list is no doubt familiar anyhow. There’s a new dungeon (back in Amaurot, it seems), the next wing of Eden (Eden’s Song), more MSQ storytelling, new trials (Ruby Weapon), and various other promises to improve the quality of life (like umbrellas). There may have even been a surprise along the way!
All parentheticals up there were added later, just for the record.
There’s some ambiguity about when precisely this patch will arrive, of course; it’ll almost certainly be in February, but it could be in the middle of the month or closer to the end. I feel confident in the month just the same, and it’ll kick off what amounts to the year-long content plan for the game as it always does.
March: Patch 5.25
I can’t be exactly sure of the feature breakdown between the incremental patches; we may have a 5.21 with a new thing or two. However, by this point I fully expect we’ll be starting in on our relic weapons, we’ll have new Ishgard Restoration content (and rewards), and we may even have another Hildibrand series getting patched in. The deployment time can vary a bit, but I expect all of this by the end of March. April is not outside the realm of possibility all the same.
We’re also going to start seeing previews for the next patch around this point.
June-July: Patch 5.3
By this point in the MSQ, we’re going to have at least hints of where we’ll be heading for the next expansion. If the stuff that’s happening on the Source continues to point toward Garlemald, even I’ll start to think that’s our next destination, although my current suspicion is that we’ll be getting pointed in a different direction. We’ll also have another new dungeon, the new Alliance Raid, more talk about ongoing relic upgrades, and probably still more Restoration content on deck. This is also when I imagine we’ll see another Ultimate fight, although it’s not yet sure if we’ll get two Ultimate fights or three in this particular cycle.
We almost had three during Stormblood, see.
The x.3 patch is usually what I consider the “height” of a given expansion, with a major post-MSQ arc wrapping up before we move into teases of the next major story. I think by this point we’ll see the Scions returning to the Source, with our trial opponent serving as some sort of capstone boss, since this has worked for the previous expansions in against Nidhogg and Tsukuyomi. It’s a bit less clear-cut in this case, of course, since we don’t have a villain ready-made for us to beat up, but I feel confident we’ll have someone.
It’s also been stated that this is when we will likely have revamps to the original launch MSQ, so look forward to that if you want to try that out on New Game Plus.
August: Patch 5.35
Oh, right, the Deep Dungeon! Unlike Heaven-on-High there’s not really an obvious thing to delve into here, unless to my notable surprise we’re going to explore the lower portions of Amaurot… and upon saying that it immediately sounds awesome, so maybe I’m just an idiot. Regardless, by this point we’re comfortably into the latter potion of the expansion, with players doing the whole catch-up thing and heavy speculation about where we’re going next.
I also feel like if we’re going to get more Blue Mage stuff this expansion, this is where it’s going to go. I don’t consider that a slam-dunk certainty by any stretch of the imagination, but if we’re getting another limited job that’ll probably be in January 2021… so this is where we’d reach 70 BLU and get another set of refinements to the job, as you do.
October: Patch 5.4
Enough of that story; let’s get down with the new one.
Yes, there’s another dungeon and the conclusion of the Eden storyline, probably setting the stage for Norvrandt recovering from its affliction. But the bulk of this patch’s story will be focused on the fact that we are now heading toward our next destination. That doesn’t mean we’re not getting another dungeon on Norvrandt, and it is even probable that both of our hard modes for this expansion will be located on the First depending on how common passage between them is by the end of the tale.
We also now have our fourth and final tomestone set for the expansion, the penultimate trial, and so forth. Probably any new systems coming out for the expansion will have kicked off by now. If we’re going to see Ishgard housing before 6.0, this is when the reconstruction effort will be finishing up.
November: 2020 Fan Festival, new expansion reveal
Obviously, this has not yet been announced; we just know that this is almost certainly happening barring something wildly unexpected (for example, Yoshida suffering unexpected health problems; it can’t be finances because we know how well FFXIV has been performing). By this point expansion fever will have been reaching a fever pitch, and people will probably have a pretty good idea of where we’re going next, along with a fair chance at wildly incorrect speculation.
What am I personally expecting at this point? It’s too early to say. I do expect we’ll be back on the Source, but I also suspect that travel between the two will be much easier in-universe; I also think that we’re going to see another limited job announcement alongside a tease of at least one new job, though we’ll ultimately wind up with two. (My guess at this point is a healer and a melee DPS using Dragoon gear. Depending on how things go I reserve the right to alter that, since it’s a guess, not a prediction.)
Of course, all of this is big-picture looking forward stuff, and it’s for a year that hasn’t actually started yet. It’s gazing far into the future, but that makes it interesting to see how 2020 actually plays out. Feel free to share your own predictions down in the comments, or you can mail stuff along to email@example.com; this will be fun to revisit in a year. Next week? Let’s talk about how the Garleans are the bad guys. Yes, really.