Oh, yes, that’s confirmed. The next Final Fantasy XIV expansion is entitled Nextpack, leading players to adventures in Land Mass, encountering the beast tribes First Animal and Second Animal, fighting the primals Series Reference and New Character with the help of new jobs Healer and Magical DPS Or Melee DPS. I’m looking forward to our showdown with Villain van Evildude!
Look, we haven’t gotten our usual trademark filing just yet; we’ve got to work with what we have.
First and foremost, if it’s not already clear enough, I consider this a thought exercise rather than active speculation. My thought is that we have another two expansions in the tank at this point, and we’re going to learn more about MMO plans for followup before then. Whether Final Fantasy XVI or another title fills that void I don’t know yet, but that in and of itself makes me more certain that the next expansion is not actually the end but another link in the chain.
So what if it is the endpoint?
For one thing, we know our destination if that’s the case: the Empire. While I don’t think it’s an ironclad rule that Garlemald must be our last destination, I do feel it’s pretty inevitable that we will head in there before the ending. If our next destination is also the last one, that makes Ilsabard and Garlemald an absolute shoo-in compared to places like Meracydia or the New World.
It also gives me a feeling that the next expansion will feature three new jobs, rather than two. Melee DPS, Caster DPS, and Healer. After all, if it’s the last new drop for jobs ahead of any possible patches or smaller DLC drops a la Final Fantasy XI’s Abyssea, the team will want to make sure that the bases are as lined as they possibly can be. There will be no more jobs? Then make sure all of the jobs we want are in there.
Limited jobs? Probably not. While I think limited jobs aren’t necessarily off the table, if there are no more expansions planned they’re probably not the most important thing to add more of. Which would leave Blue Mage as the odd one out for the moment, I’m aware.
So we know where we’re going in the broad strokes and we know vaguely what we’ll be bringing in. What else do I feel fairly comfortable predicting? Well, that the level cap will be 99, not 90.
The level 99 cap is something that’s been a pretty consistent feature of the franchise for ages now, and in all honesty I think it’s always going to be an interesting point to hit no matter when it happens. If this is the last expansion, though, I’d fully believe that level 90 was the cap in terms of enemies and the pathway to endgame content… but 91-99 will each provide you with some other form of asset, the equivalent of job points or merit points. I’ll be more of a long-term project, in other words.
I also feel at least reasonably confident that the expansion’s launch will not end with a final confrontation with Zodiark. Yes, you kind of have to get that grudge match at some point; Zodiark has been built up over time, you need to face it in some way. But it seems more likely that 6.0 wouldn’t end that way just so a later patch could build him up further.
We’d also probably see at least one new system that was intended to call back existing elements of the game to drag things up. Each expansion has had its own special relic line, and I wouldn’t be surprised if this hypothetical 6.0 brought back all four relic lines as viable upgrade candidates. Finished one? You have the option to continue it with a new system.
Beyond that, a lot of the focus would by nature be on wrapping things up. Side stories from earlier lines would get resolved, possibly bringing in old characters like the pirates of Shadows of Mhach just to give them a definitive ending. Characters are likely to reach culminating moments and die in much greater numbers than the scattering of deaths through prior expansions. Long-hinted villains in the background would show up to get dispatched in final forms.
That’s not to say everything would be wrapped up, though. While you would expect most major dangling threads to be tied up, there would still be space for add-on packs, as noted before. You could feel fairly confident that 6.5 would wrap up the plot to stop Zodiark and usher in a lasting peace, but it wouldn’t be the end of all the stories, just the one that started at level 1 in the first moments of the MSQ.
Oh, and perhaps most notably, this would be when you could expect basically every existing job to get something iconic that has heretofore been missing. Black Mages would finally be able to cast some form of Ultima. Dragoons gain access to Super Jump. Monks get Tornado Kick But It Isn’t Terrible Now, I Guess. You get the general idea. Long-delayed triggers finally getting pulled.
In other words, if the next expansion really is the last one, expect it to be all fanservice all the time. All those things you’ve been waiting to see? They’re happening now, because they’re not happening any other time. Big weird abilities, messy alternate advancement, signature weapons, and final plot resolution. Enough so you can walk away from 6.5 and feel like there are lesser stories still to tell, but the fight you’ve waged for so long is over and won.
None of these things have to be in the same place, of course. It’s possible that 6.0 brings us to Ilsabard after all, but there’s still clearly another expansion in the wings. As I said right in the opener, I really don’t think this next expansion will be the last one; it’ll probably be a step along the path, teases and hints toward these final confrontations and additions without actually quite delivering them.
Really, though, I wouldn’t expect to learn about the conclusion of FFXIV until we know what’s coming next, simply because you don’t follow a successful MMO with nothing. Whether the followup is FFXVI, Final Fantasy XVII Online, or even just Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Even More Reborn, we’ll hear about that first.
But it’s fun to speculate, no?
Feedback, as always, is welcome down below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, let’s talk about the future of Norvrandt, both for the remainder of the current expansion and beyond. After all, we’ve still got two more patches before the next expansion, but we’re already well aware that Norvrandt is in the rear-view mirror…