Wisdom of Nym: So… what if our last expansion is Final Fantasy XIV: Nextpack?

    
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Wisdom of Nym: So… what if our last expansion is Final Fantasy XIV: Nextpack?

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.

In all seriousness, between the last line of patch 5.3’s MSQ (which I talked about already) and a general sense of players wondering what’s next, I have seen a fair slice of the playerbase wondering about the potential of the next expansion being the final expansion the game gets. Not in a doomsaying the-sky-is-falling fashion, just a musing about expectations and likelihoods. So let’s play this out a bit. What if Final Fantasy XIV: Nextpack really is the final expansion?

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?

Have a little empire. As a treat.

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.

Fly free, too.

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 FFXVIFinal 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 eliot@massivelyop.com. 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…

The Nymian civilization hosted an immense amount of knowledge and learning, but so much of it has been lost to the people of Eorzea. That doesn’t stop Eliot Lefebvre from scrutinizing Final Fantasy XIV each week in Wisdom of Nym, hosting guides, discussion, and opinions without so much as a trace of rancor.

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Illutian

I’d like if they just did another ARR. But this time scrap the engine for a new one. My character literally looks like a Ken doll; made of plastic.

Then, for story, just bring the entire FF Universe together. With each game being a ‘crystal world’. So we basically end up like Sliders (the TV Show). Each expansion adding another world to visit, grab the Glamours, and help out until the jobs done (which just so happens to line up with a new expansion). – Walk the cities/towns of Cocoon. Or help the people of Coneria.
((It was so cool stepping into World of Warcraft and seeing places from the RTS and being like “omg! That was burned in the Orc Campaign!!!” But it wasn’t just one RTS title, it ended up being them all [by WotLK].))

((They kind of already do this with the cross-promotion events; got that sweet sweet car, Regalia. This would just expand on it to make it more than just a mini-event.))

I would set it up to where you aren’t the ‘main character(s)’ of the original FF titles, but are “doing your part” to help them…maybe maintaining the peace while they go off and do the campaign of the original title. – Think Halo 3: ODST vs Halo 3; the Chief is still there, you’re just seeing the other missions that were going on at the time; setting the stage for Halo 3’s story.

Heck, they could go down the ‘prequel’ road, and make it so WE set the heroes of the original titles on their path. Like we show up and convince Lightning to fight against Sanctum.

They could even have some ‘tongue in cheek’ moments, like watching Sabin lift weights and be like “wow, bet you could suplex a train!”

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Malcolm Swoboda

My partner bristles at any mention of crossovers between FF games like they haven’t been doing them since at least the early aughts. I’ve rubbed into his face that some people are loving Shadowbringers more than many mainline non-MMO titles and all he keeps bringing up is the promo events like when Lightning popped in.

I can get annoyed too, but I like it better when its just nicely reimagined versions that they do sometimes instead. A mobile game I play, Tales of Crestoria, includes all the Tales series characters but in a new way befitting the lore of Crestoria.

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Jeffery Redcloud

Considering ffxi is still going and getting updates and ffxiv is so successful there’s no way this is the final expansion. I think the “final” bits are referring to that chapter of the story and the dev team already had what’s coming next in mind. It’s printing them money, why would they slow it down? I’m excited.

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Toy Clown

If visiting the Garlean Empire is next, which I agree makes a good deal of sense to follow that storyline, It’s a big hope they add Thavnair to that expansion as well since it’s the only nation the Garleans trade with. Thavnair has several tie-ins to the storylines as it’s dab smack in the middle of Ostard, Eorzea and Garlemald. Then there are the original relic weapons that came from Thavnair roots, as well as the Dancer class.

It’s obvious the game has a lot of old code that doesn’t allow the developers that much freedom in what is now in demand by the players (housing, glamour storage, etc.). The character models are rather stiff in comparison to other MMOs as well. If there is going to be another FFXIV MMO, I can see them attempting to expand on hardware in ways they never deemed possible with the current game.

Worse case scenario, I figure, is it goes the way that FFXI went, where it’s sort of in maintenance mode, but not really. Honestly, though, I haven’t put thought into FFXIV development shutting down as it’s in its peak right now.

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Joe Liker

The thing about FFXIV is that it will always be held back by mistakes made early on in the game’s development. For example, the job system could be so much better if the game weren’t built on the job-class framework. They’ve done their best to ameliorate the damage, but that foundation will always be there. That’s why a whole new game might be what’s needed.

And honestly, the first paragraph of this article says it all for me. Once I realized (during Stormbringer) that every expansion was going to be so rigidly copy-pasted, I jumped ship. I still get the highlights by occasionally watching a friend play, but this particular style of endless endgame holds doesn’t interest me.

If only they’d make a game with horizontal progression instead of levels, with emergent gameplay instead of memorize the bossfight dance … that’s my dream for the next FF MMO. I know it will never happen, so please don’t feel the need to list all the reasons why.

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Jon-Enee Merriex

A little birdie at S-E told me years ago that the story started in ARR has a finite end that is expected to happen in 7.0. That would also happen to line up with characters being 100 if we continue at 10 levels per expansion.

They said after that a new story or maybe smaller one expansion stories will be the focus.

So I don’t think the next expack will be the last but I think we all are getting a clear sense of finality with the story. It seems like it is creating just past the climax with Shadowbringers and we’re about to see the falling action. Or the consequences of the climax.

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Malcolm Swoboda

Would it not go:
1.0-2.0 pure exposition, all the delayed setup due to ARR
3.0-4.0 exposition and rising action, more setup but escalating
5.0-6.0(?) rising action and climax, revelation and not holding back so much anymore
6.0-7.0 (or 6.0-8.0, depending) climax (they have to stay epic as long as they are selling boxes) and falling action that most players can leave happily enough
And further updates, smaller packs being filling in holes of falling action, and providing resolution to the longest term players.

From my very limited knowledge, FFXI was similar enough, with its goodbye in Rhapsodies.

What I mean is that I don’t necessarily think an expansion next year will give that finality, but I can imagine it making more clear that there’s an endpoint rather soon (early to mid 2020s).

What I definitely agree with many on is that it can’t get any better or epic than Shadowbrings. Nah, this is just the expansion where they unveil the potential of the setting; the type of update that many lore buffs wish comes to any MMO they’re playing. It is not, however, necessarily the peak of the narrative.

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Jon-Enee Merriex

I don’t know. I think 1.0 doesn’t count. Yoshi P has been clear about ARR forward is one story. Though the 1.0 happened and is history it isn’t necessary exposition.

2.0 and 3.0 are clearly exposition. We meet the Scions, we meet the Grand Companies of the Eorzean Alliance and their leaders, we meet the Asian villains for the first time, we’re invested in the battle against Garleans, and we travel around and get to know Eorzean.

4.0 continues that exposition by introducing us to the last part of Eorzean we haven’t seen and then the rising action starts as we start to push on in the war against the Garleans on a whole new continent.

5.0 then is all rising action to the climax. I don’t know how seeing the literal end of the world couldn’t be described as less than that. The main bad guys from ARR face off against the main good guys. Major questions from the exposition are explained and set to rest. We even get the BBEG monologuing. It has all the hallmarks of climax.

From here my assumption is we go to Garlemald and deal with Zenos and the Ascians in 6.0. This, again, is falling action. But falling action doesn’t have to be boring. Especially in long epic stories. In Dune whole books are falling action. The climax in The Odyssey is 2/3 of the way through (oddly enough, that’s exactly where we are now in FFXIV), but there are still really exciting moments in the final 1/3 of the story.

Also, I’d point out that nothing we do with Zenos or the non-original Ascians can really be brought to the level of climax because they were all introduced either at the tail end of the exposition or right as the rising action started. They aren’t the main foes, we dealt with the main foes in Shadowbringers.

So to me, 6.0 is dealing with Garlemald and Zenos and the Ascians. 7.0 is about finding a way to find balance between Hydaelyn and Zodiark while we fight the last of the Ascians. Both exciting plot points neither climaxes. They sound like things you do in the falling action.

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Malcolm Swoboda

To be clear, 1.0 barely counted in my list. 2.0 is just 1.0 with a sheen and probably a more concerted plan about the future that other MMOs stories usually get once they start updates.

I found there’s an evolution in 3.0-4.0 no? From resisting, to pushing out the empire? From responding, to initiating efforts against other forces? I don’t take that as pure exposition.

Reminder that I don’t take it all as one story only, and no video game ever would, when there’s various ‘episodes’ through version updates/expansions. Every version has to progress something, it can’t be entirely static unless its a very throwaway MMO that doesn’t give a lick about anything, or is very segregated (ESO, but even that eventually had to take a progressive approach). Heavensward does indeed lead into Stormblood, even while having to tell its own story with its own narrative steps. Stormblood does indeed lead into Shadowbringers, even while having to tell its own story of rebellion etc. This isn’t as cohesive as a single novel. There isn’t ever going to be a single exposition expansion, a single climax expansion, a single rising action expansion. It all does all steps at once, with more emphasis on one or two over the others. In my opinion. And then, whether we like it or not, the business side may determine to cut things short (often the case), or speed things through (WoW lately), or extend things to a ridiculous level (SWTOR), or recreate itself multiple times (also WoW, which we could argue is at WoW 2 or WoW 3 by now). FFXIV is more cohesive, but its not immune to this. ARR doesn’t only setup the world, it nudges things forward a little. Heavensward doesn’t just setup a new part of the basic world, it pushes plotlines forward. That’s just how I look at it.

Seeing the end of the world for FF is old hat. They’ve done more and went beyond that several times before. Getting that sort of vision is just another tool for them, as far as I see it. It does rise stakes, but it doesn’t necessarily get to the very meat of things. It doesn’t necessarily provide the actual climax for our character’s story. Sometimes that’s bad. Like, the FFX universe is messed up by starting with slow doomsday threatening to become fast doomsday (FFX, Sin), then stretching out something to have a possible maybe doomsday (FFX, Vegnagun), then making bullshit further stories that fans decide aren’t canon. All of this was Yuna’s story to some extent, and getting the dreadful doomsday doesn’t mean the end for FF. Hell, sometimes it even happens, and gets somewhat nerfed into a World of Ruin we can still explore. Again, Yoship can view FFXIV as one story, but business demands that each expansion is sold as its own product, with something of beginnings and ends. That completely allows for a 6.0, 7.0 which does things like swearve in new actors (potentially with reveals of old story, or some retcons) to be the bigger deal (and WoW is especially terrible about that, but it doesn’t need to be terrible), or the bigger enemy is ourselves, or our supposed allies, or an intrigue that we never expected since we were distracted by the cosmos and doomsday. Ascians may end up never as fascinating as the climax (I acknowledge it may end up falling action – may) to come from others.

All of this is to say that I think you may be right, but this is a MMORPG that with each version, takes some approach and change that won’t be exactly what you previous expected. Like yes, if they only had 2-3 more years confirmed for free updates, with the resources they needed for that, it would be more straightforward and Shadowbringers itself would indeed be that climax with everything later drawing things down. But for a game with one, two, maybe three or more major paid expansions in the future, at some point the ‘be-all-end-all of rising action (climax)’ we experience in Shadowbringers will be something old hat and just retrospectively the cool time that the game shifted. They will not like to sell expansions that feel like its calming down. Sure fans may be into it, and the writing could be even more superb, but gamers more generally, who still casually like story, won’t see the point.

Apologies if I overuse parenthesis and don’t sound literary or academic enough about this. And I definitely do not know FFXIV lore and storylines nearly as much as you so you could be entirely correct. I’m going more off of any previous record of how MMORPGs have bothered to tell their stories. At several points, plans shift and expand and contract and are never exactly what you would have straightforward ordered it. Shadowbringers arguably SHOULD be the climax, and it CAN, I just won’t hold my breath for it as square could see more money from investing so much to drive its scale even higher. New actors, new stakes, new lots of things instead of the falling motion we’d see in a truly singular media.

Bereman
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Bereman

Considering 6.0 would arrive in 2021, and then 7.0 arrive in 2023…and almost certainly take multiple patches to finish out the story (instead of the finishing the expansion’s story in the x.3 patch, I could see them utilizing the space afforded by going into x.4 or even x.5)…

Taking till 2024 or 2025 to finish the story does feel like it’s an appropriate length of time for the main story to run its course. Especially one that has kept up a consistent pace for unfurling that narrative of 3.5 to 4 months (barring two examples) for 7 years now. A 12 year, almost like clockwork, patch schedule, to tell the full main story?

You could do a lot worse than that, for certain.

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Bhagpuss Bhagpuss

How many Final Fantasy MMOs does SE want – or need? FFXIV is extremely successful, FFXI is still ludicrously active in “maintenance”. Is there any point making a third? The idea that MMORPGs have a lifespan numbered in single figures looks more outmoded all the time. There are dozens, scores of successful MMOs out there now that have been running for ten, fifteen, twenty years. Why would any company stop developing for one of those when it still has a large audience willing to keep paying? FFXIV most likely has longer to run than it’s run so far before it joins FFXI in notional maintenance mode… and then just keeps going.

A single-player rpg with online elements and co-op, though. That would make sense as the next instalment of the franchise.

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Vincent Clark

^^This.

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Malcolm Swoboda

I’m certain FFXI will end this decade, and its maintenance is minimal. Just their definition of minimal is what players actually like to see, rather than the dreaded usual Maintenance Mode. They’re supposedly still developing that mobile FFXI with Nexon, but Nexon be Nexon.

FFXIV is somewhere in its mid-life of frequent updates. This mid (or late) life will end this decade, and at some point it’ll be old news. I highly doubt we’ll be in 2035 talking about the GOTY FFXIV 13.0 expansion. It is also more likely to end with the PS5/XBS console gen than go for a 4th (PS3/PS4/PS5/PS6?).

The only other prominent multiplayer FF I can think of is FFXV Comrades, which they’re winding down and out into a weak single player DLC.

Sqenix has a lot of multiplayer/service games going at once though. Even just for mobile gacha titles that still continue in the West, there’s Record Keeper, Brave Exvius, Omnia Opera, and War of the Visions. Where they can spam, they will.

I think FFXIV more likely has more than one more expansion left, but FFXVI may have further more online elements than FFXV did, and this will all act as training for a FFXVII or FFXIII MMORPG – or a game basically designed as close enough.

-They may also finally abandon the roman numerals to be a designation left to the fans (who will continue to track the ‘main titles’ and unofficially number them) – the ‘Awakening’ subtitle apparently for FFXVI may be a trial of this.

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Kickstarter Donor
Vunak

It’s not about story or content being developed they could do that to the end of time. It’s about technical limitations. FFXI was significantly hindered by database issues. FFXIV is limited by its 1.0 roots and being a very generic MMO. Database is an issue of XIV as well.

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Kickstarter Donor
Java Jawa

Personally I wouldn’t mind a version 3 with a new engine. The menus, UI always feel a bit janky to me. There’s some oddities to it’s database. For instance look how much trouble it is during with inventory and housing plots.

If we do get a new one, I sincerely hope it’s rooted in the fantasy genre, maybe even more so.

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Malcolm Swoboda

I wouldn’t be shocked to see FFXVI to have a protagonist-focus with any potential party members even more in combat background than the bros were in (initial version) FFXV, with a more integrated online option and multiplayer features borne from Yoshi-P experience with FFXIV.

As before, they can always do an update to make the party more controllable – in meanwhile nudging players to slot in party members with real players.

I’m not saying I love this.

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Koshelkin

I’d suspect FFXIV makes too much money atm for SE calling it done right now or in the near future.

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Malcolm Swoboda

Yeah. No question they’ll be testing stuff out, in FFXVI and other titles, but I don’t see another ‘MMORPG’ for another several years. By 2030 sure, but not likely be 2025. If they’re taking the effort to next-gen it, they’re investing more than a few more years on focusing on it.