Here we go, here we go, here we go again. The hype cycle for patch 5.3 felt like it lasted too long, probably because of the actual rest of the world, but now Final Fantasy XIV is moving forward again, and that means stuff back on the Source! Yes, the first strains of 5.4 are being teased, and we have… well, very little information right now beyond the handful of screenshots and the release window, which was a good thing to include in the wake of prior delays.
Matoya to the foyer
We don’t know what the next story is going to be. It really feels more wide-open right now than it has for some time, actually, but we do have one screenshot of Aymeric, Lucia, and a big old bird… and the name of the next dungeon, Matoya’s Relict. So I feel reasonably confident saying that the next expansion is going to point us toward Sharlayan based on current evidence.
There’s nothing absolutely forcing this to be about Matoya instead of Y’shtola, of course; after all, she went by Matoya on the First. But the concept art doesn’t look like the caves she dwelt in there, and… well, it’s Y’shtola. It’s hard to believe that she would have forgotten to get something valuable before she left. No, odds are good that we’re looking into something left over from everyone’s cranky old magical mentor.
Why would that suggest Sharlayan, though? Well, Matoya is from Sharlayan, Ishgard is the logical place to get to the original Sharlayan, and out of the two obvious places we haven’t been yet this is a whole lot of evidence in favor of that island and none pointing us toward Radz-at-Han. And if we’re diving into Matoya’s existing knowledge base outside of the Great Gubal Library… where would she have hidden it?
Of course, this is all still very early speculation, and for all I know the perversity principle means these hints are deliberate misdirection before we head off in a totally different direction… but at that point we’re also getting deep into the weeds of misdirecting our misdirection. It’s not much to go on just yet, but it is at least a starting point.
Now we know when restoration will end! And it’s earlier than I expected; I figured we’d have more Ishgard restoration through 5.5, but the overall map layout does suggest that there are two majors “quarters” left to restore. Considering how this particular installment is already a bit shorter than its predecessor, this is probably the right move overall, even if it does mean the first phase feels a little… disproportionate in scale compared to what we restored.
I have a feeling some of this wrapup also ties into the fact that the crafting and gathering revisions which have been taking place throughout the expansion will largely be finished up by this time. A few more balance passes for crafters, the same collectible change that was made for crafters getting applied to gatherers, and while we’ll have to learn a new rotation or two the overall effect is almost certainly for the best. Might as well wrap up on a high note.
The obvious thing to ask, of course, is whether this means Ishgard housing will be in 5.5 rather than 6.0. It’s a bit early to make that call, of course; we can’t be sure that we’re getting Ishgard housing, for example. (We are and we all know it, yes, but it hasn’t actually been announced.) Obviously, the plan before was to only add the housing district when the expansion launched, but it may well be that this will be a 5.51 feature to further spread out the server load. If we’re done restoring…
I do like that different servers will also have different statues and thus different ways of memorializing contributions. For that matter, I’d love to see some extra achievements for people who at least placed in the top 100 for each phase; that’d be a fun additional nod to the work players do. Probably not in the cards, though.
Yes, the UI looks nice
If no one else is going to say it (lots of people have already said it), I will. That new blue-and-silver UI skin? It looks really nice. I’m not sure if it’s going to become my preferred new skin, but it definitely has a nod there out of my nostalgia. The fact that the buttons are even skinned a bit differently to permit the pixelated beveling is really cute, as it happens.
I also think the whole exploration mode sounds really neat, although I am curious about its restrictions for timing and/or for how many people can be in there. It marks part of an ongoing trend from this expansion to make these areas easier to explore; we can already re-explore the content in the NieR raids after we’ve cleared them, and so this is a natural outgrowth.
But how many people can you pile in? These are obviously four-person dungeons, so a quartet seems certain; can you bring more if you want to have larger groups? It has some fun possible implications for roleplaying, too, depending on group size. Then again, it is also possible that I am just overthinking this right now.
On a slightly different note, I also really like the idea of allowing players to use the official site in some capacity as a guild site. I can see it going badly, but it’s a fun extra aspect of recruitment. Now if only the Communities feature was tied in somehow…
And the rest
You may be wondering why, for example, I didn’t mention the new Eden content. The reason for that is simple: Right now, there’s nothing to speculate about or mention. We’re getting the final part of Eden. We always were getting the final part of Eden. This part of Eden will feature the two people we know will be a part of it, and you have to finish patch 5.3, which might mean that it ties into the events at the end there regarding the split of worlds. It’s good to know, but it also doesn’t really add a lot more besides that fact.
The same goes for most of this stuff. We fight Emerald Weapon! There will be more steps to the Blades of Gunnhildr! You get the general idea. There’s more stuff that looks fun, but not a whole lot to say about much of it.
As always, feedback is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to email@example.com. Next week, I’ll have been avidly exploring the southern front for the resistance, so I will be taking the opportunity to report back on how it feels from actual play. Hopefully better than Eureka, though. (I know that content had its fans, but… well, you know.)