So we do actually know the title of the next Final Fantasy XIV expansion now, even though we don’t. Technically this has not yet been announced, but it matches literally every other bit of timing we’ve ever had regarding expansion titles, and it just has the right mouth feel, you know? We don’t yet know if we’re going to hear the formal announcement this month or if it’s going to be delayed, but we are all pretty confident on this one, yes?
First and foremost, I’d like to note that as with anything else, I am speculating about a possible title for an unannounced expansion based on a story we do not yet know. It is entirely possible that I will be wildly off base here, and as I have always done, I will be right here to announce that I was wrong and own it if that takes place. Still, I am also making reasonable guesses off of very limited information.
With that out of the way, what do we have here? Well, let’s start with the obvious. “Forspoken” is the adjectival form of “forspeak,” an obsolete English word. While “forspoken” simply states that it means “bewitched” or “charmed,” forspeak itself has a slightly wider meaning. Yes, it can mean to bewitch or charm; it can also mean to slander, to forbid or prohibit, or to cause bad luck through insincere flattery.
We also have a few pieces of information regarding the next bit of the MSQ. It involves Ishgard, at least, and we’re exploring a dungeon called Matoya’s Relict. We also know that it involves the Scions once more. And in a touch of meta-knowledge, we know that the most recent addition to the game’s cosmetic shop was the ARR attire for Alphinaud and Alisaie.
At the intersection of all these pieces of information is Sharlayan.
No city-state in Eorzea is as close to Sharlayan as Ishgard. Literally, in a physical sense; Ishgard is close to the site of the former city in Dravania and not terribly far from the original home island. Of the major Scions, all of them are either from Sharlayan or students of Sharlayan, whether they were expert apprentices (Y’shtola) or idiot cigarette boys gouging drawings into desks with compass points (Thancred). Matoya’s de facto job was just keeping half an eye on the stuff Sharlayan left behind in the Hinterlands.
You know what Sharlayan is big on? Magic. You know what else they’re big on? Forbidding the knowledge of that magic. The original Astrologian quests go into more details, but it’s a known fact that Sharlayan keeps a lid on a lot of knowledge that is considered somehow dangerous or best kept obscured. Sound like a bit of relation to a word we’ve heard, hmm?
So all of that is a hint that Sharlayan will be involved in the next expansion. Fine, but that doesn’t tell us a whole lot beyond a city, does it? Well… it does, but for that we have to do a bit more speculating, by which I mean that we have to take a closer look at the map of the world that we currently know.
Sharlayan is located on one of two archipelagos in the Northern Empty. Northeast of it lies Aerslant, the ancestral home of the Roegadyn people. Northwest, meanwhile, is wholly unknown. Somewhere west and somewhat more south is the New World. And to the east lies… Ilsabard, the last region left to be explored within the single contiguous land mass comprising three continents.
Also, you know, home of Garlemald and the main might of the Garlean Empire.
Fanadiel certainly does love offering up overwhelming and insincere praise, doesn’t he? We know that Zenos yae Galvus (possibly now Zenos zos Galvus, if we’re being honest) is willing to slander and lie as it suits his purposes. And while neither of them appear to be tempered or even influenced by Zodiark at this time, it is hard to discount the possibility of something bewitching taking place within this area. Heck, it’d be the ultimate irony if the Empire formed to rid the world of Eikons… was itself in the thrall of one.
And that ties into a whole lot of plot teases that we’ve gotten about what’s taking place on the Source all the way through Shadowbringers.
Obviously, there are some holes in this theory, even when you step away from the fact that it’s a theory based on very limited information being arranged in sequence. The most obvious one is that it doesn’t make a whole heck of a lot of sense to go to Ilsabard from Sharlayan based on what we know now, especially when there are more reasonable routes. (You could claim that both of the land routes are impassable and that makes this a necessity, but if Ghimlyt is still at a fighting stalemate, moving around it doesn’t seem to be a smart tactical move.)
It also means that we’re assuming a sort of inverse double bluff. In Stormblood, we had lots of things teasing Ilsabard and the Empire as the next destination, and that ultimately turned out to be a red herring because we had other places to go. This time, we’ve also had lots of things teasing Ilsabard and the Empire… and so the theory would necessarily go that we expect to be steered elsewhere, but now we’ve been tricked because it wasn’t a subversion!
Do I believe that Yoshida enjoys subtly trolling fans that much? Yes. Do I think it’s necessarily a great connection? No.
What this does do is at least hint at why that might be the title for our next expansion as well as giving us some motivation for a main plot. The great thing about the Empire is that we don’t really need much motivation as to why fighting it is important, just a reason for why we can now push forward into a new stage. And since Bozja is also showing how fractured the Empire is at this point, there’s some reason to believe now might be the ideal time for us to rush the place.
Still, all of this is very early and we don’t even yet have a picture of what the MSQ in 5.4 will actually entail. Once we have a clearer picture of that, we can… well, have a clearer picture of what we’re doing next, where we’re heading, and what we should expect from the ongoing storyline.
Which might make this speculation a little early, but hey, I don’t mind guessing wrong.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, I think it’s time for the annual-ish talk about the problems with housing, yes? I’m going with yes.