There are known unknowns and then there are unknown unknowns. This is true when it comes to Final Fantasy XIV at the moment. We know for a fact that there will be another expansion for the game, and we know that this is something that would usually be getting announced… uh… this month, actually. But right now all we know is that there’s another live letter at the end of the week ahead of the delayed Patch 5.4 in early December, and something is happening in February. That’s it.
So we know at some point we’re going to know more about the expansion, we’ve got a digital event in February, and we have an existing schedule that’s been delayed a bit. From here we can speculate, and from here we must speculate because there’s so little we know at the moment. Maybe that will change on Friday, and if so… well, look forward to me stating as much next week. For now? Speculation.
First and foremost, I want to start with a reverse assumption. Based on the delays to the patches, I think we are logically looking at end of August 2021 as the latest possible time for the launch of the next expansion. This is based on a two-month delay carrying forward from earlier in the year, pushing the usual expansion timeframe forward by two months as well.
Extending the logic, of course, this would mean our first expansion announcement would happen two months later… which puts it in January. And that is actually a bit unusual on several levels, starting with the fact that while the North American fan festival was cancelled in June, the Japanese festival wasn’t cancelled until more than a month later, and the European one was two months after that. Plans were clearly in play to have one or both of those festivals according to official statements.
In other words, at least during June, there was something in place for announcements to be made during the Japanese festival in December even without a North American festival. This means that I don’t think it’s quite necessarily a lock on “we hear nothing until February,” especially since February was already planned as the final fan festival for this cycle and would have been coming just four months ahead of the expansion release.
Comparatively, the planned has the first fan festival about seven months before release, the second six months before release, and the third a scant four months. Yes, this is all assumed based on external factors and prior dates, but it seems reasonable to assume. And if we assume that late August date, the February event will be about six months out from the expected launch.
Now, of course there’s nothing set in stone about the launch date we’re assuming, especially since it’s a presumed launch date for a product that has not actually been announced yet. Rather, we’re working from the assumption that things will be delayed about two months, which is about where we’re at. There’s nothing explicitly preventing a longer or shorter delay.
However… let’s take a different tack. Suppose that the North American fan festival was cancelled, but the other two were not, which does seem to be the expected course of events at one point. It logically follows that the team would have been ready and able to reveal something during the remaining conventions… which also means we should examine a little bit more of what the fan festivals actually are.
See, while the festivals tend to be notable here for the expansion announcements, there’s a lot else going on during them. Concerts, lore discussion, development discussion, fun little minigames, new product launches, and so forth. The actual expansion news is usually confined to the keynote address each time.
This is, I think, the sort of thing that we’re going to see in February. But it also seems pretty likely that event will include something for the next expansion. The real question is what… and when we’ll know something about the expansion to chew on because it seems unlikely in the extreme that the bigger event in February will just drop all the information on us at once.
I do think there’s an outside chance of Friday’s letter including a proper announcement of the expansion, but December seems more likely to me. Either way, though, I think it’s more than likely that we’ll know about the expansion before February. While it has been unofficially announced already, considering the usual slow tease for expansions it seems that we’ll already have a possible new job tease and so forth before February does the heavy lifting of unveiling for much of the expansion.
Since there’s only one event marked, though, it’s probably going to be more constrained than normal, without the whole set of reveals being spread out over three separate fan festivals. But I do think we’re going to hear about the expansion before February because I’m sure that Yoshi-P wants to get that hype train rolling hard. If not for the delays we’d already be speculating about the next expansion, even.
And that, to me, is the biggest hint that something is going to happen before the February event we already know about. In July, there were still plans to reveal something in December. Early December will see the release of patch 5.4 (most likely December 8th), and the next major patch will be in mid-March. If we follow a two-part structure for 5.5, then the second part will be rolling out in May. Usually things are arranged to keep the excitement train rolling on a pretty standard cadence every month.
It seems like a no-brainer to me that we’re going to get what amounts to a virtual fan festival in February, even though it hasn’t explicitly been named as such. But I feel like it’s reasonable to think that we might well be learning more about the expansion before then, even if it’s just a tease ahead of time.
The hard part is just guessing at when, and it does involve guessing. Considering the timescale that the game works on and the two-month patch delay, it’s hard to be sure. Certainly there’s some pressure to keep the expansion schedule closer to what was originally planned for financial purposes, and as Yoshida has stated that the biggest slowdown element of patch 5.3 was playtesting it’s possible that expansion work wasn’t as affected. But then we’re also getting into the weeds and making pretty wild guesses about delays.
Ultimately, I don’t know exactly when we’ll learn more about the expansion until we actually hear about it. I don’t know that it’ll even be entitled Forspoken. But I certainly do hope that we hear about it during this Friday’s live letter because I’m excited to see where we’re going next. And, you know… having a limited event this month and December, and then doing a full special event in February? That would make sense.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week? Well, even if my guessing is inaccurate, we’ll still have a new live letter to digest. So that’s on deck.