At the time you read this, it’ll be just about two months until we know more about what’s coming with Final Fantasy XIV’s fourth expansion. We already have some information, but we also have some pretty glaring blank spots about which we know nothing. And it’s difficult to not envision those blank spots as being somehow deliberate because… well, this is FFXIV, and it’s hard to believe that things we don’t know aren’t every bit as intentional as the things we do know. It’s kind of a tradition at this point, after all.
We’ve had little bits and pieces added to our overall understanding of the expansion thanks to various interviews hither and yon with Naoki Yoshida, and the structure of what we have been told lends itself to a certain amount of speculation regarding what’s coming next with the expansion. So let’s dive into a grab-bag of different stuff to think about that we currently know about, and a few more things to speculate about ahead of the full reveal coming in May.
For example, one of the things that I keep going back to is what Yoshida has said about the areas that we’re visiting in this particular expansion. Rather than implying that we’re visiting one specific location, his explanation was that the locales we’re visiting are places that we’ve heard about but have thus far been unable to see. Filling in the blanks, so to speak.
Now, in the broad strokes… this leaves room for a lot of different zones. At the moment, we only know about two – Garlemald and Thavnair, plus the city of Radz-at-Han. But if we’re looking at the places we’ve heard about but haven’t yet been able to visit and assuming we don’t even look into the various zones that were accessible in version 1.0 but aren’t there now, we still have the New World, Sharlayan, Meracydia, most of Ilsabard, the South Seas, and most of Hingashi. That’s a lot of potential places to fill in.
The real question, then, becomes what the bigger plan is. We know that from here we’re moving into more self-contained stories (or at least that’s what’s been hinted at), which raises the bigger question of whether or not any of those given regions are big enough to contain their own stories. The New World and Meracydia are most likely set for exactly that, but now-inaccessible areas would certainly make sense for other zones, as would more parts of Ilsabard and Old Sharlayan as well.
But then, that raises another question. If we’re going to Sharlayan as a capital, why would revealing it be a spoiler? Wouldn’t it make just as much sense to reveal that as Thavnair? Unless some sort of particular catastrophe befalls the area just beforehand, which is a distinct possibility… or unless our capital city is something more unpredictable after all, which means that we’re no longer so much filling in the blanks because we’ve left a major blank left to be filled in.
Ultimately, it’s hard to predict. There are a lot of places we know a little about, but not much about, and it’s totally possible that this expansion will involve bouncing around to places like the New World and Meracydia in brief one-zone tours to be expanded later. On the other hand, it also feels equally likely that we’ll dive into these regions later.
Of course, we also know that while the main story is wrapping up in 6.0 proper, the upcoming normal raid series is going to likely add a little more to that. Pandaemonium probably doesn’t contain Lahabrea himself, since he’s been pretty decidedly marked as dead for a while now – and even if he weren’t, you can’t really close the book on the Ascian plot if one of the unsundered is still flitting about. (Elidibus certainly considered himself the last of that batch.)
I feel like we’re being set up for that as the coda of the expansion story, which in turn raises the question of what the long-standing mystery is that the alliance raid could possibly be answering. We’re told that it’s one of the oldest things in the game, but most of those old mysteries have been answered, and most of the other ones aren’t really mysteries that lend themselves to just combat sequences or would seem to imply much simpler answers. So what could it be?
Obviously, this is leaving us with as many questions as answers. This, as the introduction mentioned, is likely intentional; if we were supposed to know all of these things now, they’d probably have been included in the initial reveal.
I’m also a bit curious, odd though it may seem, about the one thing we do know for certain about our upcoming melee job, namely that it uses Maiming armor. In and of itself, this isn’t all that revelatory; it was inevitable that a new melee job was going to use one of the three existing melee armor types, and revealing that we were getting a new healer and a new melee job feels like it was always just the plan from the start. If the structure of things had been what was initially planned, we likely would be speculating about a new job based on Alphinaud’s appearance in the trailer from the first Fan Festival and wouldn’t know we were getting this exact setup right away.
However, things are what they are now, and that means we know for a fact that we’re getting a maiming job. Is that supposed to serve as another hint? Something to help point in the direction of jobs like Templar/Rune Knight or other heavier armored jobs that could still be argued as melee DPS? Usually these reveals come later in the process, often after we’ve already learned what the job is rather than earlier. Is this a hint, or is it just a change in how we’re learning things based on the delays and the different schedule?
All of these are questions worth asking. They’re not questions we can definitively answer right now, though. For example, I personally think it’s pretty likely that the armor type is itself a hint about what the job is going to be, most of our new zones will be either old stuff we haven’t explored since the reboot or more places in Ilsabard, and we’re ultimately going to Old Sharlayan… but all of that is speculation based on what little we know now. We’ll hopefully have slightly more idea when the next patch arrives in April.
What we know right now is just enough to tease for more of the future. And that’s a good thing. It keeps people talking about the expansion over the couple of months from first reveal until now, and that’s the sort of thing that keeps hype flowing freely. Not bad when the reveal events had to be more constrained, wouldn’t you say?
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to email@example.com. Next week, I’m feeling a little like it’s time to take things down a notch, so let’s talk about something lore-related: the Ascians we know about and what their known final fates have been.