I ended the first night watching the Fan Festival a bit sad about how long it would be before Final Fantasy XIV‘s next expansion. I ended the second night a bit sad that there still wasn’t any talk about All Saints’ Wake, even though maybe that was just too far in the future. And I spent the Sunday after the fan festival absolutely devastated because we found out that Soken had been fighting for his life while composing through patch 5.3, and the amount of dedication behind this team is just amazing and I can’t even.
Let’s start with the first new thing we saw, the Reaper! This is something no one could have predicted… except I literally did. Yes, the new job is wielding a scythe and summons a phantom into battle, and that fits pretty well under the header of my realm of predictions. It’s new to the franchise as a job by that name, but I think I deserve some credit for guessing the name in context.
We don’t know anything about how it plays at this point, of course, aside from the fact that it clearly offers a powered-up state to the player character via currently unknown means. What little we see of its gameplay seems to indicate that the phantom alongside you is in some capacity an oGCD ability, since we see it striking amidst what looks like the basic three-hit combo of the Reaper; beyond that, of course, it’s hard to know what the mechanism of merging with it might be.
The obvious possibility is that it’s akin to how Dragoon powers up, but… well, I’m disinclined to believe that’s the case simply because making another Maiming job that works similar to Dragoon would be kind of silly. With such a thin sample of material to draw from at the moment, it’s a little early to be making heavy gameplay guesses, but I’d assume it’ll be more likely a tool to be used in specific situations rather than a copy of Soul/Life of the Dragon.
We also now know that we’re getting male Viera! And female Hrothgar, although that wasn’t yet given a firm timetable. Still, it feels like some degree of vindication to know that the team has been working hard at this and wants to put this together for players as soon as possible. It also winds up vindicating my theory that adding more genders is easier than adding more races, so that’s something too.
Those were the two big reveals in the character options department… but hardly the only reveals. For example, we now know for a fact that Sharlayan is our new capital city.
Yes, Old Sharlayan, let’s not pick nits.
We also got a reveal of the new zones, probably the only reveal we’re going to get of most of them. Much like Azys Lla and the Tempest, it seems like the sixth zone (and there will be a sixth zone in all likelihood) is meant to remain as a surprise to be encountered during the story. But quite notably, none of these zones have the obvious element of being an early visit that’s supposed to gradually ramp you into the story. Labyrinthos, Garlemald, Thavnair, and Mare Lamentorum all feel like high-level areas to start with (which, to be fair, they are) and the floating continent they can’t even yet name for us is definitely another high-level place, possibly the penultimate zone.
Personally, I strongly suspect that Labyrinthos is connected to Sharlayan. In fact, my theory is that this is part of why Sharlayan appears to be disinclined to act against the disaster befalling the world – the nation has what it sees as a safety bubble underground. And that raises the question of how they even have that, which brings to mind an obvious answer, that Sharlayan is particularly unique among the nations because unlike the others it’s actually got records of the technology and stores of the Ancients.
This might seem a little far-fetched, but it would explain a lot. Why does Sharlayan seem so intent on staying out of conflict? Because their entire ability to preserve their knowledge is entirely dependent on the Ascians having no idea that Sharlayan has access to the ruins it does. Why was this preserved when so many ancient ruins weren’t? Because it’s underground, just like how Mare Lamentorum clearly was spared the Calamities by being on the moon.
For that matter, what’s the flying zone? Well, it looks to me like what amounts to Azys Lla But Good, especially the bottom portions of the flying island. It’d make perfect sense if Labyrinthon and the floating island are both attempts at a society to outrun great calamities, possibly with both showing the folly of running instead of standing to face the problem and struggling to overcome it.
Of course, none of this is more than early speculation. And it’s clear that there will be a lot going on here… which we’ll have to wait a while to find out about because the expansion won’t be here until November 23rd. And yes, I said we were just going to talk about content, but should talk a little bit about that element tool. November 23rd is late compared to what a lot of people – including me – were expecting. It means that ultimately, we’re looking at four months of delay compared to the “expected” release window, which means another two on top of the existing delay created for patch 5.3 that pushed things back. If you’re like me and a huge fan of this game and eager for new content, that’s easy to be a bit bummed about. I’m bummed about it.
It is also nigh-on mandatory to note that this is not the result of any lack of effort. A total of four months delay while working through a global pandemic – and what were clearly other extenuating real-world circumstances – is really pretty astonishing, especially when you consider that it’s the first real time anything has thrown off the game’s otherwise rock-solid update cadence. That’s kind of astonishing in and of itself. While it’s going to be a long wait, it’s certainly not for lack of trying or for lack of content along the way.
Basically, I would say that while it’s understandable if you’re a little bit sad about the wait, I get that. But if you’re going to blame the development team for it or act like it was in any way a form of laziness or lack of effort, you should really step back and double-check where you’re coming from. It is possible to be slightly disappointed by something without being a jerk about it, and I think that’s an important line to cut.
Especially in light of… well, what we’re going to talk about next week. Yes, Soken gets a column all to himself. For now, you can leave feedback in the comments down below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.