The launch content of Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker is finally here in its totality, and that means that it’s time to start looking ahead to the future to an extent. No, not just insofar as you can start planning out upgrades and figuring out what you’re earning week-to-week in terms of tomestones and stuff; that’s a given. I mean about stuff that’s coming out with patch 6.1 and beyond, things that we thus far only know in the broadest strokes but that we absolutely know is coming or at least strongly suspect, given the history of the game.
The new story arc
Here’s the fascinating thing about the next story arc, at least to me: We have almost no idea where it’s going to go, but we do know that it’s not going to have the same anchors it always has.
Without spoiling anything about the ending of Endwalker for those who haven’t yet reached it, it’s clear that we can’t even be sure about where the next set of MSQ quests are even going to start. There’s a sudden sense that you are, in all ways, unmoored. This is obviously intentional and is the way it ought to be; it wouldn’t feel like a conclusion otherwise, after all. But it also means that we can suddenly go almost anywhere, do almost anything, and find ourselves establishing an entirely new set of important characters to play off of in contrast to the old standbys.
Some of the talk from Yoshida recently has stated that some of the existing characters we know will have major roles moving forward, but even that doesn’t seem like a full cast; it seems far more likely that we’ll see them in supporting roles while other people move to the forefront. In many ways, Endwalker is an expansion-long sendoff to our familiar friends, and the next plot could take us almost anywhere and start moving us in any direction.
I don’t have speculation here. I just know that it’s going to have to take place using our existing zones, and it’s going to be fascinating to see where we go. Our old threats are dealt with, but somehow it just seems likely that’s not the end of the story.
Mysteries of the Realm
Many people have pointed out that it would be really easy for this raid series to feature a dozen fights against the dozen deities of Eorzea, but that seems… well, kind of obvious and boring. I feel like there’s going to be more going on here than that. Especially since all we’ve been promised is that it’s going to tell us about the Twelve, full stop.
To be clear, I don’t think there’s necessarily a question to be asked there the way I think some people have internalized it. The odds are good that Gaius more or less had the right of what the Twelve are right from the start, or at least the gist of it; the actual deific forces at work in the game’s cosmology turned out to be not so much, and I can’t help but feel like there were a few points where the Twelve would have been involved if they were actually overseeing everything. So tracing back to the origins and roots of those beliefs is my personal guess for this Alliance series.
I’m curious about where it’s going to kick off, too. Presumably it’ll be in areas around the old world, now that we can fly there and exploration is a bit easier; it would just seem weird to have an exploration of Eorzean myth that takes place outside of Eorzea, where all the new zones are. But where? There aren’t any big structures or locales we don’t know about yet… then again, it very easily could break down similar to how the Ivalice raids did, using Sharlayan as a hub for remote travel.
There’s still a lot of big question marks here. Heck, it’s even a question mark about when these are going to be implemented, although I’d be surprised if it’s later than 6.2. But what the actual gameplay loop will look like, how it will feel to play, what kind of content players can look forward to… that’s all still a big question mark, and I’m looking forward to learning more about it.
However, I have a not-so-sneaking suspicion this may tie in with the main scenario and where the story takes us. There are three possible directions I see as “likely” destinations moving forward – working on recovery in Ilsabard in the wake of Garlemald’s collapse, heading to Meracydia, or heading to the New World. The former seems least likely given the characters we know will have a role moving forward, which means that one of the two exploration destinations seems reasonable, and either of those would give cause to find islands for an adventurer to settle on and gently cultivate.
Of course, these could also be parallel developments. We’ll find out, won’t we?
The new relic line
Again, I see two possibilities here. In either case, I imagine that the content will mirror the structure of Eureka and Bozja, however; I think at this point we’ve reached the point where “new zones for this content” are just to be expected past a certain point. That’s how the developers have done things twice, and they seem happy with how Bozja worked out compared to Eureka. But where will those new zones be? What will we be doing?
The first possibility is that this will again be a sequel piece of content, but instead of a sequel to an alliance raid it’ll be a sequel to a normal raid, sending us back to the First after the conclusion of the Eden story to start forging weapons and reclaim the lands that are being formed out of the remains of the Empty. It’d be another chance to head back to the First and explore a little more, which would help that particular content feel less like an island. (And make no mistake, the First is the most isolated batch of content possible in the game in that regard.)
Our second possibility, however, is that we’re going to take on one of the other remaining lingering elements from the expansion and focus on the rebuilding of Ilsabard and reclaiming from the still-loyal elements of the Garlean military. I kind of doubt this one, just because… well, we just got done doing that in Bozja, it seems unlikely we’d dive right back in there so promptly. But it is a possibility.
All right, so there are a lot of possibilities and these could both be wrong, but those are the obvious ones that jump out.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, I want to talk a little bit about balance, where jobs are at, and the jobs that seem to be perhaps a little off the balance curve at the moment.