All right. So the next Final Fantasy XIV live letter is happening on this Friday. In and of itself, that’s not unusual, of course; we’re at just about the right time interval to start hearing about the next patch, and while there’s still patch 6.18 on the way and probably a good month and change until the patch arrives we’ve seen all of the major content that we’re going to get before the next patch arrives. So it’s time to start looking forward.
First and foremost, I want to say that going into this I fully expect that we are going to get all of the predictable features in this next patch. We are absolutely going to get a new dungeon, new MSQ installments, and a new part of Pandæmonium. Beyond that, we also have at least some of the template for what to expect as established back when we had that lengthy “future of the game” live letter, if you’ve forgotten.
So let’s start there. What we know is coming with patch 6.2 from that alone includes Island Sanctuaries, the first of the Criterion dungeons, and “new weapon enhancements.” It’s not totally clear what that last item will entail, but I have some suspicions, and I’ll go into that in just a bit. Let’s start with Island Sanctuaries.
At this point, we honestly don’t know much about what Island Sanctuaries will actually entail beyond the fact that it’s meant to be slow-moving content for idle downtime, that it’s supposed to not be housing but it does in some ways have reminiscent features, and that it got delayed a bit as the team wanted to expand it based on player interest. This has led to some people understandably expecting that it’s going to be the game’s answer to instanced housing.
Do I think that’s necessarily a realistic hope? Not really, but I also don’t think it entirely matters simply because people really want it to be the case. I don’t think that producer and director Naoki Yoshida is going to want to puncture anyone’s hopes when the time comes, but I do think as a result that it’s fairly likely that we’ll go over the basic gameplay loop players can expect on Island Sanctuaries. Not in terms of rewards or goals or anything, just a general overview of “here is what you will be doing when you visit it aside from wandering around and petting minions.”
Or maybe it will just be wandering around and petting minions. That’s fine. (Not to be confused with petting Minions, which I think is mentioned in the Book of Revelations.)
Let’s move on to the Criterion dungeons. I’m looking forward to learning more about these because on one level this sounds a touch like another variant on the Deep Dungeons that we’ve already had… but not quite. The Deep Dungeon does not actually scale with party size; the monsters just are balanced so you can handle them solo, not specifically scaling up and down for your group size.
The biggest question mark, at least for me, is what these new dungeons are meant to do. I’ve seen people speculate that this is going to be the equivalent of challenge modes like M+ in World of Warcraft, and while that’s certainly possible, what we actually know about the format makes that feel more than a little off. Scaling to your group size doesn’t sound like a more difficult dungeon because that means you also need to be able to go in solo if you want to.
Before you want to mention that solo content can be more difficult than group content – I know, and I agree with that postulate. But it is not a harder dungeon experience because “harder dungeon” here would mean “harder four-person content.”
Personally, I hold with the speculation that this is going to in some way tied to the relic weapons… which, let’s face it, are the most likely candidates for the weapon enhancements we were told about for patch 6.2. It’d be the right time to start that expansion-long project, and we’ve had two separate expansions try the “let’s have a big open zone full of stuff exploding, like Burning Man with magic spells” routine. Considering how all of the other elements of this particular expansion have pointed toward making content easier to engage with in smaller groups or solo? Yeah, I feel like it’s reasonable to assume these are linked things.
So that covers the major stuff we know is coming. What about our unknown quantities?
I’d be a little surprised – though not overwhelmingly so – if we found out our next trial series. A lot of people have speculated, not for nothing, that it’s going to be the four fiends from Final Fantasy IV based on what we’ve seen in the MSQ, and that definitely tracks – there’s no need for a mid-series break that would force us out of a full set of four, and it’s hard to think of a better content format to face off against all of them.
However, the one flip side to that is that the trial series is pretty uniformly separate from the main storyline, and it’d be hard to plausibly separate the two in this particular case. Like, you can’t really sell me on the idea that we’re just taking on the fiends who are clearly being set up as part of a major villainous force unless the next part of the MSQ suddenly swerves in a totally different direction, making all of its foreshadowing kind of a waste of time. So I’m torn.
There’s also the chance that we’ll learn about the next tribal series we’re exploring; we know that the name “beast tribe” is getting retired, and based on the Shadowbringers template we still have a gathering tribe and a crafting tribe to be added to the game. It might just be mentioned in passing, of course; it’s actually kind of wide open right now. Yes, the loporrits seem like a shoo-in for one of the above, but which one? And who takes the other spot? It could be anyone from the gigas to Garlean restoration.
I’ll admit that I’m kind of hoping for the former here.
Last but not least, there’s always a reasonable chance with these letters for some kind of surprise. Not a massive one, by any means, but have a little something extra that the fans aren’t expecting. Of course, the very nature of “surprise” means I can’t guess at it, but I do wonder if it might be coming. Possibly the return of Rival Wings? Not sure.
As always, feedback is welcome in the comments or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, I will obviously be talking about the reality of the live letter, so let’s all tune in for that, it’ll be fun.