Square Enix Reveals Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers at Fan Festival 2018
Third expansion coming next summer.
11.17.18 - 12:04 AM
The first of three 2018-2019 Fan Festivals for Final Fantasy XIV kicked off today in Las Vegas. And like with past events, the FFXIV team started off the opening keynote with the reveal of the game's next expansion: Shadowbringers.
The trailer was more than a little enlightening, teasing both a major confrontation to come with a familiar face, and, interestingly, some bosses from a prior dungeon. Both bosses are light-aspected, and since the theme of Shadowbringers will involve our Warrior of Light needing (for... reasons) to become a Warrior of Darkness, it looks like we may be at odds with the light. The whole premise is a callback to some major events back in Patch 3.4, Soul Surrender. I knew those events would be far-reaching at the time, but I didn't expect them to lead here:
Beyond that, Shadowbringers will take us exactly where we expected, based on the game's current story trajectory: Right into the heart of the Garlean empire. The narrative around this expansion is dramatic, if not downright dire: It seems like as the Ascians work behind the scenes with the Empire, we're trying to prevent an 8th (and allegedly final) Umbral Era (in XIV lore, that's basically a time of bad stuff happening). Director and Producer Yoshi-P, in laying out the scenario, promised that we're finally going to get some answers as to what the Ascians are really about, and why they've been plaguing the land since the beginning of FFXIV. Not only them, but we'll finally get insight into their god Zodiark, as well. Up until now, by and large, we mostly know Zodiark as the polar opposite of Hydaelyn. Again, it's another case of light vs dark, which seems to be the running theme of this expansion.
Shadowbringers will introduce "multiple new jobs," although the specifics were not revealed (technically... but we'll get to that further down the page), since they want to save some reveals for the Paris and Tokyo Fan Festivals. New jobs and a new level cap means yet more abilities, and we got a hint about changes coming to the battle system, which will involve revamping both standard abilities and the oft-reviled (at least in terms of limitations) role actions. Perhaps more interestingly will be the elimination of TP as a resource, so every class/job that uses TP will have those abilities converted to use MP.
As an expansion, there are certain expected features, such as a new level cap of 80, new primal battles, new dungeons (Shadowbringers will launch with 9 new ones), and both new 8-man raids, plus 24-man raids. And while not a "feature" per se, Shadowbringers will also drop support for 32-bit Windows systems, to allow the game room to continue to grow.
We didn't get any details on the primals, dungeons and raids, aside from a comment that they would feel "very Final Fantasy," but we did get a peek at two new areas:
The Rak'tika Greatwood
The first area shown was The Rak'tika Greatwood, a lush forest environment that also features what seems to be marshlands. Plus whatever this eerie-yet-serene temple door leads to. The inhabitants of the Greatwood live in the trees, in a village with bridges and platforms that brings images of FFXII's Salikawood to mind more than a little. Wonder if there's Viera there?
The second area we saw is Amh Araeng, and some of the imagery can only be described as wild. I don't even know what to make of that first screenshot, which looks like some aether-based explosion frozen in time. Beyond that, one must wonder if this desert-based zone is somewhere within Dalmascan territory.
Endgame Content for Crafters & Gatherers
A long-awaited request, crafting and gathering classes will get endgame content... and with it, a second long-standing request! This new series of quests/events will task crafters and gatherers with returning to Ishgard to finally help them rebuild, years after the resolution of the Dragonsong War. And since the whole reason we never got a player housing area in Ishgard was because the city-state was in no shape to welcome new residents, this is a great way of dovetailing two big fan requests. And you can bet your buttons I am going to want one of those Ishgardian homes.
One sidenote to all of this was the mention of player-controlled farms, but we didn't get any more details yet.
What we did learn in detail was three all-new game systems coming to Final Fantasy XIV:
NPC Battle System: "Trust"
The new Trust system – a name familiar to Final Fantasy XI veterans – will allow you to play through the game with key NPC characters by your side instead of other players. This doesn't replace any typical player matching, but it's a system that can at least be used to progress through much of the main story content without having to find other players if you prefer to try it solo. Or, if you just want to do the new dungeons with Thancred, for example (who wouldn't?). I mention Thancred, but Yoshi-P was coy about which notable NPCs will be options, since many of them today are in... Er... they aren't having a good day, as of Patch 4.4.
"Wait, what?" I can hear you asking. The idea of a New Game + in an MMORPG, especially one as sprawling as FFXIV, sounds crazy. But what this means is the ability to re-experience things like main story quests and cutscenes, and even the story aspects of job quests. But it's more enticing than that, and most of the fans in attendance picked up on it immediately.
In both prior expansions, there has been ever more special event missions added. These are undertaken solo and outside of standard dungeons, and there's never been a way to replay these scenarios, despite being a major fan request for years. Being able to play through some key missions from Heavensward again will be great, and since the last zone in Stormblood is one event quest after another, being able to see some of that again will be fun too.
This one is deceptively simple in its name, despite being a system that will accomplish something amazing - true cross-server play. It's not as seamless as dumping all players across servers in one space - that would be a mess. But this system will expand upon what the game has today. Right now, you can form parties and enter instanced content like dungeons and raids with friends across your data center (a collection of regional servers), but you can't do anything "out in the world." With World Visit, players will be able to actually visit a friend's server and hang out in town and do non-instanced content and events together.
Some details remain to be revealed - will they allow trade or market board access? Each server has a different economy based on its player base, and the dev team would likely be wary about upsetting the balance. I hope there's a way to trade with friends across worlds at least. Especially for crafters who want to help each other, this would be a wonderful upgrade.
New Beast Tribe: The Nu Mou
Ivalice influences continue to make their way into Final Fantasy XIV, with the Nu Mou of Final Fantasy Tactics Advance being the next beast tribe to appear. We don't know yet how they fit in to the world, but really, what a face like that, who cares? I'll be happy to help these folks out with anything.
While we didn't get a peek at them yet, the Nu Mou won't be the only fresh race in XIV, as new races of pixies and dwarves will be appearing as well. Lali ho!
While it's understandable that some reveals need to be saved for other Fan Festivals, that doesn't mean it's easy to wait. Knowing there are new jobs in the works without details makes the mind reel... so it's good that Yoshi-P told us to re-watch the trailer to look for the hint of one of the jobs. So many fans are scrutinizing this scene with Thancred, suddenly wielding a frickin' Gunblade.
This move is not without precedent: Many of the Warrior of Light's fellow Scions have adjusted their in-game jobs as the story progressed. When Stormblood introduced Red Mage, Alisaie donned the job herself (to great and stylish effect, I may add). Putting Thancred in this yet-unnamed Gunblade job would line up with that method perfectly. Not to mention, the Garlean Empire's elite wield weapons that are melee weapons melded with guns (hammers, blades, and more), so it's perfectly timed with an Empire-focused expansion.
And boy do I want a Gunblade.
Not content with that hint, once again, Yoshi-P was wearing something that would tease more... but we didn't know it until near the end of the keynote. Upon revealing that Shadowbringers would feature a new race that he couldn't reveal, he turned around, and on the back of his shirt was... Bugs Bunny.
And the room went wild, because there's only one race in Final Fantasy lore that would share similar traits with Bugs, and that is the fan favorite Viera. I told you we were getting even more Ivalice love! Without confirming the question, Yoshi-P did say that we would see a "massive hint" about this "mystery" race in the next patch, 4.5.
I'm Afraid I Just Blue Myself Prematurely
Oh yeah. Also, this happened. While Yoshi-P pretended to wrap up and have nothing more to reveal, Yosuke Matsuda, president of Square Enix walked on stage strongly implying there was more to say.
Did I mention he was dressed in head-to-toe Blue Mage garb?
He proceeded to "overrule" Yoshi-P and ran a video both revealing and showing FFXIV's Blue Mage in action. As is typical with the job, Blue Mage learns its actions by observing enemies, even primals like Shiva. There has been speculation about how XIV could handle such a system for awhile, and the answer is apparently with a new job type called a "limited job," though full details on exactly what that means is coming in Saturday's Letter From the Producer Live. And it's coming that soon because Blue Mage is NOT debuting with Shadowbringers next summer, but is coming in the very next major update: Patch 4.5!
While we await more info, we know a bit right now. We know at launch, Blue Mage will start at level 1 and be capped at 50 (and raised later), a departure from most new jobs, which have started at either 30 or 50 and can be leveled to the game's current level cap. Presumably this is based on the fact that the job will apparently feature a lot of actions and learnable abilities, so it's probably easier to roll this out in stages.
Blue Mage will have access to a unique duty called The Masked Carnival, but it remains to be seen... well, what it is.
Look for more info this weekend as FFXIV Fan Festival continues, and even more as the Paris and Tokyo events debut. For now, I'll leave you with the amazing artwork below by Yoshitaka Amano, which will indeed be featured on the Collector's Edition packaging.
Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers is scheduled for "early" summer 2019. In the meantime, check out our brand new Shadowbringers gallery.