Mike Salbato
Square Enix Details Final Fantasy XIV Patch 2.5
One last big update before we’re overrun with dragons in Ishgard.
12.24.14 - 8:58 PM

Final Fantasy XIV has been getting regular content updates since launch; every 3 months or so has seen the release of a massive new patch with a wealth of new content. The next big update - Patch 2.5 - is going to be the last such update prior to next spring’s release of the Heavensward expansion. Patch 2.5 is going to be big enough that it’s being rolled out in stages. Here’s what we can expect in each stage.

Titled "Before the Fall," the fact that this is the first patch to use the font and Meteor icon from the main A Realm Reborn logo is probably meant to signify the importance of this update. Before the Fall Part 1 will include the first arc of main scenario story quests for 2.5, and another leg of the Hildibrand arc (the slide in the presentation includes a cryptic "To be concluded?" comment). Once again, the patch will bring with it two Hard versions of existing dungeons, and one all-new dungeon, seen here:

New Dungeon: The Keeper of the Lake
For all of us wondering if anything would become of the ruins of the Empire’s Agrias ship in Mor Dhona, this is the patch for us. This new dungeon will take place in and around what’s left of the Garlean Empire’s massive airship that was destroyed by Midgardsormr, whose remains still encircle the ship.

Hard Mode Dungeon: Wanderer's Palace
Also known as "that one with all the tonberries," Wanderer's Palace returns with a harder version. The air inside the palace has taken on a sickly tone, and crude barricades and structures have been set up inside, presumably by a band of Mamool Ja. I wonder how the many tonberry residents will feel about other creatures invading their turf in their king's absence...

Hard Mode Dungeon: Amdapor Keep
Amdapor Keep was one of the initial two level 50 dungeons, along with Wanderer's Palace. With 2.5 being a finale of the 2.x chapter, it seems fitting to bring these both back now. It appears the Keep has been inhabited by ochus and other sentient plant life. Allegedly waiting at the end of the overgrowth-laden dungeon is a new encounter with not one, but multiple Demon Walls.

The World of Darkness
First introduced a year ago in Patch 2.1, Crystal Tower is a group raid comprised of three 8-person teams. The second segment of the story debuted this summer with Syrcus Tower, and 2.5 brings us the final chapter of this Final Fantasy III-inspired story with The World of Darkness. This ridiculously cool-looking dungeon brings with it new sets of armor, new crafting materials to build new weapons (hope your Blacksmith is leveled up!), and a new avenue to obtain Carbontwine, Carboncoat, and Encrypted Tomestones.

These three items are used to upgrade the current high-end purchasable Ironworks gear and currently are only obtained in certain turns of The Final Coil of Bahamut. As in previous Crystal Tower ventures, there will be a weekly limit on loot, so you'll have to choose wisely what to roll on. One welcome and important change is being made for these upgrade items, though. Syrcus Tower also dropped an older type of "upgrade token," but winning it would count as your loot for the week. Unsurprisingly, many players would pass on all gear drops in the hopes of getting the upgrade item. Without giving us too many details, it appears this won't be the case moving forward, so regular gear and the upgrade items will presumably not count against each other as your weekly drop, negating the need to choose one over the other. Thank goodness.

Urth's Fount
The slide may not specifically say "Odin Primal Battle," but since Urth's Fount is the closest the Elder Primal has to a home in Eorzea, it's easy to discern. Plus, you didn't really think they'd build an entirely new 8-man version of Odin for Fan Fest without the intention of letting everyone eventually play it, did you?

Other listed features for Before the Fall Part 1 include "The Revenge of Gilgamesh," a new mystery trial, new Frontline (PVP) rules, new crafting recipes, and something called the Aetherial Wheel. Your guess is as good as mine on that one, though the scuttlebutt (I love that word) is that it may be the first part of the forthcoming Free Company crafting that's been teased since E3 in June.

2.51: Manderville Gold Saucer
Coming after 2.5, 2.51 will introduce the long-awaited Manderville Gold Saucer. Why Manderville? We don't know, but it would seem someone in Hildibrand's family is doing rather well if they're operating a casino. This sprawling, sparkling wonderland will feature a host of games, events, Chocobo races, and more. The Gold Saucer will operate with a unique currency that can only be bought with gil (no real money will be used), and the resulting points will be untradable. Perhaps the best nod to Final Fantasy VII though is that the music inside is indeed an arrangement of FFVII's obnoxiously-catchy Gold Saucer theme. Somehow related to the Gold Saucer - perhaps it's purchased via points - is a gear set modeled after Final Fantasy VI's gambler extraordinaire, Setzer. Which is a thing I suddenly need.

While Chocobo breeding and racing will no doubt be a big deal, it's Triple Triad that is likely going to steal the show. Straight out of Final Fantasy VIII, this collectible card battling game will debut with 80 available cards. Like in the PSone classic, you'll be able to take your deck of cards and challenge other players and even certain NPCs to duel. No doubt there's going to be a line out the door of people wanting to challenge Minfilia for her cards. There was also mention of potential Triple Triad tournaments. The cards themselves will be obtained in a variety of ways: they can be bought with Gold Saucer points, won in duels, and can even drop in dungeons as treasure.

Patch 2.51 will also bring with it a new chapter of the Zodiac Weapon Saga, so unless you're still hacking away on your Nexus weapon like me, you may want to try and get that Excalibur or Ragnarok before we're able to work on yet another tier.

Before the Fall Part 2
While an exact number wasn't specified, based on history, Part 2 will likely be numbered Patch 2.55. In it, we'll see the conclusion to 2.5’s main scenario quest line, which will likely make the "Before the Fall" title clear. There will also be an event called the "Battle of Ishgard," with no other details given. Since Heavensward (aka 3.0) will take us into Ishgard and beyond for the first time, it's possible this will be a limited time event to lead into the expansion. I know I have fond memories of World of Warcraft's pre-Wrath of the Lich King event in which the Scourge was invading all corners of Azeroth, so hopefully a unique event like this is the kind of thing Yoshida and co. are planning for Eorzea.

No release window for any of Patch 2.5 was divulged, though if the devs stick to their 3-month pattern, we could easily see a release around the end of January for Part 1. With Part 2 seeming to focus exclusively on pre-expansion events, it's likely we'll see that a couple months later, if Heavensward remains on track for a spring release.

DirectX 11
Finally, Square Enix revealed the OTHER oft-requested and long-awaited feature for FFXIV. No, not Mac support, I can hear one of you asking (spoiler: it's me), though the Mac version is apparently on track for a spring release. The DirectX 11 client was shown for the first time, and while some of the benefits are nice but minor, such as improved ground textures, the improved shadows, reflections, and water effects possible in this version are quite impressive. You can see some examples here, though remember these images are stills pulled from the stream, so it's only a low-res taste of the differences.

Like Patch 2.5, the DirectX client doesn't have a release date just yet, but we'll keep you updated when it does!

Music Notes from Soken:
Several other small but noteworthy details came out during the keynote and a discussion with music composer/sound director Masayoshi Soken:

There will indeed be another soundtrack released post-2.51 that will contain new music that's been added to the game since the original A Realm Reborn soundtrack debuted in March. Presumably, this album will contain all new music from patches 2.2, 2.3, 2.4, and 2.5. And believe me when I say it's enough to fill an album.

Soken addressed the long-standing request for a jukebox that will allow players to customize the music that plays within a Free Company house. It seems they've had memory issues with implementing the feature in the current game, but they may be able to make it reality in the expansion.

Ishgard and other areas of Heavensward will not follow the trend of the current zones and use more arrangements of the main battle theme used throughout A Realm Reborn. The new areas will instead feature all-new music for battles.

Lastly, on the subject of classic Final Fantasy themes that have made their way into Final Fantasy XIV, Soken mentioned that he'd like to incorporate Terra's theme (FFVI) somewhere, and is looking for a good way to use it.

That's it! This information and the images came from a variety of sources. In addition to the live stream itself (which is why some images have text overlays), DualShockers ran a helpful article, and player Lovescake (from the Odin server) put together a perfectly succinct summary on the official FFXIV forums, so please check out both sources below and show them your thanks!