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At the 2016 FFXIV Fan Festival in Las Vegas, game director Naoki Yoshida (nicknamed Yoshi P) took the stage for a keynote speech where the hotly anticipated new expansion for Final Fantasy XIV; Stormblood.
Taking place on the eastern edge of Eorzea, Stormblood will follow the Warrior of Light as they work alongside the Ala Mhigan resistance to reclaim the long occupied city of Ala Mhigo from the Garlean Empire.
Yoshi P confirmed that there will be as many areas to explore as there were in the previous expansion, Heavensward, and they’ll be just-as, if not more massive and sprawling. He also reiterated that despite players concerns, Ala Mhigo won’t be all deserts and wastelands, as he showed several different locales littered with waterfalls and forests. Generally it looks like the atmosphere will be that of a more realistic Chinese sort of style, which would be a nice change of pace from the wintry skies of Ishgard.
Despite the more grounded look of these areas compared to Heavensward, players will still be able fly, but they will have to explore the areas heavily on foot before they can do so.
Next on the docket was jobs, where new looks for the older jobs were shown off. Even if the “Job of the expansion” is Monk, similar to how Heavensward was focused on Dragoons, all of the jobs will be getting new fancy Ala Mhigan duds.
Yoshi P also talked about the expansion’s plans to revamp the battle system, from how cross-class abilities work, to even just the basics of combat. Features from other MMOs like class specific UI features will also be added in to make combat look and feel different for each job. Despite the audience’s cries, Yoshi P refused to share any details about new jobs for Stormblood as, “The Japanese and European Fanfest teams would kill him, and if he was dead Stormblood couldn’t happen.” He did offer a hint in his clothing though, teasing that Red Mage may be among the set thanks to his Scarlet Witch shirt.
In terms of Primal battles and Raids, very little was shown, but much like Heavensward, there will be both old Final Fantasy series mainstays like the Warring Triad, as well as brand new original designs like Ravana and Bismarck. For raids, Yoshi P said they were still conflicted on what difficulty system to use, as people liked both of the past systems, but also want more of a challenge and difference between the modes if there will be more than one. Personally, I’m hoping they stick to the current system of a “Normal” and “Savage” split, which lets more people see the stories and cool mechanics these types of fights can bring, without being bogged down by overbearing difficulty.
There will also be a new type of exploratory zone, different from The Diadem, called “Eureka”, seemingly based on the optional area from Final Fantasy III. The idea for the area will be similar to areas seen in Final Fantasy XI as well, with rare spawning mobs and a possible focus on the next line of relic weapons.
Yoshi P finished the presentation with three last points. Firstly, that as demanded, inventory space will be heavily increased in the new expansion, to let players stop worrying about carrying too much with the constantly growing amount of items. Secondly, that the minimum specs for the Windows version of Final Fantasy XIV will be raised to let them accomplish more things and move away from supporting much older systems. Finally, on that same note, it was announced to a massive applause from the audience that Playstation 3 support for Final Fantasy XIV will be dropped upon release of Stormblood. To help ease any angry PS3 fans, there will be an upgrade campaign to the PS4 version where players can get the newer console’s version for free. This has been a hotly debated topic among FFXIV fans who believe the PS3 version has been holding the game back, so it’ll be interesting to see just how much it was.
Stormblood is slated for an Early Summer release in 2017, and I cannot stress enough that you will be hearing plenty of new information from me as it comes out.
Please look forward to it.