NA FanFest 2018: Shadowbringers Announcement & More!

Though a lot of information had more or less leaked in various ways leading up to this last weekend, we finally have official confirmation of some of the next big things coming to Final Fantasy XIV. First and foremost, the next expansion, Shadowbringers, was finally officially announced, with a tentative release date of early summer 2019 (I would expect June just like Stormblood, myself). We got a brief teaser cinematic to set up the story (complete with an apparent tease of a new job as well—see if you catch it, because I didn’t on my first watch!). You can check that out below!

Shadowbringers will include all of the things we’ve come to expect: a level cap increase to 80, new areas, new dungeons, new actions, new Beast Tribes (including the Nu Mou from Ivalice), a new high end raid, a new series of alliance raids, and “multiple” new jobs. We’re also (somewhat surpisingly) going to see more “battle system maintenance,” including ability pruning (to keep hotbars from getting overloaded) and (for some reason), the folding together of TP and MP.

Plus, there are a number of new things:

  • As we did with Heavensward, we’ll also be getting a new playable race (probably the last one, according to Yoshida), which was heavily hinted to be Viera—we’re supposed to get a hint as to the race during 4.5, with the last chapter of Return to Ivalice.
  • New endgame content centered around the restoration of the Holy See for crafters and gatherers is also coming, and there were at least some hints of possible player housing coming to Ishgard as well!
  • A new “Trust” system will be implemented, patterned after (but not exactly like) the Trust system from Final Fantasy XI, which allowed various NPCs from the game to fight alongside the player. In FFXIV, this will be used mainly for the completion of dungeons solo without needing to team up with other players.
  • Out of left field, the game will be getting a “New Game Plus” mode that will allow us to replay the Main Scenario as well as Job Quests.
  • A new “World Visit” feature will let us visit worlds on our Data Centers, a natural extension of the Cross World Party Finder and Linkshell systems previously added to the game. Accompanying this, we’re going to see new NA and EU Data Centers, along with the worlds on the Data Centers being reorganized.

And perhaps most excitingly, we also got confirmation of one new job for the game, but it’s not coming with Shadowbringers! Blue Mage, like Ninja during A Realm Reborn is actually going to launch with Patch 4.5. As a special “limited job,” it’s going to be level capped at 50 prior to the launch of Shadowbringers, and will include access to a special Blue Mage only Duty. Just as Blue Mages have always done in Final Fantasy games, Blue Mages in FFXIV will learn enemy attacks by seeing them, as demonstrated in the reveal video below:

Information on Blue Mage was scarce during Friday’s keynote address, but we learned more about it during the Letter From the Producer LIVE on Saturday. Blue Mages will start at level 1 (without a base class), use Casting gear, and as mentioned above will initially be capped at level 50, with the cap being raised in future patches. Unfortunately, the job is apparently designed exclusively for solo play, and won’t be able to used in content requiring matchmaking, which is most of what FFXIV has to offer. You’ll still be able to enter instances as a Blue Mage in pre-formed parties, but otherwise, the job is intended for solo play.

In exchange, Blue Mages receive an experience point bonus in the open world (so that they don’t have to level mostly in dungeons). They’ll also have special access to the Masked Carnivale, which is content only Blue Mages can access. The Carnivale will be made up of special challenges that you’ll need your Blue Magic to clear, targeting things like elemental weaknesses in ways similar too older Final Fantasy games. As was the case for Blue Mage in FFXI, you’ll “set” specific Blue Magic spells that you’ve learned, rather than having access to all of them at once, so you’ll need to choose which ones you take into each challenge of the Carnivale.

And that covers most (I think?!) of what we learned at this year’s North American Fan Festival. Shadowbringers is coming, and I’m curious to see what we’ll be getting for new jobs and to see the Main Scenario unfold. Blue Mage’s implementation leaves a lot to be desired, though, which admittedly has deflated a lot of my initial excitement for what’s coming in FFXIV‘s future, since it was undoubtedly one the jobs I was anticipating most for the game.

But there’s still more to learn, and hopefully the European and Japanese FanFests will restore that level of hype I had following the keynote address at this one!

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