I mentioned some things that the game is going to need to aim for over the course of the year, and all of those remain on the table. In many ways, the game is going wonderfully -- we're hearing rumblings about the next expansion, the first patch did its job quite well, the second is on its way, and based on the current content schedule we can expect a couple more before the end of the year. While we don't yet have a roadmap, we can start putting together some basic guesses about the next few patches for Final Fantasy XIV -- and what they won't address.
Patch 2.2: The Musketeer blindness
People were speculating that 2.2 would be when we finally got access to Musketeer, which is now the single most important class that we haven't yet seen. For all that I want Ninja yesterday, there's no space to argue that Musketeer should be in the game earlier. It's the class used by one of the main NPCs in the game and has been teased since the opening moments of 1.0's beta test, for crying out loud.
Patch 2.2 is, of course, the perfect time to do this. It's a patch focused on the Maelstrom, the Grand Company of Limsa Lominsa. It's also a patch entirely focused upon heightening the endgame, which will make it a little thin for people who aren't as into that. Adding another class to level would help fill out the lower-level content a bit more and give crafters something new to do.
But by all accounts, it's not in there, which means that I'm back to doubting we'll see it pre-expansion.
This isn't the worst thing ever; after all, we're no longer stuck with the Coral Tower serving as a huge building devoted to a class we can't play. (It's half and half, now.) Still, it would have been nice. I'm sure that it's hard to design a class that works within the game's extant structure without feeling the same as a bard, and maybe it's just a fear that introducing another DPS class would upset the current balance even more. But still.
Patch 2.3: Midsummer meandering
Based on the loose outline we've been given, I think 2.3 is probably going to hit sometime in July-ish and will be focused on making it easier to hit the endgame. And you know that means more Crystal Tower to run.
I'd expect to see Xande and Hein in this round, largely because I fully expect the top of the tower to be focused more on Final Fantasy III's last area. That means plenty of Allagan lore for those who want it and much more of an emphasis on climbing the tower instead of the current winged structure. Of course, if the team really wanted to surprise us, we could always find that Xande gets to be the final boss this time around and the Cloud of Darkness is waiting for us here, but I doubt it.
We'll also probably get a new dungeon and two more hard mode dungeons. Again, based on the current pattern, I'd expect the new dungeon to be in Thanalan, with the hard modes in the other two nations. Perhaps HM Sastasha and Toto-Rak? And maybe another pair of beast tribes, probably capping off the elementally aligned tribes with the Gigas and the Ixali? Anything else?
Oh, right, this is exactly in the right timeframe for both personal housing and the second system of PvP we've had mentioned, which is meant to be more of an open-world rolling battleground sort of experience. Right. As many people have noticed, there are perfect spots leading off of the housing areas that would allow for private houses to work. Where more open PvP would take place is a bit harder to ascertain, but there's a lot of Mor Dhona that doesn't exist in 2.0 and did in 1.0, so I can certainly see that being added as a testbed.
Does it need to be restated that both of these things need to come off well? Personal housing needs to earn back the faith of people who were thoroughly burned by the pricing of FC housing. It needs to be fun, it needs to be reasonable, and it needs to be something that other players can visit. (That should go without saying, but let's note how long Final Fantasy XI made your Mog House totally private.) And non-arena PvP needs to give players a reason to play with it, including players who may not have been entranced by the game's take on arena battles.
Can it be done? Of course it can. Will it? I sure hope so.
Patch 2.4 and beyond
I think 2.4 is going to be the second-to-last patch before the game's first expansion.
This is another patch positioned to raise the endgame up, presumably bringing us up to an item level of 130 as an apex and dropping in more turns of Coil. What else it will contain is ambiguous because we don't have any idea of the shape of the thing, but it's a fair bet to assume another set of dungeons, a new sort of tomestone, and a few other features to improve overall quality of life.
So why second-to-last patch? Because the last patch, I assume, will be taking place next year before the expansion. It'll cap off Crystal Tower and really put the last lingering bits of 2.0's story to rest. 2.4 will be when questions get answered; 2.5 is when we'll deal with the fallout. 2.4 will set up the last possible apex of power.
Or maybe everything will change completely. As I said, this is speculation.
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From Eorzea to Vana'diel, there is a constant: the moogles. And for analysis and opinions about the online portions of the Final Fantasy series, there is also a constant: The Mog Log. Longtime series fan Eliot Lefebvre serves up a new installment of the log every Saturday, covering almost anything related to Square-Enix's vibrant online worlds.