We've got patch 2.5 around the corner, but Final Fantasy XIV's first expansion isn't all that far away either. And that, of course, brings with it no end of speculation about what players will find because so little is certain right now. What previews we've had have been vague by design, just enough to set our minds aflame with possibility without nailing down exactly what we'll find when we start venturing northward.
Lucky for me, I love speculating.
There are several ideas I've already seen regarding what we're getting in Heavensward, some of which are so far out of left field that I tend to think it's a pipe dream of the speculator and some of which seem to be logical predictions about the future of Final Fantasy XIV. So here's a bit of talk about those before we start hearing tons of expansion news and it's all proven transparently true or false. (Midway through the week, maybe.)
Au Ra are connected to Shiva
I'm assuming that pretty much everyone has done the 2.4 story quests by this point, but for those who missed the mention, here's the deal: Saint Shiva is a revered figure among the Dravanian heretics for laying with dragons. In the classic sense. Don't make me spell this out. Au Ra are pretty clearly dragon people, so there's an obvious connection there, which has led to some speculation I've seen that Au Ra are meant to be the descendants of Shiva's draconic union.
Assuming that the Shiva story is a literal one rather than metaphorical, though, this still doesn't account for the fact that as far as we know, there are no Au Ra among the Dravanians. That seems like it'd be kind of hard to ignore. At best, they might trace some common ancestry across time, but it seems more likely that the Au Ra are from Othard and are becoming adventurers more as a result of the successful Doman integration with Eorzea. The tension of seeing dragon-ish people running around in Ishgard will likely provide more than enough conflict without adding in Shiva.
There will be a "shortcut" for Zodiac weapons
This, I think, has some teeth. In 3.0 we'll have three new jobs running around, none of which boast an upgrade process you can start now. It's bad enough with Ninja getting a relic weapon, but adding in three new jobs that have to sync down to level 50 endgame content just to reach the starting point that other jobs already feature?
So people have speculated that part of the reasoning behind the new forms of the weapons with the latest upgrade is that people can sort of start fresh when the 60 endgame starts up. I tend to favor this possibility; I imagine the final upgrade step will be level 135, but you can pick up a new weapon in Heavensward at 130, or something along those lines. Making you start the relic quest all over from the bottom seems like a good way for players to quickly get frustrated and step away.
Classes are going away completely
I've long been fond of the idea of the class/job split, but the reason for that fondness is and was that there are things to be done with it. The game has done nothing with it. You get a pool of abilities for jobs to draw from, every job that does wants the same ones, and it doesn't really add to much of anything other than slight leveling chores. There aren't jobs that spin off from a core class, just the lone class-to-job for everything other than Summoner and Scholar.
The whole cross-class ability pool and the way classes work compared to jobs needs to be pretty thoroughly examined and re-managed, and while I'd like to think we'll get something more functional than just axing classes, at this point it seems more likely. Even if they're not outright axed, seeing more of them seems unlikely. We might see a larger revision to the armory system, though, since the expansion is the perfect time for big changes.
There will be more inventory space
At this point, carrying weapons for all of my jobs takes up 21 slots in my Armoury Chest. With the expansion, it'll take 24, assuming no new DoH or DoL classes. There are only 25 spaces.
This is a hard limit that the game is going to hit pretty much now. There's too much stuff and not enough space. It's better than Final Fantasy XI in that respect, but only because getting inventory space isn't a chore as it is over there. Retainers fill up, inventories fill, and we need better ways of managing all of this.
Obviously, there's a perpetual struggle between making character data take up a bunch of space on the server and letting people at least carry a set for each job. Even just five more slots to the Armoury Chest categories would help immensely, and it's something that the designers have to be aware of. If it's not dealt with, the question of "level everything or no" will be answered implicitly by the game itself.
Floating Continent will be the new Crystal Tower
We've been told that there will be something called the Floating Continent on display during this expansion. Considering the staff's love of Final Fantasy VI, this is unsurprising. It seems like an ideal candidate for Crystal Tower 2.0, too; after all, that was another iconic dungeon, right?
The difference, of course, was that what we call "Crystal Tower" as an aggregate was made up of several distinct areas. The Floating Continent had just the one. I'm also curious if the inclusion of Normal-mode Alexander might shake up the very presence of full-alliance content and according loot. All things considered, I think we'll see a different dungeon taking that role, perhaps a thin reskin of Final Fantasy IV's Tower of Babil.
New abilities we'll probably get
Based on the game's established leveling schematic, the jump to 60 will mean eight new traits or abilities. We've also been informed there will be more job quests, so that implies (at least to me) two more abilities from that route. Even if the majority of what we get via leveling will be mostly traits, it's hard not to imagine that everyone's looking at at least four totally new tricks, some of which may wind up being cross-class talents.
Summoner seems rather obviously positioned to get Leviathan and Ramuh as new egi (Shiva seems unlikely, given her history). There are also some obvious blind spots for each job, such as Monk's lack of a ranged attack or Warrior's general sparsity of defensive cooldowns. That's even ignoring the abilities that either were in the game in 1.0 (like most Paladin abilities) or the ones that are currently in the game but not used by players (Barbaric Surge for Warrior, Heartstopper for Dragoon).
How many of these we're likely to actually get is up for debate, especially as our bars are near-full to begin with. My suspicion is that the new skills are more likely to center around giving classes more unique things to do rather than fewer; since every physical DPS job is currently at a similar place, more utility added in would help make them feel more distinct and different than they already do.
You can, of course, mail your own speculation along to firstname.lastname@example.org or drop it in the comments below. Next week, it's time for the patch 2.5 primer! It's a big one.
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 other Monday, covering almost anything related to Square-Enix's vibrant online worlds.