With three distanced weekends of Final Fantasy XIV goodness now behind us, it's time to reflect on every main sliver of information that dropped out of the weekend's curtain call event.
Taking place in Las Vegas in October followed by a Tokyo event over the Holiday period, Europe's promised Final Fantasy FanFestival - or FanFest - bowed out of 2016 to arrive mid-February. Coming to a close with a heck of a lot of confetti last night, it was a weekend of expansion announcements, upcoming patch details and, oddly enough, multiple Guinness World Records.
Kicking off the event proving that the collective Final Fantasy XIV playerbase have some very peculiar deductive skills - it's all thanks to Hildebrand - the Samurai job/class was confirmed during the opening keynote address by way of an extended trailer for the upcoming Stormblood expansion.
Confirming director and producer Naoki Yoshida's spiderman shirt tease from the Japanese event was, in fact, a Sam Raimi wordplay, all the heat surrounding the conflicting opinions of the playerbase was misguided all along. Crushing their hopes and dreams, however, it was further revealed that Samurai would fill the typical 'DPS' role rather than the 'Tank' slot - meaning both new classes being introduced this Summer are purely damage-based.
On top of that, we were given our first look at some in-game locations. Not only will players head to the dominated Ala Mhigo just over Baelsar's Wall, but they'll be setting sail for the Far East of Eorzea to aid Doma - a kingdom that fell to the Garlean Empire back in the 2.x series of patches.
While both A Realm Reborn and Heavensward has seen players push back the ever-encroaching Garleans from its current main island nations of Aldenard and Vylbrand, Stormblood will see them take a battle a little further away from home - to Othard and Koshu.
It's going to be a tale of further denting the Garlean Empire. Whether we'll eventually take the war back to their home country of Garlemald in Ilsabard is anyone's guess. It'd be a little hypocritial, but we're Adventurers. We want to explore! With the Laksmi 'Beast Tribe' already being revealed, it was time for the Kojin to make their appearance alongside their all-new Primal - Susano. These turtle-like creatures further tie with the expansion's introduction of swimming, meaning yet another water-based race with submerged city-states.
Judging by the size of the increased map, we can expect Stormblood to focus mainly on the battles outside of our current home. Though most of the early reveals painted the picture of the Ala Mhigo strife being the draw of this new expansion, it seems Final Fantasy XIV will be going for a far more 'Far East' approach for the vast majority of the next few years with the new city-state of Kugane likely becoming the go-to location that Ishgard couldn't quite manage over the lifespan of Heavensward.
Showing off tonnes of video footage during the main event alone, we were even gifted an early look at Shirogane - the new Residential District for players to build their humble abodes. Announced shortly after were plans to stagger the release of these housing plots until a few weeks after the expansion's release to ensure players aren't rushed through the main story to snap up a house before they're all gone in record time.
For those with current housing in one of the game's other districts, there'll be a tool to make the moving procedure much easier when the time comes. For those who were banking on the long-promised Isgardian housing district coming at the end of the Dragonsong War, it seems that idea has been shelved for now. You can live out your Japanese dreams here, instead.
For those really into their housing, it was announced that all current furnishing limitations would be doubled in the near future. Meaning those who quickly reached capacity in their small, medium and large-sized houses will soon be able to fit twice as many decorations within their homes.
Those hoping for some extra garden space, however, have been told to wait and see after the current boost. Furthermore, those still running 32-bit operating systems continue to be asked to upgrade. It's been noted that they might also struggle to see all the furnishings due to the memory constraints of the older systems.
Inventory expansions and battle system continue to be re-confirmed by the development team, but won't be expanded on until the last few months leading up to the Stormblood release while plans are finalized. Pulling back to upcoming features a little closer to release, however, Day 2 kicked off with the traditional 'Letter from the Producer LIVE' where player-submitted questions were dished out to the game director alongside official announcements.
Though many of the questions were answered with what boiled down to rejections and tentative considerations, news came that the next patch - Patch 3.55: scheduled to go live on February 28 - has been split into parts A and B due to a delay in the re-tooled 'Exploratory Missions'. Key features ready for Patch 3.55a are as follows:
- Final 'Relic Weapon' Quest Chain - Should Be Easier Than The Last
- Zhloe Aliapoh's Custom Deliveries - Crafter/Gathering Equivalent Of Khloe's 'Book'/li>
- Proto-Ultima Battle - A Hidden Trial That Will Reward Players With Current Item Level Accessories
- The Feast (PvP)
- Sudden Death
- New Maps
- New Items And Various Adjustments
- Season 4 Pre-Season
- Increased Demoning/Sophic Mount Drop Rates
- GARO Collaboration Gear Can Be Re-Aquired Through Calamity Salvager
- Purchased GARO Gear For MGP Is Pushed To 3.56
- Abes and High Summoner Codes Can Be Redeemed
Ending the event with another concert by the game's head of localisation and lore, Michael Christopher Koji Fox, and its main music producer, Masayoshi Soken, the team was later presented with three Guinness World Records for:
- Longest End Credits Sequence Of An MMO Game (1 hour and 38 minutes)
- Most Amount Of Original Music In A Video Game (384 tracks)
- The Most Prolific RPG Game Series (87 titles)
All in all, there was a lot to get through over a small weekend. Players left the venue with unofficial tokens of their time - like Stamp Rally Station signs and likely a lot of confetti stuck in their hair.
PAX East in the next stop for the team, so we can probably expect some more details there.