The next 'Final Fantasy XIV' expansion will arrive next summer as 'Stormblood'

On Friday during the Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival in Las Vegas, producer and director Naoki Yoshida shared some information about the next major expansion for the MMORPG, Stormblood, and the accompanying Update 4.0 during the keynote presentation. Square Enix didn’t follow up with any official information through the normal news channels, so all we have is the tidbits of information provided during his presentation, and a teaser trailer showing some prerendered action.

First, Stormblood will arrive sometime during the summer of 2017. Yoshida said the expansion’s story will focus mainly on reclaiming the nation of Ala Mhogo from the Garlean Empire, which has ruled this nation for decades. The story’s antagonist will be called Zenos, who has persuaded many Ala Mhogo locals into following his lead.

The expansion will add a new zone called Rhalger’s Reach (shown in the video above) that will serve as a starting point for the Stormblood storyline. There will be other associated zones that will be added as well, providing lots of new territory to explore. Players should expect the same amount of new content as seen in the previous expansion, Heavensward.

That said, the expansion will bring new Primals, new dungeons, new high-end raids, and so on. There will also be a fourth residential area added to the game that will “directly affect the game storyline,” so Yoshida couldn’t elaborate any further. Expect to see a “full stand-alone game’s worth of content,” he assured the audience.

One area players will get to explore is called “The Forbidden Land Eureka.” This zone will feature super-rare materials to collect, and super-rare monsters to defeat, the former of which can be used to upgrade the player’s high-end weapons. Yoshida didn’t expand on how this area will be different than other zones, so we’ll have to wait and see what makes it so special.

Additionally, players will see an “extreme” expansion to the inventory system. According to Yoshida, this was a “serious technical challenge” to implement, so players actually may not see this change until sometime after the expansion and Update 4.0 are rolled out. This new inventory system required “major” upgrades to Square Enix’s server infrastructure.

Stormblood is slated to introduce a revamped battle system and an overhauled skill system. This latter aspect is to address player concerns that the current skill system doesn’t provide enough support for high-level characters to complete their quests. That means the team is cleaning up the process of changing classes and skill sets.

“We’re regrouping and recategorizing skills so they’re categorized as roles rather than jobs,” Yoshida said. “From those shared roll skills and actions, you’ll choose which you need.”

As an example, if a player wants his/her Paladin character to perform as a tank, then the necessary skills for this role will be piled under a new “tank” category. This will not only make it easier on players to switch roles, but will clear up some space on the game’s hotbars.

Stormblood will raise the current level cap of 60 to 70. It will also contain new jobs to carry out although Yoshida didn’t go into details regarding the latter subject. Instead, he pointed to Marvel’s Scarlet Witch printed on his T-shirt, indicating that the Red Mage or Dancer job could be introduced. New equipment will be added to support these jobs.

Finally, Stormblood will raise the hardware requirement for PC gamers. The details weren’t provided, but Yoshida encouraged players to upgrade to a 64-bit operating system. However, the game will still support a 32-bit platform.

Additional information about Stormblood and Update 4.0 will be provided during the two remaining Fan Festival events that will take place before their release next summer: one even in Japan this December, and one in Germany sometime in early 2017.

Farewell to the PlayStation 3

With the launch of Stormblood, Square Enix will cease in supporting the MMORPG on Sony’s older PlayStation console. The reason is due to the diminishing Final Fantasy XIV audience on the PlayStation 3. These customers can still play until next summer, and can upgrade to the PlayStation 4 version for free before the Stormblood expansion arrives.

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