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Columns: Fanfest Japan - Here's What You Need to Know

By Michael O’Connell-Davidson on January 02, 2017

Fanfest Japan - Here's What You Need to Know

Happy New Year, folks! Fanfest Japan is over, and, if you’re anything like me, holiday celebrations dragged you away from keeping a close eye on things. Never fear! Here’s a summary of the important bits from the Stormblood keynote and producer Naoki Yoshida’s live letter XXXIV.

There were loads of great panels at this year’s fanfest, and I can’t fit everything in here. But if you’re interested, you can still purchase a stream and watch an archived version.

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Here are the dates you need to know

Stormblood will release on June 20th 2017. Patch 3.5 will go live on January 17th. Patch 3.5 part two (3.55?) is scheduled for a march release, with an exact date TBC.

Introducing Red Mage

It couldn’t be more obvious what was on the horizon after Yoshi came out wearing a Scarlet Witch t-shirt at NA Fanfest, but now it’s official: Red Mage is the first confirmed job for Stormblood, and it looks awesome.

Red Mage is a hybrid melee/caster class and will fulfill a pure DPS role, so any hopes that it would resemble the sort of enfeebler/buff class similar to FFXI are probably dead in the water. In an interview with Famitsu, Yoshi said players will see it as “a new type of Red Mage.”

“I also have the image of the Red Mage being a hybrid job between Black and White Mage,” he said. “However, we had to fit it into the FFXIV formula. Otherwise, it might turn out as a job that isn’t too useful.”

It won’t cast spells at point-blank range, instead using a rapier for melee attacks. You’ll have movement skills that enable you to disengage to cast before jumping back into the fight. While appearing to be two separate objects, the Red Mage weapon doesn’t take up the offhand slot — it’s one item you take apart.

There is no word on what the primary stat for the job will be, and no word on whether or not close-range attacks will do physical or magic damage. If it’s magic damage, that’d be nice, as it means you might not need as much accuracy (and therefore have more strength or whatever the job’s secondary stat ends up being).

There’s some debate going on over what the next job might be. Based on Yoshi’s Spiderman t-shirt, we’re looking at either Blue Mage (a class that uses monsters’ abilities) or Samurai (the 2000-decade Spiderman films were directed by Sam Raimi, which is Samu Raimi in Romaji). Still holding out for Dancer? You may be disappointed: a deleted Square Enix USA tweet said there would only be two new jobs in Stormblood. Let’s hope it was a mistake!

The rest of the Stormblood keynote

The next high-end raid, à la Alexander and Coil, will be inside the Omega Weapon. Think of it as a huge, flying Ultima, and you’re basically there. It’s another Allagan construct co-opted by the Garleans, but much, much bigger.

In yet another throwback to previous FF games, the new alliance raid series is titled Return to Ivalice. Ivalice is the world from Final Fantasy Tactics and FFXII, and holds a dear place in a lot of hearts. Were it not for the fact that new races were dismissed by SE in a previous announcement, I would’ve taken this as de facto confirmation of Viera being the next player race. One for 5.0, perhaps?

Return to Ivalice will borrow staff from outside of the FFXIV team. Bosses will be designed by Keita Amemiya, who worked on Shin Megami Tensei IV, and the scenario itself will be authored by Yasumi Matsuno, who wrote FF: Tactics and FFXII, as well as one of Yoshi’s favorites: Tactics Ogre. (Tactics Ogre is where Palace of the Dead takes its name from.)

In less raid-orientated news, swimming and diving will be introduced! There will be no underwater combat (as there was in World of Warcraft: Cataclysm), meaning that it is unlikely there will be zones that are entirely underwater. Pre-expansion areas such as Costa Del Sol will be updated to allow swimming, and various activities will be permitted beneath the waves, including gathering, fishing and interacting with NPCs.

There is no breath meter, so no drowning. Flying mounts will be able to swim, and it seems like there will be underwater-exclusive mounts, including one that comes with Stormblood’s special edition (pictured above).

A new beast tribe will debut in the expansion, too. The Ananta (they’re female snake ladies, aka Lamia) will be native to Ala Mhigo, and are responsible for summoning a primal we’ll presumably vanquish as part of the 4.0 main scenario, dubbed ‘Lakshmi, the Lady of Bliss’. The Ananta are seriously old - they’ve been around since the Allagans, and they’re under the thumb of the Garlean empire along with the Ala Mhigan people.

Patch 3.5

A lot of pre-release info about this patch is already out there, so I’m going to focus on what’s fresh, starting with Zurvan, the third member of the Warring Triad.

We got some new information about Containment Bay Z1T9, Zurvan’s trial. It will allegedly be harder than A12S, though hopefully without the gear requirement. We were shown a snippet of the fight in the live letter; those with Titan PTSD may wish to avoid this one, as segments of the arena fall away very quickly until you’re left with something like this:

Nothing solid on how the second phase will play out, sadly. Hopefully the arena doesn’t get any smaller.

There’s going to be a crossover event with Garo, a Japanese TV series, that will yield three new mounts as well as armor/weapon sets for each job. (Here’s some Garo for you, if you’re unfamiliar — it’s fabulous.)

You’ll get rewards from PVP as well as the Gold Saucer, but what you get from the Gold Saucer won’t be dyeable. A lot of people are advising that you should start PVPing now in order to have the marks required to purchase event items, as there won’t be a separate currency for this event as there was with the Yo-kai Watch crossover. The mounts will be rewards for new entirely new achievements, so there’s nothing similar you can do to prepare for them.

The exploration mission / Diadem update is actually starting to look pretty interesting — but new exploratory missions won’t debut until 3.5 part 2 in March. Hunting and Gathering will be separated again, and a new, Palace of the Dead-style reward system of lockboxes that can only be opened by NPCs will be introduced.

There will be a greater emphasis on objectives in the revamped Diadem, so people will be encouraged to actually do them rather than fly around spoil hunting; completing a series of objectives will yield rewards, and FATE-esque anomalous elements will spawn, which will in turn attract raid-style enemies to the area that will require a large number of players to kill. There will be no need to re-attune to aether currents each time you entire the Diadem, so you’ll be able to fly the moment you arrive.

The current Diadem will shut on 3.5’s release, and its rewards will be available elsewhere, so people who weren’t patient enough to earn a pegasus mount might actually be able to do so in the interim period between patches.

Some fun stuff for everyone that wishes they were a pop singer: There will be Idol dresses added in the patch (which are modeled by the Songbirds, so presumably they’ll be a reward from Little Ladies Day 2017; last year’s was in February, so expect it then), as well as a singing emote. Bards, your time is now.

The Live Letter, which is still worth watching if you don’t understand Japanese, has a really good preview of Dun Scaith, the next Secrets of Mhach raid. The first boss is an old Final Fantasy cameo like Ozma: it’s Deathgaze, and, as was the case in FFVI, you fight him on the deck of an airship. Once you’ve killed him, you’ll touch down in the fortress itself.

It’s got a real Bloodborne vibe, with purple skies and gothic architecture. Probably no crying babies mixed in with the ambiance, though. You’ll just have to imagine it while reading alliance chat.

That’s all for now. We’ll probably get a trailer for 3.5 in a week or so. Commenters, what are you most looking forward to? And do you think we’ll get Samurai or Blue Mage in the expansion? Let us know below!

Michael O’Connell-Davidson / Michael O'Connell-Davidson is MMORPG.com's FFXIV columnist. Follow him on twitter @mikeocd.