It’s that time of month again: Yoshida hops in front of a camera to tell people what’s coming in the next major content patch. 3.5 will drop in January, and Stormblood is coming ‘early summer’, so this will represent the state of the game for anything up to six months. 3.5 ‘part two’ will drop in March, but if it’s anything like 2.55, it won’t have a huge amount of content in it outside of some story quests.
During the main scenario, we’ll be pushing up against the borders of Ala Mhigo. As you can see in the patch image above, Papalymo, Yda and the twins will feature heavily, as well as Tupsumati, Louisoix’s staff, which Papalymo held on to at the end of 3.4. The “far edge” in the title is supposedly very important, but given that the story will be spread across two parts, we might not find out just how important until March.
As with all Heavensward patches, two dungeons will be added: Sohm Al (Hard) and Baelsar’s Wall. Baelsar’s Wall (named for Gaius van Baelsar, the former leader of the Garlean Empire) is the wall between Gridania and the so-far inaccessible Ala Mhigo. While it’s unlikely we’ll actually do much IN Ala Mhigo, this should hopefully give us our first peek into what lies across the border, and will almost certainly be required to progress through the MSQ.
There was a collective groan when Sohm Al (Hard) was announced - “Aren’t we done with dragons?” asked someone in Twitch chat — but expect something a little different. We’ll be headed into the heart of the mountain, rather than climbing up the side. No word on why, but hopefully dragons will take a back seat.
The final alliance raid of the Secrets of Mhach series will be released: Dun Scaith, The Fortress of Shadows. This one looks a little more down to earth than its prequels, though the final boss will be aboard an airship (most likely the one piloted by the sky pirates that introduced you to Void Ark in the first place). This will conclude the story, though some loose ends may persist. Whatever we find out, I just hope we come to a mutual understanding of how to pronounce ‘Mhach’.
The Warring Triad series will also conclude with this patch, with one final Primal to see us on our way. Introducing Zurvan, the ‘demon of the warring triad’:
Looks a tiny bit like ultima, doesn’t it? Regula van Hydrus will feature pretty heavily in this. We might even get to see what Unukalhai looks like under his mask! Other side quests will include another helping of the eternally-popular Hildibrand, as well more Scholasticate and Anima weapon stuff.
Raiders received an unexpected boon in the form of the cross-server party finder. This has been promised for a while, but the final iteration comes with a few nice bonuses. For one, we’ll be able to blacklist people regardless of what server they’re on. And we’ll also be able to password lock groups, meaning you can set up a group for any permitted content without random people joining. (This will only be available for stuff on DF / RF right now. PotD and Diadem will come later.)
A friend of mine pointed out that this would remove the need to transfer servers to try out a new static, which is true. But it also removes the need to transfer servers for PvE purposes entirely; in theory, you could have a very functional static made of people entirely on different servers, so long as they are on the same data centre — so if you’re not on Gilgamesh, you might actually have a shot at Savage going forward.
Outside of the world of PVE content, some sort of follow-up to Wondrous Tails for crafters/gatherers is coming. Has Khloe taken up an interest in needlework? No — these quests will be handled by, er, Zhloe Aliapoh. No word on her relation to Khloe, though I assume it won’t just be her in a bad disguise.
The Feast is getting more maps, and dueling is being balanced; you’ll now be able to sync to the host’s item level. A much bigger change to PVP is that Frontlines will no longer require you to queue under the banner of your Grand Company. This should speed up queue times by quite a significant margin. Why now, though? Apparently we’ll be getting PVP on a grander scale in 4.0. Let’s hope this rejuvenates some interest in a forgotten part of the game.
Speaking of forgotten parts of the game, Diadem will be getting a much-needed overhaul. Content will be guided, rather than the current state of affairs of flying around wondering what on earth is going on. Crafters, Gatherers and PVE players will have individual tasks that reward spoils, and some super-enemies that require four parties will be lurking around. I wonder if this will be aimed at Hunting linkshells; few FCs have the manpower to take down anything like that, and coordinating separate parties is a mess.
And some small, overdue quality of life changes cometh. You’ll now be able to queue for things with your Chocobo out, making solo life easier. FC / LS chat will be available in PVP, meaning no more hanging conversations when queues finally pop, but chat in The Feast will be disabled. New players won’t be forced into the Novice Network against their will, and returning players (people who have been inactive for >45 days) will be able to join it in order to get back up to speed. Summoner Egi glamours are coming (including a red Carbuncle!), and you’ll also be able to preview dye colors on the equipment screen. Score!
But perhaps the most shocking announcement of all came in the second part of the Live Letter. Rie Tanaka, pictured above mid, who provides the Japanese voices of Sophia and Kan-E-Senna, has cleared A11S. As someone who’s not seen past the first phase of that fight, and whose voice most certainly is not suited to voice acting or singing, I am awed by her talent. Some people have all the luck.
Massive thanks to MrHappy and MarkoTurn for their unofficial translation and accompanying stream, which is invaluable every month. The next live letter will be broadcast at JP fanfest, 24-25 December.