Final Fantasy XIV's Heavensward expansion is due to come out on June 23, with pre-orders up on March 16 and early access available beginning June 19. If you've been checking MMORPG.com or Reddit, then you're likely as excited as I am for that date to come by.
While I did intend to discuss Chocobo Racing with you folks (short answer: easy to get into, complex once you start considering Chocobo Breeding as another metagame) I figured I might as well focus on the Heavensward expansion information to come out of Pax East, despite being nowhere near there geographically.
I'm listing below information available from numerous interviews, much for my own personal-note taking as it is to help you guys get into Heavensward without wondering why Alexander isn't up yet at launch.
Alexander isn't open at launch?!
Yes folks, that's right. The high-end raid of Heavensward, the living castle Alexander, will be time-gated and will only be open at least two weeks after Heavensward's launch. It would appear as if Alexander will have normal and hard modes, with Normal being opened up after that two week period for level 60-players to enjoy and blast through.
Based on a transcription of a Playboy Gamer Next Door video (Insert "I go to Playboy for the articles" protestation here) from Reddit, the reasoning for this is so that everyone can enjoy the game without being pressured to grab a world first kill right when the expansion launches.
FFXIV Producer Naoki Yoshida explained thus:
If we were to open up Alexander immediately, there would be certain players that would pressure their friends to rush through it because they want to get to the raid dungeon. They might say “you need to skip over the cutscenes” or “just level up your currently maxed out character!” and that would defeat the purpose of all the work we put in. We want people to enjoy the game and take the time to see all the new elements in Heavensward.
Speaking of Heavensward, folks playing the game will apparently still need to complete all the prerequisite storyline quests from A Realm Reborn before they can do the story in Heavensward. This means finishing the main story of the final patch (Patch 2.55, slated to release in the future). I do think you'll be able to explore the Heavensward areas with your level 50 character without issue.
How big a setback is a new job?
Apparently, grabbing the three Extra Jobs from Heavensward – the Astrologian, Dark Knight, and Machinist – means not quite starting at 50, sadly. Thankfully, Yoshida assured interviewers they won't be at level 1.
You may need a character that's sufficiently leveled a class and can earn a job to even acquire these new jobs, but you won't need to go through too much hellish grinding to get them up to speed.
New jobs, more space?
Sadly, no. While there are 3 new jobs and likely a trove of new items to be introduced, there will be a decided lack of extra space for armoury chest items due to the way the game saves character data.
Here's Yoshida explaining the issue as taken from an FFXIV Reddit interview:
The reason why we can’t increase the size of the armory chest quickly or easily relates to how often we rewrite the data into the servers in the back end. We rewrite the data every fifteen seconds so even if the server goes down you don’t experience a rollback.
Of course with the sheer volume of the character data when you expand the armory chest the amount of load that goes into the rewriting and refreshing of the back end servers would increase and we’re trying to keep it as quick as possible. We currently have it at fifteen seconds but if we were to add more load to it then it may make it take longer to do that refresh and it may delay to thirty seconds, one minute, fifteen minutes. We don’t want to take away from the player experience. We don’t want things to slow down because we’re expanding the armory chest.
We’re researching ways in which we can make that happen. We need more time to make that happen. We’re not saying it’s impossible but your patience would be appreciated as we try to figure out a way to optimize the process so that it won’t take away from the speed and affect playability or the player’s experience. We are trying to implement something that can be addressed quicker which is increasing the number of retainers. So in the mean time we if you are using things within the game fairly frequently you may want to utilize the expanded retainer capabilities.
If you're looking for a new place to settle down, you may also be out of luck... at least for the moment.
Over on Massively Overpowered, Eliot Lefebvre wrote, "No new housing options will make it into Coerthas, but there are plans to continue expanding the existing districts and make them more vibrant and accessible."
What else is in store?
We previously discussed the idea of free company crafting as being a part of the proceedings for Free Companies. It seems the first big teaser is that of building the free company airship, which is comprised of four main parts.
Depending on the parts you make, your airship may end up having different capabilities, and Free Companies can build up to 4 ships at the start of the expansion. According to Yoshida, this passive creation will eventually allow players to take to the skies and adventure:
At the start of Heavensward once you build your airship you’ll be able to send it out to scout, no passengers, just the ship goes out to try and scout. And then in a following patch you’ll then be able to board that ship and explore and find uncharted areas. And even beyond there’ll be capabilities to add combat capability so you can have sort of a battleship. So it’s going to be very major content that will become available throughout the 3.x patch series.
Once you’re able to go out and explore and travel and find those different areas in the sky you may find that some of these areas may have Notorious hardcore monsters that you can’t beat and just end up defeated and having to have to come back. Or you may find that other Free Company have already visited and trashed it and made a mess of it. Or you may end up finding a land where you can find really rare gathering items, materials that you can harvest.
Anyway, that's all the time I have at the moment to discuss the basics of Heavensward. I'm certainly looking forward to the pre-orders opening up on the 16th, though I hope there won't be too crazy a scramble.
Are you planning to grab the expansion or perhaps an all-in-one version, if you're a new player? Let us know in the comments. Cheers!