FFXIV’s annual 14-hour anniversary stream was last week, and with it came a deluge of information about the game’s past, present and future. We learned that the team is considering adding Blitzball or Snowboarding to the Gold Saucer. Yoshida, enjoying a glass of wine, seemed to agree to re-enable the Yo-Kai Watch event on a whim. And it was confirmed that Patch 4.1 — titled ‘The Legend Returns’ — is scheduled to come out early October. So what more do we know about Stormblood’s first major content update? (Beware: Minor spoilers ahead.)
For starters, the shape of Return to Ivalice is becoming clearer. The 24-man raid will be loosely based on Final Fantasy Tactics and the story of the War of the Lions, which is a fairy tale in Garlemand (a bit like how Nero said Omega’s Halicarnassus was based on a story). It will carry ‘an essence’ in FFXII, which is also set in Ivalice, although the raid will be designed in such a way that people who never played either game can still enjoy it. Rather than taking place in an alternate dimension or something like that, Dalmasca is actually a place in Othard, the continent where Doma is located.
Given that the patch artwork features Ramza and Delita from FFT, I assume that Return to Ivalice will play a huge — if not central — part in this patch. Perhaps, like Cid and Matoya, they’ll be ‘new’ characters loosely based on people from previous games? There will be an extended preview during the next live letter, which will be sometime this month.
Shelter in the storm
Housing purchases in Shirogane will finally open in 4.1. The official forums post that accompanied the stream says “we won’t open the servers before the scheduled Patch 4.1 maintenance time”. I assume that this means downtime will not end early, as it often does, to stop people hammering the servers several hours before they’re ready to come up.
The older residential areas are being updated with swimming areas, too; Mist already has a beach, so that’s sorted, but The Lavender Beds will get a swimmable river and The Goblet will get some kind of bathhouse or hot spring. The relocation service will also become available.
The crafting and gathering reset will be moved to Tuesday, the same day as for PVE content, while Zhloe’s special delivery missions will be updated for Stormblood. There will also be dungeons you can challenge with your adventurer squadron, who will have glamours unlocked and their level cap boosted. It’s possible their AI will be a little shaky (Yoshida said they might need players’ support), but this is a great step for solo players and DPS mains eternally stuck in queues. Finally, the first set of Stormblood beast tribe quests will open, focusing on the Kojin.
The Royal Menagerie Extreme will be released as this patch’s trial. As I predicted last week, it will offer item level 335 weapons and be aimed at groups that are having trouble clearing the third encounter of Omega Savage. As such, it’s expected to be roughly as difficult as Thordan extreme was for players 3.1, which was introduced for players stuck on Living Liquid. I’m excited to see what this looks like — its normal mode counterpart is genuinely good fun to complete and considerably more difficult than other story mode primals, so I’m hoping it will be a genuine challenge.
The Ultimate series — what folk like me were calling super savage — got its first solid preview, too. The first raid, the Unending Coil of Bahamut, will be available about two weeks after the patch goes live. You will need to complete Omega Savage to be able to challenge it, and it is designed to be so difficult that most people will quit in the first phase. Indeed, the way the reveal was phrased was that the developers want people to quit in the first phase, because what follows is so much worse that making you give up is the most merciful thing to do.
The devs expect the world first group to take about three days to beat it, but if it ends up being weeks, it may be the case that the fight is nerfed because it will simply be too hard for most players to ever complete. Even so, this fight is designed to be harder than anything else ever implemented, and there’s a good chance if you’re reading this you’ll never see it, let alone beat it.
It will drop tokens exchangeable for i345 weapons, but they will have an exceptional appearance.
I’m really curious to see how this shakes out. I got to Neo Exdeath this week, but I doubt I’ll be in a position to try Ultimate Bahamut on release. Still, I find the idea of content this hard to be fascinating (I loved watching videos of Brute Justice’s savage incarnation when it was still current), and I can’t wait to watch a video once people start seeing more of the fight. These Ultimate raids will be a series, not a one off; this encounter will be a mishmash of mechanics from Binding Coil, so I expect the next two (assuming we get two more before 5.0) will cover Alexander and Omega.
Odds and ends
Cross-world /tells and friend lists will finally be added, making it easier to stay in contact with people on different servers. This is a considerable blessing for people who are in statics that span data centres rather than individual servers, and will let you stay in contact with people you meet on Duty Finder and Party Finder. Cross-world linkshells will not be introduced, but some sort of equivalent group chat function will be.
The Hildibrand quests will return for Stormblood, while a new 48-man PVP mode, Rival Wings, will be also introduced. Rival Wings will have players battle alongside (and ride!) illuminati mechs, and will not be tied to Grand Company affiliations. Anything with Cruise Chaser is alright by me!
The Lost Canals of Uznair (AKA Aquapolis 2.0) will have the chance to drop treasure maps that lead to deeper and more lucrative locations within Uznair, while players will have the opportunity to go for double or nothing style wagers as they move through the canals themselves. Finally, there will only be one new dungeon added this patch, The Drowned City of Skalla. Prior to Stormblood, it was announced the team was going to stop releasing two new dungeons with every update so they could focus on other things. Given the sheer breadth of content above (and this is only the first preview of the next update), it looks like it’s working out fairly well.
You can read more on the official forums here. Special thanks to those who translated the broadcast as it went live, particularly Acchan on The Balance Discord and Iluna Minori on the Reddit Discord, as they provided much of the detail that I would have missed otherwise.