After its massive overhaul a few years back, Square Enix's massively multiplayer RPG Final Fantasy XIV appears to be doing quite well for itself. At today's state-of-the-game keynote speech to kick off the company's annual Fan Fest in Las Vegas, producer Naoki Yoshida announced a summer 2017 date for FFXIV's 4.0 revision, which will arrive under the name "Stormblood."
Yoshida promises Stormblood will offer "a full, stand-alone game's worth of content," according to our man-on-the-scene Bob Mackey. FFXIV 4.0 looks to be nearly as significant an overhaul to the game experience as the 2.0 "A Realm Reborn" update that turned the ailing MMO's fortunes around 180º — a meatier and more world-changing update than the more recent Heavensward. The features promised for Stormblood include:
- Expansion taking place in Ala Mhigo, with the goal of reclaiming the territory from the Garlean Empire: "Can Ala Mhigo break free from two decades of Garlean oppression?"
- Zenos Yae Galvus is the main antagonist, the 12th legion Legatus and the de facto ruler of Ala Mhigo. Meanwhile, the player's Warrior of Light will team up with the Ala Mhigan Resistance.
- More missions will involve traveling with companions, like the previous expansion Heavensward.
- Monk will be the featured job class for 4.0, though the expansion will also include new jobs as well.
- Along with new the jobs will come a new level cap of 70 (up from a mere 60), and new combat actions for all jobs.
- Stormblood will include a revamped battle system that regroups and categorizes abilities shared by roles (DPS, Tank, Healer, etc.) rather than sharing them by jobs as in the current system.
- Further changes include: Getting rid of unused and ineffective actions to help casual players manage the tons of abilities, and a revamp of the UI for more visible cooldown timers.
- The expansion with contain "sprawling new areas" that will be at least equal in size and number to those of Heavensward — "A full, stand-alone game's worth of content," according to Yoshida.
- All new Primal boss fights, "challenging" new dungeons, and new high-end raids designed based on player feedback.
- While the new jobs have not been revealed, Yoshida says they're inspired by Batman and other American comic book heroes.
- Perhaps the biggest news, based on audience response: The player's item inventory will be expanded. It's going to be an "extreme" expansion which will require a lot of work on the server infrastructure to expand player's inventories. The item expansion will be rolled out over time to make sure the servers can handle the strain.
- There will be a fourth residential area.
- All expansion areas will be accessible by flying mounts and will affect the main storyline.
- Yoshida says the company hopes to move away from 32-bit PCs, meaning Stormblood may be exclusive to 64-bit Windows systems. PlayStation 3 support will be phased out. "We really want you to upgrade," he says.
Yoshida says some additional news are being held back for announcement at the upcoming Tokyo Fan Fest. In the meantime, a point-revision update due out in a few months should help point the way to Stormblood's updates and give players a chance to prep for the ambitious expansion.