Naoki Yoshida and his team certainly aren't resting on their laurels with the rebooted Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, and we finally have a release date and full details of the next major content patch, known as Through the Maelstrom.
Like the previous major patch A Realm Awoken, Through the Maelstrom brings a number of significant additions to the sprawling MMO, largely aimed at endgame players looking for new and exciting things to do. Here's a rundown of what you can expect to be getting up to come release day on March 27.
The Main Quest Continues
Following the defeat of Ultima Weapon at the end of the base game and the subsequent reappearance of Good King Moggle Mog XII in the form of a new Primal in A Realm Awoken, the Scions of the Seventh Dawn are finally ready to leave behind their erstwhile home of The Waking Sands in Vesper Bay. But Eorzea is wracked with political unrest, and there are still plenty of unsolved mysteries surrounding both the Echo and the shadowy Ascians. Not only that, but the beast tribes appear to be up to something, and the realm is once again threatened with the rise of a Primal -- this time the mighty Leviathan.
The confrontation with Leviathan will be another eight-player Trial for endgame players, this time against the Sahagin's Primal, the seabound Leviathan. Few details are known about the fight itself as yet, understandably, but for those who have been smacking Garuda, Titan and Ifrit about for months now, another new boss joining the lineup alongside Good King Moggle Mog XII and the beefed-up Ultima Weapon will be welcome relief.
If past Primal encounters are anything to go by, expect Leviathan to offer some fancy-pants loot that will help your endgame progression.
Hildibrand's Adventures Continue
Originally introduced in the first incarnation of Final Fantasy XIV, Hildibrand, Agent of Enquiry made his triumphant reappearance in A Realm Awoken, but his story was left on a tantalizing cliffhanger. In Through the Maelstrom, his story will continue as players help him and his assistant Nashu track down the mysterious marauder who challenged him to a duel.
Gilgamesh Says "Hi"
Everyone's favorite warrior of legend and weapons collector is back, and this time he's got his eyes on your armament. Take him down and prove your might.
The Second Coil of Bahamut
The Binding Coil of Bahamut was previously the toughest challenge in A Realm Reborn, but that's all about to change with the next few Turns. Expect new bosses, new challenges, and new opportunities to argue with people about whether you're doing it "right" or not.
Three New Dungeons
The Lost City of Amdapor is a brand new dungeon in which players explore the city's ruins and attempt to discover its fate. It will add some backstory to the lost civilization and give a better idea of its context in Eorzea's history.
Meanwhile, two new Hard Mode dungeons are putting in an appearance. Firstly, Halatali, which we see here:
And Brayflox's Longstop:
The previously added Hard Mode dungeons, Copperbell Mines and Haukke Manor, were much more than a jaunt through the same maps and bosses from earlier in the game. No, while the surroundings were familiar, the route you took through them was completely different, and there were some fearsome new foes to face along the way. Expect something similar in Halatali and Brayflox's Longstop's Hard Mode incarnations.
Sahagin and Kobold Beast Tribe Quests
A Realm Awoken added daily quests for the Amal'jaa and Sylph tribes, allowing you to build your reputation with these groups in exchange for rewards. Through the Maelstrom adds the Sahagin and Kobolds to the mix, providing you with greater variety in quests to take on every day -- not to mention the promise of some fancy new mounts and easy access to crafting materials if you ingratiate yourself enough with them.
The Glamor system will allow you to change your appearance independently of your equipped gear. Essentially, this allows you to project the likeness of an item that is the same or lower equipment level than your current gear. It'll require you to make use of a Glamor Prism item for each piece of equipment you would like to change the appearance of, but the gear you're copying the appearance of will not be consumed in the process -- indeed, once you've worked your magic, you'll be able to store the original item with your retainer and free up some valuable inventory space.
There are a couple of restrictions on the system -- firstly, the aforementioned level requirement. Alongside this, the equipment you're copying the appearance of must occupy the same number of gear slots as the gear you're changing the look for -- i.e. no changing cowls to look like hoodless robes and vice-versa, since cowls also occupy the Head slot while robes do not. You also cannot change your gear's appearance to something that would not be normally equippable by your class -- in other words, you can't be a Black Mage running around in full plate armor. Aside from that, you're free to do as you please, though, so expect a glut of apparently bikini-clad Miqo'te on any dungeon runs you participate in immediately following the patch's release.
The legendary smith Gerolt, whom those who have acquired their Relic weapon will know well, is legendary for a reason: he made a ton of great equipment before he turned to drink. Watch out for equipment that bears Gerolt's signature -- the mark of Rhalgr, breaker of worlds -- for "true power."
Producer Naoki Yoshida also notes that those who have successfully buffed up their Relic weapon to Zenith status will shortly have the opportunity to improve it further, helping to make you into an even more unstoppable fighting force and take on the challenges that Through the Maelstrom brings.
Bits and Pieces
Players can also look forward to a bunch of smaller improvements and additions to the game, including master recipe books for crafters, a gardening system for Free Companies with a house, new hair styles, retainer ventures, "big fishing" and a Challenge Log to add to the existing Hunting, Crafting and Gathering Logs.
All in all, it sounds like there'll be plenty to get your teeth stuck into if you're already playing -- and if you're not, remember that the PlayStation 4 version is coming on April 14, too.