Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker Announced
Square Enix held its digital Final Fantasy XIV Announcement Showcase, during which Naoki Yoshida and Michael-Christopher Koji Fox revealed the fourth expansion to the MMORPG. The presentation began immediately with the reveal of Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker, which will launch for PC, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5 in the fall of 2021. Following the presentation, Square Enix also held a new Letter from the Producer presentation, revealing the upcoming version 5.5 major patch.
Before touching upon Endwalker’s story and content, the presentation focused on one of the trailer’s main reveals: new Jobs. Endwalker will have two new Jobs, a healer and a melee DPS. The healer is Sage, with major NPC character Alphinaud changing to that Job in Endwalker. The Sage’s Nouliths weapon consists of four drone-like items powered by aether. It has no previous class requirements and will start at level 70. Players will need at least one other job at level 70 and to have purchased Endwalker to access Sage.
The introduction of Sage will see the healer jobs categorised into pure healer and barrier healer roles. Sage will join Scholar as a barrier healer, while Astrologian and White Mage will act as pure healers. These categories will be available as distinctions in the Duty Finder. Sage looks to both heal and protect the party using barriers. It is also able to temporarily augment its own magic abilities. The Job Quest for Sage will be available in Limsa Lominsa. The melee DPS Job will be announced at the upcoming Final Fantasy XIV Digital Fan Festival (more details below).
Endwalker Story Overview
Endwalker, also known as version 6.0, will feature the climax of the Hydaelyn and Zodiark story arc that began with Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Unlike previous expansions, where the story continues in future major patches, the story of Endwalker will reach a full conclusion with the 6.0 content, with the 6.x major patches to begin a new story. Naoki Yoshida addressed rumours that he might be leaving Final Fantasy XIV with Endwalker, but assured players that he has no plans to leave and currently views Final Fantasy XIV as his life’s work.
The main scenario follows the major reveals at the end of Shadowbringers with players set to uncover the secrets behind Hydaelyn, Zodiark, and the destruction of the ancients. Players will embark on a journey that leads them to the moon. The journey will take them to the independent city-state Radz-at-Han on the island of Thavnair and the Garlean Empire’s capital Garlemald. Thavnair will make up one of the game’s large-scale areas and has a sub-tropical theme.
Endwalker Features and Content
As with previous expansions, Endwalker will increase the level cap, this time going from level 80 to 90. It will include new tribes, with the presentation revealing the Matanga’s Arkasodara tribe. Players may recognise the elephant-like Matanga as hunt targets from the Azim Steppe in Stormblood, but the Arkasodara is a much more peaceful tribe in Thavnair. Other tribes will be revealed at a later date.
Major new threats appearing in Endwalker include Anima, which fans of Final Fantasy X may recognise. Anima’s original designer is a member of Final Fantasy XIV‘s art team and recreated the design for Endwalker. As usual, the expansion will include multiple new dungeons. It will also feature a new eight-person Raid series titled Pandæmonium that tells its own story, plus a new 24-player Alliance Raid. Unlike the last crossover-style Alliance Raids, the new entry will be entirely original and focus on a specific piece of lore for Eorzea. More details on the Alliance Raid will be revealed at the Digital Fan Festival.
Endwalker will include a new small-scale PvP mode, which will include a new reward system not focused fully on gear. It will also feature lots of new side quests, including crafting and gathering quests. Role quests, which debuted in Shadowbringers, will also return and will be divided into five categories based on character Job instead of four — Tank, Healer, Melee Physical DPS, Ranged Physical DPS, and Magic DPS. The Trust system that was added in Shadowbringers, where players can go through story dungeons with NPC allies, is getting an update with Estinien joining the roster of available characters in his regular Dragoon Job. Players will also be able to undertake new types of activities and duties with Trusts, though details were not revealed at this stage.
The Gold Saucer will receive an update, stated to be similar in scale to the addition of Mahjong, with more information coming later. Meanwhile, the Island Sanctuary is new content designed to give players some “slow living” experience, such as raising animals or cultivating the land. It will be available for all players, not just crafters and gatherers, though there will be crafting and gathering content available. Finally, following the Ishgard Restoration content, Ishgard will be a new residential district for player housing.
Endwalker will include various adjustments to the game’s systems, including combat. This will include changes to Job actions, including new actions, though these will be detailed later. There will be some downscaling of numerical values in the game. Multiple reasons were given for the downscaling: to help prevent calculations causing overflow that can result in bugs, with tank enmity given as an example; flying text such as damage numbers becoming lengthy and hindering its use; and enemy HP reaching excessive levels, with the highest boss HP from patch 5.5 reaching 440 million.
The downscaling will see differences in values — such as attributes gained per level up — between level 51 and 80 being reduced. It will result in reductions for numbers like damage and HP for both the players and enemies, and formulae will be kept so that the relative strengths will remain the same. Experience points will also be reduced, with players gaining fewer points but also requiring fewer points to level up. The one area expected to be materially affected are undersized parties running older content while at a higher level, which may be made more difficult by the change.
In addition, Endwalker will remove belts from the equipment system. As these have not been visible since the launch of A Realm Reborn and have relatively negligible attribute effects, they are not a popular equipment item despite taking up the same amount of space. While a similar argument has been made about rings, the team has decided to leave them in the game as they are visible on player characters. At the launch of version 6.0, belts will no longer be equipable, with any equipped belts given to the Calamity Salvagers for safekeeping, and no longer attainable from duties or item exchanges. The 35 armoury chest slots currently used by belts will be reallocated, with 15 given to primary weapons, 15 to rings, and 5 held in reserve.
Finally, a new system called Data Center Travel will act in a similar manner to the World Travel System where players can visit other servers on the same data center. There will be restrictions on the system, but it will let players temporarily move their character to another data center to party up and join friends to run content.
PlayStation 5 Version, Digital Fan Festival
A dedicated PlayStation 5 version of Final Fantasy XIV is coming, with an open beta to begin on April 13, 2021, the same day as the release of the upcoming Patch 5.5, which was detailed in the following Letter from the Producer Live. The PlayStation 5 version will feature 4K resolution support, faster loading times, and an improved frame rate. It will have two modes: a 4K mode focused on graphical fidelity and a FHD 2K mode focused on optimising the frame rate. Improvements to the PlayStation 5 version’s performance will be added with future updates.
Those who already own the PlayStation 4 version of Final Fantasy XIV will be able to upgrade to the PlayStation 5 version for free. The PlayStation 5 version will be digital only, and those currently using the disc version for PlayStation 4 will no longer require one after upgrading.
With the cancellation of the physical Fan Festival events, Square Enix is holding a Digital Fan Festival. The event will run from May 15-16, 2021. It will feature more information and reveals for Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker, live concerts, and more. The event and streams will be free of charge, but may not be archived, with further details to be announced at a later date. There will be some commemorative in-game items available to purchase: a Lunar Whale eight-player mount, as well as Edge, Rosa, and Rydia minions.
Letter from the Producer Live: Patch 5.5 — Death Unto Dawn
The first part of the Letter from the Producer Live presentation focused on the upcoming major patch for the game. Version 5.5 will launch on April 13, 2021, and is titled Death Unto Dawn. The patch content will be split into two parts, with the second part to release at the end of May 2021. It will include more main scenario quests following the end of the Shadowbringers expansion, including a new instanced dungeon called Paglth’an, which is compatible with the Trust system.
The patch will also add a new Trial — The Cloud Deck — with both regular and Extreme versions. It will also feature the third chapter of the YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse Alliance Raid series, as well as the final set of upgrades for Resistance weapons with new Save the Quest side content that includes the new area of Zadnor.
Other additions include the selection of a new Unreal Trial, plus more challenging expert crafting recipes and some UI updates for gathering classes. Meanwhile, the Ishgardian Restoration content will now see the Firmament periodically celebrating the conclusion with the locals holding fêtes. Explorer Mode, where players can explore dungeons without enemies, will have level 70 dungeons added, while players will be able to disable the character level and item level sync and play instruments.
A new Dragonsong War Ultimate Trial is under development. It reimagines the event with a what if… scenario and was originally planned for release in patch 5.55. However, it was impacted by the events surrounding COVID-19 and with the development of Endwalker prioritised it is now planned for launch as part of Patch 6.1 following Endwalker’s release.
The second part focused on the internal development processes of the game. Lead Project Manager Shoichi Matsuzawa joined Naoki Yoshida to discuss various aspects of the game’s development, including the development schedule and management plus some of the challenges associated with it. The third part focused largely on merchanise for the game that is coming to Japan.
Art and Screenshots
Sage Reveal Video
PlayStation 5 Version Trailer
Full Announcement Showcase
Letter from the Producer Live Part LXII (Japanese audio only)