Final Fantasy XIV director Naoki “Yoshi-P” Yoshida has revealed Endbringer, the next expansion for Square Enix’s blockbuster MMORPG which will bring the current story arc to a close.
Yoshida and his translator, Translation Director Michael-Christopher Koji Fox, spoke for two hours about the fall expansion, which has been delayed by a few months due to the Covid-19 pandemic affecting working conditions. A story trailer showed the Warrior of Light fighting to prevent the “second coming of the final days” alongside Alphinaud and Alisaie, and also travelling to—the Moon? This time the Warrior is featured in the paladin class, while Alphinaud is utilizing one of two new classes.
The Sage is the first of two new classes arriving in Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker, available to expansion owners with any class at level 70. With a unique aether-imbued weapon called nouliths, the Sage heals and protects allies with barriers, and can temporarily augment their own magic abilities. Healing classes will subsequently see an adjustment, dividing them into “pure healers” and “barrier-type healers.” Astrologians fall into the latter role and will be adjusted accordingly.
Yoshida announced the second class is a melee DPS role, but will reveal it at the digital fan festival in May—however, he laughed at the chat’s suggestion of a Necromancer. Similarly, he mentioned the development team has been keeping an eye on the community’s guesses for what classes would arrive in this expansion, noting the call for more healers, and that most guesses had missed the mark.
In terms of story, Yoshida described Endwalker as “a new dawn” for Final Fantasy XIV, bringing it full circle like A Realm Reborn. He described A Realm Reborn as ” a new morning,” followed by Heavensward, “a cold blue sky,” and Stormblood, a “crimson twilight,” leading to Shadowbringers, “the black of night.” As such, the new expansion will bring a conclusion to the long-running storyline between Hydaelyn and Zodiark. Every other expansion to date has seen the story conclude with subsequent major patches, as Shadowbringers did with its 5.3 patch; this time, however, the story will conclude with the main Endwalker patch 6.0, and the following updates will constitute the start of the next storyline.
Though not much can be said about the story with the Final Fantasy XIV development team still hard at work, Yoshida claimed the player will journey to the Moon to uncover myriad secrets about the deities Hydaelyn and Zodiark, and “the final days that brought the mighty ancients to their knees.” Along the way the Garlean Empire’s fate will be revealed, and Zenos and Fandaniel will cross the Warrior of Light’s path again. What will be found on the Moon remains a guarded secret—but the only help Yoshida offered was a joke about Evangelions.
New areas will be included on the same scale as previous expansions, including one smaller town and one larger town. The smaller is called Radz-at-Han in the region of Thavnair, as alluded to in earlier versions. Its artwork demonstrates an Indian influence, and a subtropical “cultural flair” new to the game. Artwork for Garlemald, capital of the Garlean Empire, was also shown, painting a bleaker picture of the formidable nation than expected.
With the expansion’s level cap increase—Final Fantasy XIV players will now max out at level 90—comes plenty of new Duties, including a battle against Final Fantasy X‘s most terrifying aeon, Anima. The artwork shown for the new dungeons and raids included burning ruins that resemble Radz-at-Han’s style, a biological castle, and a more modern train yard. There will also be a new original Alliance Raid, not another crossover like the YorHa series, and the high-end 8-player raid Pandaemonium will somehow involve the Ascian Lahabrea. A new small-scale PvP mode will appeal to more casual players by removing class restrictions and offering new rewards beyond gear.
Beneath the hood, a heavy adjustment will be made to the battle system. As Final Fantasy XIV goes on, the development team is beginning to encounter more overflow bugs and other various issues. To address these issues, the system is being downscaled, changing the numbers used in calculations like damage, but not the equations themselves. It will appear that players are dealing less damage, but the entire system is being condensed to reflect the new level cap. The move is for future-proofing, not to nerf players.
Belts are being removed from the game, as players complain about the space they take up in inventory and loot drops; as of the 6.0 update, equipped belts will be sent to Calamity Salvagers and the inventory slots distributed elsewhere. Players should ensure materia is removed from any belts before they vanish.
Outside of Final Fantasy XIV’s battles, more role quests and crafter/gatherer quests are coming, with new gear and recipes, as well as a new Data Center Travel feature and further updates to the Gold Saucer. With the Ishgard Restoration wrapping up, the new Ishard Residential Area will be available to visit in 6.0, with player lots going on sale with the 6.1 update.
Most notable is the Island Sanctuary feature, which sounds like a dash of Harvest Moon or Stardew Valley. In this laidback “slow life” activity, players will cultivate land on a deserted island, raise animals, and more. The experience will expand through the Endwalker expansion cycle.
Square Enix CEO Yusuke Matsuda interrupted the stream to reveal that an open beta for the Final Fantasy XIV PlayStation 5 Upgrade Edition will begin on April 13, alongside the next patch, version 5.5. Players with a registered license for the PS4 version on their service account will be able to participate in the beta and play at no further cost. This version will benefit from 4k graphics, shortened load times, and improved frame rates, with more visual enhancements in later updates.
Lastly, Yoshida hyped the Final Fantasy XIV digital fan festival on May 15-16, which will offer a set of digital commemorative items including a Final Fantasy IV-inspired Lunar Whale mount, the game’s first 8-person mount. A new piece of artwork from venerated series illustrator Yoshitaka Amano capped the presentation, showing Hydaelyn and Zodiark.
Despite Endwalker serving as the end of a storyline, Yoshida was adamant that Final Fantasy XIV is planning for many years of content. He called the game his life’s work and is committed to it “until the president tells me to stop.” Further details will be given in May, ahead of Endwalker‘s launch in the back half of the year.