Today at the Final Fantasy 14 Fan Festival in Las Vegas, Square Enix revealed the next expansion for the game. Titled Stormblood, the new expansion will be released in "early summer 2017."
A teaser trailer started the keynote for the fan event, showing a mysterious woman in red and a monk fighting on top of a large stone statue. The camera pulled back to reveal a massive desert locale where this battle was taking place.
During the keynote, Final Fantasy 14 director Naoki Yoshida provided more details on the expansion. It will take players into a new area of the world known as Ala Mhigo. This nation has been ruled by the evil Garlean Empire for decades. Players will attempt to liberate Ala Mhigo, but some people may not want liberation.
This expansion will put players directly up against the Garlean Empire, a longtime, behind-the-scenes bad guy in the game. The main antagonist will be Zenos, a Garlean military leader who has been placed in charge of Ala Mhigo.
The gorgeous area shown in the trailer was revealed to be a hamlet called Rhalgr's Reach. This will be a major city in the expansion and the start of the expansion. The statue in the middle of the city is that of Rhalgr, a god worshipped by the desert dwellers for providing them with water.
Yoshida says Stormblood will include more of allowing players to travel with non-player character companions as they quest through the expansion.
Naturally, the expansion will introduce new job classes for players to master. Yoshida dropped some hints about one of the new jobs being inspired by Marvel superheroes, but he declined to actually announce any of the jobs during the keynote. He was wearing a shirt featuring Scarlet Witch, leading many to speculate that the red mage will be a new class.
Stormblood will see Final Fantasy 14's level cap climb from 60 to 70. It will include a heavily revamped combat system, with a huge overhaul to skills. Certain skills will now be shared by roles (such as tank or healer) rather than jobs. Yoshida also promised that "unused/ineffective" actions will be reassessed and either changed or removed from the game. The changes to skills will include a UI update to better indicate how much time is left on skill cooldowns.
Yoshida showed off concept art from some of the new areas coming to Stormblood. He said the expansion will include at least as many new areas as were in Heavensward, the game's first expansion. He called it "a full stand-alone game's worth of content." He also promised Ala Mhigo wouldn't just be deserts or wastelands.
Other additions to Stormblood include new primal enemies for groups to fight and new dungeons and high-end raids to challenge players. The Final Fantasy 14 team is also taking another look at raid difficulty levels.
A new feature coming to Stormblood is a special area called "The Forbidden Land Eureka." This zone will include special super-rare monsters and materials to upgrade your high-end weapons. It's not clear how it will differ from regular zones outside of that.
Fans at the keynote had an extremely positive reaction to one announcement: Stormblood will see player inventories expand, allowing them to carry more things. This has been requested by many fans going back to the game's relaunch in 2013, but Yoshida said it has been delayed because it requires major upgrades to Square Enix's server infrastructure. That is finally happening. He says the inventory space will be increased "as much as humanly possible."
To close out the keynote, Yoshida introduced some early in-game footage of some beautiful new areas from the Stormblood expansion. This included looks at Rhalgr's Reach, a giant wall separating Ala Mhigo from the rest of the world and a swampy forest area. We'll share that footage here if and when it becomes publicly available.
Yoshida has promised that Square Enix will reveal more information about Final Fantasy 14: Stormblood at the two more Fan Festival events planned between now and the expansion's release. This includes an event in Japan in December and one in Germany in early 2017. We'll update with new details from these events as they're available.