Final Fantasy XIV‘s next story patch, titled “Reflections in Crystal,” has been announced. It was officially revealed in the latest Letter from the Producer LIVE stream conducted by director and producer Naoki Yoshida and community manager Toshio Murouchi. Not only will Patch 5.3 bring a huge revamp to the base game, A Realm Reborn, to make the MMO more accessible for new players, but it will also bring the next phase of the NieR: Automata raid and the conclusion of the main story of Shadowbringers.
Patch 5.3 will require you to complete the first 24-person alliance raid series of Final Fantasy XIV, “The Crystal Tower,” before seeing the Shadowbringers story to its end. This is because the raid series’ plot is so intimately woven into the core of the expansion’s story that, as of this upcoming patch, it will no longer be optional. Patch 5.3 will make it a requirement to play through the raid series, which you can unlock in the location known as Mor Dhona, to complete the base game. The base game, for that matter, is having approximately 13% of its content removed and streamlined to be less time-consuming.
As part of the continuation of the Shadowbringers storyline, Patch 5.3 will introduce a new dungeon known as “The Heroes’ Gauntlet” and a new trial. The details of that trial have not been shared for the sake of maintaining surprises. For two (slightly spoilery) screenshots of the dungeon, you can click here.
Fans are anxiously speculating as to what those surprises will be. We have some ideas based on what happened in the previous story-heavy patch, but it’s hard to predict how Final Fantasy XIV‘s story will unravel. One player has pointed out an interesting pattern in the key art for the 0.3 patches of the previous expansions, giving cause for worry among fans — especially those who have pledged their spiritual loyalty/love/hand-in-marriage to the Crystal Exarch (me). I am linking it to protect readers who haven’t caught up from spoilers, but it’s an observation I found nerve-wracking enough to make me gasp (read: nearly yell in terror). Please, Square Enix: allow me to protect him. He attacks, but he also protects, and so do I.
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In equally exciting news, Patch 5.3 will also bring the next chapter of the 24-person NieR: Automata raid series that was introduced in the first post-Shadowbringers patch. “YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse” is a collaboration between Yoko Taro and the Final Fantasy XIV team. Earlier this year, Yoko Taro told me that he had not finished the story, so who knows what we can expect. As of right now, all we have is a piece of concept art for the new dungeon, which will be called The Puppets’ Bunker. The full concept art piece can be seen at the 1:26:04 timestamp of the live stream. You can watch the full stream below.
For a full list of the additions and changes the patch will bring — including a new beast tribe, job adjustments, new New Game+ chapters, and the introduction of the Unreal trial difficulty — you can check here for a full translation.
While “Reflections in Crystal” was planned for an earlier release, COVID-19 has understandably affected the development team’s progress and workflow. Among the challenges the team has been facing are difficulties with adjustment and security, space limitations, and internet quality. The patch has no set release date, though it was shared that, as of right now, it can be expected between mid-June to early July.
As the pandemic is very much currently developing, and it’s hard to imagine an end in sight, it’s safer to be prepared for additional delays — especially if it means the safety of everyone on the Final Fantasy XIV team working hard to deliver new content. We’ll be sure to follow any and all updates to Patch 5.3 and Final Fantasy XIV in general.