The Next Final Fantasy XIV Expansion is Shadowbringers

Final Fantasy XIV’s new expansion looks rad. The MMO’s third add-on, titled Shadowbringers, was announced today at Final Fantasy XIV Fan Fest. It’s currently scheduled for “early summer 2019.”

Besides a few juicy details (new classes, a new playable race, etc.) Square Enix also dropped a new cinematic trailer. It’s light on details, but it looks really spiffy!

The real dirt came from Square Enix directly. For example, Blue Mages are coming as the next playable class. You won’t even have to wait for the expansion! The new role will be added for free in the forthcoming Patch 4.5. Although it sounds more like a Blue Mage demo than the full thing.

You won’t be able to raise Blue Mages past level 50 (the original level cap). At least not at first. For comparison, Shadowbringers will raise the overall level cap from 70 to 80. The publisher also referred to Blue Mages as FFXIV’s first “Limited Job.” It’s not quite clear what that means, but we’ll have more details tomorrow.

Even so, this is a pretty big deal for FFXIV fans. Blue Mages typically act in other games by stealing powers from basic enemies. It’s such a strange mechanic for an MMO that adding the class to FFXIV became kind of an inside joke. According to the Fan Fest announcement, though, the job will keep its signature ability. All Blue Mage skills will come from enemies in-game.

Shadowbringers itself will include two more, presumably full-fledged jobs, too. Square Enix just didn’t announce which two. There will also be two new zones, cross-server play (for players on the same data center), and a new playable race. Nobody spoiled which race, either, but the rabbit-eared Viera were heavily implied. The bunny people almost made it into FFXIV’s first expansion, Heavensward, but ultimately got nixed.

But the “NPC Battle-Assist System” called “Trust” might just be the best news for new players. It seems designed to let players get through the game’s vast main campaign without grouping up.

Unlike most MMOs, FFXIV has a deep (and incredibly long) single-player story. The rub is that you need to team up with human beings for certain boss fights. That can take a long time and depends heavily on teamwork with strangers—which results in walls in the story. NPC allies sound like a decent fix.

Speaking of the story, the Shadowbringers trailer heavily hinted at what’s to come. Final Fantasy XIV follows a group of world-saving do-gooders as they battle world-ending bad guys. It’s pretty standard fantasy stuff. Except our heroes were mostly wiped out at the end of the original game. From there we’ve seen alternate universes, political intrigue, and a whole lot of classic Final Fantasy fan service. Shadowbringers seems to specifically reference those alternate universes.

The trailer ends by saying the Warrior of Light (the player character) will need to become a Warrior of Darkness. The Warriors of Darkness were villains from another dimension—tragic counterparts to the main cast that fought a god of light instead of the traditional god of darkness. Speaking of which, the bad guys in the trailer look an awful lot like angels.

Sounds like there’s some shady (or perhaps not shady enough) business going down. But we’ll just have to make do with the cool trailer and its even better music until we learn more.