Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers will have gunblades, Viera, and… NieR?

Since its announcement last year, Final Fantasy XIV fans have been eagerly awaiting more details on what the new Shadowbringers expansion will bring. We know that there’ll be a level cap increase, a new playable race, some new jobs, new areas to explore, and so on, but there’s been little specific detail—until now.

At this weekend’s Final Fantasy XIV Fan Festival in Paris, producer and director Naoki Yoshida shared a wealth of information about Shadowbringers. After a new teaser trailer, Yoshida wasted no time in unveiling what is, arguably, the most important detail: the release date. Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers comes out on July 2, 2019.

Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers will introduce multiple new jobs, including the gunblade-wielding Gunbreaker. Gunblades have been seen in Final Fantasy XIV before, wielded by the Garlean empire, but those used by the Gunbreaker are closer in design to the gunblades from Final Fantasy VIII. The Gunbreaker will play a Tank role, and starts at level 60. Its combat style is built around slashing damage, with the use of magicked ammunition to enhance attacks and unleash special abilities.

As with any expansion, Shadowbringers will open up a bunch of new areas for players to visit, two of which Yoshida introduced during his presentation. The first is the Rak’tika Greatwood, a forest zone characterised by giant, snakelike trees. The second is the “realm of the pixies”, Il Mheg, a dreamy-looking area that almost looks like something out of a Disney film with its pastel skies and fantastical architecture. The pixies are described as tricksters, but “not as much of a pain in the ass as Moogles”.

Yoshida confirmed that the level cap will increase from 70 to 80, and with that will come new actions for all jobs, including gatherers and crafters. That will be accompanied by some “battle system maintenance” to look at how each class works overall, and could possibly include removing or tweaking some actions. More information is due around May this year.

At the launch of Shadowbringers, there will be nine new dungeons. There’ll also be a new high-end raid series, but that won’t be revealed until a later date. Shadowbringers will also see the introduction of end-game content for gatherers and crafters, set around the restoration of the Holy See of Ishgard.

Square Enix previously announced the “Trust” system, which will allow NPCs to accompany players on their adventures. (This is different from a Final Fantasy XI system of the same name). A screenshot showing the system in action includes Thancred as a tank (Gunbreaker), Urianger as the healer (Astrologian), and Y’Shtola as a Black Mage, seemingly confirming hints from the teaser trailer about the main NPCs’ new jobs within the Shadowbringers storyline. With the Trust system, players will be able to play multiplayer content by themselves if they so choose, while the traditional matching system will still be in place for people wanting the multiplayer experience.

Shadowbringers will also introduce a “New Game Plus” system—a common feature in single-player RPGs, but not so much in MMORPGs. This will allow players to revisit old story content, include stuff they might have missed by using one of the level-skip items available through the MogStation store.

Along with Il Mheg comes a new beast tribe, the Pixies. They speak a unique language called “Fae”, which, like the Dragon language from Heavensward, has been created entirely from scratch. With any beast tribe comes a new Primal, and for the Pixies, that Primal is Titania. “It doesn’t really look like a Primal”, according to Yoshida, but Titania will play an important role in the story.

Shadowbringers will bring about a new series of 24-person alliance raids, following on from A Realm Reborn‘s Crystal Tower, Heavensward‘s Void Ark, and Stormblood‘s Return to Ivalice. As with Return to Ivalice, which involved Final Fantasy Tactics creator Yasumi Matsuno, the new alliance raid will also include some special guest creators: Yosuke Saito and Yoko Taro, both of whom are known for their work on the NieR series. The new raid is called YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse—finally bringing the Final Fantasy XIV x NieR collaboration some fans (like yours truly) have been dreaming of for a while.

After much teasing and jokes about forgetting what else there is to talk about, Yoshida finally unveiled the new playable race: Viera. This has been rumoured for some time, especially with Final Fantasy XII‘s Fran appearing during the Return to Ivalice storyline, but it’s nice to finally have official confirmation. The development team is apparently working hard to introduce “a high level of customisability”. All Viera will get an outfit based on Fran’s costume as their unique race-specific gear.

Like the other expansions before it, Shadowbringers will have a collector’s edition available. It will come with a hardcover art book, a Dark Knight statue, a deck of playing cards, a vinyl sticker with the Shadowbringers logo, and a special collector’s box with artwork by Yoshitaka Amano. It also comes with exclusive in-game items: a Windup Fran minion, a Grani mount, the Revolver weapon for Gunbreaker, based Squall’s iconic weapon from Final Fantasy VIII.

Everyone who pre-orders (either Collector’s Edition or regular) will get a cute Baby Gremlin minion and the Aetheryte Earrings accessory, which gives a 30 percent experience boost up to level 70 and a stat boost scaled to your job level. The plan is to have these available before Shadowbringers launches, so that players can use the earrings to level up prior to jumping into the expansion. As has been the case in the past, players who pre-order will get early access to the new content, beginning June 28. Pre-orders will open February 6, 2019.

Yoshida wrapped up by saying that there’s still a lot of information to be revealed about Shadowbringers: what’s the other new job? Where exactly will the expansion take place? Which city will be the new player hub? Another presentation is scheduled for March 23, when this (and more) information will be unveiled.

Matthew Codd

Matthew is a writer based in Wellington. He loves all things pop culture, and is fascinated by its place in history and the wider social context.