Final Fantasy XIV wrapped up the final part of its Fan Festival tour in Tokyo over the weekend. As with the other Fan Festival events, players were treated to a wealth of new information on Dawntrail, the next expansion in the critically acclaimed MMORPG series — in addition to graphical updates, a new playable race, and information on the expansion’s new area (and you can check out the full keynote address here). We also got a first look at the second job class being added to the game: Pictomancer.
By this point in the Dawntrail hype cycle, the most loyal fans had already figured out the Pictomancer was coming. During the Las Vegas Fan Festival last year, game producer Naoki Yoshida made the keynote address wearing a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Mutant Mayhem T-shirt — a clue in that all the turtles are named after great painters. The Pictomancer class was first introduced in Final Fantasy VI, but unlike that version of the class that was only able to draw enemies to attack them, FFXIV’s Pictomancer will be able to draw enemies, weapons, and landscapes as well as utilize a number of support spells. Unfortunately, Yoshida broke with his custom of announcing a new FFXIV class by cosplaying it himself, saying via a translator, “It’d be a little bit difficult for me as a 50-year-old man to portray the image of this job.”
In addition to the Pictomancer news, Yoshida revealed that Dawntrail will release on FFXIV time not Square Enix time, meaning that its summer 2024 launch window won’t be sometime in October. There was also a first look at the new playable race — female Hrothgar — adding gender balance to the once male-only Hrothgar race and giving FFXIV players yet another race to lust over.
Another big showing was the new player hub city Solution 9. During earlier Fan Festival events, we were already given to glimpses of the new continent Tural and the main player hub city Tuliyollal. The aesthetics of those locations and Dawntrail’s trailer gave the expansion a distinct summer vacation in the tropics vibe, but Solution 9 adds cyberpunk / futuristic elements that some believe will add heavy Final Fantasy IX influences to the expansion.
The idea isn’t far off-base as FFXIV has taken locations and influences from the mainline Final Fantasy games. Solution 9 is the name of a limit break attack from FFIX’s main protagonist Zidane; the screenshots of the city evoke the futuristic planet Terra; the previously introduced Viper class uses butterfly swords as Zidane did; and Yoshida said the city was constructed by a completely new civilization, possibly alluding to the extraterrestrial Terrans of FFIX. (Also, all these allusions to FFIX might coincide with the release of the Final Fantasy IX animated series that was revealed three years ago.) All that’s missing to fully confirm the FFIX connection is a remix of “Dark Messenger” from composer Masayoshi Soken. (Yes, yes.)
A new class and new places, of course, are the biggest draws of an expansion of any MMO, but Final Fantasy XIV players are a different class of fans. While the Pictomancer and Solution 9 drew excited applause from fans, the crowd’s biggest response was in reaction to the news that Dawntrail will allow players to use not one but two dyes to customize armor and clothing, showing yet again that glamour is the true endgame.
There is no firm release date on Dawntrail, but you’ll get a soft introduction to its characters in the next phase of the FFXIV’s main story quest that starts with patch 6.55 on January 16th.