Final Fantasy XIV‘s second expansion Stormblood was revealed at this weekend’s Fan Festival in Las Vegas. Kicking off the festival’s keynote was a teaser trailer featuring a portion of the opening cinematic. Final Fantasy XIV director/producer Naoki Yoshida revealed that we would be heading to the northeast — toward Ala Mhigo. What’s all that mean? Let’s break it down.
The trailer takes us through a hamlet at the base of a steep mountain face. Here we see chocobos, cannons being scrubbed, weapon racks, all amidst purple Ala Mhigan banners emblazoned with a white griffin.
As the camera pans up mountain waterfalls we see an enormous statue of Rhalgr, the Destroyer — one of the Twelve gods of Eorzea’s immigrant tribes. Just check out the bronze staff fashioned in the shape of a lightning bolt. On his outstretched hand we see the Warrior of Light, representing your player character, sparring with a mysterious woman garbed in red. Who is she? It’s a bit of a mystery at the moment, but Yoshida mentions that we’ll know more about her soon. For now, many fans have referred to her as the Woman in Red. We’ll table that discussion for later.
During the duel, the camera pans up and out to reveal a giant temple and reflecting pool at the mountain’s pinnacle. What’s important to know is that this place is appropriately called Rhalgr’s Reach, and we can infer that it is (or perhaps was) a place of worship for the people of Ala Mhigo. It’s no wonder a Monk duel goes down here.
Rhalgr is Ala Mhigo’s patron deity, just like Ul’dah has Nald’thal, Gridania’s Nophica, Ishgard’s Halone, and Limsa Lominsa’s Llymlaen. You’ve probably seen various effigies and references to the Traders, the Matron, the Fury, and the Navigator (“By the Navigator”, “Thal’s balls”, etc.), in your travels thusfar.
In the simplest terms, this place would be highly important to Ala Mhigo and its people. A perfect place to set up a base for the Ala Mhigan Resistance.
Wait–who are they Resisting? Why are they Resisting?
Rewind the clock about twenty years from your awakening into A Realm Reborn.
King Manfred of Ala Mhigo, newly-crowned and eager to expand his country, campaigned to push his borders ever outward under the banner of economic growth. For Gridania, Ala Mhigo’s western neighbor, the thought of Manfred’s forces rubbing up so close to their sacred Twelveswood (The Black Shroud) was none too pleasing. The ensuing conflict was known as the Autumn War, ultimately ending in Ala Mhigo’s defeat at the hands of Eorzea’s unified city-states.
While the Eorzean Alliance had repelled an Ala Mhigan invasion of Gridania, they left the nation vulnerable to a new threat: the Garlean Empire.
Garlemald wasn’t always as technologically advanced as we see them today. In fact, most of their current technology has only been around for a few short generations. All of it was salvaged from the ancient Allagan Empire that perished in the Fourth Umbral Era. Think of them like new money, eager to show it off, consequences be damned because all this swag is just too good. The first step in invading Eorzea was to take down its weakest link at the time: Ala Mhigo. Lucky for Garlemald it just so happened to sit on its southwestern border.
The Empire’s invasion Ala Mhigo deposed the King, and installed XIVth Legatus Gaius van Baelsar in his place. From here, Baelsar staged campaigns against the Eorzean city-states and beast tribes, one such being Battle of Silvertear Falls seen in Version 1.0’s opening cinematic. While he was unsuccessful in further attempts to occupy Eorzea, an enormous wall was erected between Ala Mhigo and Gridania: Baelsar’s Wall. Take a jaunt into the far northeastern reaches of the East Shroud and you’ll see it. It’s from here that we will ingress into Garlean-occupied lands with the launch of Stormblood.
With the demise of the Black Wolf in A Realm Reborn, a new ruler has been installed: XIIth Imperial Legatus Zenos yae Galvus — a major antagonist in the upcoming expansion we will contend with. The team also raised several narrative questions for us to ponder: Ala Mhigo has now been occupied for over twenty years — will there be a generational split on how Garlean rule is received and how the Resistance is viewed? It looks like it won’t be black and white.
Beyond Baelsar’s Wall we see the the Black Shroud give way to a massive arid expanse. Previously we’ve had sparse information about the lands of Gyr Abania surrounding Ala Mhigo other than plains and highlands. However, it looks like there will be many varieties of areas to traverse, including swampland and ruins. The journey will start at Rhalgr’s Reach where we will meet the Resistance and learn of their plight. Many of the areas feature architecture that is not only Ala Mhigan, but Garlean, further hints that these two worlds grow closer together for better or worse.
Yoshida tells us to expect that the amount and size of new zones will be similar to the Heavensward expansion, and yes, you’ll be able to use your flying mounts there after unlocking the prerequisite aether currents. The reason that’s still a thing is because the team wants you to explore and experience these new environments on foot before taking to the air.
A new area called the Forbidden Land Eureka (Final Fantasy III fans testify), will be special in that challenging notorious monsters could spawn there at rare times, and it may be a place where you will find materials to upgrade a weapon similar to the Relic and Anima quests.
When will we see more? Major expansion details will likely show up at the next Fan Festival in Tokyo, Japan on December 24-25th.
Final Fantasy XIV Stormblood will release in early summer 2017 for Windows PC, PlayStation 4, and Mac. You can check out more of our coverage here.