Editor’s note (July 22, 2020): This article was originally published on April 24, 2020 and has been updated to reflect the latest news on FFXIV patch 5.3.
The next update for the Square Enix MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV comes in the form of patch 5.3, subtitled Reflections in Crystal. It was first detailed by director/producer Naoki Yoshida and community manager Toshio Murouchi in the Letter From The Producer livestream from April, and the latest livestream revealed the 5.3 trailer while going in-depth on the upcoming content. The new main scenario quests will serve as a closer for the Shadowbringers narrative arc with the Crystal Exarch at the center of what seems to be a dramatic conclusion. You can watch the trailer below, but be warned, it may spoil a few aspects of the Shadowbringers story.
A new instanced four-player dungeon, called The Heroes’ Gauntlet, will be included–it will work with the Trust system, which lets you run it alongside NPCs from the story as AI companions to fill the necessary roles. There’s going to be another trial boss fight tied to the main story as well, but it wasn’t revealed as to not spoil the surprise.
The upcoming patch includes the anticipated streamlining for the base game A Realm Reborn, in which about 13% of its main questline has either be removed or condensed. One of the notable criticisms of the base game was the amount of filler that didn’t advance the story. EXP gains from quests have been adjusted so players can reach level requirements accordingly. Another addition coming is that players will be able to fly mounts in these old zones once they finish the base game’s questline.
If you’ve considered giving the game a chance, patch 5.3 sweetens FFXIV’s free trial offering in a big way. Free trial players will be able to play all of A Realm Reborn and the first expansion Heavensward; this includes all the post-launch content through patch 3.56 which leads right into the follow-up expansion Stormblood. You’ll be able to go up to level 60, access the Machinist, Astrologian, and Dark Knight classes/jobs, and play as an Au Ra character, too. This is a big jump from the current free trial cap of level 35, which only takes you through a portion of the base game.
All players who have not completed the 24-player alliance raid series The Crystal Tower will be required to do so at some point before continuing the main story in the 5.3 update, and the game will notify players of this. Regardless, that raid series will be mandatory for those who look to finish the the base game for the first time when the patch hits since it’s directly tied to the Shadowbringers story arc.
The other significant addition coming to FFXIV patch 5.3 is the next installment in the Nier Automata crossover raid series YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse–these are 24-player level 80 alliance raids. This new dungeon is called The Puppet’s Bunker and the trailer showed off parts of the raid itself, and the livestream gave a first look at one of the boss fights in it. You’ll be venturing through a YoRHa space bunker, fighting familiar enemies from Nier Automata, and continuing the storyline of 2P.
The first Nier Automata raid, The Copied Factory, came with patch 5.1 and brought many of the things you recognize from that game into FFXIV for its own contained story. If traditional cadence follows, you can expect the third and final chapter for the raid series in the future 5.5 patch, whenever that may be.
Several other changes and additions are set to for 5.3 including adjustments to classes/jobs and new PvP content. Side content abound in this update including more in the Save The Queen, Resistance Weapons, Sorrow Of Werlyt, and Tribes questlines. The latest livestream gave much more detail on the Bozjan Southern Front 72-player instance. Crafter and gatherer classes will get quality-of-life improvements like changes to the collectibles system, a custom delivery client, trial synthesis, and recipe searches in your inventory. New Ishgardian Restoration content and Skysteel Tools enhancements are also set to come with patch 5.3.
There are so many more changes, additions, and new pieces of content included in this upcoming patch, and you can get more details on FFXIV 5.3 on Square Enix’s official site for the update.
Limited-time Unreal trials are scheduled with each new patch, which syncs previous Primal boss fights up to level 80 while increasing their difficulty. Patch 5.3 will feature Shiva in the Akh Afah Amphitheater fight. Beating these boss battles earns you a chance to play the Faux Hollows minigame, but not much else was detailed.
Due to the circumstances around COVID-19 pandemic, companies around the world have adjusted their working conditions, Square Enix included. Patch 5.3 was originally scheduled for sometime in mid-June, but it is now set to launch on August 11. For more on FFXIV, be sure to read my latest interview with director and producer Naoki Yoshida where we talk about transitioning into a new storyline, the creation of the Crystal Exarch character, and the state of in-game character butts (yes).
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