After months of development delays as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, Final Fantasy XIV’s patient player base finally has a release date for new content. Patch 5.3, titled Reflections in Crystal, will now be released on August 11.
The new patch will conclude the Shadowbringers main scenario storyline, adds a 24-man raid in the YoRHA: Dark Apocalypse series, and includes a story-based trial against an unknown antagonist. As part of the A Realm Reborn base-game revamp, flying will become available in ARR zones, and a significant number of its main scenario quests have been streamlined to take less time overall.
FFXIV’s producer and director Naoki Yoshida (called “Yoshi-P” by the game’s fans) has gone into heavy detail with players via forum posts and live broadcasts about the long road Patch 5.3 has taken to completion. Besides the difficulties faced in adjusting to working from home, testing, and quality assurance for the patch content still had to be carried out in-person. This has resulted in a total delay of about two months for Patch 5.3’s release.
Yoshi-P has said that while setting up remote working from scratch for FFXIV’s development team will provide an overall benefit to the game’s future development – the team is working at about 90% efficiency while observing stay-at-home guidelines — he does not expect future content patches to have accelerated development periods to make up for recent delays. It remains to be seen how this will impact future patch releases, as well as the release of FFXIV’s as-yet-unannounced next expansion, which fans have expected to release next summer.
What we know about Patch 5.3
Although this patch has been burdened with delays, that doesn’t mean that Patch 5.3 will have less content than usual: the special website for the patch is flush with a great deal of new content, plus a few new surprises, as we’ve learned to expect from FFXIV’s post-expansion patch series.
Main Scenario Quests
The conclusion of the Shadowbringers storyline will take place in Patch 5.3. The main scenario quests will include both Normal and Extreme versions of a new trial. While details are vague, Yoshi-P has said it’s unlikely that the game’s community will guess who the final boss will be.
YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse Chapter 2
The second 24-man raid in the Nier series will be titled The Puppet’s Bunker. This Alliance Raid continues the story launched in Patch 5.1’s The Copied Factory.
New Dungeon: The Heroes’ Gauntlet
The new dungeon added in this patch will be part of the main scenario. Similar to prior MSQ dungeons in the patch series, you will be able to run this dungeon either with other players, or with story NPCs using the game’s Trust system.
New Beast Tribe
The Dwarves will be the new Beast Tribe for Patch 5.3. This will be Shadowbringers‘ crafting tribe, much like the Namazu and the Moogles before them. This tribe’s quests will take place in Lakeland rather than the Dwarves’ native Kholusia. The reason behind their move will supposedly be a direct result of events that will take place in Chapter 2 of the Nier raid series.
The Sorrow of Werlyt Story Continuation
While there won’t be a new trial for the Sorrow of Werlyt questline in Patch 5.3, this storyline will still continue in a new instanced solo-player battle encounter. This as-yet-unnamed adversary, following in Ruby Weapon’s wake, does look very blue – maybe even Sapphire.
A Realm Reborn Revamp and Free Trial Extension
13% of the quests between Patch 2.0 and 2.5 have been removed, and those that remain have been simplified. Experience gains have been buffed so that by the time players reach Heavensward, they’ll have reached level 60. The dev team has said that most people who quit the game while leveling dropped off during 2.1 content, so this change is designed to help new players progress quickly through what was once a 100-quest slog.
Flying will now be available in ARR zones. Players will need to finish the ARR storyline, completing the main scenario quest “The Ultimate Weapon” in order to unlock this feature.
FFXIV’s free trial previously allowed for limited gameplay up through a quest and level cap of level 35. In Patch 5.3, the trial is being expanded to a bewildering level 60 cap, which includes all story content through patch 3.5. Rather than leave new trial players hanging at one of the weakest parts of the game, the intent is to leave players hooked by including everything through the end of the Heavensward post-expansion patch series.
Faux Hollows: The Akh Afah Amphitheatre (Unreal)
Unreal Trials are an entirely new concept. A new, adjusted version of old trials will reintroduce old trial bosses in a new and more challenging light. . Patch 5.3’s Unreal Trial will be against none other than Shiva herself, with adjusted HP totals and mechanics designed to be challenging for level 80 players. Completing Unreal Trials allows you to play the new Faux Hollows minigame for new rewards. t’s not clear yet what the minigame involves, beyond talking with the questionable-looking fox pictured above.
Patch 5.31 will see the continuation of the Ishgardian Restoration storyline, now in Phase 3. This includes a new season of competitive rankings for crafters and gatherers lasting ten days. The story for this phase features the construction of a new commercial district adjacent to Phase 2’s New Nest residential area. Rewards for placing in the top 100 and top 12 in each crafting and gathering class may include new titles different from those rewarded in Phase 2, but the development team has not made a definitive decision on this; they’ve asked the game’s community for feedback in the meantime.
Skysteel Tool Upgrades
As part of Patch 5.35, crafters and gatherers will be able to update their Skysteel Tools to a higher item level with more stats. these tools will not be more powerful than the crafted and max-melded tools due to be released with the Dwarven beast tribe in 5.3, but it is very likely that this will change in the next (and still unannounced) major patch.
Custom Deliveries: Ehll Tou
A new Custom Deliveries client will be introduced this patch, which will further assist crafters and gatherers in leveling between levels 70 and 80, and provide substantial rewards to those already at level cap.
Resistance Weapons Update and The Bozjan Southern Front
The Save the Queen questline will be updated, allowing players to update their Resistance Weapons. This content will further introduce an instanced battle zone called “The Bozjan Southern Front” that is similar to Stormblood’s Eureka content, but with significant differences in design. While many of these differences have been teased, such as the removal of the elemental magia board, boss battles with a cap on the number of players participating, and even a special “one-on-one” ending boss battle for a specially chosen player, we won’t know the full scope of this content until its release in patch 5.35.
Final Fantasy XIV Patch 5.3, Reflections in Crystal, will be released on August 11th.