Bad news, Eorzeans: The next major Final Fantasy XIV patch won’t be hitting anytime soon. Game producer and director Naoki Yoshida broke the news earlier today, stating that the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has delayed patch 5.3 for at least a little longer. It’s being delayed past mid-June to an indeterminate date.
While patch 5.25 brought us Relic Weapons earlier this week, Yoshida notes that most of that content was completed during the development of 5.2 itself. Even then, 5.25’s release was a close-run thing. Some staff had already begun working from home and others were self-isolating, and the final bits of polish on that particular Final Fantasy XIV patch were handled either remotely or by people who could safely travel.
Regarding the delay, Yoshida states patch 5.3 is currently anywhere between two weeks or a month behind schedule. That is, of course, subject to change.
The exact reasoning behind this is because of how heavily Final Fantasy XIV relies upon not just the Tokyo office, but on the rest of the world. Graphical assets are developed across East Asia, North America, and Europe. The majority of the English voice actors are in the United Kingdom (with other language VAs being in other European countries). And of course, Tokyo staff have to work from home or shelter in place, limiting development, production, and QA.
This means that some ongoing aspects of Final Fantasy XIV will slow down. Servers will be maintained from home, and GM support may take a bit longer than usual. Nonetheless, the team assure us that they’re committed to keeping things going as usual — it’s just that crucial fixes and maintenance may take a bit longer than usual.
Not the final fantasy
We don’t have hard details on what’s going to be in patch 5.3 at this point, but we can likely expect a continuation of the main Shadowbringers plotline (probably with another dungeon or trial), the next stage of the NieR: Automata raid, and quite possibly another Weapon fight. If we have to wait until July or later, so be it.
Thankfully, we don’t exactly have a dearth of content right now with 17 (or 18, counting Blue Mage) combat classes, plus gatherers and crafters. While I generally hate telling people to go try stuff out, if you’re stuck at home with little to do, then Final Fantasy XIV is an excellent way to spend some time right now. It’s a somewhat costly proposition — it’s an MMO you need to buy, and it includes a monthly fee — but the free trial lets you play up to level 30, so you can check it out at no cost.
Just be warned that the start is slow going. Stick with it up to and through Shadowbringers, though, and you’re in for what’s possibly the single best Final Fantasy game developed in a long time.