That having been said, it’s past time to talk about what happened during the last patch. I made some predictions, and several of them were wrong, but what we were left with is downright fascinating. It gives us a framework for what comes next in the story while also dramatically changing the landscape of the game, and while there are some people with a great deal of irritation at the story’s twists and turns, I don’t share that dissension. I am psyched.
Again, spoilers past here. You have been warned.
Let’s start with the most obvious plot point that has led to the most consternation: the death toll. By the end of this patch, we’ve lost six major players on the side of the angels, had one left bereft of an arm and his place in society, and seen only one of the people who richly deserve it get a sword through the midsection.
Incidentally, Teledji is apparently also upset about this change; he’s falling to pieces over it. Little gallows humor there.
Ironically, this addresses one of my biggest criticisms of the end of 1.0’s storyline. I was a huge fan of the fact that the ending was big, climactic, and savage: The moon came down, untold destruction was rained upon Eorzea, and we were cast forward in time with no idea about what would come next. Who would live to see the new dawn shine? And then it turned out that the answer to that question was literally everyone, since none of the major storyline NPCs or even the player characters gathered on that battlefield came back with more than a slight limp.
Grand Company leaders? Fine. Cid? Fine, with a slight bump on the head. Gaius? Oh, he showed up without a problem later. Even Louisoix wound up turning up again, which makes the buildup of his whole sacrifice at the end feel about a million times more perfunctory than it ought to be.
Not this time. We lost people. Nanamo is dead, and while I think there’s a very real possibility that some of the Scions made it out all right (my money is on it, even), at this point it seems that they’re dead and gone, and if they do turn up again, they won’t just pop up again as if nothing had happened.
More importantly, the finale had the effect of demolishing the support network that players spent a year and a half building up. We considered ourselves unassailable and in control, something that even I predicted; I expected players to be rolling into Ishgard as today’s conquering heroes, when really we’re heading there because of a dearth of other options. We, collectively, need Ishgard more than it needs us right now. I fully expected that to be reversed. I expect there are big new things around the bend, but we’re not marching in to save the city but to be saved by it.
It’s a lot of death, indisputably, and it means that we feel the loss. That’s important. It’s a sign that the writers knew what they were doing. And far from being an irrelevant increase to the body count, every single character who dies has meaning and impact, making an important and difficult decision. Suddenly, the future is in doubt.
I’ve also seen people upset that the story didn’t allow the player character to simply solve everything, which disregards the fact that pretty much no one – Scions included – actually wanted this conflict to come to blows. Yes, it’s a bit of a railroad, but that’s the nature of the story and has been since day one. We have the ability to see aspects of the story from the perspective of the audience that our characters may not.
Truth be told, I was far more bothered by the presence of Estinien in the story than anything else, since his relationship with Nidhogg and the end of the Dragoon storyline was more or less shuffled off to one side with no further explanation, a fact I found quite irritating. He’s being set up as a major player in the expansion, which seems entirely appropriate, and I totally understand why there wasn’t space for a lengthy scene for players who had cleared those quests compared to those who hadn’t, but… even so, it was a gloss where we really needed hard information that we never got.
How was my aim? Bad, really. I made some guesses, and most of them wound up being off; the guesses that were right seemed to largely be in spite of myself more than anything.
I’m almost certain that there’s more going on behind the scenes than we’re aware of. As I’ve said elsewhere, I don’t buy into the idea that this plot was tied to Garlemald or even the Ascians; while Lolorito got what he wanted, he didn’t seem to happy about it, and the Crystal Braves are aiming higher than simply handing the nations over to Garlemald. They’re not even pushing to take power; they let the Syndicate have control without a fight, and Yuyuhase outright tells Alphinaud that their goal is the same as it’s ever been. I wonder whether perhaps this will tie into finding out more about Dravania, whether there are more sides to the conflict than we’re currently aware of.
The lore we’ve seen thus far on Dark Knight seems to torpedo the theory that Raubahn will be taking on the role of trainer for the job, but nothing is certain just yet; that said, I tend to doubt it. I think Raubahn has a different role to take, and we’ll see more of that in 3.0. I’m also looking forward to Alphinaud’s new role in the group, and I’m curious to see where Urianger is going – if there’s one thing the writers have shown repeatedly, it’s that nothing is as simple as someone being on one side or the other. There are always shades and nuances.
Personally, I think 3.0 is going to be a big change. I think that for the first time, by the end of an expansion storyline (if we’re calling 1.0 and 2.0 separate stories, which seems fair), when all the patches are done, we’ll be triumphant. Ishgard will be back in the Eorzean Alliance, we’ll understand the nature of the Dragonsong War, and the Ascians will have been pushed back further. For the first time that we’ve been in the game world, I think we’ll be approaching peace after two big pushes downward.
That, of course, will be when the Garlean Empire makes another big push from Ala Mhigo, leading us into the next expansion. That might be entirely spurious, but if that’s how things shake down, I want to state for the record that I called it here.
Feedback is welcome down below or via mail to email@example.com, which is the case every week. Please be aware that more spoilers are possible in the comments, if you read this far and somehow… are still afraid of spoilers? I don’t know. Next week, let’s talk in depth about the new lore that we’ve received and any other news that we’ll get between now and then; it’s been on a pretty quick turnaround lately.