Wisdom of Nym: Predicting the story beats for Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward

    
21
I'd say it's a spoiler, but it's really without context and there comes a certain point when everything becomes a spoiler.
At the time you read this, you’ll have about 11 days left until early access starts up for Final Fantasy XIV‘s first expansion — possibly more depending on how the servers manage to hold up under the load. I wouldn’t imagine it’s going to be as bad as things were at launch, as those issues seem to have largely been addressed, but there’s always the chance…

The point is that we’re getting our expansion, and it’s going to start soon. And that leads the obvious question of what, exactly, we’re going to be seeing in terms of the story. We know how 2.55 ended, we’ve seen the trailers, and now we’re walking into the unknown. So let’s get into spoiler-happy speculation territory, so I can either be proud of myself or laugh at how completely stupid I was in a few months. Yes, I allow for both with a smile on my face. And if you want to avoid any potential spoilers, I recommend stepping away now with a smile on your face; fairly warned be ye.


Sorry about the whole killing you bit.Our enemies are not who we think

I don’t think the conflict in Ishgard is as simple as Ishgardians vs. Dravanians. I’ve been saying that for a while, but the Dragonsong trailer even seems to be confirming it, with Ysayle walking more or less hand-in-hand with the player stand-in and what appears to be a peaceful palaver with Hraesvelgr. Heck, Hraesvelgr and Nidhogg even are set up as visual counterpoints to one another, with the former’s bright white scales and fur tufts standing in opposition to Nidhogg’s dark coat and jutting spines.

My theory has been for some time that Ishgard didn’t begin in opposition to the dragons but worked with them once upon a time; the Dravanian/Ishgardian split happened much later, and the resulting war is more of a four-way conflict starring the Dravanians who know the truth and want blood, those who would just as soon stay out of the whole mess, Ishgardians who know the truth and don’t care, and the people who have no freaking idea why the dragons want them dead. It’s leading to the worst of all possible worlds, so to speak.

As with any other conflict in the game, the path to victory is not a simple as just killing as many members of the opposing side as possible. Expect to find out that both sides are, if not equally bad, at least not entirely guilty or innocent. This is pretty strongly implied by having Midgardsormr floating around with us anyway, but still.

We’re going to win

At the end of both 1.0 and 2.0’s storylines, the player loses. The first version was a bit worse about this, since both the main scenario and the later quest line involve players utterly failing to stop the massive threat bearing down on the world, but our victory over Ultima Weapon in the launch storyline is quickly made trivial when we’re faced with our loss of pretty much everything by the end of 2.55. It’s a great way to keep us moving forward, sure, but it also sets up a certain dynamic.

I both think and hope the 3.x series is going to change this. I honestly think that the next expansion will have us going in with some power backing us, not just slinking off to the next space with our tails between our legs.

You could argue, convincingly, that most games in the franchise involve a fair bit of losing before victory, but FFXIV has already given us a fair share of defeats. We’ve lost our allies in the Scions twice, once in the original storyline and once again now. (You could argue that this even mirrors that loss; where did you go after the loss of the Waking Sands?) Pushing back Vishap was a victory, but it was a victory of the day, defeating the immediate problem without actually solving the underlying issue. Players could use the sense of walking in with their heads held high.

Don’t get me wrong; I like the fact that things aren’t just an easy ride for the player character. But I also think that we’re going to get a win at the end of this story cycle, even if it’s just to make the next cycle even more of a ride through hell.

Jobs and classes are going to have a different role

I’m really fond of the job and class storylines, honestly. One of the things I’ve said about it elsewhere is that it gives these mechanical distinction a place in the world, that it makes it clear that there’s a place to define these various occupations through lore. When you walk away from the half-dozen quests that sketch out these characters and their stories, you feel as if you’re in a good place to wave goodbye even if not everything is finished.

I cannot say goodbye to fat birbs.

And therein lies the rub : You can’t just tack on another 10 levels and expect to have the same depth of questing that you had before. It’s not going to work. Especially when we know full well that there will be new jobs with new questlines, and our new abilities are going to come purely from quests.

I think what we’ll see in the north are job and class quests that don’t necessarily carry on with the story we’ve already concluded, but extend both into a new direction. As the game increasingly focuses on the idea that jobs are more important than classes (and let’s face it, the jobs that can only be jobs are a step in that direction), we’re going to see the characters that we liked from those quests heading into the north to take part in new storylines.

Let’s also remember that most of the classes and jobs that have an identity elsewhere also have an identity in Ishgard. Sure, there are Paladins in Ul’dah, but you can’t tell me that the knights armed with sword and shield have no points of commonality with the arts practiced elsewhere. There are healers in Ishgard, there are men and women wielding the axe, there are even those who fight with fists. There’s plenty of space to make an entirely new set of quests that may reference back to our old standby characters, even though we’ll need to be doing quests much more often if we’re going to get the same amount of storytelling in.

Or maybe we’ll just dance on back to the city-states and get another few quests tacked onto the existing storyline. That’s possible, it’s just boring.

There are a lot of blank spaces in what I expect for the future in terms of the game’s storytelling, and I really can’t wait to start filling them in. I’m excited enough to find out what the deal is with the Vanu Vanu, even. But I’d like to think we can make some reasonable guesses about what we’ll see. And, you know, making public predictions is a great way to put your money where your mouth is.

Think I’m full of it? Let me know down in the comments! You can also mail me at eliot@massivelyop.com, but posting in the comments lets you post your own potentially daft theories. Next week, it’s time for our last week before early access, and the week after that… you know what, you can guess what I’ll be talking about. Let’s not pretend otherwise.

The Nymian civilization hosted an immense amount of knowledge and learning, but so much of it has been lost to the people of Eorzea. That doesn’t stop Eliot Lefebvre from scrutinizing Final Fantasy XIV each week in Wisdom of Nym, hosting guides, discussion, and opinions without so much as a trace of rancor.
newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Eliot_Lefebvre
Guest
Eliot_Lefebvre

Flimflamberge wolfyseyes Good news: you’re both right!  Alexander does have a primal within it, but the superstructure was built.  The Goblins summoned the primal into the giant mechafortress.

wolfyseyes
Guest
wolfyseyes

Flimflamberge Aaaah….wait, where’d you read that?
And yea, I keep forgetting that summons – Primals in this game.  Derp.

Flimflamberge
Guest
Flimflamberge

wolfyseyes 
Um, Alexander is literally a Primal. It was summoned, by goblins. I guess it’s their idea of the ultimate machine?

wolfyseyes
Guest
wolfyseyes

Flimflamberge  I’m curious…which one amongst those three built Alexander then?  It doesn’t look of Allagan make, though there were some Allagan-style dungeons in the preview video…
Hmm…good thinking, this…I wonder how all three ended up in Ishgard.  Or were they there before Ishgard…

ShannonGiblett
Guest
ShannonGiblett

I am just going to go all out on a crazy limb and say that Elidibus will join your side and you will find out that there is something even more powerful than their supposed true god, which of course will be linked to your new best friend Midgardsormr.

Ramellan
Guest
Ramellan

Well, I suppose beggars can’t be choosers. What the heck are Kan-E and Merlwyb doing while Raubahn’s in jail and the Scions are MIA? When the going gets tough, take care of your own? Well if that’s how it is, fine, lets go talk to some zealots and heretics.

Ramellan
Guest
Ramellan

Even so, one day I’d really like to be able to go to Garlemald. In Final Fantasy XII, one of my favorite locations was the Archadian capital. Theres been a long, long tradition of evil empires in Final Fantasy games, but sometimes it’s not the empire itself that’s evil, just the ruler. Getting to explore an Imperial city would definitely get high marks from me.

xania
Guest
xania

Ramellan Estinien gets the same reaction from me. I had finished the DRG quest line just days before he suddenly showed up all peachy in the main storyline, and it was really jarring. With that, plus Ysayle, plus what looks like a meeting between Varis and Alphinaud in the trailer, makes me wonder if partnering up with questionable allies (enemy of my enemy…?) is going to be a “thing” in the coming story line.

wolfyseyes
Guest
wolfyseyes

Remember that Garlemald had a war of succession which delayed their expansion campaign between 2.0 and 2.5, and that I believe there was disagreement between those sides on how to handle the “problem” of Eorzea. Varis is for continuing said campaign, so I imagine he can’t be there for any benevolent purpose.
If I had to guess, he’s there to offer Ishgard help to battle back the Dravanians in return for the land to become his. The dragons blew up the Empire’s biggest ship, so he’s likely not a huge fan of the dragons.

Ramellan
Guest
Ramellan

I fin dyself wondering what Emperor Varis’ role in the story is going to be. He was there in the Dragonsong trailer, and I find myself itching to see what kind of person he is.
On the other hand, I’m rather put off by the idea of Ysayle suddenly being one of the good guys. I get the whole forgotten origins, there’s more going on than we know idea. But Ysayle as I’ve seen her so far in the game just comes off as so self-righteous. Not only that, but I still very much remember the Inquisitor storyline from 2.0; we stopped that man, a heretic imposter, from murdering a child after he had already killed who knows how many innocents. Combined with Ysayle’s callous disregard for Ishgardian lives, it paints a very bad image of them in my mind. Now I’m supposed to believe that their actually the good guys and I should help them? Uh-uh, no way, there had better be a damn good story to make me go along with this. Midgardsormr I like. Ysayle and the heretics, not so much.