Most of the tribes this week, by contrast, have one or the other but not both. Either there’s not much compelling about a tribe but plenty of stuff done with that foundation, or there’s really interesting material there that just isn’t explored. So let’s start unpacking this middle of the pack, which are generally tribes that I feel are just shy of being really compelling and interesting for one reason or another.
I have to be honest and say that I had a bias against the Ananta from the start. Monogendered races require a lot of work to really be compelling, and it seems to be work that very few writers are interested in actually doing. But there was some basis for this to have a pretty interesting basis, since we knew that these snake ladies were part of the resistance against Garlemald in sharp contrast to the usual arms-length nature of beast tribes. There was a chance to do some really interesting stuff analyzing how the Ananta relate to other races, examine the oddity of their biology, and really explain where they came from.
Unfortunately, we got absolutely none of that.
There’s very little mention of the Ananta all through the main scenario and associated side quests; you could remove them altogether and all you would need to change is a little bit of the Lakshmi portion of the MSQ. Heck, Lakshmi already feels like a giant space flea from nowhere who mostly just presages a more relevant appearance in the post-expansion patches. I was hopeful that we would get more of the meat about the tribe once we got into their beast tribe quests, but instead it was a fairly straightforward political storyline dealing with a few rules of the culture and the general resistance politics we already knew about.
This is particularly bothersome because we see little flashes of how the Ananta regard “striders” as different… none of which ever really go anywhere. We know a lot about the Ananta now, but none of it actually fills in important and necessary gaps. It’s not that I dislike the tribe; it’s that they needed more work to really dive into their relevance and why they are the way they are, and all of it was just left to roll around on the ground.
8. Mamool Ja
Actually, a lot of what I just said about the Ananta applies to the Mamool Ja as well. It’s just that I’m a little more forgiving when, well, the Mamool Ja story that we really ought to know is one that happened before the game’s story started up. We know that they were brought in by Limsa Lominsa to help deal with problems that would have otherwise been handled by adventurers in the post-Calamity world, but Limsa Lominsa’s refusal to actually pay them for services rendered has led to the current environment wherein they are not precisely willing occupants around the city… in part.
I’m also willing to excuse some of this because the Mamool Ja are not actually native to Eorzea and thus wouldn’t have a full beast stronghold here. Once we head out to the New World, I fully expect to see more of them as one of the stranger imports from Final Fantasy XI.
Still, we have a fundamental issue of lots of tantalizing glimpses without ever seeing the full picture. The hints we get are interesting, especially with all of the story surrounding their assault on Wanderer’s Palace. I just want more.
Another import from FFXI, I always liked these particular beasties there and enjoy them even more in FFXIV. Here, there are three different variants on the race, all of whom have different histories. The Gigas subgroup is the traditional ruling class, but they lost their slaves moving to Mor Dhona; the Giants are former slaves without a direction beyond remaining free, and the Hecatonchires are former slaves twice over who now just want to bring down everyone from their enforced subterranean home. And yet… that’s about all we know about them.
This one bothers me a bit more than the Mamool Ja because it seems unlikely that we’re ever going to actually have an entire expansion along Abalathia’s Spine, and there’s so much to unpack for these gigantic creatures. They also fascinate me by having such wildly different perspectives on life from the other races, towering over everyone. It feels like there’s piles of buried lore here that we’re just not going to get to explore, and if we haven’t already gotten a tribe quest for one of them, we’re probably not going to get one.
Then again, it’s also possible that there’s not much more to explore. We get a sense of these massive behemoths, but there’s not much to rebuild or fix there; none of them want to interact with smaller races except as threats, and none of their goals could possibly align with other races. It feels like the world moved on from them, one of the tribes without even a hint of a Primal. A bit of a missed opportunity, but perhaps not without good cause.
In stark contrast to other tribes here, there’s very few missed opportunities with Goblins. We’ve had lots of quests about Goblins now, and I’d argue more than they actually deserve, because Goblins are fundamentally not all that interesting. They’re just weird little merchants and inventors with a love for turning trash into treasure. Wandering peddlers given jingly form, in other words. I’d love to know a bit more about the Illuminati (who are not terribly well-established in the stories we get), but I am reluctant to outright unwilling to call much of anything with the Goblins “undeveloped.”
Having said all of that, the sheer volume actually adds a lot of nuance to the rather thin premise of the tribe. Sure, they’re fairly straightforward, but that just means that what really makes or breaks Goblins is how much of the tribe has the same personalities. We get to know several members of the tribe (Brayflox herself chief among them), and there’s a lot of different perspectives among them. Even the Illuminati’s rather odd motives make a certain amount of sense when you look at them as the people who see more of Eorzea than anyone else; why shouldn’t history be in their control, when they’re the ones who have an unvarnished look at all of it?
They’re not terribly interesting, but the stuff done with them is. So that’s all right.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week, we’re going to take a break to focus on patch 4.35, which contains my well-loved Deep Dungeon; then we’ll be heading back into this with the remaining top end. Yes, you can probably figure out which tribes are in the top five by process of elimination, but the order remains a mystery!