Wisdom of Nym: Analyzing and overthinking Final Fantasy XIV’s 4.5 revelations

    
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Here comes trouble.

I wonder if we’re actually going to find out our destination for the next expansion in February. Remember, we still don’t actually know where we’re going when Shadowbringers releases; when asked during the fan festival, Naoki Yoshida made it very clear that we were intentionally not being told just yet. And while I expect we’ll be clear on it when Final Fantasy XIV releases the second part of this final main scenario questline, it’s also quite possible that the designers will let us know on February 2nd just to fuel more speculation.

Not that it isn’t partly interesting just to chew on what we do know as of this story installment. Because as I said a couple weeks back, the MSQ gives us plenty of meaty information to chew on in a line that winds up being mostly about cutscenes and talking.

This column is meant to cover some of that, and as a result, it is by necessity going to include spoilers. Consider this your warning; if you haven’t finished the 4.5 MSQ just yet, it will be spoiled here. You have had several weeks to do so now, but… well, this is your final warning. Turn back now or accept being spoiled.

Ready? Here we go.

The hour is nearly here.

Just to start off with, I’m beyond glad that Varis zos Galvus remains our enemy, through and through. The alternative would have been easy to have happen, but the parley scene teased it… while also making it very clear that even though Varis is not buying the party line of the Ascians, he’s still a huge threat.

A lot of the speculation I’ve seen flitting around is that Varis is actually on board with what the Ascians want, but from my reading of the scenes, the man has very different goals from his would-be masters. Varis wants to reconstitute what he sees as the only sort of force that can actually defeat the Ascians… a force without boundaries between nations, or even people.

Remember how we’ve had it teased many times that the Echo breaks down barriers? One suspects that what Varis wants is predicated upon understanding, better than most, what the Echo can actually be used to accomplish. What the Ascians see as a tool, Varis sees as a goal. He wants to place control of mortal fates in mortal hands and strip out the Ascians.

Of course, he’s still utterly deranged and dangerous, and if people won’t accept that willingly he’ll just force them. So he’s still a villain. He’s just got a different goal than the Ascians do, and one suspects it’s the goal that got Gaius van Baelsar so resolutely on board with his plans before he realized their origin point.

Speaking of the former Legatus… yeah, this story point was heavily hinted at, and it seemed like something that was going to come out at a later time. Instead, nope! Here we are, already hearing about the fact that yes, Gaius survived our confrontation and has been waging a private little war against the Ascians all the while.

To me, this seems to make it even more likely that we’re not going right to Garlemald; instead of finding this out later on, we’re being handed that revelation to chew on even as our connection to Gaius is severed. Alphinaud is back with the Scions, and we only know that Gaius is going to continue doing what he does. It’s entirely plausible that we won’t see him again for some time.

But none of this is certain, because… well, everything is going to hinge on what our arc words mean. “Throw wide the gates to let us pass.”

There’s a lot of speculation about this, and for good reason, not the least of which being that we don’t yet know what gates we’re supposed to throw wide. My first thought was that this was a reference to the Imperial attack, but the line isn’t vague. There are no gates to throw wide.

And no, the Doman barrier is a wall. Still no gates.

Judgement walks your world.

So what could it mean? There are a few possibilities, and the most obvious one is that there’s a specific set of gates somewhere that we’d be inclined to leave closed. But that seems almost too predictable, and part of me suspects that it’s something even more sinister. We’re not throwing wide a set of physical gates at all.

This part is almost certainly going to prove wrong, but here’s my current theory. There’s something in the game that’s usually referred to as gates, despite the fact that there are lots of other possible words. Like “portals.” Or “rifts.” Or “tears.” No, they’re almost always called void gates.

Throw wide the gates to let us pass.

This isn’t something I can entirely defend based on the game’s cosmology as established thus far. The whole reason why the Void is the way that it is comes down to a dearth of aether, which seems like the opposite of helpful when one of the phenomena hitting the realm right now is a thinning of aether. But it’s also possible that this is part of the same overall problem, that the thinning is due to something that would be actually fixed by letting shadow pour into the world.

And at this point what we know is that we’re being told, over and over, to throw wide the gates. We know the expansion is Shadowbringers. We know that we wouldn’t be getting told to throw wide the gates, over and over, unless the gates in question are ones we would normally not permit to be opened.

As one Scion after another falls, it strikes me that there’s a definite sense not of depriving us of allies but of trying to send a warning of some kind, something to push us into an action that we would otherwise almost certainly not take. We don’t know where the warning is coming from or what it’s supposed to prevent. But we need to be ready.

Of course, at this point we’re almost out of allies to lose in the process of getting that warning to us. And because of the nature of the game’s plotting, it feels all but certain that the ultimate explanation will be reasonable and clear. It’s just a matter of what it looks like when we finally get it. Personally, that’s part of the fun.

To be fair, these are gates.

As one last bit of speculation, while a lot of people have speculated that we’ll be heading to another shard off of the source, that personally doesn’t sit quite right simply because there’s so much unexplored land in Hydaelyn. I understand where it’s coming from, and the implication of other realms certainly makes it feel reasonable, but it seems to me like a red herring.

The other big thing people are guessing at is a time travel expansion, but we know that we’re getting new areas, so that already seems a bit off. There’s too much forward motion in the plot for us to suddenly travel backwards and set off a different sequence of events. All of the teases about changing history seem to be less about altering an event in the past and more about altering the overall trajectory of events before they reach a tipping point.

But, of course, that’s all speculation. I could be wrong; we’ll find out soon enough.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments below or by mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next time? Well, we’ve got some fan festival stuff coming up, so I guess it’s time to guess at what we’ll see. Guessing games!

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.
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Vincent Clark

Surprisingly, I’m still in my “honeymoon phase” with this game. So, my ass will be up bright and early (for me) that morning to watch the key note and hanging on to every announcement.

There is some chatter that we will be getting 3 new jobs, not including Blue Mage. I hope this is true as it will go some way to appeasing those who expressed outrage at Blue not being a “proper” job. I’m leaning towards just a tank and healer job, but we’ll see.

Side note: The transition phase during the last boss of the Ivalice raid was, in my opinion, worth the monthly sub on it’s own.

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Kawaii Five-O

People get hung up on “multiple new jobs,” and think that implies more than two. The exact same thing happened with Stormblood.

It’d be awesome if SE unveils a new, unteased third job at the final fanfest and blows us all away with something no one saw coming (similar to how AST was revealed for HW), but I find that extremely unlikely.

I think it’ll be two new jobs just like Stormblood that used the exact same phrasing in announcing ‘multiple’ new jobs.

Bereman
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Bereman

one suspects it’s the goal that got Gaius van Baelsar so resolutely on board with his plans before he realized their origin point.

I think Varis’ current goal is a more recent extension of his previous buying into the “party line” of the Garlean Empire, which was him believing that they are the ones that are fit to rule and protect Hydaelyn from threats such as the Primals. This “rule by might, and we will protect this planet” was entirely Gaius van Baelsar’s thing back in ARR as well, and it was the old goal that almost certainly had Gaius going all in at the time.

The current goal – the whole let the Rejoinings happen to become the single unified race that supposedly existed prior to the split with the belief that they will then have the strength and unity to deal with the Ascians (and servants of the Light as well) permanently – seems to be born out of him recently learning the truth behind the Garlean Empire itself, and I don’t think Gaius is the type that would support it.

It’s an extension of the same mentality, just taken to an extreme “nothing left to lose” level upon learning just how much he’s been a puppet on a string his entire life.

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Sorenthaz

Seems like with the Shadowbringers trailer it’s like we’re purposely fighting the ‘light’, possibly in a manner similar to what the Warriors of Darkness warned us about back in the 3.x story.

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Sorenthaz

I almost wonder if that third Ascian who’s supposed to represent the Light/order is going to show up. Since Lahabrea represented darkness/chaos and represented Zodiark, what if the other one represents Hydaelin? ’cause we’ve already got one character who took on that role.

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cursedseishi

Having the gates refer to the Voidsent definitely plays well with what we know so far. Thanks to the Warriors of Darkness, we know that ‘The Light’, which had consumed their star, isn’t an entirely benevolent force. Not to say it’s malicious, but there’s a tipping point in the scale where too much of one causes it to spill over. Shadowbringer’s trailer, the last before we cut to the angelic figure, was clearly a showdown that will likely cap off the current confrontation and in that trailer appeared to be said point where everything spills over. Which mirrors how the voice has constantly said we’re drawing closer and closer to a calamity, how there is time still…

The question is… Why do we open the gates? Shadowbringer, Warrior of Darkness we are apparently going to become… The ‘Gate’ that we see open up behind the WoL in the cinematic when he job-changes to Dark Knight? It is definitely connected, and it is even possible that tear behind him is the gate we are supposedly opening. We know the bodies yet live for those afflicted with the Echo, even if the souls have been… as it was put, cut away and nowhere to be found. Is part of opening this Gate being done then to return them?

As for the Aether… Well, in that same reveal trailer we do get to see the land. It’s barren. Perhaps when the scales tip too far, it ushers in something similar to a Primal? We know the biggest threat from Primal aside from the indoctrination is the burden they cast upon the environment’s aether. We know the Ascians have fought to bring Zodiark back, and I’m making a wild guess here but perhaps that is the ‘Darkness’ that consumes a world should it fall into it. We also have no name (far as I’ve seen) that the angelic figure goes by… So assuming the same, it may yet be the ‘Primal’ equivalent to Zodiark. A Primal so strong that it affects not the sea or country, but the very shard it appears in. I’m also imagining that partway into the next patch, that barrier we helped set up is going to have something go wrong… Or at the very least, the source of its power will play into matters.

A world scorched by light and drained of aether by its arrival… And why we’d absolutely would have to oppose it and… as the voice has said, throw open the gates. Who knows… we may yet have to sacrifice the absolute security of Doma to utilize that same power to dredge darkness back into the world.

Edit: Fun little thought here too… But we may even be able to guess what the next Alliance duty or Raid may be! The switching of Light to Darkness could very well be a hint towards FF4’s Cecil, who is the famous little Dark Knight turned Paladin. So we may see a raid or the like based off Final Fantasy 4! Plus… Four… Fourteen… Fourth ‘release’ for the game? It just works people! Come on!

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Kawaii Five-O

Altering our current trajectory is more inline with how I interpret it rather than time traveling.

Personally, my hype for Shadowbringers would be deflated if we end up going to another shard or time traveling outside of an instance like a dungeon or raid. To me, that would just make this expansion a Warlords of Draenor, which I had zero interest in for similar reasons. It felt like filler.

It would be such a disappointment when there’s still so much of Hydaelyn left to explore–Ilsabard, Meracydia, the New World, the Old World, Thavnair, Dalmasca, Nagxia, the entirety of Hingashi outside of Kugane. And of course, there’s other smaller locales that we know of as well like the islands that the Lalafell and Sea Wolves originate from.

Personally, I think we’ll be moving into southern Othard that was previously shrouded in clouds until the most recent patch. Unveiling that portion of the map in 4.5 was deliberate, and Dalmasca and Nagxia have become more relevant to the story.

Then we’ll travel west to Thavnair (we still have that consulate in Kugane that has been suspiciously unused) and from there, possibly north into Ilsabard.

I believe that the Ridoran Lighthouse/Clockwork City of Goug is also in that region of sea between Thavnair and Dalmasca, which appears to have some future significance as well.

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Dagget Burmese

Yeah, I think at least some of the new territory that we will get access to covers those areas mentioned in the Ivalice raids, but don’t think that will be all the new zones.