Wisdom of Nym: Thoughts on the end of Final Fantasy XIV’s 4.x story

    
5
So... we cool, huh? We cool?

So now we’ve gotten the ending. And… gosh, sometimes these patches really do not merit splitting up, which is kind of the case for Final Fantasy XIV this week. I’m not sure exactly how the team could have handled this differently based on the final fan festival because on some level this feels like something that would always get derailed by the announcement or would make the announcement redundant; at the same time, now that we knew our destination this story mostly had to mark time.

That having been said, there’s still some interesting stuff going on with the story here, and I think it’s well worth examining what we know now and what impact this will have as we spent the next three months waiting to continue. Just be well aware that the rest of this column will not shy away from spoilers, so if you’ve somehow put off finishing the main scenario for a week… well, don’t read this. Or be spoiled, whatever.

It’s not unwriting what you think

Hooray, I'm intentional!Here’s the central lie that basically all of our speculation was built upon: We can’t go beat up the Ascians like this.

It’s an understandable basis. What we know about the First is what Arbert told us, that the flood of light in the world followed them defeating all of the Ascians on that shard. So it was easy to assume that if we had to become the Warrior of Darkness, we had to fix the balance, meaning that we had to turn against our allies and the goodness we had been operating under to be the villain and…

Well, not so much. The hooded man makes it clear that his warning isn’t about winning or losing. It’s about continuing down our path. In other words, it doesn’t actually matter if we do go stomp out the Ascians because we’re all screwed if we don’t deal with a different problem… like, say, the First being overwhelmed with light.

In other terms, the warning is that so long as we’re dealing with the rat infestation and ignoring the fact that our house is on fire, we’re screwed. We have to go deal with that fire.

To be honest, this makes no small amount of sense. Everything that Arbert told us about the fate of the First was based almost completely on his understanding, and his understanding was by necessity filtered through the explanations of an Ascian. While Elidibus clearly has a different agenda from his brethren, he’s still an Ascian, and this story installment makes it very clear that he considers us well worth killing.

My suspicion is that the flood of light wasn’t caused by defeating the Ascians specifically, but something unleashed by them to ensure that the world becomes unbalanced. Even Minfilia herself didn’t seem to understand what was happening. But we do, at this point, have a clearer picture of what actually needs to be done.

Zenos, buddy. You look good. Been working out?

We’re not leaving the Source behind

It’s very clear that this next expansion is focused on the First. At this point there’s no real reason to expect that any of the zones we’ve been shown or have teased are going to take place in the Source. And yet it’s also very clear from this ending that we’re not going to be taking a two-year-long vacation from our home realm, popping back over to just visit Ishgard as it rebuilds. The Source is still vital.

This patch makes explicit that Zenos is seeking out his own body once again with his artificial Echo, that Elidibus and Varis both have their own plans in motion, and that there’s no shortage of things that are going to be happening at home even as we fight to restore the First. I’m not sure which of these antagonists are going to follow us into the First, but it seems all but absolute that some of them will. We have more stories to tell and explore there, as well.

This strikes me as important by way of emphasis. Yes, we’ve got to go to the First and deal with problems there. But we’re also going to be dealing with problems back at home, and there is the potential for one to bleed into the other. We are not, as was worried, faffing off to deal with other things when there’s a more urgent threat.

In fact, on that note…

The war has spun to a stalemate

Gun up.Pay close attention at the end of the MSQ. The clear statement is that the Empire isn’t ready to deploy Black Rose, but produce it. That implies that there’s some time left before it works… and it also tends to imply, at least to me, that Varis is on some level intentionally stalling. I don’t think he wants to lose this fight, but I also get the feeling that he has reason to not rush to its conclusion.

Between national unity, putting down other uprisings, the fact that the three people serving as the leadership who all have somewhat different goals, and some high-profile defections? The Empire is actually losing this war. And that’s entirely realistic. The Garlean force is at a disadvantage to many others, a disadvantage traditionally mitigated by its use of magitek and a fearsome reputation. But with several legions lost, a divided internal state, and less intelligence all around, it’s not able to just roll back in to Ala Mhigo.

Does it still feel like we’re going to head into the Empire? Of course it does; the Garlean Empire is the obvious capstone to the story arcs established thus far. But when I say “capstone,” I mean it. Defeating the Empire will be the end of a huge plot point and is something you can’t really deploy casually. Heading away from that gives us a much better chance to make this endgame feel suitably climactic as we move to it.

It’s going to be a long three months

If all of this feels like a very positive takeaway, my actual takeaway was… mixed. Yes, this bit of story set up the next expansion, but it didn’t do so in the most elegant fashion; it felt a bit like marking time, telling us the things in-universe that we already knew to be true out-of-universe. And it certainly didn’t have the climactic feeling that the end of 2.5 or even 3.5 delivered.

That having been said, it did bring in one bookend that we’d been missing with the final fight, while also hinting that it wasn’t quite the conclusion. Prior to this encounter with Elidibus, we’d fought Zenos three times. The first fight was in early Stormblood, when you can barely touch him. The second fight was in Yanxia, and you did better, but he still was untouchable. And the third time was… in a full party against him in the Ala Mhigan throne room.

This, then, was the third match against him in a one-on-one duel, not as a boss but showing what you could do against a form of this long-running antagonist. Yes, it wasn’t quite him, but it was a bookend the game had been teasing for a long while. And sure, the victory didn’t stick, but it was a victory just the same.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next time, let’s start talking a little bit about potential development plans, databases, and the scenario that can make the new gender lock feel more planned and less like a pointless mistake.

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:
Reader
Sorenthaz

Feels like the end of the MSQ for Stormblood more built up the expansion after Shadowbringers instead of Shadowbringers itself, unless Shadowbringers doesn’t have us staying in The First for the whole duration.

Reader
Khalith .

I really didn’t like fighting Zenos at the end of the MSQ dungeon, after all that we did and went through to get strong enough, that should have been an epic 1v1 duel and I felt denied that when, not only did we not fight him 1v1, but he turned in to a goddamn dragon. By the end of this, I want my 1v1 against Zenos where I prove myself the superior one without anyone else assisting me.

Reader
Polychromantium

I for one, cannot wait. I just hope they fix genderlocking in the next patch.

Reader
cursedseishi

The ending was definitely… anticlimactic for me. Essentially 2 quests, 1 being just a run here, go there, and the other being ‘fight this guy twice’. The first ‘fight’ especially felt rather… dull. The progress bar you wait on is nothing more than a meter based off the enemies health and despite it being a sort of ‘stand your ground’ scenario you hardly feel pressured. It’s just a ‘hey hit the bag for a while and don’t worry because you got OP healing regen tossed on you’, when it feels more like the characters should of been going down as the fight progresses into a sort of bloody last stand deal.
Meanwhile the second ‘fight’, felt the opposite. It may be due to the fact that–at the time–my poor Dragoon was Ilvl 360 or so from a few breaks I needed to take off the game… But once you hit the obligatory ‘stop him before the meter charges’ shtick the first time through the bar finished just before I could kill the last sword. Second time through, no problem sure since I knew what all to expect but… Yeah. Weird dichotomy for me.

And afterwards? We don’t get that cool scene in the trailers… Instead, we get Dragon Ex Machina’ed out of there because of course the voice speaks up right as we go in to finish things. It’s cute we see how that mask gets popped open like in the trailer, but its hardly a ‘good’ feeling that “Obnoxious Sky Voice” has served as nothing more than annoyances… And has continued my wish for there to be some manner of “renegade button” that my Dragoon could hammer–much like how you see Fray acting during the initial questline for Dark Knight up to lvl 50.

And while this could be my personal thoughts and how I’d like to portray my character… It feels less like we have to go there to help Mr. Crystalhand out, and more like ‘I have to go clean your mess up, because you buried my friends under all of it dammit and you wont let rescue staff in unless I kill your rats first’.
Still no bloody clue as to what’s going on with the ‘Matoya’ thing, aside from the obvious-but-keep-playing-coy-about-it-sure Elezen guy with katana. People with the Echo may be able to take over bodies, great… But then, how do the bodies get there? I’m guessing that’s the situation, souls got ripped out and are trapped in the First we go there to find them after they’ve been scattered to the winds (feeling heavy shades of 2.X here guys…), but everyone has what I would say is their “real” bodies except for… well, Y’shtola/Matoya/Whomever. And yeah, yeah it’ll more than likely be touched on come Shadowbringers…

But even the introduction of the “First” feels flimsy. We could have had just ONE more quest even! Have us go to the Crystal Tower, find the beacon or whatever we’ll be looking for… Set things up a little more, hint at how we’ll actually be traveling there since it is supposed to be so unique to us… And then, once it is done have some of our surviving friends say “Hey, look… I know we should be heading there right now… but maybe we should hold off some until we’ve got everything settled here.”

Also… I’m getting the feeling that these ‘scenario’ fights will become much much more common… We’ll probably see something to the effect of ‘half’ of our MSQ fights being ones where we are controlling other characters… And they’ll likely use that to keep us grounded to the going ons within Eorzea and with the Garlean empire. We know Gaius is about and… sort of… kind of… on our side a bit… Yugiri has worked with Thancred to help disseminate pro-rebellion information among the Garlean empire’s lands, and I could even possibly see them giving us control of Elfen Leading man Zenos as he tears his way through the lands to reclaim his body.

edit: But hey, one thing I’m happy for? With how the Hildebrand questline ended, we should have something fun with us on this ride!

Reader
Dagget Burmese

I’m curious as to the status of our allies – which are staying on the Source, which may follow to the 1st; or do we find different named counterparts there? Black mage Matoya might simply be Y’stolas opposite in the 1st, etc, though I feel like the Rak’Tika Greatwood might be a new zone on the Source (and bunnies flee the fire and get pushed into civilization etc)