Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV patch 5.2 in review – the story

    
4
These losers again?

The funny thing about big Final Fantasy XIV patches these days is that because the smaller material gets a bit more spread out, we also wind up not really being done with the patch until a while later. However, it does mean that the big rush of content can be discussed all at once, and there is certainly a lot of material to discuss with this particular patch. All of that MSQ stuff didn’t just evaporate when the dungeon was done, after all.

Of course, some of the story beats are pretty much just foreshadowing that’s going to be very interesting when it pays off in months (or years) but is kind of neutral for the moment. So if you’re wondering why I’m not discussing an aspect here, that’s almost certainly the reason. It’s not because of forgetting anything. That’s my story and I am sticking to it. With that preamble, let’s talk about the story and lore that this patch lays out, while keeping in mind that there will be unmarked spoilers from here on out.

sir

What’s the Elidibus agenda?

At the launch of the game, there were three Source Ascians – Elidibus, Lahabrea, and Emet-Selch. All three of them had different approaches to dealing with the Warrior of Light and the Scions. Lahabrea was all about brute force and crushing things, knocking us down along with the rest of the world. He didn’t care about subtlety, really. Meanwhile, Emet-Selch made it clear that his goal was more to see if we were, actually, worth the bother of recruiting; my personal suspicion is that Emet-Selch wanted to see if absorbing all those Lightwardens might forge an Ascian, since that would have long-term implications.

Now we’re left with Elidibus. And he clearly has his own way of doing things… but for the Ascian who has always been most willing to converse with his enemies, it’s not immediately clear what he’s trying to do, just like it’s not quite clear how his nature can be so different from his connection with Zodiark.

The obvious thing to assume is that Elidibus is, in some way, less of an individual and more of a manifestation of Zodiark; that would somewhat be borne out by the fact that he has always been visibly separate from the other Ascians. But I feel like it’s also too easy, and it implies a state of separation between him and his fellows that we just don’t see in the actual game. Obviously, this is something we’re more likely going to see more of over time.

But what is he doing? Based on usual history, 5.3 will wrap up the bulk of the action on Norvrandt and mark the point when we start turning to the prelude for our next expansion. (Indeed, the coda for the Eden series pretty strongly implies this, since it’s writing Urianger and Thancred out of the story ahead of the next installments in 5.4.) That means whatever he has planned with the awakening of so many would-be Warriors of Light has to be resolved soon.

However… the key word there is resolved, not solved. We need to feel like there’s nothing more to do on the First, and I can see three possible reasons at work here.

The first option is that Elidibus is dealing with us by, functionally, ignoring us. Yes, we’ve set back the efforts for a Rejoining, and it’ll take another few centuries to put things back on track. But Ascians think in terms of centuries. Starting up a new path to a Rejoining would explain it, but it does slightly suffer from the fact that it’s kind of narratively unsatisfying to have this big scheme turn out to be nothing we have to cope with.

Our second option? Elidibus isn’t preparing for an eventual rejoining, he’s stepping up the timetable and preparing for all the rejoinings. Of the 13 Ascians, four are gone, and while two of them were very important Elidibus could easily plan to use this as a way of recovering bodies for the other eight members of his group if needed. That would make for a good path to ramp up tensions ahead of the next expansion, although we’d need some explanation of how he can speed up everything across the remaining worlds.

The last option? Well, if there’s going to be some connection between Norvrandt and the Source open permanently – which has been speculated – having that many would-be Warriors of Light around could incite all sorts of incidents. It’s possible that this is a bit of planning wherein we know the plan but don’t yet have the means to know how the impact could shake out; just because it seems as if it should be obvious doesn’t mean it is.

Trouble double.

Restoration of Balance

So the elements are back in balance in the Empty, and things are happening again. I honestly didn’t figure on this happening this quickly, or at least figured there’d be a more obvious falsehood to the high first, like everyone wasn’t just walking off for happy times after Shiva was taken out. But no, it appears that we’ve cleared the stage and can move on entirely to focusing on Gaia for the final stretch.

This bit, uh… doesn’t entirely work, honestly.

I’m reluctant to call it out abjectly as not working this early, obviously, since we still have one more major installment in the wings. But while I definitely agree with people who have mentioned that Gaia is likely if not certain to wind up in an Ultimecia-esque role for the finale, I think we also have to reckon with the fact that the story is telling two very separate parts. On the one hand, there’s Eden and the restoration of the Empty, and on the other hand we have Gaia, the Oracle of Darkness, and whatever that is all about.

This particular installment is basically all about the former and only lightly intersecting with the latter. Indeed, the main reason for Gaia being so present now is she basically barely appeared in the first installment, and we need time to build up parasocial bonds with her and care about the things that happen to her and Ryne in the final section.

That’s fine, but it also speaks to the problem that these two stories don’t seem to have any thematic cohesion at this point. There’s not a parallel between “restoring the dead world” and “figuring out Gaia’s deal to facilitate Ryne’s ongoing emotional development.” The fact that there’s not more obvious connection between the two makes this installment not bad exactly, but it suffers a bit insofar as the Eden arc has now basically ended. Seriously, it contains all the beats you need for a complete arc… except we know it hasn’t.

Gaia herself is portrayed well enough, a portrait of what happened to the youth of Eulmore being both denied a future or the hope of changing that. Her interplay with Ryne works well, and I’m interested to see how they do wrap up her story. But at least right now, it feels like that’s a very different story from the one being played up from the beginning.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week? Let’s talk about where we’re going next and how it fits into the overall pattern of the gameplay. (And also feel free to let me know how you feel about this particular splitting of the column’s contents; I feel it worked out well, but I love hearing reader feedback about these changes.)

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.
Advertisement

No posts to display

newest oldest most liked
Subscribe to:
Paksarra
Reader
Paksarra

One thing to note is that, assuming none have been replaced, there are seven Ascians dead. One of them got thrown into the Aetherial Sea when Baldesion vanished and is presumed lost for good. Two more died to Ardbert and friends on the First; their defeat was enough to throw the shard into a flood of Light.

Reader
Sorenthaz

Part 3 of the Verse section made it seem like Eden is actually something the entity in Gaia wants to get control of. What was confusing though is how that idol of darkness basically summoned and controlled the massive flock of Sin Eaters. Guess the next series will probably deep dive into this stuff and likely end on a FF8 note since everything not involving the primals has been using the FF8 boss battle music, with some form of Ultimecia being the final boss. Maybe Gaia will end up getting possessed again and hijacks Eden to try and use it to blanket the region in darkness or something.

As for the Elidibus stuff, it seems like he’s maybe akin to what Minfilia is, who’s basically just lying dormant in Ryne. When Ryne became a primal she obviously turned into a primal resembling Hydaelyn part of the time, and even replicated the ancient mural’s depiction of Hydaelyn kicking Zodiark to sunder him (which splits the party in half as we try to keep the Flood of Light at bay by preventing various elements from merging into two different reflections of the Source?). That seems like she’s more than just akin to a lesser Ascian. So I imagine Elidibus essentially houses Zodiark’s will/power inside of him but it’s obviously fragmented. That’s why emotionally he doesn’t really seem (so far) to show much in comparison to Emet-Selch or even Lahabrea. He’s the “emissary” of Zodiark similar to how Minfilia is the emissary of Hydaelyn.

And my bet is that he’s probably going to find a way to rejoin the shards in a way that ultimately accomplishes the same purpose but doesn’t require calamities on the Source to force merges. We’re likely going to see an escalation so that the push comes for Zodiark and Hydaelyn to manifest themselves and Zenos will attempt to try and do what he did to Shinryu.

Bereman
Reader
Bereman

who’s basically just lying dormant in Ryne.

The impression that I got from their scenes was that Minfilia let herself go entirely as part of the process of transferring the “Oracle of Light” powers. There’s a definite sense of finality with that arc, so I don’t think Minfilia is lying dormant anywhere – she’s gone for good.

That’s not to say that some aspect of Hydaelyn, that Minfilia carried with her as Word of the Mother and then Oracle of Light (some piece of Venat, perhaps?), didn’t make the jump from Minfilia to Ryne and is now lying dormant within Ryne.

Which would clock with how the Elidibus we’re seeing might work – he may have a piece of the original Elidibus that sacrificed himself in the creation of Zodiark, in the way Ryne may have a piece of Venat.

And my bet is that he’s probably going to find a way to rejoin the shards in a way that ultimately accomplishes the same purpose but doesn’t require calamities on the Source to force merges.

I wouldn’t be surprised if this was the case. I know I’ve seen a lot of “he’s just trying to push it closer to the Light again like Emet-Selch did, that’s his plan” around in various discussions of this patch’s story, but that doesn’t account for how the Source has also needed to be in a ready state where both are primed to a specific point and then a metaphysical dam gets a metaphysical crack put in it, causing the whole thing break. With the destruction of Black Rose, there doesn’t appear to be a catalyst available to trigger the Source into a light aspected calamity.

Though I have to wonder if the escalation might come about not as a result of Elidibus’ actions, but rather some Zenos manages to do, rather than Elidibus doing something and Zenos taking advantage of it. He’s in the “wild card” spot within the story at the moment, though, so I suppose either of those paths would fit for his place in the story.