Wisdom of Nym: The Final Fantasy XIV 5.3 Live Letter in review

Oh, right.

Well, that sure was a thing, huh? Another live letter in the books, and given the circumstances it’s a lot more understandable why Final Fantasy XIV didn’t have the whole thing in translated summaries ready to go right away, even as a lot of additional effort was put into translating the letter as it happened. Things that make you nod thoughtfully, and so on. But the important part is that the letter happened, and…

There’s a lot. That’s the important part. I keep looking at it from different angles and being surprised by just how much stuff was revealed in this letter, stuff that perhaps normally would be reserved for later potentially, but here we are now, and we’ve got it all right here. So let’s talk about all of the stuff we learned from this first live letter and speculate a little about the stuff we definitely don’t know yet. Yes, that’s in there.

Here we are now; entertain us.

Why are we fighting the Exarch?!

To the surprise of absolutely no one, the final boss for the whole overarching Shadowbringers plot will be fought in patch 5.3, with the next two patches bridging the gap into the next expansion. All well and good. Concurrently, that means that we’re going to be wrapping things up, and the next trial boss is going to be a surprise… except it’s also quite obviously the Crystal Exarch.

“But the Exarch is on our side!” Yes, duh, that’s kind of the point. He’s the only one on the title artwork, which implies him already, and most of the other possibilities would be… well, not surprising. Having an Elidibus fight, for example, would at best be a rehash of Hades and at worst just feel perfunctory.

But even just from a narrative standpoint, fighting and beating Elidibus in any significant fashion would just mean that the story ends the exact same way it already went up to this point. The Exarch is the last figure on Norvrandt we have an emotional attachment to who has not yet reached an actual conclusion yet; we know who he is, but even he didn’t really envision himself living past the moment on Mt. Gulg. He is, in narrative terms, the one part of the plot that we have yet to tie a bow on.

So all that really leaves is the question of why we’re going to fight him. No matter what, it’s going to be tragic, simply because this is another figure who has been relentlessly on the same side as the player character who is going to need to oppose us for some reason.

My though is that this is going to have something to do with the whole hints about requiring a Crystal Tower clear for the MSQ; it’s definitely possible that this will end with some sort of more permanent link between the worlds, thus explaining why you would still be doing things on Norvrandt even with the Exarch now gone. (And we know that’s going to happen, since neither the YoRHa raids nor Eden will be finished until later patches.) But that’s still speculation at this point.

Yes, fighting the Exarch is also speculation, but I feel rather confident about it. If there’s one thing that can actually lead to a surprise situation, that’d be it. (Perhaps it will be Norvrandt’s newly Echo-enhanced heroes waging a war against the Exarch himself… that’d give another meaning to the Warriors of Darkness and the dungeon named “Heroes’ Gauntlet,” wouldnt it?)

Girl's dorm.

Puppet show

We were all figuring the amusement park, and then as is the custom for this expansion, we got played. No, instead we’re investigating the heart of these androids, and if you thought this was going to play out broadly in the same strokes as NieR Automata you have now learned that’s not going to be the case at all. This makes no small amount of sense, given that the later areas there present their own problems for the game world.

At the same time, I don’t think this wholly precludes Simone or amusement park fragments; she’s an iconic boss, after all, and I’d be surprised if she didn’t get included in this overall run. But it also serves as a nod that we are not going to be precisely exploring the same territory as the game that inspired all of this running about. In fact, I think we may very well be sidestepping all of the big reveals from the game itself along the way. Anyone awaiting the big unveiling the game had about machines and androids, for example, should stop hoping.

To some extent, this makes sense since NieR Automata is still closer to being a current and active product than Final Fantasy Tactics, but it also begs the question of where Yoko Taro is actually going with this. Taro’s work always deals with heavy themes about existentialism, sense of self, and moral certitude. Sure, we all giggle at the thought he was told certain things could not be done in this particular content, but if you’re familiar with his other work you know that he still found space to explore.

In the broad strokes, this does explain something important about why 2P is on the ground and what is going on in the larger sense. Clearly, if the bunker is on the ground, we’re dealing with events well after the fall of the forces of YoRHa, which means that their conflict with the machines has ended one way or the other; that means the question is less who started the machines up again (since the end of the Copied Factory implies that’s down to 9S) but more what the ultimate purpose was. Surely it couldn’t be going after 2P herself, but…

Of course, this also makes speculation a bit more useless. We still don’t know how this integrates with what we do know about Ronka and Norvrandt, but it’s clear that we’re dealing with something that is a bit more subtle in many ways than what the Return to Ivalice series did. This isn’t just porting over the plot, this is… porting over more themes and ideas. And a wider mythology.

Not again.

More dwarves?!

Yeah, this is officially more than enough.

To some extent, I get it. Heavensward as an expansion was full of Elezen and Au Ra, while Stormblood had Au Ra, Hyur, and Roegadyn with a dash of Miqo’te. We’ve not yet had an expansion wherein Lalafell were a major component of the NPCs we’ve interacted with, and Hrothgar and Viera weren’t a thing before this expansion, so it makes sense to have a lot of Dwarf interactions in this particular expansion.

But at a certain point you reach overload with a culture that only kind of has the one note, and Dwarves have hit that point by now. Tying them into the MSQ and half of the zone quests and the YoRHa raid and now here as well has left me with some notable fatigue. I’m not really jumping to get any additional content of the helmet beard fetish crowd. The novelty has well and truly worn off.

It doesn’t help that the Dwarves just really don’t seem to have much in the way of additional notes. Like, I keep waiting for the Dwarves to surprise me in some way, to have something new or some new insight, and yet… no, it’s still just the same gag. Maybe this line will prove me wrong, but at this point I am not tremendously hopeful. Ah, well.

Of course, there’s actually more to talk about with this for next week, and in this case I think I’ll do just that to talk about old-world changes and timeframes. For now, though, feel free to let me know what you think in the comments or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com.

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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Not buying the conclusion that we’re fighting the Exarch.

They’ve built him up as being a close friend and confidant, with little in the way of forcing any sort of conflict that leads to us squaring off in battle, and having those circumstances pop up in a single patch MSQ set just feels like it would be incredibly rushed and/or contrived.

The only way that works, with the story that we currently have, is if something takes over the Exarch and we have to fight “him” but it really isn’t him, just his body, in which case we aren’t really fighting the Exarch…which, like a conflict pushing us into fighting the actual Exarch doesn’t really have anything setting it up, which means it would also have to be a rushed set of circumstances to fit in the 8-9 quests we typically get as part of these patches.

Making the Crystal Tower series required almost guarantees a permanent status change for either the Exarch, the original G’raha on the Source that is still inside the CT, or both, that is more than just shifting locations.

The last time they did this where we’ve seen the result was with Minfilia and the Hard Modes for Ifrit, Garuda, and Titan, leading up to patch 2.5 stuff – she was I believe the person you turned those quests into, and with her disappearing in 2.55 they removed that conflict of having to turn in a quest to a person that isn’t supposed to be there. They’ve also done it with Mikoto Jinba, as part of the current Relic line…but we don’t yet know how that will turn out. Odds are it will be another permanent status change that goes beyond just moving from one location to another.

Chances are said status change is likely death…but I just don’t see it being through us fighting him in a trial.

Also, we’ve a fair amount of examples of patch artwork that features entities we aren’t fighting as part of that patch, just ones that are integral to the story at that point.

Patch 3.1, 3.2, 3,5, 4.1, 4.4, 4.5, 5.1, and the most recent 5.2 all feature artwork that showcases villains, allies, or both, who are integral to some part of that patches story…but don’t actually show who we end up fighting in that patch (it may show some we’ve fought before, or end up fighting later, but not always that specific patch), whether in a trial or a normal raid type situation. It’s actually close to half and half on whether or not the artwork shows the boss of either a trial, 8 man raid, or 24 man raid for that patch versus showing those we aren’t fighting that patch.

So really him being on the title artwork only implies that he is a major focus of patch 5.3…which should be obvious to just about everyone who has made it up to patch 5.2. As for other options – we’ve had not surprising before, though they don’t talk about it before hand and keep it secret, and is more a result of them not wanting to give anything of the plot away rather than the person we fight be a real twist or surprise.

As for the Dwarves…bring ’em on. From the little we’ve seen of them (I disagree that they are one note) they have both the feud thing going, are often mired in tradition (sometimes to their detriment), and are a bunch that likes to tinker. Crafting quests are pretty much the perfect avenue to explore more of that…

And if crafting dailies could make even Moogles in the Churning Mist more interesting, I’m sure it can work for the Dwarves.


One final thing after discussing it with my wife that she pointed out (missed the edit windoww) – having us fight him would basically put us right back into a similar situation to the one we were at after defeating Innocence – the Exarch forcing his own death in some form or fashion, by being set as a person who is against us (as poor as the lie was on his part, he did try and cast himself as the villain there) – which doesn’t feel like the kind of narrative backtracking we’re likely to see.

Andrew Clear

Maybe he does have to die for the scions to make it back to the first? Or maybe Elidibus takes his form?

Who know, but most people are banking on Elidibus (and that would be too easy to predict). If they really want to throw out a surprise, how about we fight Zodiark :)

Dagget Burmese

I think the Exarch must die on the 1st for the Scions to return. Not clear how they will frame that for a fight, though. Then they go back to the Source but with the knowledge in hand to awaken his younger self in the Crystal Tower. End result is younger Exarch and both towers active.


I think another problem with the Dwarves as a beast tribe is… They’re a crafting line, if I remember right. Usually the Crafting/Gathering Beast Tribe was singular and keeps the others as ways to level up Combat classes…

But here? It just… doesn’t fit. Since the Ishgard content’s introduction, we’ve literally had our ‘craft’ job leveler in place. The reason they put out the Gathering beast-tribe was to help off-set the imbalance that introduced. And this one…?

I just don’t see the point. You can literally max any crafter class in an hour or so from 70, and below that these wouldn’t matter anyways. And at cap, they don’t really give much of a reason to do them. It feels like it’s being put in just to have it put in. It also unbalances the patch since it’s all heavily “non-combat” leveling and “max level” play. One might argue the Realm Reborn revival as some leveling fix… but really that’s just smoothing out a really, really rough early point for the game. A much needed thing, no doubt, but… Beyond that startling long starting hurdle? It doesn’t play into anything.

… I am ALL in on the Nier raid though. The Bunker’s crashed, sure, but that can’t be the only spot we hit up… If I had to guess…? We go in, start investigating the ruins of the Bunker, and something collapses into an underground area where we’re hit with the necessary curve-ball to introduce the last part’s villain.

Steven Williams

I’m with you regarding the beast tribes. I wish it were more akin to the Namazu (imo the best beast tribe in the game) with a single crafter/gatherer and two battle beast tribes. It felt like a good balance.

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Ysayle was right

The pixies were if anything more overexposed and one-note way back when they got their beast tribe quests than the dwarves.

Andrew Clear

Pixies annoyed me, and the dwarf story line in the MSQ wasn’t bad, but since then, they have just started to annoy me also.

Odd that the Dwarf’s are considered beasts though.