All right, let’s make something very clear right off the bat: There will be spoilers in this column. If you have managed to not do the content yet and wish to avoid spoilers, fairly warned be ye. The probability of a fan of Final Fantasy XIV having waited for two weeks to do the story content seems kind of baffling to me, but let’s be fair here. From this point on, we are in open potential spoiler territory.
A conclusion of tone
I find it kind of interesting how after setting up a whole lot of mysteries and vagueness in the prior patch’s story, this particular one opts to basically not bother answering any of it. How is Elidibus walking around separate from Zodiark? Why did his plan involve making more Warriors of Light? What makes this moment worth putting it all on the line? Don’t worry about that; here’s the conflict, get this done.
That doesn’t mean the answers aren’t there; if you read between the lines enough, there’s a clear explanation of why these things happened. But the focus is mostly on the emotional weight and motivation. It’s not about answering precise questions about lore details, but about the feel of where Elidibus differed from his brethren.
It also brings an interestingly almost Stormblood-esque twist to the whole larger mythology in the process, the idea that resistance to the Ascians was itself part of the larger system. Heroic resistance against the system is a part of the system itself, in a way.
The one thing it didn’t really deliver on was the idea of fighting the sort of threat we’d never faced before. At the end of the day, this was basically a different spin on fighting against Thordan, a heroic figure co-opted for selfish ends. That the fight itself echoes Thordan only strengthens the parallels. I see where the attempt was made to make this a very different sort of thing, but it doesn’t really land. Ah, well, not everything does.
This all sounds a little negative, and there were bits that disappointed me a little bit, but as a whole I really did like this bit of the story. It did a solid job of wrapping up the story of the First, and while I feel like it went a bit light on some of the resolution, at a certain point that’s complaining about a conclusion the story never claimed it would offer. And in closing the book on the Ascian manipulation plot, we can now move into a very different direction for future stories.
And that stinger… well, that one’s going to need a whole column on its own. Sorry.
That gross Legatus
Apparently there’s a rule that the Legatus of the VIIth Legion absolutely must be a creepy weirdo, huh? It’s hard to out-creepy the brother-impersonating nutbag who tried to end the world, but our sweaty milk-guzzling lizard abuser made his one scene clarify that he came to play. He has a name, of course, but given his introduction I can’t help but steal a term from my wife and think of him as Drippy Debbie.
If you want to feel more Garlean about it, go with Drippy van Deborus.
I was honestly surprised how much work was put into this sole quest for the story, even beyond the appearance of the Dripmaster 3000 in silhouette. A little new town to explore a bit with new architecture and layout, some real elaboration on Gaius as a character, and while the fight was pretty straightforward it had more to it than the average roleplaying fight and did create some interesting mechanics along the way.
One thing I will note is that historically, we’ve generally had a bit of a problem with a trial series of quests, because they’ve usually been set up as “a group of fights” with no real sense of rising action. That’s not the case here; indeed, we’ve now seen that there’s a sense of hierarchy leading from one to the next, and it’s setting us up for something of a blowout in the end. I’m curious to see where we go from here.
I also expect that the Dripmeister will be with us for some time and this is just setting the stage for the future. Milking the opportunity, if you will. It’s an awful lot of buildup for someone to just be masterminding this plot in particular; keep an eye on this series.
Aw, don’t tell me he’s the good guy
Ha ha, everyone forgot that Yoko Taro was writing this raid series, and if he can’t just burn down a server to conclude the series, he’ll find some other profound way to disturb the heck out of you. Remember how the first portion of this series made it look like 2P was the hero, 2B was absent, and 9S was already a villain? Turns out there are three factions! Probably! Maybe!
See, it’s obvious 2P wants to destroy the machines; she spent the whole last raid helping you do so. It’s also obvious that 9S was working with them, based on his walker. It’s also obvious that whatever she did with the remaining portions of the crashed locale resulted in the majority of these forces being on her side. So are we dealing with two separate invading forces and one side that wants to discard all of the above? We just don’t know.
But of course, it ends abruptly because of course it does.
I honestly love all of this. I love that Taro is confident enough in his usual tricks to let everyone assume they had a sense of what was coming next based on NieR Automata only to completely wreck that with another curveball. No, this is not a story wherein you understand what happens next, because it’s not supposed to be. It’s a minor miracle that he trimmed this down to the point wherein it’s playable as a sidequest in the first place.
That being said, I am curious about how we’re going to wrap all of this up with, at most, one more interquel quest and then the final installment. The thing about Taro’s games and stories is that they basically always have some sort of philosophical point he ultimately wants to make, but at this point there’s not much of one clear beyond “it’s kind of dumb to help someone just because they seem like an important character.” That’s on-brand, but it’s honestly a bit more simple than I’d expect. So I’m curious.
Or maybe it’s just more trolling and the point really is that looking at the world as if there are objectives to complete to get the next good thing to happen is a destructive way to live. I guess we’ll find out.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to firstname.lastname@example.org. Next week? Yes, I want to talk about that stinger line from the MSQ and what it implies for the future… and what it doesn’t.