Wisdom of Nym: Impressions of Final Fantasy XIV’s Reflections in Crystal storylines

    
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Wisdom of Nym: Impressions of Final Fantasy XIV’s Reflections in Crystal storylines

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.

One thing that’s interesting even with that admission, though, is the possibility that it’s not even entirely possible to spoil some of this stuff. Sure, I can recount the events of this patch, but that’s about as far as it extends. For more than that… well, we’ll have to start into the actual stories being told, and that means starting in on the MSQ first and foremost, because of course that’s where we should start.

Shadows done got BROUGHT

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.

Zeeorp.

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.

Override.

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 eliot@massivelyop.com. 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.

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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Jeremy Barnes

I enjoyed the MSQ, but I’m not sure how I feel about going back to the stormblood bad guys. I really don’t find Zenos compelling as a villain.

I hope that Natsuko Ishikawa is the one in control of the writing from here on out. Not that I “dislike” Banri Oda’s writing, but it seems to have less emotional depth to it.

Al-Quti
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Al-Quti

((Deleted by mod.))

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Malcolm Swoboda

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.

Al-Quti
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Al-Quti

I was talking about the actual game Nier: Automata.

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Malcolm Swoboda

Oh whatever, its approaching 4 years old. Aerith dies too.

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cursedseishi

There’s literally zero ‘spoilers’ in Eliot’s blurb regarding the raid for Nier Automata. It doesn’t touch on anything from the game’s plot other than ‘hey, Yoko Taro curveball’, which… spoiler alert here, is expected by just about anyone familiar with him.

Guy practically made an account just to throw a tantrum about nothing.

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cursedseishi

Honestly? The Machine Lifeforms I wouldn’t count as a Faction yet. I’ll put this in spoilers because… well, a few things. Automata is ‘old’ by release standards, but anyone interested in trying out the game because of this raid deserves to go into Automata as cleanly and unaware as possible so read at your own risk. A chunk is also speculation on my part so… take that as you will.

Beware, BIG chunk of text
We see no actual Machines during the second raid, nor do we see them anywhere aside from that very first raid. Rather than ‘9S working for the Lifeforms’, I believe 9S has hacked them and is utilizing them as part of an attempt to wipe out 2P. 9S is a Scanner type, after all, and a rather competently capable one at that. He can hack them, co-opt their bodies or turn them against others or outright trigger a self-destruct. He also doesn’t need a physical body to do so and can exist in the shared network that the Machines utilize to communicate and receive orders. What we likely saw in the Copied Factory was that, co-opting shells or directing them against us while his body is safely kept out of the fight thanks to his Flight Unit.

The second raid, ‘Puppet Bunker’, we only fight the defensive structures of the Bunker itself as well as the boss at the end separate from it. But… if its the Bunker belonging to the same as 2B or 9S as the game playfully hints at when you go back to it to explore safely? Why does it not recognize the… White-dressed androids then as intruders? Well… That has to do with the ‘white’ clothing.

Most of the characters you interact with in Nier Automata are black clothed, aside from rather… prominent individuals. Those who have greater importance to the system or are tied directly to it. In Automata they are privy to the truth regarding both humanity and the war against the aliens and the Machine Lifeform. They also work to ensure the secrecy of both are maintained and secure by literally all means possible–up to and including the execution of fellow Androids who come close to the truth. Usually done through the E-model Androids otherwise known as Executioners, though their purpose is also enforcing law and order and dealing with those who break protocol. Automata seeds this in through a sidequest involving a few defecting units you hunt down.

Which… Brings me to the ‘P’ units we see here. The Letter is an important designation for them, as it refers to their role and capabilities while the number serves as their ‘name’. And the reveal of the #P squadron we start fighting hints a little towards what might be their intended purpose I think. They’re freely able to shift the color of their clothing from Black (standard unit) to White (High level). They are… Puppets. Executioners hide their E-designation by serving as a separate one, usually combat oriented units like Assault (A), Battle (B), or likely even Gunners(G). But we’ve never seen a ‘P’ unit. That 2P didn’t try to pretend to be a ‘B’ or ‘A’ unit means perhaps they are specially designated and not part of the usual group. Awareness might not be well known regarding them, and perhaps that is because they are not meant to be known–same as the War or Humanity. Perhaps the Puppets are meant to serve as secondary bodies for Commanders or other White-garbed units? They might be seeded through the ranks of ‘B’ androids to develop. And in the event a White unit needs a new shell, upon their next return to the Bunker they are reformatted and then co-opted by the White unit to use. Or… that might be a bit too literal for ‘Puppet’? Perhaps, rather than be used as a shell by a Commander unit, they are puppets tied to the security of the Bunker itself. It is why we don’t see them with Pods of their own for the big reveal, they aren’t needed. Personalities and emotions are all tied to the combat effectiveness of units so they’re allowed some leeway, but ultimately they might be a sort of ‘antibody’ meant to safeguard the Bunker.

Then that final fight happens… We’ve only seen the behavior there once before. With ‘Adam’ and his creation as the Machine Lifeforms compressed together and became the shell of an egg to birth something similar and yet utterly unlike the Androids. In the same way, all those bodies came together to birth something new and different… but there was an incompatibility. Machine Lifeforms lack the sort of necessary self-awareness and emotional instability Androids have, so whatever gave birth to Adam was supported… meanwhile that instability led to a flawed creation in Compound 2P. But… Why do that then, if they knew of that issue…?

Unless they didn’t. Unless the #P Squadron wasn’t being controlled by their usual means. Unless the Bunker was… compromised…

Like what we see in the True-End path for Automata as the Red-Eyed Logic Virus corruption takes hold and spreads throughout it. Leading to the Bunker’s own destruction and essentially decimating the most of YoRHa. A Virus utilized to hit the reset on things and perpetuated by the Machine Lifeforms.

I believe the Storyline we are seeing here is a spin-off from that major event. Where the backdoor utilized to inject the Logic Virus was also used by the Machine Lifeforms to preserve themselves in what appears to be a world without a war between Android and Machine. And in order to propagate that war as they are meant to do, they utilize the remaining ‘Puppets’ operational within the Bunker to start to build things back up. That is… until two variables struck. One being the existence of two still fully functional Android Units (9s and 2B), and the other being us. Outside factors that complicate things. 9S would immediately be against any unknown Androids given circumstances, and if 2B isn’t infected here she’d be searching him out.

We destroyed the Machine shells co-opted by 9S, leaving the #P Squad controlled by the Machine Lifeforms with little left for bodies. We’ve pushed them back to the Bunker, and eradicated most of the P Android shells and defensive mechanisms therein.

That just leaves 2P and the… key. Which, perhaps… just maybe… Could be a component for them to reintroduce the Logic Virus. A last-ditch effort to take both us out as well as 2B and 9S. But I don’t know…

Other than that? Weapon storyline was brilliant. The multitude of Gundam series references, the fact the original version of Sapphire Weapon is called back to along with the ‘wouldn’t it be easier to… I don’t know, blow its head off with a really large cannon?’ quip. I am loving it all. And that it feels like this mechanic might not be a one-off is leaving me excited to see more.

Also, the whole ‘excavating old and dangerously powerful mechs from long-passed generation’ scratches my Xenogears itch something nicely, though I’d love to see that leaned into more… or… just… more Xenogears…

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Danny Smith

MSQ was good as always, NieR continues, as a hardcore DrakeNieR fan to be completely bland filler and that legatus was creepy to the point of actual child molestor vibes so i look forward to us or gaius kicking his shit in 6.0.

For me the surprise standouts were Ishgard and The Dwarves.

On one hand the dwarves were just more interesting than the gathering or fairy dailies on the whole but its a cast of likable characters that also expand on the idea that the kholusian elevator means all of not-la’noscea is open and freely moving about and that losing Holminster Switch has removed a serious bread basket from lakeland. Its a fun questline that feels as close to hildebrand as we are getting, so far, but also really feels like Shadowbringers may be over but i think, also hope, that we aren’t just pulling a Blizzard here and leaving Norvrandt behind forever. Not just for Eden quests that is but i think the Warrior of Darkness is still going to be wrapping up none main story stuff over there. The fact we didn’t get a goodbye with Feo Ul alone makes me pretty confident we are going to be doing some more stuff in future patches.
Which brings me to Ishgard where boy do i feel sorry for lorenuts who dont do crafting. You get a great story about the class divide including “hey, all those heretics who turned into dragons? what happens when they want to reunite to their families?”. Its nice to see them continue the idea of “yeah you stopped the MSQ conflict but the damage still needs fixing which not many mmorpgs outside of XIV do. Its a great hour or two of extra quests and story that any Heavensward fan should look into. I just hope we get this kind of stuff where we go back to places like Eulmore and Lakeland years later too.

-also elidibus pulled himself out as an act of summoning, as an entity tempered with the role of ‘the emissary’ he had his own hard wired function counter to zodiarks so if both were in synch i.e: protect the star he could assume control of himself and remove himself using the peoples hopes and wishes to be saved to become the OG warrior of light and in turn uses the spirits of the existing warriors of light across the shards as belief and fuel to return to the WoL’s form once more. Shame that didn’t pan out so hot for him.

The real question remains the same: Zodiark was still never able to be rejoined without the 13th which is now the void so he was never able to be restored, only summoned anew so who was planned to be the new heart and how is that totally not going to be zenos in 6.0? :p

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Vincent Clark

The MSQ was a bit of an emotional rollercoaster. Lots of key moments that had me either cheering or getting a bit teary eyed.

I found the ending hopeful (before the bad guy epilogue) and if the game itself ends on similar note one day, I will be content.

Bereman
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Bereman

How is Elidibus walking around separate from Zodiark? Why did his plan involve making more Warriors of Light?

We’re told both of these, though what you call “reading between the lines” I call authorial intent behind what is revealed and how without relying on an exposition dump to do so.

Elidibus exists as a primal, and always has existed a primal, created by Zodiark (so in a sense Elidibus recreated himself as a primal). That’s how he’s separate and able to walk around – the more vague aspect is whether or not his original essence (that would have become the heart) was used in the creation of this primal form, though his final moments do suggest that this was the case.

The why of that, of course, gets answered as well, as it came down to the driving idea behind the summoning of Zodiark, the “will of the people doing the summoning” as it were that we’ve long known is crucial to how a primal manifests. Salvation. That was the driving force behind Zodiark, and thus anything he does (or anyone tempered by him would do) ultimately works with that goal in mind – the salvation of the planet as was originally intended by those that summoned him, which means having the planet exist as it did back then.

With the planet split and the people fighting and divided, Zodiark/Elidibus as the heart would have, and did, respond to that by crafting a primal meant to lead everything back to that original goal.

Which connects to the next part, why the plan involved making more Warriors of Light…which actually gets spelled out pretty clearly, I thought. Elidibus admits he doesn’t have the power to defeat us after our solo confrontation. Over the course of the patch story, he makes several references to empowering himself, and at least one reference to only needing a portion of a potential WoL’s soul from another shard, as he only needs their desire to do good/fight darkness to empower himself.

So yeah, that definitely gets answered without needing to read between the lines. As a primal, he needs to empower himself through belief, and in this case is using the belief of fighting against the “Warrior of Darkness” or darkness in general to do so.

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.

Strong disagree, but that’s because I think the “heroic figure co-opted for selfish ends” was only a surface level element of this fight.

Also, Thordan was only a heroic figure due to lies, and as was uncovered, was actually a power hungry guy who betrayed a 200 year old connection and trust with dragons to obtain that power. By the time we fought Thordan, we knew that, so it was really a fight against a representation of the lies and power hungry nature of the theocracy and noble hours and Isghardian church. So even then, we’ve not yet faced the kind of threat we face in the fight against the WoL.

At its heart, we also weren’t just fighting a co-opted heroic figure – we were fighting one who had legitimately been part of the legacy of Warriors of Light since near the beginning. We saw how he used the OG WoL (presumably from the 1st Astral Era) and specifically used the hope for salvation that the OG WoL brought to empower himself. We saw how he had created various WoL over the years and even acted as them.

What we fought in that moment, on its surface, was that co-opted heroic figure. But it was also the very legacy of the Warrior of Light being represented and called upon. We were fighting the legacy that brought about the existence of our character as a Warrior of Light, a legacy that we’d not fully understood until now…while also embracing our other legacy, that of the Fourteenth Member of the Convocation, the one that was exiled and originally struck from all records, the one that truly fought for the people.

So not only were we fighting the legacy of the Warrior of Light, we were fighting for control of that legacy as well moving forward.

Which is why, as I alluded to in my post on the previous article about the mechanics, the fight having so many callbacks and references mechanically actually works, since it is symbolic of that legacy.

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.

Obvious that she wants to destroy some of the machines, as she turns out to be a machine herself, one that has managed to copy the Androids (the way Adam and Eve did) and managed to take over some of the Android stuff (the 3rd fight is them using Operator 210 – the one that corresponded with 2B – or rather her consciousness data and corrupting it to use it to control the walker thing…she even seems to be fighting it but loses, based on one interpretation of the scream at the end).

Also, I’m not so sure 9S was working with them, and instead was having them work for him (him being a skilled hacker and all), which might answer why 2P wanted to kill that particular group – they were compromised and under Android control.

Disappointed with where it stopped though, but likewise very curious as to where it’s going and how they plan on wrapping things up. It has managed to buck my expectations though…didn’t expect 9S to show up and be defeated, didn’t expect the heel turn, and then didn’t expect 2P to seemingly not survive her encounter with 2B and us, didn’t expect the Alien Ship to be a location we went to. I have no idea where this story is going to go next in terms of Nier stuff.

Drippy van Deborus

This is just pure genius.

Bereman
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Bereman

noble hours

*That should read noble houses.