The one down side to Square’s most recent live letter was the simple reality that it didn’t get to deliver on the tradition of revealing a date. Normally part of the fun of these letters is finding out exactly when the next patch is landing for Final Fantasy XIV, but we’ve known the date for patch 5.5 for quite some time now, so about all that there was to reveal was that it hadn’t taken longer than expected.Wisdom of Nym. Hey, just a little over a week until the patch arrives! Nothing to complain about there, I’d say. And just in case you missed the trailer, let’s start off with that because in some ways I think that’s almost more revealing than the live letter was.
I don’t mean to downplay the letter itself, of course, but a lot of what we saw there was more about filling in unknowns. It’s not a surprise that we’re getting another part of the YoRHa raids, but now we know what it looks like. We knew we were going to Paglth’an, but now we know a bit more of what that looks like. There’s a new Unreal trial, and it’s Leviathan, albeit for seemingly no real reason other than Leviathan having some really great boss music. You get the idea.
Still, though, the trailer contains some surprises right within in it. Case in point, we’ve seen at least some of the major encounters in the tower in there, and they’re an eclectic mix drawing as much from the original NieR as its sequel.
To some extent this makes sense, especially with the remaster of the original due out not too far away from the patch date. It’s also a series of references more unexpected as we close in on the ending, and with what the story has been hinting thus far about authenticity and identity it seems all the more likely that our climb upward will continue to draw back on the history of this franchise rather than recreating NieR: Automata’s final story beat-for-beat.
I also think this is interesting simply because, well, everyone had assumptions about where this was going and Yoko Taro is still finding a way to go off the rails.
Almost more interesting to me, though, are the hints of what we see in the main scenario. It seemed a given at first that we would be getting a primarily Amalj’aa dungeon in Paglth’an, seeing as how that’s literally their space. However, it now looks as if the dungeon is going to involve a fair bit of Garlean involvement… which is an entirely different problem.
The thing about Garlemald right now is that while it’s still definitely dangerous, we’ve also been given reason to feel as if it’s more of a downplayed threat. The Empire’s power has been largely broken at this point, and while we’ve definitely been responsible for a lot of that, a lot of it has also happened independent of player influence. Right now, what’s happening is that the Imperial legions are collapsing on themselves. Bozja is basically an extended case of exactly that, and the sorry state of the city we know we’ll see in Endwalker speaks to the idea that Garlemald itself is breaking down under its own weight.
This should not be entirely surprising, of course; the nation was always being used as an Ascian catspaw while also railing against exactly what the Ascians were doing all along. They were a villain made to fulfill a purpose, not something that was actually meant to be functional after its purpose had been fulfilled. But it also raises the questions of what, precisely, Fandaniel has been doing while making a complete mess out of this.
A question that also is raised by the presence of more Lunar eikons in the trailer, including the intervention of Tiamat of all the people (well, dragons) on the planet. That’s significant, and it hints at just how far both Fandaniel and Zenos have been willing to go.
The obvious thing that Zenos wants at this point is a rematch with the Warrior of Light, but I’m not entirely convinced that’s actually what he and Fandaniel are after. For one thing, he already had that match, and he lost. No, he didn’t actually die as a result of it – he survived – but it’s clear that he has met his match at a certain point, and that implies he needs to find his way to doing something new and different.
Whatever he’s doing now seems actually closer to the natural Ascian plan, just stepped up. He’s causing chaos and disruption. The big question is what his endgoal is, and I have a feeling we’ll get a better sense of that even in the first part of this particular story patch.
That’s the biggest thing that stuck out for me from the trailer. I had expected the story to continue to be mostly marking time until we got the building action for the next expansion mostly offloaded into the second half of the patch, which was certainly the case for the past couple of expansions. But not so here; no, instead we appear to be still diving right into the meat of what will lead into Endwalker, something no doubt motivated in part by the fact that the expansion story is going to be more self-contained.
Ultimately, the trailer has me more excited about the patch as a whole, and it promises that while this patch is ending a bunch of stories, it’s also planting a lot more seeds for the future and wants to send off the expansion as a whole on a high note. I like that. It’s been a challenging couple of years in development for the expansion, and this is the point in the cycle wherein everything needs to come home to roost and ultimately feel satisfying.
I’m curious to see where all of this is going. I know that we’re not quite at the conclusion yet, but rather than having an artificial ending and peace now, it feels like we’re moving straight into more intensive ramp-up even as other stories are reaching their conclusion and climax. And it’s going to be interesting to see just how well both the raid story and the ancillary tales manage to wrap up the experience of playing in what has been a decidedly wide-ranging set of different experiences over the past couple of years.
Although we don’t have to wait a whole lot longer to start seeing those answers. Seriously, how is April 13th so soon? It felt a lot longer before this particular letter, but now it’s just around the corner. I know, that’s how time works.
Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to email@example.com. Next week, I fully expect we’ll have some patch notes to examine ahead of time, so let’s do precisely that.