Wisdom of Nym: Impressions of Final Fantasy XIV Gods Revel, Lands Tremble’s story beats


Considering how I’ve had to spend my last week and change, I am really glad that this patch hit when it did. I wouldn’t really have had the space to ruminate about story beats if it had arrived a little later, quite honestly; last week was a busy blur coupled with illness. But now we’re a couple weeks out, and if you still haven’t finished up with the MSQ or other story content… well, fairly warned be ye because this column will contain spoilers for the most recent Final Fantasy XIV patch. Obviously.

As I’ve mentioned before, this patch’s story naturally lands in an unusual spot; unlike the usual x.3 patch that is wrapping up the postscript for an expansions, this one is actually in the middle of creating tension and laying the groundwork for what’s starting next. So how does this story work as a whole? Is it still paying off well enough? Is Zero still the best?

Of course she is. Zero is a perfect voidsent angel. But let’s go into details.


March of the Fiends

Given all of the work that had been put into making the Archfiends actually have demeanors and story arcs, I kind of felt like they would have slightly more longevity than being introduced and all killed off within two patches. However, we got what we got. Rubicante, fittingly, was the last on the list, and the devs only slightly tweaked his characterization from his game of origin; he’s still basically the Honorable Opposition archetype, albeit now with a more general sense of honor than the more directed experience in Final Fantasy IV.

Regardless, I do think Square ultimately did a good job with the Archfiends here. While there’s a strong series pedigree for the Fiends as a recurring enemy, the fact is that they don’t really stick to the ribs in any way. They’re no strong characters so much as comprehensible themed enemies, and the goal here was to make them all people who you can at least broadly empathize with shortly before you kill them all. That’s a tricky path to walk, and it’s one I feel the game did ultimately manage.

But there’s more going on in the story than just these antagonists, and a big part of that is dissecting and understanding who Zero is as a character, what the Void represents, and what Golbez is ultimately planning to accomplish. But it’s Zero I want to focus on here because she’s been getting the most development thus far.

Zero is interesting because as much as her first introduction is about creating the impression that she doesn’t care about the former Scions having an agenda of doing good and helping, that’s transparently a lie. She runs a refuge for other voidsent, she often requires only the smallest payment to convince her to render services, and even before she explicitly states that she’s doing this for herself, she very clearly is doing all of this as what amounts to posturing. It’s never really a question of whether she will help, just what minor concession will convince her to help.

The story of this patch really draws attention to why that is: She’s another mirror to the Warrior of Light. But unlike being the player characters’ dark reflection a la Zenos, she’s a different kind of bad ending for the player character. She’s what happens if during the many last-ditch actions the player undertook, nobody came to help – what happens when you give everything of yourself and you just need someone to help you power through to the end, but there’s no one else to help you stand.

When looked at in that light, her inclusion and role makes perfect sense. Of course she’s cynical and reluctant to help; she expects that everyone’s commitment to helping others will last exactly as long as it costs less to help than it does to turn someone over to their fate. And of course it would be people rushing to help her that finally changes her tune, letting her know that this is going to be different this time.

I’m still hoping we keep Zero along for a good long while. She’s an interesting character with a lot of potential layers, and she’s a good foil for the people who thus far are making up the “main” cast of this story. Here’s to more Zero adventures, then.

Hollow Knee.

Titular revels

Maybe it was silly of me to expect that the prelude to the reason for fighting the next batch of deities would be more involved than just having them say, “Hey, before we tell you more, you’ve got to fight us.” But it wasn’t more elaborate than that. It was exactly that, even.

This, of course, raises the question of why they’re fighting us in the first place. Something that I do think is being vaguely answered.

First and foremost, yes, the implication at this point is very strong that the Twelve in some way sprung from Venat’s followers who led to the summoning of Hydaelyn. That would explain their origins and would also at least broadly explain the faintly Greco-Roman aesthetic of the deities in question and the armor from the same, since the classical look has otherwise been tied very explicitly to the Ancients. But there are a couple of other interesting implications in place, and one of them is that it’s stated outright that the Twelve had a policy of non-interference in mortal affairs.

The first important point to note there is that for all of the idea that these deities were meant to inspire and guide, they had a policy of not directly intervening in any fashion all the way along. That’s not a recent thing but an ongoing thing. It’s unclear how much contact there has ever been between mortals and gods.

But the other important point is that tense. It gets repeated a few times that they have always had this policy. Had. Meaning that now there is a question mark… one that makes a lot of sense when you think about it.

After all, Hydaelyn set up a lot of redundant systems just in case her plan didn’t work. If her whole plan to set things up for the Warrior of Light to eventually go fight Meteion wasn’t going to work, she had the moon all ready to receive colonists so they could hopefully scoot off to safety. If her influence was insufficient, she could empower avatars. And if she knew that eventually she might not be around to watch over the world – that is, if her plan worked – it would make sense that she planned for the aftermath.

One of the consistent things that’s been shown with the Twelve is that they don’t tend to lie. They massage the truth or offer weird implications, but they don’t lie. So what if the initial bluster about threatening to take control was bluster… but wasn’t entirely false? What if they’re making sure that the system is working well enough without Hydaelyn to summon up a destined champion again?

It’s far from certain, but it at least makes sense to me.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Apologies if this one seems a bit more scattered than usual; I am still recovering from COVID as I write this. Next week, let’s talk about all the good and bad Ultimate fights bring to the table for FFXIV.

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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