Wisdom of Nym: Analyzing the Final Fantasy XIV Dawntrail fan festival

With strong eye contact.

So that was a thing! You know, I’d honestly been kind of chill moving into the Final Fantasy XIV fan festival, probably because I had really been so jazzed about patch 6.45 as a whole, but I definitely walked away with a bunch of stuff to analyze. And even though we only got the sparest information from this fan festival, we still –

Wait, did I just imply that this fan festival was pretty light on information? Yes, I did. And I’m going to dive into that below, but I would hasten to point out that we usually don’t know a whole heck of a lot at this point in the reveal cycle. This is not CBU3 being unusually coy but regular usual-degree coy. That’s kind of the point. What’s different is that Shadowbringers and Endwalker were both unusually coy.

So enough of that preamble. Let’s talk about what we did learn beyond just summaries of the information.

First of all, we’re going to Tural, and as someone who works on this site with an auto-tagger that picks up on the mention of certain combinations of words, I am thrilled to no longer be typing the old name. Always annoying to type that and then have to clear out references to another MMO. But perhaps more importantly, that marks my own aim as being wildly off this time; I had put down my expectation as Meracydia, and while we can see that on the new map, it is not where we’re going.

Seriously, Stormblood had the advantage of the other area being off the map. Not the case here.

Now, I don’t think there’s much to dwell on when it comes to this point; after all, I’m the first one to say my aim is about 65%, which means I expect to be wrong about a third of the time. In this case, I thought that the game would be aiming at the completely unknown instead of something we already know a fair bit about. I also figured that since Seekers of Adoulin over in Final Fantasy XI covered similar territory, they’d want something different.

That being said, anyone who has read my work through the years knows that I’m a sucker for Mesoamerican fantasy, so this is absolutely my jam. I am pumped.

But where are the Transformers?

It feels interesting to note that we will, in fact, see some sort of gulf in the Scions during this expansion, but I would caution that the vibe of this expansion gives me the feeling that it’s going to be fundamentally good-natured. But I also think that’s kind of the point; by splitting the Scions up a bit and exposing a fault line in a low-stakes situation, the writers can presage a later story where the gulf becomes impossible to bridge. A small feud before a real one, in other words.

And yes, it is not lost upon me that we did not see Krile or Zero in the trailer. Will one of them be the new job? I wouldn’t be surprised if Krile has the new caster job and Zero is already probably going to be changed in some way by the end of this story; that being said, I do hope we see both of them. (Even though we technically don’t know Zero’s fate just yet.)

Beyond that, most of it feels like predicted but welcome contents. New tribal content will almost certainly include the Mamool Ja, but whoever the hell it is keeps wanting to put short mercantile people in every damn expansion has to have a day here, too. (Seriously, we need this to stop; you’re not going to do a better version than the Namazu.) The landscapes look gorgeous, of course, and the graphical update is significant but likely won’t come across as a wild change unless you’re looking closely. That’s not really a complaint, though.

The confirmed content schedule is also interesting. Deep Dungeon and Variant Dungeons are on the list, but it’s the former that might get dropped. This is actually not shocking to me. While the Deep Dungeon was a beloved format when it was introduced, I don’t feel like it’s really weathered the gap between Stormblood and Endwalker gracefully; we have more efficient means of leveling up, and just like endless FATE grinding it’s just not the preferred way to go any more. Partly because it’s not overwhelmingly faster and partly because, well, it just doesn’t help you have any idea what you’re doing at the level cap.

I do find it interesting to see more Variant Dungeons as a thing, though; the reward structure still needs some work, but the developers seem to (correctly) keep an eye on this content as optional content for the challenge, not a pure progression track. The trouble is that it’s still a bit flat, not just from rewards (this one was a step up and I imagine Aloalo will be another step up again) but insofar as it’s not a very dynamic experience. Perhaps Dawntrail will have some new progression for Variant Actions – that would help a bunch.

Does this remind you of anything?

I was surprised that we got another melee DPS in the next expansion. It does make a certain amount of sense from balancing; Scouting is still the only gear type only used by one job, but it does offer a counterpoint to prior data of not having a new job of the same role back-to-back. Magical DPS felt pretty safe, but I’m still glad to see it.

Ultimately, this fan festival followed more closely in the tradition of first festivals in that it mostly told us stuff we could have predicted. There will be a new raid, a new alliance raid, new dungeons, level cap bump, and so forth. If anything, it feels more substantial than its predecessors because there’s no wink-wink-nudge-nudge we-aren’t-saying-where-we’re-going that we’ve had for prior expansions. The new continent is Tural, we’re going to Tural, so let’s have some fun.

And you know what? It’s about time.

I’ve been enjoying the 6.x MSQ, but I’ve also noted that it feels a bit lopsided in that we know it’s kind of self-contained. After two and a half expansions in which we have very decidedly been dealing with epic world-ending threats, isn’t it nice to just be having an adventure again? The stakes feel lower here. Not nonexistent, but it seems as if this expansion is happy to dial things down a little and just be about fighting stuff, exploring, and finding things out for a refreshingly non-destructive conflict.

Plus we can see there’s another half of Tural to the north, we can see Meracydia, there’s more of Ilsabard… oh, yeah. There’s still a lot to explore in this game, and even with the touch of grey in the Warrior of Light’s hair (mirroring my own), it feels like there’s still so much to see. Looking forward to October, and to every little tease we’re getting up until then. What’s next?

Feedback, as always, is welcome down in the comments or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week, I’m going to talk about something that seems worth thinking about ahead of the next job reveal, and that’s how we’re kind of out of jobs to add to the game… without a lot of work.

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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