Wisdom of Nym: Examining Final Fantasy XIV’s Growing Light story beats

He's got a goal, bez.

Once again within this column, you will find spoilers for everything that occurred within Final Fantasy XIV’s Growing Light patch, and I will not be spoiler-marking any of it because I am marking all of it right here. If you still have not finished the quests, don’t come crying to me when you are spoiled!

So in today’s Wisdom of Nym, let’s tackle Growing Light’s actual story. It’s interesting in an abstract sense right away because usually, the patch here can be entirely devoted to setting up the next expansion and wrapping up some slight preamble, whereas here we were wrapping up a story that specifically spanned through the patches here. This does, in fact, still mean that it serves as a prelude… just not a prelude to the upcoming Dawntrail. That’s the next half.


Setup for setup

So here’s the main problem with the Void expansion that is probably coming at some point: All of the characters related to it were heretofore locked behind sidequests. If you hadn’t finished all of the Heavensward trial quests or all of the Shadowbringers role quests, it was entirely possible that you hadn’t actually encountered any of the people who came over from the Thirteenth. More importantly, the Thirteenth hadn’t really gotten much establishment beyond “scary place Void creatures come from.”

At the end of the day, then, the entire Zero arc wasn’t really about ticking off the Final Fantasy IV content that didn’t fit into the MSQ of Endwalker proper; it was about giving us a preamble that didn’t require any sidequests to ensure that we knew what the deal was with the Thirteenth.

I’ve seen a few people describe this as “pandering” because it featured so many references to FFIV, but I strongly disagree with that evaluation. It’s absolutely true that it featured references, but this wasn’t a story where we actually spent endless ages sealing or re-sealing or unsealing or rescuing crystals back and forth before suddenly there was another set. Indeed, the two biggest points of comparison are just the names and Zero’s ultimate transformation, and while I will gladly say that I saw that point coming back around 6.2, it was still handled well and felt like a proper moment for the character.

Whether or not the whole thing is going to land is going to depend a lot about how you feel about Zero, naturally, and personally I quite like her as a character. It’s an obvious joke to be made that in FFXIV the Power of Friendship is an actual material power that lets you do things, a joke that is made entirely canon by the conclusion of Endwalker, and I like that this is a major plot point for Zero. But I also just like that Zero’s whole deal is an continuation of the same character ideas that informed Zenos.

You didn’t think that? Well, let’s step back. Zenos is informed by the fact that he does not actually care about other people and never has; he wants to have a good fight and doesn’t give the slightest dang about anyone unless they can provide him that. He has taught himself not to care about other people exhaustively. At the very end of his story, at the edge of existence, he realizes only too late that his refusal to care about other people has left him with a sense of hollowness, that even getting what he wanted has not made him very happy.

Zero, on the other hand, has stopped caring about people because she’s realized how vulnerable it makes her. Her contextualization of every interaction as a matter of bargains made allows her a level of distance; she isn’t trying to live totally on her own, but she tries to ensure that she is neither shaped by nor shaping those around her. But by allowing herself the possibility of being shaped by others, she grows to realize that her way of looking at the world is itself unnecessarily limited. That vulnerability lets us be hurt, but it still winds up being a better outcome than if we seal ourselves off.

Couple that with her general message being that you can’t get yesterday back but you can attempt to make today better… yeah, I liked it. It’s not the emotional high of the big conclusion, but not everything needs to be. I’m all right with that.

I still like to pretend he's starting a new musical career.

Gods are dead and we killed them

So I have mixed feelings here. On the one hand, I think that this is not exactly a shocking outcome for this particular storyline and is, in fact, probably the only one that could have made much logical sense. We need to have a reason for why we don’t just use the Twelve to solve all of our problems moving forward, after all, and I have definitely been of the mind that there’s an obvious space for the Twelve trying us now to ensure that the system they’ve built can actually operate without having Hydaelyn there. At the same time…

Well, Oschon throws a wrench into the works, and it’s mostly because he gets special treatment. I understand why the decision was made, but it’s the fact that he alone gets to have a reprise that doesn’t totally sit well with me.

As an aside, I am now really tired of having characters who showed up only in these quests (and didn’t really have any strong interactions) treating me like we’ve become such good friends or went through something so meaningful. You tagged along while I fought stuff, Deryk. We aren’t friends.

There’s also simply the emotional impact of revealing that the Twelve are real only to add in a last-minute removal; it feels a bit pointless. In almost the same breath you find out that they’re real, you also find out that they aren’t real any more. No good explanation is ever really offered for the weird similarities or where the shared depictions came from, with dialogue both suggesting that the Twelve are shaped by belief (such as with Dalamud) and that they exist separate from it (with Rhalgr and his appearance and influence upon Ramuh).

It doesn’t even address the fact that they are, actually, probably primals. Positioning themselves as being deities but created from Hydaelyn means, like… that’s what you are, guys. You can call yourself a god, but that’s just fuzzy terminology. You kept insisting that you aren’t mere primals, but then it wasn’t ever the lead up to anything.

That being said, while I do have some nitpicks, I am ultimately pretty fond of the raid series. I think it doesn’t totally land in a lot of spots, but it gets about seven-tenths of the way there, and considering both the normal raid series faceplanted horribly and the prior alliance raid was a disaster in terms of story? Yeah, I’ll give it a solid C. Could have been better, but clearly could have been a whole lot worse.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week? You already know it’s the fan festival, baby.

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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