Wisdom of Nym: What Final Fantasy XIV’s fan festival needs to accomplish


In just a few days, the last fan festival for Final Fantasy XIV‘s upcoming Dawntrail expansion will kick off, and on paper it looks pretty simple in terms of objectives. We need to find out one more zone that we’re traveling to (but not all of them), we need a full reveal for lady Hrothgar, a reveal of the magical DPS job, the normal raid name, some more video previews, probably a roadmap through the release date and when we get our Final Fantasy XVI crossover. Pretty simple stuff.

However, in a more abstract sense there’s more going on here. Oh, sure, none of what I just said wasn’t true, but this fan festival actually needs to accomplish a fair bit beyond even that. So let’s take a look at what this fan festival needs to do when the curtain rises on Saturday evening here in the United States. (I’m sorry, I can’t convert for every potential reader’s time zone. Please adjust as appropriate for your home area.)

Coarse air.

Excitement to last through the release date

2023 marks an unusual milestone for FFXIV: It’s the first time we’ve gone through two calendar years without an expansion. Technically Endwalker also went more than two years (specifically two years and five months), but it was easier to ignore that in the wake of it being 2021. Now, though… we know full well the expansion won’t be until summer of 2024, and even if that’s in June, it’s still the longest gap between expansion releases.

As I’ve said before, I quite vehemently do not agree with the various doomsaying folks that insist the game has suffered from a notable downturn in quality during the post-Endwalker patches. But that doesn’t change the fact that time is what it is, and for a lot of players it’s not hard to notice that this is a longer gap. What players need is something to hype them up, and while we know we should be getting another interquel patch soon, that’s not really the sort of thing that’s going to fill six months of content. Speaking personally, I already have a lot of what I need to do before the next expansion done now.

There are going to be events, of course. We’ve got the crossover, and we’ve got a treasure trove coming up (we always have one), and there are further rumbles that there are more things planned to help make the gap easier for everyone. But the point is that we don’t just need content; we need hype and excitement. So this needs to be one big summer vacation – and it goes beyond just needing to be that.

I like being a WHM, though.

A promise of something new for magical DPS and for Viper

I’ve mentioned several times that we’re moving beyond the point of having a ready-made fandom for existing series jobs in FFXIV, and this is kind of an outgrowth of that. Whatever the new magical DPS is going to be, the developers can’t just say “Pictomancer” and have everyone in the audience nodding along going, “Hai, hai, hai.” (It’s the Japanese fan festival. That joke is very funny if you’ve interviewed Japanese professionals. It made me laugh.) The same is true for Green Mage or Turtlemancer or whatever it winds up being.

We’re going to need some mechanics and some idea of what the job is actually going to bring to the table, and this is true for Viper as well. Sure, I’ve said that Viper does have a series role to slot into, and I stand by that. But “it’s a melee DPS that feels fast” also describes Monk and Ninja already. How does it feel that way? What does it do? What does it bring to the table to make it stand out from the five other melee DPS jobs in the game?

This isn’t to say that I think either of these jobs are going to be rotten garbage that I hate; far from it. I did a whole wishlist for Viper just last week, after all! Rather, it’s to make it clear that these jobs need to provide some kind of justification for their existence, some sense of what makes them exciting in terms of play instead of just concept. We’re going to definitely learn more of that when we get to the usual expansion play session and such (I kind of hope we do that virtually again), and we get the full job action trailer, but this fan festival needs to get people excited, as mentioned. Part of that is being excited not just for A New Magical DPS but for one that slots into a place not already filled by the game’s options.

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Ideas of what is coming next

The single biggest actual problem with having Endwalker use its patches to tell a prequel for our eventual path to the Thirteenth is that we end Endwalker in the same place as we started the patch series: without any clear sense of why we should care. Oh, sure, we know that the world is not actually going to come to an end because of Ascian manipulation, and we knew that before Heavensward, but we did at least have a sense going into that of how the Ascians were villains and they were doing some evil stuff. There were bigger things to unravel.

Right now? Well, I’ve mentioned that we have some Ascians unaccounted for, but there’s no reunification coming again; the mechanism and point for that is gone. There are various minor forces with schemes, but not the sort of thing that requires a whole cadre of adventurers. We’re going to Tural, all well and good, but what is our story motivation to keep playing? Now that the big conflict is over, why do we need to keep doing new stuff?

To a certain extent this was always going to be a problem, and I don’t think that having the quests be a prologue was exactly a bad idea. But for the first two fan festivals, we’ve mostly just had winks and nudges that maybe there’s something more going on than searching out a city of gold. It’s clear in the trailers that the Warrior of Light is fighting the current head of the government, but why? Why are we searching for this? Why do we want it? Surely it’s not just because that sounds like it might be worth money, right?

In my experience, excitement for the expansion is far from muted; the fanbase is hype for the expansion in the abstract. But there doesn’t seem to be much hype for the actual story, and that’s because right now it doesn’t tie into anything. That’s unusual. Yes, I would absolutely play an expansion that was just sending us to Tural because I hadn’t been there before, but this isn’t a game that tends to do things for just that reason. It tends to have a network of reasons, multiple overlapping things that make you nod and say, “Oh, yes, this makes perfect sense, I want to arrive in Tural and get through these goals.

Obviously some of this is going to be revealed when we get the second half of patch 6.5, presumably next week. But I think an early tease for this fan festival would do a lot of heavy lifting.

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

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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