Epic stories require epic efforts all the time: evil to face, worlds to save, the chance for you to be, or see or read with, a hero who takes it all in and triumphs, only to be called to action time and time again. Final Fantasy XIV does exactly that, but in its most recent chapter, it also asks you to do something completely different: be a hero in their downtime.
This week, the beloved MMORPG released its first major content update since its release recent enlargement, Endwalkerin December 2021. Patch 6.1, with the title Newly found adventurecontinues where the story of that enlargement left off—a climactic culmination of a story Final Fantasy XIV had built itself towards since it was relaunched in 2013.
Endwalker carried the weight of eight years of storytelling on its shoulders, and for the most part it was possible to tell a sweeping, epic tale of apocalypse long along the way, bold and daring plans for victims hatched across generations of time, love, loss , and save not just a world, but a universe from complete destruction. It culminates in a battle between you, your best friends, and the magical embodiment of the concept of existential despair transformed into an almighty being capable of drowning and judging entire worlds with a song of horror. You know, great old fantasy stuff. You’re the hero. Hope and friendship beat evil. The day is saved, you attack, and you dethrone about as close to a capital-G-God as you can get, which says something because you kill gods every other week in Final Fantasy XIV.
Newly found adventure is the direct opposite of it. Your hero can be that ultimate hero, a warrior of light now known as the savior of not only your home but your entire existence, but times have changed for them. Their closest allies, fulfilling their duties, have entered into something of a retirement where they have dissolved their organization – the Scions of the Seventh Dawn – to pursue their own interests. You have also changed, your very relationship with the world as the former fateful guardian of its crystalline deity is now reversed and transformed with your duty performed, leaving you longing for the simple life of being a wandering adventureras you once were when your journey had just begun.
You may also have stopped being a Reaper swinging a rabbit laugh, and have changed both class and appearance to be a lion man summoning primal deities for fun and major damage. But it might just Be me.
Lionman or something, Newly found Fairy tale starts a new chapter for Final Fantasy XIV– its developers tease that this is the beginning of another decade-long saga similar to the escalation of A Realm reborn, XIV‘s restart, all the way up to Endwalker. But it does so in a deeply charming way: by not staging some big, sweeping fantasy story about good and evil. Or at least not yet. Instead, it recognizes that its world has just counted on an escape from disaster, that your character has just saved the universe as you know it, and asks instead: what if you just wanted to hang out and toot with a couple of your friends?
While there are some scenes here and there inside Newly found adventures new story missions, its primary narrative thread is about your character reuniting with a couple of your other Scions – Estonia, the brooding Dragoon and Y’htola, the powerful Mage in particular – while trying to re-establish yourself as a rumor hunter, coin-operated adventurer for rent, and see also what they are until now, when they do not have to run and fight, as if the world is literally at stake every day of their lives. Some of them are busy with emergency aid in the wake of Endwalkers destruction of the world, some, like you, are chasing the life of an adventurer himself. Some pursue ancient hobbies and study ancient texts and magical objects, for research and perhaps preparation, should they ever need to help save the universe again. And some of them are either quite happy to pull you into an adventure for the research of the aforementioned Y’shtola, or some are just eager to be dragged away from that research and do something exciting again, like your fellow academic ally G’raha Tia .
These are all very low stakes. There is hardly any struggle in the history missions Newly found adventure, do not let a dungeon you go into, because yes, it’s new content in an MMORPG, and you need a new dungeon to run around in. And while I said, some seeds are being thrown for threats down the line for to make oneself known to you, it is more for the player rather than your character to know. For the most part, they just vibrate: the head is empty, having fun, going on little adventures to get coins and talking to old friends. It means you is also.
Endwalker was an incredibly cleansing release on Final Fantasy XIV‘s constructed narrative. The road XIV is structured around heavily gated, linear story-driven content, and playing through this sweeping climax of hundreds and hundreds of hours of storytelling and character work is an emotional roller coaster ride for even the least interested player. Throwing yourself back into the deep end of things with big bets and bigger bad things to hit in the face of theft and emotional gratification would have cheapened both the terrible bets in the story you’ve just been through and what a new threat that could “has been thrown at you. Final Fantasy XIV understand that you can not just keep the dial always screwed up to 11, and for these bets to feel truly awful to you and your characters, there must be a growing and diminishing meaning in the sense of scale.
It’s often hard to get hold of in a world of seemingly endless franchises and sequels, where efforts must always continue to build and build and build. And admittedly, “hey, come back to play this game and hang out” may not be as big an instant sale as “you are the chosen hero to save the whole universe“Men Final Fantasy XIVs position as an MMO, a living story that stays on as long as the game does, lets it do something that few epic fairy tales can rarely do: sit and watch what happens when a world has to go on, when characters have to go on, when the great world-threatening threat is dealt with.
Right now, too Final Fantasy XIV, what happens is to hang out with your former buddies and relax a bit. There will be battles: Right now you deserve a rest, and it can be as satisfying an experience as fighting gods and monsters.
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