Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker Review – All’s Well That Ends Well

Rare multi-part works end with dignity. Some forget about their essence and slide completely into the wrong place, others, in an attempt to surprise the player, begin to awkwardly rewrite their own canons, and still others break off completely in mid-sentence. But that wasn’t the case with Final Fantasy XIV . This MMORPG at its peak of popularity has managed to put a spectacular end to the history that it has been writing for ten years.

Through the thorns to the stars

Naoki Yoshida took over the development of Final Fantasy XIV in late 2010 – immediately after release, when the game’s failure became apparent to everyone, including the leadership of Square Enix . In the spring of 2011, the first content patches were released, preparing a few users of the game for a future relaunch and a new storyline, created under the supervision of Yoshida. It was she who came to an end with the release of Endwalker .

It all started with the confrontation of the empire, which was trying to seize the continent of Eorzia. After a series of defeats, the imperial general decided to literally drop a planetary satellite on the rebellious Eorzians – in the latest patches of the original FFXIV, the hero tried unsuccessfully to prevent this. The disaster marked a complete restart of the game: FFXIV changed both the engine and mechanics in order to be reborn under the title A Realm Reborn… The project was received very warmly, but with a solid foundation, ARR did not differ in good quality content: for long hours the hero had to rush back and forth across the mainland, resolve local conflicts and ultimately deliver a decisive blow to the empire so that it finally abandoned its predatory plans. Yes, we were introduced to the setting and key characters, but nothing particularly interesting happened in ARR.

The situation was corrected by the first expansion, Heavensward , which took place in the northern kingdom of Ishgard, mired in a thousand-year war with dragons. To end the conflict, the protagonist embarked on a long journey through outlandish lands in the company of allies – the narrative was structured exactly like most single JRPGs. In Heavensward, the characters are brighter, the script is richer, the story is focused and interesting. It was a full-fledged Final Fantasy, capable of rivaling the quality of offline releases.

The second expansion, Stormblood , returned to the less interesting topic of confronting the imperial invaders, but pleased with the scale and expansion of the setting. It took the story from the last occupied region of Eorzia to the overseas lands – to the Far East, to the vast steppes and Japanese mythology.

Throughout these stories, behind all the conflicts stood a secret group of immortal villains seeking to resurrect their dark deity. Their backstory was brilliantly revealed in Shadowbringers , which threw the hero into a parallel world, where, thanks to the machinations of the antagonists, the forces of light won. But this is by no means the best news: due to an imbalance in the forces of nature, an apocalypse has come, as a result of which only a small piece of land remained inhabited. The locals have not seen the night for a hundred years and exist in constant fear, as the few survivors are pursued by angel-like creatures, seeking to destroy the remnants of chaos – that is, the remnants of life. In this strange world, the hero gets to know the sworn opponents better, learns their history, understands the motivation – and wins.

But in his home world, not everything is in order. The issue of the empire has not yet been resolved, and the dark deity is planned to be used by people who want to see the world on fire for their own selfish purposes. This is where Endwalker begins – the final chapter of the saga, in which the hero will go not only to the empire, but also far beyond the planet.

Slow and filigree

I am describing this story because all of FFXIV’s content is still relevant since the 2013 reboot. New players will have to go the same way as veterans, from start to finish. Each episode of FFXIV is like a season of a big series that needs to be watched in its entirety. As in my favorite Babylon 5 , at first I have to endure filler, almost procedural episodes, but they also make sense: they introduce the player to the setting and characters. But then the guns hung on the walls will start firing one after another.

In Endwalker, it is especially noticeable how good memory the FFXIV scriptwriters have. In the last “season”, it seems, in general, all the participants in previous events are remembered. All the feats you accomplished were not in vain – everyone contributed to the preparation for the final. Everything fits into a single picture, nothing is forgotten, no one is forgotten.

At the same time, Endwalker’s narrative suffers from the familiar pace of storytelling issues from previous expansions. History is not afraid to hit the brakes, but this is not only its strengths, but also its weaknesses. With the latter, everything is clear: when the plot slips on some topic of little interest to the player, he begins to get bored. But at the same time, a leisurely presentation allows you to reveal important things as deeply and versatile as possible. To explain the circumstances leading up to the final confrontation, Endwalker pauses for several hours, during which nothing happens except dialogues. Even the famous endless cutscenes Xenosaga did not allow this.! FFXIV is irreconcilable in its desire to show every little detail necessary to complete the picture. As a result, against the background of most other story games that can be compared with ordinary portraits, it looks like the work of Ilya Repin – an incredibly extensive, detailed canvas.

FFXIV’s stunning attention to detail allows FFXIV to answer virtually every question a player might have. No matter what insane perturbations the characters go through, no matter what fantastic places they are brought, there is an explanation for everything. During the passage of Endwalker, every time I noticed some kind of scenario contradiction, for literally a few minutes the same question was voiced by one of the main characters, and the claim disappeared by itself. Perhaps I have never met such scrupulousness anywhere else. It is thanks to her, thanks to the presence of the foundation for all phenomena and actions, the FFXIV scenario turns out to be so outstanding.

It is also important how the Endwalker deceives and exceeds expectations. Natsuko Ishikawa, who wrote Shadowbringers, was responsible for the script of the add-on, at the beginning of which the antagonists seemed almost devilish, and in the end it was sincerely sorry for them. So in Endwalker, the countries that have fought with the empire for so many years finally invade the territory of the enemy, but not to triumphantly end the holy war, but to help the civilian population of the collapsed country. And when the narrative rushes beyond the planet, echoes of the works of famous science fiction writers of the 20th century are read in it. In those places where it would be easy to put a full stop, Endwalker puts a comma and produces something unexpected, but logical. And emotional: the experiences of the characters the game pays no less attention to than their aspirations.

While the overall script is not perfect, and the story told is particularly original, the sheer scale and quality of the narrative rises in Final Fantasy XIV to the heights that only Xenogears previously took , leaving behind all other Japanese RPGs.

Masayoshi Soken’s soundtrack is beautiful as always

Duty portion of quality

The plot, in principle, is the main thing in Endwalker. Everything else is plus or minus the same as in Shadowbringers: it is the result of years of iterations of the FFXIV formula and dozens of large content patches. About what kind of game it is and what are its main features, I wrote back in the summer in a separate article … Since then, little has changed in the combat system. Some unnecessary skills disappeared, the authors revised the balance somewhat and re-denominated the characteristics (after the values ​​of health and damage began to reach six-digit numbers, they were reduced by about five times). However, most of the classes are played in much the same way as before. Now there are two new ones: the Damager Reaper, wielding the powers of darkness, and the Healer Sage, weaving cunning spell combinations in Greek. With them, the number of playable classes has reached two dozen.

The new dungeons are great. The first ones are full of references to Final Fantasy IV, and the further ones delight with an unprecedented variety: within the framework of one test, you will have to go through as many as three settings more than once. The new locations were a success too. The city of scientists Sharlayan, inspired by India Tavnair and, of course, the snowy expanses of the Garlean Empire, whose population is struggling with a hangover with cucumber pickle.

The Endwalker raids will not be evaluated yet, they will be added only in post-release patches. But now there is a good reason to take a look at what appeared in the game two years after the release of Shadowbringers – and everything is excellent there. I only want to blame the scenario of three raids based on Nier: Automata , written by the author of Nier Taro Yoko. He did not prescribe interesting events, intelligent characters, or a clear background, which makes his work contrast with the rest of Shadowbringers’ content. However, from a gameplay point of view, raids are still quite sensible.

But even without the raids, the Endwalker release has a lot to do. The pumping ceiling for all classes was raised to level 90, new tasks and skills were added, crafting and gathering were once again reworked, new treasure maps and dozens of achievements were introduced. And this is in addition to the content that has accumulated over eight years.

Like Shadowbringers, all Endwalker dungeons can be completed with NPCs

In fact, the main disadvantage of Endwalker is how hard it is to hit it. From four in the evening until midnight Moscow time, a long queue is built to enter the game, from which you can also fly out due to a connection error. Due to a shortage of semiconductors, Square Enix was unable to launch new servers in sufficient numbers, and no one could predict the massive exodus of players from World of Warcraft even six months ago. The developers have already promised to compensate all victims with at least one week of playing time as an apology, but for those who can afford to launch the game only in the evening, this is not a great consolation.

However, the queues will pass sooner or later, but the game will remain. The game is so beloved by its audience that even now, with all the problems associated with the expansion’s launch, Endwalker instantly became the highest rated player on the Metacritic release in 2021. Deservedly.

  Pleased

  • a grandiose conclusion to an epic story;
  • great script;
  • competent level of difficulty;
  • variety of playing styles for different classes;
  • abundance of content.

  Upset

  • a couple of times the plot slows down in not the most important places;
  • not all classes got equally interesting new skills;
  • the new content, as usual, does not surprise you.

  How we played

In what : The key is provided by the publisher.

What : PC.

How much : 7900 hours, of which about 60 in Endwalker.

  Achievement of the editorial office

“Loyalty”

Create a character even before the official release in the summer of 2013 and not change him a bit until the very end.

  About localization

There is no Russian localization, and the English language in the game is very rich and complex. There is an unofficial mod that adds a machine translation of the text into Russian, but the result is depressing: he translates the name Sleepingway as “Sleeping Putin”.

Verdict

Final Fantasy XIV has been one of the most outstanding, beloved MMORPGs before, but with the release of Endwalker, it has become a great finished work that can and should be recommended to all fans of Japanese RPGs. And the abundance of varied content ensures that no one leaves offended: neither single-player fans, nor companies ready for difficult challenges.

by Abdullah Sam
I’m a teacher, researcher and writer. I write about study subjects to improve the learning of college and university students. I write top Quality study notes Mostly, Tech, Games, Education, And Solutions/Tips and Tricks. I am a person who helps students to acquire knowledge, competence or virtue.

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