It’s finally here – the end of Endwalker. As of patch 6.55 we’re finally saying goodbye to FF14’s latest expansion after two years of saving the universe, battling the physical embodiment of despair, travelling the rift between dimensions, and marvelling at weird grapes. It’s been one hell of a ride, but how does the game stand now as it prepares for its next chapter in the upcoming Dawntrail expansion?
Endwalker saw the game wrap up the Hydaelyn and Zodiark story – a saga that was a 10 years in the making – and brought with it a surprise population boost that lead to several new servers being needed. It finally put to rest why the Ascian menace that plagued players all the way through A Realm Reborn, Heavensward, Stormblood and Shadowbringers, did what they did. It was the perfect end and release to a decade of tension. How can Square Enix possibly follow that up?
We started seeing the seeds of our next adventure during Endwalker’s latest updates which saw us travelling to the thirteenth – a reflection of the Scion’s world that had succumbed to darkness – to stop it from breaking into our own. It may have been a relatively short adventure in the grand scheme of things, but it also put a lot of potential for the future out there. Not only did we get to meet our new goth girl fave Zero, the game showed that travelling between worlds, again, is possible. It also ended things on a high note – that even in the darkest of places there is hope for a fresh start. Much like FFXIV setting off in a new direction and fresh adventure for its next expansion.
The tone going into Dawntrail has taken a massive shift in comparison to the likes of Endwalker and Shadowrbingers. Instead of bracing ourselves for a fight for the future of the realm/world/universe, it’s all about setting yourself up for a jaunt across the sea just for the sake of seeing what’s there. It’s a much more optimistic and intriguing position to be in.
The end of Endwalker in patch 6.55 also gave us a little tease of what we’ve got to look forward to. We got to finally meet a female Hrothgar (the next new playable race) after being introduced to the energetic Wuk Lamat and instantly falling in love with her, and we also got a glimpse of the new Pictomancer job with tiny scholar Krile finally joining us in battle after spending years on the sidelines (although there is the potential for some in-fighting with the Scions as Thancred and Urianger have been called to Tural by a competing party). Hopefully, there won’t be any bad blood between us by the end of it and we’ll be able to hug it out at some point. It may have just been a small show of what’s to come, but it’s helped ramp up the excitement for the future.
The final chapter in the Endwalker expansion also signals the end of this raid tier. The last two years has provided an excellent range of both high-end and casual fights, be that as singular boss fight-like trials or the particularly excellent 24-man Alliance raid which saw players go up against the 12 main deities of Eorzea. There are a frankly ridiculous amount of challenges to take on right now, and if you’ve been a little shy about trying the harder Savage version of fights, now is the perfect time to give it a go. Gear has also gotten stronger, so those first few fights are a little more approachable now.
However, hardcore raiders may find themselves at a bit of a loss – the last patch before the next expansion is when things are at their quietest. Unfortunately, there won’t be any new challenges to test yourself against until the Summer and Dawntrail’s release. The Manderville weapons have also been a disappointment, despite the hilarious absurdity of their surrounding story.
The latest step in the relic quest (FFXIV’s best weapons, built up over time) is just a simple case of trading in tomestones for the items you need, so there isn’t much to work towards – it doesn’t bring the same feeling of accomplishment as previous expansions. It’s the one area that feels like a slight letdown. I can see why the developers did it this way; previous versions were too grindy, but this expansion things swung way too far the other way. Here’s hoping Naoki Yoshida and his team will be able to strike the right balance, now all the groundwork has been laid out. At least I’ll be able to complete more than one of them this time, though, even if that’s not something worth showing off anymore.
While there is plenty of casual content to keep most players happy, such as the farming-lite Island Sanctuary area and the Final Fantasy 16 crossover event in April, it’s going to be a long wait until the Summer for most. Now may be the perfect time to take a break and come back fresh for a new adventure in Dawntrail. Just don’t stay away too long, the future of FFXIV is looking exceptionally bright.