Final Fantasy XIV

I reviewed Final Fantasy XIV when it relaunched as A Realm Reborn back in 2013. Well, I didn’t really “review” the game so much as write a comprehensive explainer to talk about what the game actually was (it’s what the site I was working for had asked for). But then I put down the game for several years.

Then, the Shadowbringers expansion (which launched in 2019) was hard to ignore. While Final Fantasy XIV had been slowly growing into a better and better MMO for years, Shadowbringers really felt like the point when the entire world recognized this growth all at once. By all accounts, Shadowbringers is supposed to be incredible, the pinnacle of the MMORPG’s long, long redemption arc.

The thing is, I haven’t played Shadowbringers yet. In fact, I haven’t even cracked into Stormblood, the game’s previous expansion. See, when Shadowbringers launched, my interest in the game had been renewed, but since I’d been out of the game for so many years, I decided to start fresh — a new character on a new server. I played for a couple months before moving onto other things and putting it down. The place I stopped was about 3/4 of the way through A Realm Reborn‘s story.

The next expansion is out later this year. Endwalker is going to bring to a close the story that started in A Realm Reborn, which means it’s going to be the cap on a story that’s been meandering and twisting for eight years now. The launch of Endwalker is going to be a landmark moment for the game, which has recently surpassed World of Warcraft to become the biggest MMO in the world right now (I should point out that it’s nowhere near as big as WoW in its heyday, but to pass WoW at all is a monumental feat).

Final Fantasy XIV - Costa del Sol

So the way I see it, everyone who’s a part of the broader gaming community is going to be talking about Endwalker this November, the same way they were talking about Shadowbringers back in 2019. And I don’t want to be left out of that conversation.

So it feels like my duty to press on through the game’s story. But this story is massive. I’ve been playing this game nonstop for like a month now — seriously, it’s unhealthy how much time I’ve invested in this — and I’m constantly overwhelmed by the sheer amount of content this game has on offer.

And it’s great content. Once you complete the MSQ (main scenario quests) for A Realm Reborn, you unlock a massive amount of dungeons, raid bosses, side quests, loot chases, and more — thus far, that’s been the best part of the entire game for me. I loved the Crystal Tower series of raids. I’ve been having a blast running and re-running the post-ARR dungeons. And, of course, the Hildebrand storyline is sheer insanity. (The relic weapon upgrades, however, are needlessly bloated, so you can totally skip those if you want to avoid pulling out your hair for meager upgrades to a weapon that will be outpaced by story drops by the time you’re about halfway through Heavensward.)

The storyline between A Realm Reborn and Heavensward (generally referred to as 2.x) is massive, and it’s hard to focus on it when there’s so much other incredible stuff that has recently opened up to players at that point in the game. But despite my relentless habit of getting sidetracked at every possible opportunity, I’ve managed to get through it all and carve my way into Heavensward. At the time of this writing, I’d estimate that I’m probably about 2/3 of the way through Heavensward proper (not including 3.x, which I’ll be tackling next).

Final Fantasy XIV - Triple Triad

I’m writing this in August of 2021. Endwalker is out in November. I have just over three months left to complete Shadowbringers. That seemed like a reasonable feat when I reactivated my account back in July, but it’s looking less and less likely as time ticks onward. Note that each expansion is effectively barricaded behind the main story content, since you have to complete each section of the MSQ to progress to the next one.

Here’s the roadmap, in case you’re unfamiliar:

  • A Realm Reborn (2013)
  • 2.x
  • Heavensward (2015)
  • 3.x
  • Stormblood (2017)
  • 4.x
  • Shadowbringers (2019)
  • 5.x
  • Endwalker (2021)

And the x portions of the storyline shouldn’t be underestimated, as they’re stunningly enormous. There are five major updates between each expansion, and each one is big enough that it has an entire website dedicated to it, each with its own eight-minute trailer.

Final Fantasy XIV - Magitek Armor

All of this is starting to stress me out. I really, really want to experience Endwalker when the rest of the world is experiencing it rather than several months later. I want to feel free to carelessly browse my social feeds without stumbling upon massive spoilers. I want to be able to talk about story events as they’re unfolding rather than in retrospect.

Now, I’m still head-over-heels in love with this game. I don’t want to pretend that I’m not. But even so, I can’t help but feel like I have a deadline, and that deadline is looming closer by the day. I’m sweating bullets here.

In fact, I should probably just finish this current article now and get back to the grind, because I still have a long, long road ahead of me. See you on the other side, folks!

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