NEED TO KNOW
WHAT IS IT? The MMO’s latest expansion, closing out a long-running story arc
EXPECT TO PAY £30 (expansion), £40 (complete edition)
DEVELOPER Square Enix
REVIEWED ON AMD Ryzen 7 1700X, Gigabyte RTX 2080 Super, 32Gb RAM
The word ‘expansion’ feels almost too small for what Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker is. Not only is it essentially a full length JRPG, 50 hour JRPG in its own right, but it’s also the culmination of a storyline that’s been ongoing for over ten years, which myself and millions of other players have been following through regular updates that whole time. Rather than simply an add-on, it feels more like the final book in a long-running fantasy series.
So, to get to the big questions – yes, Endwalker is a fantastic send-off to the Hydaelyn/Zodiark saga (two ancient beings locked in a light versus dark conflict involving many crystals – Final Fantasy fans know the drill) that celebrates all that came before; and yes, it leaves the door wide open for new adventures that we know are on the way.
Though, in tying things off with a bow, things get a little messy. While its runtime is about the same as its previous hefty expansions, it feels like there’s loads more story than usual, for good and ill. As your hero and the Scions Of The Seventh Dawn battle to overcome the apocalyptic ‘Final Days’, they deal with multiple climatic-feeling threats and dispatch a heap of villains, all while moving quickly between areas great distances apart (you go to the moon, after all). It feels like the plot could have been dished out over two expansions.
What’s here might be meaty, but it’s not always mighty. Moments that take place in the ruins of a suddenly tumultuous Garlemald – the Empire that’s hounded our Eorzean friends for some time – are memorable, but slight. The same goes for the vibrant, colourful Thavnair, the South Asian inspired land that we’re only visiting for the first time here. From jungles filled with deadly wildlife to ancient ruins, there’s only a handful of characters with speaking parts, but they’re well-drawn enough that I wanted to learn more about them. They’re just not allowed enough time to shine in this ambitious undertaking. It less end-walks, and more end-sprints to its conclusion.
Rather than having an anthology feel, it ends up giving it larger issues, like a lack of any real clear villainous endgame, and narrative conceits that suddenly present themselves then lead onto a roller-coaster path to wrapping themselves up. It’s a shame as the little moments are great. Those who have played since the beginning will be fist pumping as even minor characters get time to shine – even if it feels like it has three separate ‘and my axe’ moments where allies show up with a wink and a nod.
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