I’m way overdue for sharing my latest thoughts about FF XIV. Last time, patch 6.25 had come out, and we were in the middle of a story to wrap up some loose ends. Now, 6.55 has come out, and we’re on the slow straightaway to the next expansion, Dawntrail, due out later this year.

To start in the same place as last time, there’s been two more variant dungeons, Mount Rokkon and Aloalo Island. Both share the general format, and have been a lot of fun to go through. We’ve yet to get through all twelve paths in any of them without some outside hints, though I think we’ve needed less direct help on Aloalo… but we’re still missing one path; we seem to be close on it though. All three have good stories to tell, which is nice to see. Now, if only the criterion version wasn’t set above our skill level….

The most recent patch also wrapped up a couple other side bits. The tribes got their unified story line, which was nicely done, but for a minute I thought we were going to get a new mini-game, and instead we just got a single forced choice in a cutscene. Good writing, but I think they missed an opportunity, though burying it behind the tribes would have been a problem.

On the other hand, they did bury the latest relic weapon behind Manderville, which apparently caused a lot of consternation for a few people. Personally, I like the Manderville side stories, so it was absolutely zero burden for me, and there were a lot of truly laugh-out-loud moments again this time.

Back over in the main story, things went… about how you’d expect after the setup. In many ways, it’s Zero’s story, as she reconnects with humanity after millennia as a voidsent, and with little else to deal with. At the same time, the big bad powered the action parts of the plot, and threatened to break loose into the Source. That’s kind of the main threat of voidsent writ large, so that is basically what must be expected. As always, it’s the journey that matters, and it’s well handled, with all the requisite dungeons and trials along the way, though I’m definitely feeling like it’s moving past my abilities.

Along the way, we did get to connect to the background of the Reaper class, which I haven’t taken, so that was all new for me, but was a nice integration of lore. And the main story paralleled FF IV‘s. I’ve yet to get to that one, but it’s a strong story, and there were plenty of references already in the main Endwalker story, so that’s a natural fit, though possibly one that needed a little more polish, though any deficiencies come down to trying to tell a fairly complete story in the between-expansions section. My biggest hope is that we’ll see more from the Thirteenth again sooner rather than later. The various bits steering towards a real resolution from that world are partially buried in optional content, so it could be hard to pull together the separate threads of Zero, Eden, Unukalhai, and Cyella, but there are hints that we will see more.

Of course, the wrap-up of this adventure left open the question… where are we going next? I had been expecting Meracydia, but no. (I was apparently not alone in this.) This has since been answered, thanks to patch 6.55 (not to mention earlier reveals), and we’re going to get to see the new world, which is indeed being positioned to parallel the New World of Earth (popotoes have been explicitly referenced as coming from there). So, back to ‘all new places’ for the expansion, as opposed to building off the limits of currently known areas (such as Coerthas and Gyr Abania did).

It’s not like we’ll soon run out of all new places to go.

The NPC lineup has been telegraphed, and the plot will obviously be driven by Wuk Lamat, who looks to have some nice depth that will get explored later. Story-wise, if SE is content to let the story be its own thing, and not put the fate of the entire world on the line, I think we could get a good story out of it. (Okay, it might still be a good story if the entire world is threatened, but that’s not really necessary, and after the last expansion, re-setting the stakes to a lower level is something I think is really needed.)

Meanwhile, Smudge and I are still streaming our alts on Sundays. As of this writing, they are just about to hit the climax of Heavensward. With about an hour and a half a week, we aren’t going to go very fast on this, but we are slowly catching up, which is great to confirm.

I do still miss Stephen Critchlow.