Arka and I, over the course of about 7 years on and off, have journeyed together in FFXIV. We just finished Endwalker. Here are my thoughts on the game and a section of TOP 5s and BOTTOM 5s at the end. Check it out!:
- The dragon part of Heavensward!! awesome!
- most of Shadowbringers
- the Garlemald section of Endwalker i.e. 'what happens when you're not considered a hero everywhere and they don't want your help?'
- the phrase "weapon of light" uttered at you / acknowledgement of the WoL's high body count
- Ardbert / the Warriors of Darkness
- Everything with Ardbert and Seto. This part made me cry lol
- the "Ascian jazz" genre of music towards the end of Shadowbringers
- Fandaniel / Asahi, both compelling for different reasons but both entertaining on-screen. Especially when one dragged the other down in Aitascope (LOL)
- shared FATES are fun
- the voice acting was incredible from 4.x onward!! Yotsuyu, Emet, Fandaniel, Vauthry, Urianger,
- that moment when the animation budget kicked in with the evil priest in 2.x patch quests where he threw the girl off the cathedral (!!). incredible animation! until Endwalker goes too anime with it sometimes lol
- Stormblood and Shadowbringer's music!!
- Garlemald Express' music was rad lol
the weird stuff:
- whatever they were doing with the 'anime style' exaggerated facial animations, esp. on characters like Estinien, in Endwalker. uncanny valley. awful. please do less of that lol
- pairing the WoL with anyone (too-longing glances from G'raha Tia especially)
- everything the Scions did to / "for" the WoL. I don't need more of the Scions lol
- I thought it was sad that Ser Aymeric had such a great design yet was such a boring man. with a better direction for his character / involvement he legit could have been one of my favorites.
- Say what you will about A Realm Reborn (the base game with no expansions or DLC) and its quality, but one thing I really liked was that ARR told a beginning-to-end good versus evil story and didn't have any cliffhangers like all the expansions had. Heavensward letting Nidhogg get away after the 'final boss' was uncool and while I get it, I wish they told complete stories every expansion.
- everything about Zenos except for select parts of his dialogue, which should have gone to much cooler characters imo
- while I like Emet, it's very funny-sad that he idolized the fantasy DMV as the best framework for society ever
- any time there's like, 4,000 cutscenes for about 1 minute of gameplay content in a quest which is sadly becoming more common from 5.x onward, yet only the 5.x ones earned it
- Endwalker's story
- Hien flaking out when it came to Administering Justice on Abusers (do your job you himbo!! lol)
- actually, just about everyone in Stormblood, but Sadu and Magnai take the crown for 'worst characters of the expansion'. Did you like Zenos? No? How about 2 more? lol
- El Piss / Amaurot / the Ancients' homeland gets a mention here because of their bad mental health management lol
- everything about Meteion
- why is everywhere from Stormblood onward so huge?? its pretty but impractical to traverse. automatic flight or faster traveling on land might be a good solution...
- everyone in the fandom who believes you have to play the entire game to have an opinion on certain sections or characters. I played it all and learned nothing new about the characters I liked and disliked. Therefore, I believe FFXIV would make an incredible book, as you can read the Wiki and basically have experienced the game's story. The gameplay however is good most of the time on top of that. Speaking of...
TOP 5 DUNGEONS IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER
- Doma Castle (soloed, Arka-only)
Felt like a hero running in and doing it all alone :) Awesome music.
- Ala Mhigo (soloed, Arka-only)
Also felt pretty cool here :) Great atmosphere and music too.
- The Aitiascope (Duty Support : Estnien | Urianger | Thancred)
Recurring villains done right + incredible atmosphere and music.
- The Sirensong Sea (soloed, Arka-only)
Everything about this one is perfect - spooky seascape :)
- Vanaspati (Duty Support: Estinien | Urianger | Thancred)
My favorite aesthetics and a really good song, plus the creative monsters! I love Thavnair in general, one of my favorite places in the game.
- Amaurot (Duty Support: Y'shtola | Urianger | Thancred)
Awesome music, Emet-Selch's narration, and cool monsters. I just wish Estinien was here, which is something I've never said before except he and Urianger are the only good Scions imo lol. It's also a sad dungeon so I don't like to experience it too often.
- The Grand Cosmos (Duty Support: Crystal Exarch | Alphinaud | Alisae)
Super cool concept and music, would have made the list if not for the Duty Support members lol
- Holminster Switch (Duty Support: Crystal Exarch | Alphinaud | Alisae)
You feel like a hero going in to save the ordinary people from the Sin Eaters. Those are some of my favorite moments of the game. I suppose thats why I'm focusing so much on smaller 'saving locals' stories in Skyset Knights, haha. It's important!!
- Mt. Gulg (Duty Support: Y'shtola | Urianger | Thancred)
I could name almost all of Shadowbringers here to be honest, but this one was particularly incredible. It couldn't go on the top 5 because the music wasn't -amazing-, but it was cool.
BOTTOM 5 DUNGEONS IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER
- Bardam's Mettle (Duty Finder)
I've done this one a handful of times unwillingly due to Roulette and the mechanics of that one mid-boss are still obscure. It's even worse when there's other people there telling you all this stuff lol
- The Mothercrystal (Duty Finder, Duty Support was way easier)
As if I needed another reason to dislike Venat / Hydaelyn lol.
- All Trials I had to use Duty Finder to play through. Booooo.
- The Crystal Tower Alliance Raid Series. Boooooo.
- The one dungeon I actually fell asleep in that I can't even remember. Maybe it was in Heavensward. I want to say it was The Aery? I don't remember lol. But yeah that one I fell asleep in was cool lol
- Shisui of the Violet Tides (Duty Finder)
I love this one's atmosphere, music, and design, but man the fight mechanics are incomprehensible. At the time I did it, you could only do it with other people via Duty Finder...
TOP 5 CHARACTERS IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER
- Arka Zelandia (WoL / the Warrior of Light)
Yes, I'm counting my favorite swordboy, lol. Never have I seen such a powerful character put up with so much crap. He also responded wordlessly like I do sometimes, and therefore read as an autistic character, which inspired Arka offline in the Skyset Knights books in the first place. Over the course of the game I grew more attached to him and he became who he is! I did draw his outfit and make up stuff way before the game though (i.e. 2014's Men+Monsters with crystal technology and stuff, etc.), but that tends to happen to me so great minds think alike I suppose. Anyway Arka. He's the reason I'm still going to play the game.
I love him ///
You know why he's on this list lol. Actually, I didn't like him that much for years until I heard his voice. Then I was like, you know... maybe I should give him another shot... and then I saw the scene where he blasts G'raha Tia in the back and I knew I loved him. It was like a scene from a cartoon. Why would an accomplished sorcerer use a weapon like that?? How dramatic lol
The only time I cried in Shadowbringers* was when he was talking to Arka in the Cyrstarium after the light returned and he said his whole thing about being a vilified hero ending with 'If you need a push, I'll be right behind you'. He's Arka's supportive boyfriend, not G'raha, lmao. I also think he's very cute and I like his design :)
*actually every scene with Seto and or Ardbert was pretty sad lol. I loved the storytelling there though.
Everything she did was logical, awesome, or at the very least not annoying. She's smart, cool, dresses nice, and Arka loves her. And she insulted Magnai which gives her bonus points lol. The devs get points off for making her lighter and lighter when she had dark skin in 1.0 though. Her design looked better there. Also I like that she uses magic spells :) thats always cool
Why did he have such a sexy intro in Heavensward where the camera went like, up his legs and all over his armor in a dutch angle shot??? I think about that a lot lol. He's not my type in the face or hair, but I like his attitude. He's cool, I just wish he still disliked Alphinaud so we can have more in common. LOL
- Fandaniel (Asahi body version)
Absolutely hysterical. Love him. He looks like me and dances around like me which is extremely funny to see in video game form lol. Would be in Top 5 if he wasn't introduced so late into the story where I stopped caring so much about the plot.
- Asahi sas-Brutus
I laughed almost every time I saw him because he never sounded sincere and his voice was great lol. He also looks like me so he gets bonus points for that ;) He isn't on the Top 5 because he does horrible things to his sister through the story, but you know. It was pure comedy when he slaps Fandaniel / Amon in Aitiascope down into oblivion lol
- Lahabrea (ARR and Heavensward)
He has made so many otherwise nondescript moments of this game utterly enjoyable with his voice acting that it would be a sin not to mention him. He's hilariously over the top and I love him. After Pandaemonium he just seems like they tried really hard to Kingdom Hearts onto him until he became convoluted and sad.
Oh yeah Laha also has the funniest demise in the game. Being yoted at with a white crystal auracite and then being cleaved in half by the dragon pope lol
I mostly just liked when he was in Ardbert's body. I felt sorry for him otherwise. But in Shadowbringers I did laugh when he appeared because like, why are the Warriors of Darkness listening to him?? Ardbert was so shocked that someone could hear him that he really said 'I'll do anything this guy says'?? lol
- Ser Aymeric, had be been allowed to be the hero in Heavensward instead of WoL, could have been perfect for the role. But I felt like he had to be sidelined for WoL to take center stage. Aymeric had personal stakes in the plot, he had a cool design, and a nice voice which counts for a lot in a plot-heavy story. He gets some points off for being a boring sort of guy as a result of his place in the actual plot though.
- Haurchefant, if only for his chipper voice entertaining me through Heavensward. Kind character, not very interesting but he was cute I guess. He kind of has G'raha Tia style obsessiveness with WoL though which means he can't make this list in earnest.
- Erenville, the Viera NPC in Endwalker, was cool and I loved his design :3
BOTTOM 5 CHARACTERS IN NO PARTICULAR ORDER
- G'raha Tia
I think he was meant to be endearing but from the story and stuff he tells you / does to you it really seemed like he gave Arka headaches, manipulated him into doing things on his behalf without explaining like the Scions, and was like an overly-attached guy who thinks hes your boyfriend when you keep telling him no. He's like Milhouse to me lol. If there's one good thing about him, its his clothes, but he also has a ponytail and I personally didn't like how that looked on him.
I found his voice samples annoying in Ktsis Hyperboiea lol. And I'm not a fan of his role in the story, although this is an issue with all the Ancients in general. He is the least bad of this list though, to be honest. I like his unconventional hair / pretty look, I don't like his arrogant personality.
A rich daddy's boy who whines and complains over any difficulties until about Shadowbringers when he expects us to forget all of that because of a timeskip, and becomes tolerable until he begins stealing heroic moments from you in Endwalker lol.
He supposedly has this great rivalry with Arka but Arka's like 'who's this'??
Also Zenos reminds me of this quote about 'annoying characters who gain familiarity with the audience and Scrappy Doo their way into being loved.' Like Stockholm Syndrome but for a video game character who just when you think he's gone, he suddenly appears, then never shuts up or goes away. LOL
EDIT: I found the quote!!
- Sadu / Magnai
Great, more Zenoses lol. These two are the same person almost and I think they were also meant to be endearing in sort of a 'rival' way but it just didn't work for me.
- I forgot Venat / Hydaelyn on this list for being manipulative characters but you can count them as number 6, it's just that I disliked the other ones up there a tiny bit more lol
- The Scions of the Seventh Dawn as an organization, for making Arka do things like he lives to serve them. (I know, it's a story device, but I'll never forgive them for letting the goldsmith call him their "manservant" and for Minfilia making him fetch her dagger while the Primals are running amok, and for this and that... etc etc). Speaking of Primals, these guys are the worst at their jobs - for an organization that wants to prevent them from being summoned, they sure don't know who is summoning what and when they do, it's too late! lol
- I can't decide who are worse people, Hermes for letting his funky experiment bird-girls run wild knowing the chaotic potential creation-magicked creatures can have or the Ancients of Elpis for their arrogance, their insistence on paperwork for every little thing in their world, and not taking anybody's mental health seriously.
- Emet-Selch when he is Hades in Elpis isn't bad, but he does get a lot of points off for having a much-downgraded design :/ I don't care if the story says they have to dress like that, their society was very flawed but especially aesthetically (Amaurot's city design, cough). Still love his personality though.
All that said, I enjoyed the game overall, and I especially enjoyed the time I spent with Arka the most :) like, I liked spending the entire journey with him and not other people. you don't have to join an FC to have a house or make friends to make Gil, or do crafting you don't want to do. It's very open-ended and single-player friendly nowadays (it wasn't years ago when I began, so there's lots of dev support if that's important to you), and its very possible to just go do your own thing if you do the settings in certain ways. Mostly. Trials have to be done with others, with a few exceptions.
Would I play it again on an alt? not in the forseeable future. 99.9% no. only because it takes too long and the story kind of shrugs and gives up every now and then. So many of these cutscenes can be skipped and you will miss nothing of importance lol. At a certain point, a game has to respect your time, and if the storytelling isn't something you enjoy, don't let anyone tell you you have to pay attention to every characters' words, especially when they come out of about 15 different other characters' mouths.
I would recommend the game to FF fans or newcomers to MMORPGs. It is the "most Final Fantasy" Final Fantasy game I've ever played and probably my second fav or maybe tied as fav with Final Fantasy X. Having played WoW back in the day, I think the quality and quest types are better, as well as combat. Aesthetically there's nothing like it out there either, its beautiful.
The ending was a lot like Final Fantasy X, all the way to flying into the 'outer space of despair' in an airship propelled by the summons. The 'suddenly we remembered' was funny though and reminds us that, at the end of the day, it's just entertainment. Not to take anything too seriously.
It's a fun game when you solo it and enjoy the parts you want to enjoy.
Thanks for reading,
<3 Aero and Arka