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A happy ending and a promising start

The The last day are on us.

When meteor showers fell from the brilliant orange sky, ordinary people were transformed into monsters, devouring their friends in an instant. Elsewhere, a formerly unstoppable empire has turned to ashes, leaving its subjects to fight for survival. Meanwhile, a powerful isolationist nation spends its time preparing a secret plan of its own. That’s a lot to take in.

But you, Warrior of Light, have seen it all before.

Final Fantasy XIV There is no shortage of near-apocalyptic events in its 10 years history, but in the newly released version Endwalker expansion, the stakes feel bigger than ever as you fight to prevent the world-ending cataclysm known as The Last Day. Developer/publisher Square Enix has also made it clear that this expansion wraps up the ongoing 10-year saga. Even for a team that finished as well as this one, it was a huge task, but aside from some pacing issues and a few big bounties, Endwalker brings a worthy conclusion to the thousands of hours fans have poured into the game so far and sows the seeds for further adventures.

Fire and brimstone are like the main motifs in Endwalker.Square Enix

Hear, feel, think

How do you end the story of a game when the game is not over?

If you’re Square Enix, you do it by doubling What made the story famous? right from the start: threats greater than life, overflowing emotions and lovable characters to enjoy it all. Endwalker starts with the most focused introduction of any expansion to date. The previous storylines begin with you being transported to another land or deciding whether or not to intervene in a foreign war. Here, everything is very simple, like EndwalkerBasically, the villains dare to stop them from ending the world. You and your companions travel to Sharlayan, a reclusive nation run by stifling university professors, only to find that they have much better things to do than prevent the apocalypse.

Your quest to stop the last days from taking you to some of the most exciting places ever Final Fantasy XIV. Garlemald is a frozen field dotted with ruined buildings, the perfect illustration of the decaying empire that once called it home. Thavnair and its capital Radz-at-Han burst with colour, inspired by South Asian art. The art team is clearly on the move in some of the late-game dungeons that feature some of the boldest designs in the game Final Fantasy XIVhistory of. Boss designs are equally inspired, with some notable cases feeling like living artwork from Yoshitaka Amano.

The city of Radz-at-Han is a multicolored wonder.Square Enix

Final Fantasy XIV known for his amazing scores, and nothing is kept for Endwalker. The location themes all sound distinct and set the tone for each of the game’s languages ​​while stirring up boss themes that take the already dramatic encounters to the next level. Even without context, you’ll feel the weight of the world in the game’s final encounters through music alone.

For an MMO to work, it needs to introduce new locations, factions, and storylines that will keep players coming back months later. Endwalker does all that while keeping its story on track more than any previous expansion but still suffers from pacing issues, with tension-reducing digressions sometimes spoiling the momentum of the main story beats. One minute you are defending the nation’s capital from ferocious monsters and the next minute you are helping a herd of rabbits build a house.

Evolution, not revolution

Endwalker don’t reinvent Final Fantasy 14of combat. If you’ve made this far, you usually know what to expect, even if bosses come up with clever new mechanics or remix old ones. Even without a complete reinvention, the dungeons and trials introduced in Endwalker were equally excellent, and repeating them over and over did not detract from my enjoyment.

In addition to the messy battles, Endwalker changes the gameplay, for better or for worse. A new type of mission has you escorting your allies, and along the way, you stop at designated locations to fight or chat about your surroundings. It’s not the most action-packed way to go about a quest but does a great job of making NPCs feel more like your countrymen than simple quest givers. On the other hand, there are too many stealth missions that end immediately if you are discovered. A large number of quests are essentially story delivery vehicles, which work because the story itself is already excellent – but that also means you can go long without any action. any real move.

A sliced ​​and diced Reaper in Garlemald.Square Enix

Like previous expansions, Endwalker add two new jobs arrive Final Fantasy XIV: The Scythe-wielding Edgelord Reaper is an incredibly flashy but surprisingly simple damage-dealing class that currently makes up about half of the player base. The Sage healer uses shields and healing spells to keep allies alive, while an ally heal skill of your choice when you damage an enemy will reward you for being pull your weight in terms of DPS. Both are fun to play and should have an obvious role in any party even after their novelty wears off.

The end of the beginning

First half of Endwalker propel you from conflict to conflict without losing sight of your goals (unless you choose to do side quests where you have to haul luggage and slaughter wildlife, but that’s up to you). The action isn’t always dramatic, but it always makes sense. By the time The Last Day actually arrived, things got noticeably messier.

Endwalker loose ends from the last decade.Square Enix

From the beginning of Final Fantasy XIV, a conflict broke out between the god-like beings Hydaelyn and the Zodiark and their respective followers. The game will continue through Endwalker, but this is where that story ends, and for me, it doesn’t quite end. Some of them find it repulsive, especially when a dull antagonist pair steals attention from more interesting developments – both of which are introduced in Endwalker and who have been smoldering for years.

On the other hand, another character set provides EndwalkerBest story beats. Scions of the Seventh Dawn, your character’s lucky adventure party, often feels more like close co-workers than friends. Endwalker makes it clear that their relationship is much deeper, showing their friendship and dedication in truly touching ways. A handful of new characters are just as important, giving emotional weight to the current predicament while rewriting earlier events in powerful ways. The ending to Hydaelyn and Zodiark’s fight left me a bit cold, but the emotional moments with the new and old characters are totally worth the journey.

Endwalker may not be superior to the previous expansion, Shadowbringers – a high score for the whole Final Fantasy Series – but ultimately it has very different purposes. Even as it ends the game’s first story arc, I’m still looking forward to what’s next. For all its lofty ambitions, this operatic conclusion to a decades-long story culminates in a focus on how its core characters hold each other up. , even as the world crumbled around them.

9/10

Inverse has reviewed Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker on PC.

INVEST ETHOS GAME REVIEW VIDEO: When it comes to video games, Inverse appreciate some qualities that other sites may not. For example, we are interested in money. Many new AAA games cost the same, which is why we value the play experience more than price comparisons. We don’t value crushing and mission loading as much as games that make the most of every level. We also care more about the in-game narrative than most. If the world of a video game is rich enough to advance sociological theories about government and its character setting, it’s a game we won’t be able to stop thinking about, no matter what. its price or popularity. We’re not going to punch it down. We won’t judge an indie game the same way we would judge an AAA game produced by a team of thousands of people. We rate games based on what is available in our console at the time. And finally, we have very little tolerance for junk science. (Magic is always fine.)

https://www.inverse.com/gaming/final-fantasy-xiv-endwalker-review A happy ending and a promising start

Isaiah Colbert

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