The Mog Log: Final Fantasy XIV's story post-2.1

Why does this feel more living to me than a year of Guild Wars 2?
Something kind of surprising happened in Final Fantasy XIV's first major patch: The story kept chugging along quite coherently. And not just through the main story quests, either. Yes, the primary focus was obviously there, but there were a lot of things taking place, wheels within wheels, building on the narratives established in 1.0 and seriously working toward the next major set of events rather than simply being a set of padding.

I should warn readers, once again, that there will be spoilers for the game's story below. That includes both the patch story material and the main story from the core game. If you haven't finished the main story and unlocked the Crystal Tower yet, you may want to stay away. Or you can just read on ahead and be spoiled. I'm not going to tell you how you should enjoy your game stories. You should also finish the Hildibrand storyline, although I'm not spoiling that; it's just amusing.

Surprisingly not summoning Zodiark at the bottom of a dungeon this time.Let's start with talking about everyone's favorite crazy Garlean of the hour, Nero Tol Scaeva. I love Nero. He actually feels like a fairly solid villain -- not stuck in a one-note riff of crazy, but legitimately angry about being second fiddle to Cid and now about having been rather soundly defeated in Castrum Meridianum. The Garlean forces lost out big there, and Nero's big pet project got cooked along with it.

I also absolutely love that he's cracking awful puns while you fight him.

At a glance, Nero doesn't seem to be with the Empire any longer. That makes sense; with the Black Wolf gone, I imagine Garlemald isn't terribly eager to start throwing more resources into an invasion plan that's now failed three times over. It's quite possible that Nero is considered missing-and-presumed-dead by the Empire, and he's not working entirely on his own. He's obviously digging for more bits of Allagan technology to rework.

I can easily see him fulfilling a similar role to Nag'molada; he's less the big bad and more the guy who keeps unleashing big bads. But he could also turn out to be the big boss before the expansion or something similar, just by virtue of persistence and callousness. Wouldn't that be raining on the Ascians' parade!

Unfortunately, the Ascians continue to leave me cold in 2.0. There's lots of room to speculate about their overall role and what their names mean for the future, but the Ascians themselves have yet to do or say anything particularly interesting. Showing up and dropping cryptic hints is more or less archetypical form for villains, and it's no less stupid now than it's ever been; it makes them come off less as sage creatures who understand more than you know and more like children grandly taunting you by insisting that they know something you don't know, neener neener.

One interesting thing that did come out of it was the idea that there are multiple types of Ascian, although one wonders why they're presenting such a disconnected front. They're also still kind of boring, cosmic menaces without much personality or rationale given so far other than "because they're EVULZ." I can't muster more than mild enthusiasm about them.

I can, however, muster up a lot of enthusiasm about Good King Moggle Mog because he is fascinating. Not just because fighting him involves a whole chunk of adorable fluffbudgets, although that's certainly helpful. No, it's because it starts asking some fascinating questions about the nature of the Primals and quite possibly patching over an egregious plot hold from the main storyline.

The cat pope (Seeker Orthodox) is very interested in this discussion of summoning primals.We're told, explicitly, that two things are necessary for a Primal to be summoned: crystals and a ritual. But that doesn't take place when Ultima Weapon first hoovers up all three Primals. A handful of kobolds and amalj'aa summon Ifrit and Titan more or less just by asking, which makes for a dramatic scene but also seems like a plot hole.

But maybe it isn't. King Moggle Mog shouldn't exist, at all, anywhere. But here he is, not tied to an element, not even being summoned by the beast tribes. He's being called forth by the sheer want of the moogles (and crystals, yes), which speaks to the possibility that there's more going on with the Primals than anyone understands.

Regarding Primals: A bit more information about Ramuh and the touched Sylphs is available as you advance your reputation over there. Yes, it's minor, and most of the sylph stuff is played for comedy, but you can read between the lines to see that the Sylphs are expanding their personal territory a bit aggressively. We're told in the main story that Ramuh is not an aggressive threat like the other Primals, but that may be changing before too long.

Tying some of the story of the Scions back to the events of 1.0's story was a nice touch, though Minfilia's identity creates all sorts of timeline issues. (Seriously, did she hit a hard growth spurt between the end of the Ul'dah story and her introduction as part of the Path?) It also raises the specter of the memory loss that hasn't yet been adequately detailed or explained. The main story neatly addresses these issues just enough that they don't feel neglected, but seeing all of this teasingly brought back into focus at least suggests a larger plan.

Overall, it's good stuff. It makes me hopeful for the game's future, that the story doesn't simply end at some point, and even if it's not the greatest narrative, it's replete with interesting lore. Plus, the new Scions HQ is pretty great, not going to lie.

Feedback, like always, is welcome in the comments below or via mail to eliot@massively.com. Next week, I want to talk a little about what we know of patch 2.2 and what the game could use in the future.

From Eorzea to Vana'diel, there is a constant: the moogles. And for analysis and opinions about the online portions of the Final Fantasy series, there is also a constant: The Mog Log. Longtime series fan Eliot Lefebvre serves up a new installment of the log every Saturday, covering almost anything related to Square-Enix's vibrant online worlds.

This article was originally published on Massively.