All right, Final Fantasy XIV isn't really approaching the end of its story. If you think that Heavensward won't include its own set of story missions, well, suffice it to say you are almost certainly wrong. But the ending of the 2.0 storyline will be like closing a chapter in a book, and this patch is the first step along that path. The next patch will close the chapter and begin anew, bringing us down unfamiliar roads.
As a result, parts of this patch flirted with important story parts. Others flung themselves right ahead in ways that I hadn't expected. As always, this post will contain spoilers for 2.4's story, so if you haven't already seen all of it yet, be warned. It will not, however, contain spoilers for the Final Coil in any meaningful way. So if you've held off from the spoilers already swirling about that, fear not. Some of you are quite possibly working on that now.
Unfortunately for a lot of people, the story of Final Coil partly wraps up some questions about what happened after the Calamity, and in doing so, it locks a lot of people interested in that story but not in progression raiding out of that bit of story resolution. I've said elsewhere that I assume these were plans made before the game's launch because this is a bookend that really ties into a large number of player experiences and is largely unsuited to a revelation tucked away in content that has been repeatedly stated as optional.
At the same time, it is at least largely based around bookending known elements of the story rather than answering new questions or moving the plot forward. The main story, by contrast, focused on doing exactly that, but in a way that felt a bit like the world's most irritating game of jinx.
Let's recap, briefly: We know that Iceheart has the Echo. We know that she summons a Primal and becomes the Primal, then makes it clear that she still maintains her free will and comprehension. After the Primal is defeated, she is most certainly still there. And she is not working against Hydaelyn, at least not knowingly or willingly.
More to the point, we as players know that the Ascians are influencing Ishgard. And I turn, again, to the fact that while the Ascians and the Primals are supposedly connected, we have never actually seen Ascians aiding the Primals in any way. We see them actively working against one another.
There are hints, and not terribly subtle ones, that the Echo is directly connected to the Primals. The hints about what people with the Echo actually are fly fast and furious with this one... and then taper off just before any concrete answers come of it, pulling the metaphorical football away just before we get to kick it.
What seems fairly obvious at this point is that we, as players, are more closely related to the Primals than we had previously thought. What allowed Iceheart to summon Shiva was more about the infusion of aether around a willing host. It is quite possible that the Echo is the opposite number to the Ascians very literally, a will and a mind that bonds with a host. It would explain why there are limitations to Primals, but it would also make players into sort of mini-Primals themselves, manifestations of the will of Hydaelyn.
Beyond that, it's going to be a rough road to get to the actual conclusion of a story here, as we haven't had a clear antagonist set up a la Gaius from the 2.0 launch story. I had previously gone on record theorizing that the final boss before the expansion would be Bahamut, but that seems unlikely now for many reasons; it's almost possible that we'll have no true final boss fight, opting instead merely for bridging into the game's next main story with 3.0.
We did get some nice explorations into Ishgardian politics and operation, as well, as a promised conclusion to the Ul'dah storyline that's been simmering basically since launch. Roaille was also kind of wasted potential, having traditionally been a barely seen component of the Flames; the revelations about her seem to come so far out of left field that I spent most of the time waiting for a shocking reveal that whipped this around again. None came.
Oh, and Hildibrand's quests were... present. These honestly didn't strike me as funny as previous installments did; Ultros and Typhon weren't really explained, more of a reference for reference's sake, and a lot of the gags seemed to fall a bit more flat. The actual battle itself was a blast, though, and I loved the sequence with Godbert.
Also, a canonical point to note: Garlemald has a supply of ninja. If you want to justify your Garlean character being a ninja, you have an in there.
I don't want to come across as strictly negative; the actual storytelling in this patch was on-point, weaving together lots of threads very elegantly and laying the seeds for future developments. The political developments in Garlemald alone make it clear that the Empire is still moving forward as a threat, but the long stretches of time in which players are faffing about not advancing the core conflicts of the story are absent. Lots of cool stuff was going on!
But there must be a lot of threads to resolve in 2.5, else the whole thing is going to end with "well, to be continued in the expansion," which would limit the energy that I've had regarding these post-2.0 story developments. I really like that the story didn't just taper off once the launch game was out, and I'm hoping that we get the answers we've been promised before the expansion rolls out.
Feedback, as always, can be left in the comments below or sent via mail to email@example.com. Next time around, I want to talk about what we know of 2.45, 2.5, and more future speculation.
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 other Monday, covering almost anything related to Square-Enix's vibrant online worlds.