Posted in FFXIV, Gaming, MMORPGs

FFXIV: Stormblood’s End

Warning: Contains Spoilers for the ending of FFXIV Stormblood.

As the 4th of July is a holiday for me, I was able to buckle down, along with Syn, to make a lot of progress in Stormblood. Not only did I reach level 70 Red Mage, and finish all those class quests, but we were also able to complete the storyline for FFXIV 4.0.

While other people were figuring out Omega, which I’m not in a rush to do, we were hashing out the last dungeon (and first of the Expert Roulette), as well as the final fight in the Menagerie.

Here’s some thoughts on the ending. Complete and total spoilers ahead. Also, probably going to be long.

The Royal Menagerie

Zenos-Shinryu is no pushover for a final boss. I’m not sure how I feel about that. On one hand, for all the buildup with Mr. Sloppeh we got and the final cutscene of 3.5, this trial had some big shoes to fill. Making it a pushover like Thordan wasn’t going to cut it.

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On the other hand, I’ve heard a lot of people compare this to Steps of Faith difficulty when dealing with PUGs. It is extremely mechanically intensive. However, the mechanics are well-telegraphed and honestly a conglomeration of things we’ve mostly seen before in previous fights. Some of these mechanics have a bit of RNG tossed in there, as Shinryu can pull from several attacks used by previous primals, in different orders, so you don’t always know what to be looking for.

For someone who has spent time with this game, practicing alliance raids, dungeons and roulettes several times over, this fight isn’t too bad. I watched a video before I went in, expecting the worst… because the video does express just how much you have to deal with in a fast and furious mode.

I was very lucky to have a FC who quickly got together a full group for us, and cleared it smoothly the first try. I’m going to attribute that to the skill and knowledge of the rest of the team, since they’ve run this before, some several times. I only had one death during the fight — during the move where he blankets the entire platform with blue, except for a tiny corner. Even with sprint, I didn’t quite make it in time, and got blasted off the platform to my death. šŸ˜¦

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Thank you, excellent FC friends!

On the flip side, for a player who may only clear dungeons once to get through story, doesn’t practice roulettes, and doesn’t choose to raid, this fight is a lot to take in. I’ve never been a fan of silly-rediculous trials that gate story. Though I got a fast clear, I know that isn’t the case for everyone in our FC. Yeah, eventually, people will outgear it and it’ll become easier to do like Final Steps did, but are the casual folks who just want to see the end of Stormblood really going to stick around until next patch if this fight blocks them?

Zenos Saga

I’m still not sure what to make of Zenos. I’m not sure that the other NPCs know what to make of him, either. By the time we got to the end of it all, he seemed completely off his rocker, fusing with a Primal, and then ending his own life when he was defeated.

I felt it was a bit of a cop-out that he killed himself. But I don’t know that it was completely out of character, either.

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In fact, Syn and I had a long talk about his character, or lack thereof. I still hold the opinion that Zenos was never meant to be something we completely understood. In fact, in closing cutscenes, his own father called him a “monster” who was never “fit for the throne.” It was alluded to that he was a test subject… likely similar to what we saw happen with other characters.

The fact that we killed him off so quickly, and there felt like there was no backstory or explanation, leads me to feel that Zenos was more of a plot device than anything else in the long run. He’s there to impress upon us the idea of the lengths that the Empire will go to in order to achieve power (experimentation, mutation)… even if the outcome is total loss of humanity.

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Zenos was seriously messed up. I can’t find a lot of sympathy for him. But, I also sense the game is saying that Zenos was made into the madness that became what he was, and there’s a lot of potential for developing that line of thought.

I’m also curious if Elidibus might not have taken Zenos’ body. In the end, when we revisit the spot of his death in a later cutscene, it was missing.

Missing Bodies

Speaking of missing bodies… I don’t know how I feel about the reveal that Gosetsu and Yotsuyu are still alive. In fact, I was so conflicted by this, I forgot to take screenshots.

I know the creed of “if you don’t see the body, then you can’t prove they really died” thing. And I even had a sneaking suspicion they were going to pull this with Gosetsu at least. But when I saw Yotsuyu there, too, I Noped out of that whole thing.

Are they really going to try to get me to swallow the redeemed bad guy with Yotsuyu now? It’s obvious they wanted the player to feel some sympathy for her, but dang, the writers are going to have their hands full if they want to sway my stance on her character. Now, it may very well be they can do it… I’m sentimental like that. But it’s going to have to be good.

Estinien?

The lack of Estinien actually doing a whole lot in Stormblood bugs me. I guess he was only associated to this story due to his connection to the eyes of Nidhogg. But it was still rather disappointing to see him pop up, blow up a cannon, and do nothing else until the epilogue where he finally destroys the eyes for good.

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And why the heck did the Scions jut leave the eyes of Nidhogg lying there when they left the Menagerie anyhow? Ah, well. At least I think they’re gone for good… the eyes thing was getting a bit too played out.

And Everything Else…

I felt, overall, the Doma part of the story was a lot stronger than the Ala Mhigo part. By the time I got to Ala Mhigo, I started to get the itchy feeling that the story arc should have already seen its conclusion. I dunno. It was hard to top Doma and the Steppes for me.

The final areas and dungeons went by pretty quickly. We had a lot of stuff compressed into the last few levels, and it seemed to have lost the air of discovery we got from making the trip to the far east. Once back in Ala Mhigo, it was all business and war again… and I guess that was to be expected, but it was what interested me the least.

I also have the least sense of culture for Ala Mhigo of all the places we visited. When that’s held up to the extremely cultural Kugane, Doma, and the Steppes, it’s quite apparent. Maybe I haven’t spent enough time in the Lochs yet to get that understanding. I also haven’t touched any of the side quests, saving all of those for leveling another job.

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I know that this has been a laundry list of writer criticism, but despite these things, I actually enjoyed Stormblood as a whole. I don’t agree with all the choices the writers made… but they see the bigger picture of the story, and I do not. So, I’m going to put some faith into them, and hope they address the areas that felt weak to me somewhere in future story patches.

Despite this, I still maintain that FFXIV remains head and shoulders above other MMOs in term of strong story and likeable characters. Stormblood is an excellent addition to this story, and I’m curious where the future is going to lead us.

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…Like to this very smug Nero, whom I adore.

Author:

I'm a technical writer by day, gaming gal by night. I have a wide array of gaming interests, though I most often blog about MMOs, RPGs, and Nintendo fanstuffs. Like what you just read? Check out my Webcomic and Fantasy Fiction projects! https://aywren.com/fantasy-fiction-webcomics/

6 thoughts on “FFXIV: Stormblood’s End

  1. I attribute Zenos’ decision to off himself to the fact that he didn’t really know how to handle the feels. Fighting the WoL is the closest to bliss he has ever known. If that’s the high point, and everything after will pale in comparison, why go on?

    I loved this expansion’s story for the primary reason that there was no Ascian anything. The Garleans will always be my favorite antagonists and I dread what Elidibus is gonna pull out of his deus ex machina-spewing ass next.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I never had trouble with Final Steps back in the day, but Menagerie…… 2 pugs couldn’t do it, in spite of staying until timeout. 2nd pug learned it and was doing quite well by the end, but we simply ran out of time. I ended up finishing it in an FC group and even there we had 1 wipe, then got it on the 2nd try. That trial is definitely no joke….

    I see we took a lot of the same screenshots šŸ˜‰ I didn’t necessarily post my “spoilery ones” though….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. We had a lot more wipes on Final Steps back in the day, but did clear it. Our FC wasn’t quite as built up back then, so it could have a lot to do with it. I remember we had a few PUG folks in those parties. Did Final Steps again not long ago for a FC member and we breezed through it.

      I only posted spoiler screenshots after a big spoiler warning at the top in red text, and also put the post behind a click to Read More tag on the front page. So I do hope that was enough warning and protection for anyone who didn’t want to hit a spoiler. If they clicked and read beyond that, not much I can do! šŸ˜‰

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  3. I agree completely with your assessment of the story. I think Heavensward was better as Stormblood just did not do a good job with villains. There was no nuance and they were too over the top. It doesn’t help that Yotsuyu is a bad take on the villian from Memoirs of Geisha. And the overall depiction of the Garleans and some of our heroes was one note.
    I actually think Alisae hurt Lyse’s character development. Some of her scenes should have gone to Lyse. Still, stormblood is a better story than most MMOs. I am also happy to see we are heading back to the Ascians.

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  4. Final Steps which a lot of people complained about didn’t really get a nerf outside of people outgearing and adding echo. With Royal, I honestly don’t see them doing nerfs other than adding echo. I don’t think they want players to get too complacent; though I do feel that they should have maybe upped the difficulty in Ala Mhigo a tad since there is a bit of a difficulty spike. I think what the dev team want is for players to communicate more as right now, you can pretty much most if not all of the MSQ leading up to that point without really talking to your team and just sort of power through it. Part of the beauty of MMO’s is just working with your party in figuring out how to deal with mechanics and this fight gives a taste of that.

    As for Yotsuya, I feel like one issue is how they don’t really go into detail or really build up her horrible life. They don’t really show the gravity of things. It could be things that they may have to watch out for if they want to keep the game’s current age rating. I figured it wasn’t just a shitty abusive life, but rather it was supposed to be shown as literal hell on earth where she was no more than an object. Like FFXIV has a world with a lot of gender equality and acceptance (which is a good thing), but that may be causing some issues with portraying Yotsuya. Given the cultural era that Doma is based on, it may have been intended to portray Doma in less equal light, at least in the upper class, where women may not have had the same standing. Like I feel that they didn’t really show how bad her life really was because she is supposed to be really broken mentally. I also wonder if some of the effect was lost in translation; it wouldn’t be the first time localization changed the tone or meaning.

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