I actually finished the MSQ late afternoon on Monday, but I’ve been gathering my thoughts and digesting the experience to write about here. I’m going to pick and choose what I talk about carefully, mostly because folks are still going through the MSQ, and I don’t want to be that person while they’re enjoying their time.
The elephant in the room is, of course the queues. I didn’t have as much trouble as some folks because I took Friday and Monday off. This enabled me to get up early and hop in my server while the queues were still normal-sized every day. And I almost never logged out until bedtime.
Of course, I was actually playing the entire time I was logged in, so it wasn’t a matter of hogging space on the server just to do so. The one time I did log out on Saturday, trying to get in that afternoon saw a long, frustrated 4 hours of queue and several 2002 errors.
I can brave a queue just fine, but the errors that throw you to the back of the queue were the real enemy. Hopefully, I heard they had some fixes to these errors that they’ve implemented last night.
I felt that some of the dungeons, specifically the first one, were a bit harder this time around. I’m antsy to even try them with Trusts because as we PUGGED them, just about everyone on the team was on the floor once or twice.
Between Syn’s white mage and my red mage, we were the synergy that kept our teams going. The second trial, we chose to watch a video and were so, so lucky we did. I don’t think I’ve ever rezzed as hard on any content as a red mage as I did that trial. (And didn’t even get a single com!)
Tanks seem to be a little more squishy after the stat squish, and I know Syn was healing her heart out to keep the tanks up during just about every fight. Even trash. Tanks don’t seem to realize you can’t double pull and not use cooldowns!
The return of the single player instances was hard and heavy. They tried to shake it up by making some of these stealth instances. I don’t play stealth games for a reason, and while I made it through these scenarios, I did not enjoy them at all.
I also did not enjoy the follow-and-hide scenarios where you have to stay in range of an NPC but not be spotted by them. Or you start all over again. This was also a source of great frustration and every time the game forced me to do it, I lost my will to run through this expansion on an alt a little more.
That being said, I do appreciate the new follow system they added when it’s used for NPC chatter in locations. I think that’s a nice mechanic to replace clicking the standard questionmark over the head quest markers. It feels more organic and it’s mostly optional.
As a Final Fantasy IV fan, I adored the references to my favorite series-game! So I may like some places more than others do simply based on that.
Overall, the locations in this expansion ranged from serving their purpose to being outright stunning. I can’t say that I adored every zone, but some, like Garlemald, I don’t know that you were supposed to “enjoy.” I struggled to get through some of the areas that felt dour and opposing.
The worldbuilding was hot and heavy in this expansion. Whether or not it was laid on a little too thick probably depends on the individual. I felt like we were given a LOT of information in a short bit of time about many different cultures. Maybe because I was moving through the MSQ in large chunks, this felt overwhelming to me.
I’m not saying it’s bad – I definitely want worldbuilding in my game! But just about every zone brought a deluge of new information dealing with new cultures, peoples and their values. Often back to back – so before I got to really digest what I just learned, I was being fed something else.
Most of the locations were stunningly created. I can never find fault in the area designs and the overall themes, and fully appreciate everything that goes into making them individual and memorable. I certainly have some favorite areas over others, though.
I left story for last because this is the area I want to talk least about. As much as I hold FFXIV to high standards for storytelling and applaud what I think is done well, I will also inspect the story with an eye for constructive criticism.
I know many folks are lauding this story, and for good reasons. It’s a solid tale with a strong message and meaningful interactions. Characters that you loved often shined brighter, and some characters even became new favorites this time around.
If anything might have been working against them, it was the sheer scope and ambition of the story they sought to undertake. I feel like they mostly pulled it off, but at the expense of concise brevity. Sometimes less is more. I really started to feel that in some parts of the story – especially when we hear the same repeated “lessons” and “values” over and over through multiple extensive monologues.
I feel like the story came from the heart, however. There were some truly fantastic ideas and experiences. There were lots of moments that made me laugh and respond emotionally. It’s still leaps and bounds above any other MMO I’ve ever played in terms of what it attempts to do with story and character.
I may have small nitpicks, but it did not overall reduce my admiration of the team and their work. So please don’t take me as being disrespectful! I very much love FFXIV, and I think the number below proves that.
I still have lots to explore in the expansion – just started my Reaper and am loving the job! – and I have great hopes for where the game will continue to take us in the future.
Thank you for Endwalker!