FFXIV: A Weekend in Dawntrail
(No Spoilers)

Posted on July 1, 2024 by Aywren

I was very ready for Dawntrail early access to drop last Friday, having taken that day, and the rest of this week, off for vacation to explore the expansion. Syn and I have been making our way through at a much slower pace than we consumed Shadowbringers and Endwalker.

As a note of measurement, we started Endwalker on the EA Friday and finished it by early afternoon on that Monday. Where it stands now, as I write this on the Sunday of EA, we’ve just finished the first two zones and unlocked flying there. While part of this is due to not having as much time to spend with the expansion due to RL, part of this is also just the pace of this expansion.

Progress and Pacing

I want to say we’re at about 20 hours into the MSQ, and clearing two zones is as far as we’ve gotten. At level 95, we’ve completed two dungeons and the mid-way trial.

I consider myself a fan of story, as most folks who read this blog know. Especially FFXIV story. When Syn and I compare notes on the story and characters for Dawntrail, however, a few things stood out to me. Namely, that the story has been very slow paced.

We’d known that would somewhat be the case, given it’s touted the “vacation expansion” and is supposed to be the foundation for whatever the next story arc is. Even so, I felt this story is trying very hard to world build, and the characterization is also trying very hard get the players to like and accept this new roster it’s introducing.

Despite that, I haven’t felt pulled in or fully engaged with the story yet. I keep telling Syn that I’ll judge things later, once I see the expansion as a whole. I still intend to do that, and form my own thoughts.

However, I did mention to Syn that if I felt the story was slow, being someone who didn’t mind story-based gaming, I was concerned what the overall impression was from folks in general. I’ve been staying away from social media to prevent spoilers, but I did pop in to look at the FFXIV forums… and there’s quite a thread of folks who are responding as I feared. Syn pointed out to me that the Steam reviews for Dawntrail are also mixed, most of those pointing towards disgruntlement with the story, characters, and pacing.

Update: And then you have the folks on Twitter who apparently are completely the opposite. Which is very curious to me.

I’m still too early in to really determine, and I generally have more patience than some of the comments I’m reading. While the jury is still out for me, I’m not finding anything particularly BAD, and it has some genuinely feel-good moments. I’m just not as invested as I’d like to be with this much time into the story.  

No Queues?

The one amazing thing in this expansion has been the lack of queues on the Crystal datacenter. I’m not sure how it’s been in other places, but I’ve had no problem logging in under normal circumstances. The one exception to this was when the network had “issues” that dropped connection, so we had a flood of folks trying to log back in. That was sorted in about 30 mins for me.

Other than that, it’s been an incredibly smooth release aside from a few bugs – like Amon in Syrcus Tower becoming savage tier for a day.

Fantasia Time!

I generally didn’t have trouble with the updated look of my characters. I did snag the fantasia on an alt and tweaked her some, but that was the extent of it.

My main, however, has gone through yet another transformation. This was in part due to the new facewear slot, that allows you to wear both glasses and a hat at the same time.

Well, that, and the fact that I was disappointed that the Pictomancer artist hat did not show up on my Viera… yet again. I liked my Viera quite a bit, but sacrificing the ability to wear hats and hairstyles has gotten old.

Therefore, when they offered me a free fantasia, I browsed some of my saved characters, tried out the new upgraded looks, and chose to return to my Elezen in the end. I hoped that playing through Dawntrail from the start with the new look would help me cement the appearance of my main a bit better.

Jobs and Other Stuff

Aside from that, I haven’t had a lot of time to explore things like new the new jobs. I’ve unlocked them both and spent a bit of time at the striking dummy to figure out how to set up my hot bars in the most comfortable way.

Neither Pictomancer nor Viper jump out at me as having rotations I easily understand from the start. I probably just need more time with them to figure them out, but there’s so much else to do, I don’t know when that’s going to happen.

I remain content with Red Mage. And it looks like Red Mage and Bard both got some pretty nice buffs.

There’s also a new series in PVP that rewards a mount, so I’ll be hopping back on the Frontlines train soon enough. I haven’t started that yet – it’s always challenging because I do it on two characters. I was hoping to get MSQ out of the way before I did, but that might not happen either.

Anyhow, as I continue to explore the expansion, I’ll update my thoughts here! Hope you’re enjoying your time in early access, no matter what others think!

*|* {July} *|* {2024} *|* {FFXIV} *|*