The thing I like about FFXIV is that the patch story picks it up from an epic ending and proceeds with arc resolutions, allowing us to see and participate in peaceful (well, kinda…) events of the aftermath. In other games, it’s dragon slain, everyone rejoices, and NPCs would barely brief you in a quest text that everything immediately clicks back to normal. Here, you actually walk and talk, and see that building peace in the aftermath is no small matter, and negotiations are almost as important as the big ass battles, as interests and intentions of the winning party (the good guys) may collide.
The Legend Returns – the first patch after the main Stormblood expansion story arc – was exactly that. Yes, previously we claimed the countries from an evil empire rule and defeated the local “Vader”, but there was much to get solved in the aftermath, and solves we got, both on personal and political levels.
I enjoyed all the story pieces – the Fordola’s character development and background, the establishment of how the rebels would operate their reclaimed land, and of course, sultana and Raubahn are always a pleasure to deal with, no matter what they do.
Even if I got 1 (one) fight throughout the whole patch story (the epic chapter finale – basically a solo boss fight), it did not seem barren – on the contrary, it was very well written, rich in lore and emotion. I said many times before that currently I approach the game as a good anime series, so absense of encounters in the long questlines does not bother me. There is time for battle, and there is time for talks – and it would be worse, if developers inserted artificial excuses to slay several common mobs when the story does not need that.
I’ve also seen a couple of hooks to the future events. It’s kinda amusing how no major character would simply die here, be it hero or villain, no matter how evil they are. Well, I suspected as much about Gosetsu since the cinematic where he “dies”, but surviving Yotsuyu – the major villain in the Far East chapter – was a revelation. I’m intrigued about her fate most now – and her character development, so I’m anticipating the future stories with utmost eager.
All in all, Stormblood maintains a strong, exciting and moving narrative since quest one and until now. Heavensward had its ups and downs, and was much more shaky, but this expansion never dissappoints me so far. The only critique about Stormblood from my point of view was the layout of Doma, IRL “China” counterpart reduced to one village which was not enough to convey a feeling of a country, but this is it.
One more thing: this chapter was played in two sits by me. And the first evening I did not go anywhere along the plot, because I came across side questlines which unlocked multiple new dungeons. And oh boy, it was exciting!
I can’t stop praising dungeons and raids in FFXIV, because they’re inventive, fun and super exciting – in boss mechanics, boss designs, layouts, ambience, music – everything there is cool. What is also important, this is where developers go most creative and wild, and no idea seems over the top:
Oh yes, these were some of the encounters, and the raid actually happens here:
No wonder I cast aside the main story and went all the way through the dungeon queues until my side quest log was barren.
Anyways, having a lot of fun and eager to continue my journey. Now excuse me, but the remaining WoW mogs won’t farm themselves :) It’s reset day, patch release day, so FFXIV waits for me until next time. As planned, I savor it in small pieces rather than hurrying to manage leveling before the next expansion. No rush, no worry.