FFXIV Loves Its Side Quest Tropes & Patterns

Both of my alts have now finished all Shadowbringers side questing, and I should say it’s the most generic expansion in terms of extra stories so far. Endwalker side quests to go, we’ll see if the trend keeps up, but as MSQ becomes better and better with every next expansion, side quests are not.

I do not include alliance raid/normal raid stories here, because it’s a separate thing, I haven’t done them yet, and what unlocks I did for Stormblood/Shadowbringers extra raids and trials are quite interesting and promising already, being standalone stories of no less than MSQ value. No, today we’re talking zone quest hubs – aka “normal”, non-MSQ, non-blue quests.

The reason I’m doing side quests is mostly world building. Of course, it helps with alt jobs XP a bit (not much though), but it’s not the main reason. Side quests help to explore the local zone communities and solve small troubles and aftermaths of the main events. I do not expect a lot from these quests storywise. What I need is to understand how local people live, how a settlement operates, which resources they require, what’s their attitude, and normal quests usually cope with this job.

Side quests could be roughly shared into two types:

  • Your normal MMO stuff, settlement needs these resources, these beasts are harassing our population, what do people think about this and that case? – so you go and collect/kill/talk the required amount, no questions here. Quick to complete, this is exactly the world building I need. Normally it’s no quest chain, you do the quest, you understand a piece of lore about locals/settlement, you’re done.
  • A longer questline which involves a personal development, and lo, this is what I find tasking.

So, the trope is:

  • There is a guy (or a girl) who has PTSD, his relatives were ripped limb from limb in the wake of current war, he has troubles with communicating with other people. He had a dream (once) or a family legacy skill he’s supposed to hone to be useful for the community, but now he abandoned it. Oh waily-waily, leave me alone hero, I’m totally useless.
  • Talk to his peers and the community, you learn the guy is actually not that bad, we love him, he’s just useless.
  • We return to the guy and rally up his spirits, so he pulls his shit together and goes to pursue his skill. Immediately he gets in trouble with wildlife, we give the wildlife some thrashing, and he returns to the settlement where the community or himself acknowledge his utter uselessness.
  • Then, by circumstances or his own idea, the guy pursues another path, and proves to be very well at it. Cue diplomacy, as you “marry” two settlements/two peoples, and the guy appears to be exactly the one to provide this communication (even better, if it’s two same questlines in different hubs, so the outcasts can work together).
  • His new skill makes him valuable for both settlements, he rejoices, everyone rejoices, the dude has found his place in life.
  • ???

The problem is, it’s the only type of long quest chain Shadowbringers have, unmarred by any variety. If you complete all six zones, you will get six identical questlines. Well, actually more: normally it’s even two per zone, like Il Mheg’s faerie who struggles for acknowledgement and a rogue amaro, or Lakeland’s PTSD elezen guard and a healer girl.

In Heavensward and Stormblood I think that the writers coped a lot better. While they also tend to fall in to the pattern I’m going to describe, it’s not that obvious and generic. For instance, I genuinely loved the Gyr Abania story of a guy who helped his mother and refused to return or make it known that he’s alive, or an Idyllshire questline how goblins learned to operate a town and make it a welcome place for all people.

Practically, this means that Shadowbringers failed to deliver these questlines on interest/emotional scale, and I did not delay there at all upon alt replay. I just clicked through all the dialogues on alt and skipped all the cutscenes, which allowed to complete the whole expansion side quests for my alt in one sit. We’ll see how Endwalker fares in this department :)

I’m sitting at level 73 with samurai-monk-dancer on my main and 73 with bard-ninja-black mage on my alt. What is left is to complete leveling to 80, and then I come for alt’s Endwalker MSQ and its side quests for both toons.

But first, I think that I will devote a couple of days to the alliance raids, side dungeons and side trials of Stormblood/Shadowbringers. Tons of lore, stories and new encounters await, their time has come! See you in queues :)

One thought on “FFXIV Loves Its Side Quest Tropes & Patterns

  1. Shb was definitely my least favorite, but that’s mainly for two reasons: one, I just can’t stand the “but what if the light was actually BAD?????” Other games (including wow) have done it, and I didn’t like it there either. It’s particularly dumb because I was splitting my xp between another job and …. White mage, heavy with light and holy themes. Yeah, pay no attention to that, guys!

    I also really disliked the two characters who were the main focus of the story, the exarch and Thancred. Well, ive hated Thancred since ARR but he shifted into really terrible, villain level behavior but we’re somehow supposed to be ok with it. Likewise what the exarch does, against our will. If I could at least chew him out I might feel a bit better, but the game just has me accepting all this without question. Ok?

    I did however really enjoy the ascian stuff, and the camel birds were unexpectedly sweet. I’d like to forget literally all the rest of it though.


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