I finished the Endwalker questline sometime around Christmas so this post is laughably late, I know. I am terrible at keeping a schedule and should refrain from ever writing things like “more to come soon”. Alas, at least no one else is writing Endwalker reviews anymore, so I can leave my final impressions without haste. Needless to say at this point, this post contains all the spoilers in the known universe.
Endwalker is a great expansion. I wouldn’t go as far as some and call it the best ever, but it is another wild example of Square doing what they do best which is telling stories. Nobody, and I mean nobody in the world of MMO gaming comes close to their at times Simarillion-level epic storytelling. And oh, does Endwalker lay it on thick! Where Shadowbringers themes were already complex and timelines and parallel worlds would wreck player’s brains at times, Endwalker takes everything up a few notches. Each of the new main characters have at least three different names and as many lives. In fact, no one ever seems to be truly dead in this game as re-incarnation is a thing and we aren’t quite sure what spirits can still do from the forever lifestream. Once more, the warrior of light (WoL) manages to save the world, nay the universe, from ultimate destruction. Square really love the player hero trope but at least they’re going all in. Much to my delight, we also got to meet our old pal Ehmet-Selch much sooner than I ever expected. A special shout-out also to my new homie Hythlodaeus who was another greatly written character this expansion. There’s some fabulous dialogue in Endwalker, beautiful zones and epic battles. All in all, it was a very worthy conclusion to the past 7 years.
That said, the expansion is not without hiccups, some of which I already mentioned in my last post. Pacing is a big one and so are the onerous new ‘follow me quests’ but I am also left with some chagrin about Endwalker’s antagonists. Color me surprised when we already faced and then finished the much hyped Zodiark at level 84. The whole Fandaniel and Zenos exchange was pretty bleh at that point and then Zenos just disappeared until the very end of the expansion, when the game suddenly shoves him back into the player’s face. Rather late into Endwalker we learn about this expansion’s real antagonist: an Entelechi called Meteion who later on becomes a hive mind which culminates in the ultimate destroyer of the universe, the Endsinger. This character goes from annoying and enigmatic to detached alien force and never makes for nearly as compelling a villain as some of the other FFXIV personas. There’s simply not enough time to develop this new character and make players feel either way about him/her/it. It doesn’t feel personal, maybe because it isn’t.
What I did enjoy a lot was the Hydaelin prep encounter which featured a fantastic musical track. The Endsinger showdown also made for one of the most visually impressive encounters in the entire game at least. Unfortunately, they had to bring back Zenos after that and things went downhill from there. What would cause such a decision I cannot say but it was mind-boggling that Endwalker would force me into a cartoonish arena-battle with Zenos, not once but twice in a row, shortly after having been through the epic one-hour-or-so Endsinger finale. At this point I felt so deflated, I hated every minute of it. There was no satisfaction in watching Zenos finally get his silly ‘anime death’ – which was probably no death at all again. (I have this theory about Zenos being another shard of Hydaelin’s which would explain why the WoL can never really defeat him as they’re equally matched. I guess time will tell how wrong I am about that!)
So that was more or less the Endwalker MSQ before the game went back to its usual pace of tomes and token grinds. Square have been busy releasing updates and holiday events since December and I feel comfortable with the usual tune of things. I love the improvements to Bard and Black Mage and look forward to more 6.1 news soon. I need more bagspace badly and a house, surely I deserve as much after saving the entire universe!