So there’s like this… adage, this maxim that you often hear from FFXIV players that goes like, “Just stick with the game, the story gets good! It gets amazing! It’s just a little slow at first.”
And as I learned, this was akin to saying to ice age dwellers, “Stick with humanity, it gets really good. Internet and vaccines and everything, just hang in there.” Life doesn’t move fast in the FFXIV world is what I’m saying.
When I first played the game last year, I spent four months wondering when this story was going to get good. To be fair, there were moments of interest, charming bits of character studies or some fascinating developments. But by and large, it was… average at best. Lots of backtracking, nods employed in bulk, and characters breaking every two minutes for another cutscene of people talking about world events in an office. By the time I quit, I was about 80% through the 2.5.5 content and had my fill of all of this “good” story.
In what might be a slight stroke of irony, it turns out that I quit right before the story actually did get good. The other night I was a little excited to be plowing through the last few quests prior to Heavensward — the official end of A Realm Reborn — and was hit with one of those notices that you only ever see in FFXIV. Only in this game are you served with a warning that the next 30 to 45 minutes of your life will be spent doing nothing but watching a long, long string of cutscenes. And THEY ARE NOT KIDDING.
I don’t mind these, as long as they’re entertaining, and this one actually was. In fact, the longer it went, the more my eyebrows lifted and my heart raced with excitement. What it felt like was the end of a TV season when the writers have gotten a little sick and tired of their convoluted plotlines and characters… and they just decide to employ a tactical bomb and reset the playfield. Blow things up, wipe out pieces, and reset the story (or at least throw it on a totally different track).
In the space of about 20 minutes, everything I had known about the MSQ changed. Characters died, killed, were framed, fled, sacrificed, got limbs chopped off, betrayed, and performed spectacular fight moves reserved for top-level Final Fantasy summons. I wasn’t dismayed that everything was changing but rejoiced that something was finally happening. Something awesome. Something that felt vastly different than what we had gotten up to this point.
And I got to see Yda’s eyes! Well, one eye, but still, it’s something I always wanted to see. I actually liked most of the Seven Scions, save for Midriff Barbie, and sure, it was a little dismaying that disaster had unfairly come upon them. But sometimes you need that Long Dark Night of the Soul for stories to get interesting. Being a world-saving hero isn’t so gripping if you’re always surrounded by a team of super-skilled fighters and a personal army. Time to get rid of that and head into the expansion to see what lays in wait there.
I hope this isn’t a fluke. I sincerely hope this isn’t the only good story beat I’m going to get for the next 200 hours. It’s a good start, at least.
Oh, here’s something small to brag about: I used all of my tomestones that I had accumulated to buy a full healer’s outfit. Not only does it boost my healing ability in group, but it’s easily the best I’ve looked in this game to date. The white/black/grey design pops.
Here’s another look of me and my fairy off the shores of Costa del Sol. I guess it’s waterproof, too!
As a total aside, can I say that I’m starting to soften up on my contempt for the Lalafel? Tataru is totally winning me over with her little escapades. And that hat! The flower! Maybe I should change my character to one of these little guys…