DLC Review – Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker
When I started playing Final Fantasy XIV back in 2019, I wasn’t actually initially hooked. I wasn’t really an MMO player, and A Realm Reborn was kind of a sluggish bore for a good chunk of its run. But I persevered because I did like parts of the story, and other elements like simply being able to change class without creating a new character made the MMO aspects a lot easier to swallow. By the time I was finished with Heavenward in late 2020, however, I was hooked and finished up with Shadowbringers mere weeks before the launch of Endwalker.
Shadowbringers very quickly became my favourite entry not only in XIV, but the entire Final Fantasy franchise, all thanks to its amazing storyline, memorable characters, and creative boss encounters. It really pushed what storytelling can be in an MMO, whilst delivering something special in its own right. It even included a thrilling crossover with Nier Automata, with Yoko Taro acting as a guest creator in the alliance raid series. Now here we are with Endwalker, the game’s big Avengers: Endgame-style expansion. I will try and keep this as spoiler-free as possible but some spoilers for previous expansions ahead including Shadowbringers and Stormblood might appear.
Endwalker is the end of the “Hydaelyn and Zodiark” storyline, and continues on from where Shadowbringers and the subsequent patches left off. The Scions of the Seventh Dawn have met a new Ascian known as Fandaniel. Their goal is simple: to usher in the final days and bring an end to all of existence. To make matters worse, the Warrior of Light’s (a.k.a., you) main nemesis, Zenos, is working with Fandaniel in the hopes for a rematch after his defeat in Stormblood. What ensues is an epic journey to prevent the end of the world as we know it.
What Endwalker does well above anything else is how it successfully manages to close off an almost ten year-going storyline. It’s a hard-hitting story that deals with themes of despair, hope and nihilism. It even goes into some completely unexpected directionsm especially in the second halfm which I will obviously not spoil at all. This is worth experiencing. Not only that, but almost every single character featured in the game’s past chapters returns to some degree, with some even getting bigger roles than I ever would have expected. Everything is topped off with some really epic and emotional moments.
Balancing these epic and emotional moments are some quieter, more character-driven section that are some of the best in the entire game. Seeing these characters’ stories come to an end is a joy to see for those who have invested their time on FFXIV over the past years. This is a very story-heavy expansion, and as such, expect to be reading a lot of dialogue, and watching lengthy cutscenes with what I believe is more voiced dialogue than ever before. There’s some great stuff in here, being an almost perfect ending to a long running story.
As the game has evolved more and more, we’ve had more dialogue choices that, whilst not that impactful to the story, allow you to really role play with your character a bit more. It’s always been a nice choice and it’s expanded even more here. There’s just a ton of nice small but impactful touches throughout, such as NPCs now being able to follow you, giving you much more insight into the world and characters. This is one of the best Final Fantasy stories out there right now, and arguably sits alongside Shadowbringers.
Endwalker did have a rough launch, with log-in queues reaching into the thousands in just about every server. It even went as far as Square Enix removing the game from sale until the queues died down a little bit. Whenever players could actually get into the game, though, it was pretty much what everyone expected. We ended up getting a beefy 40 hour storyline, complete with a bunch of dungeons, trials, zones to explore, optional side quests, and a raid for when you were done with the main storyline. The formula works exceptionally well, with a ton of additional content to experience after the completion of the main plot, ranging from glamour hunting, raiding, levelling alternative classes, crafting, trading, and more.
The trials themselves are some of the best we’ve had both in terms of story and their unique challenging mechanics, that had my party being wiped out a couple of times. I’m still enjoying these fights as we speak, even after dozens of completions. The dungeons are pretty par for the course, though, with the same general structure that the rest of them have, and I do wish they would have mixed things up at least a little bit. Regardlessm they are still pretty well designed, there’s very little to complain about. The ones that you unlock after you complete the main story, though, are especially brilliant, and arguably in the top tier of RPG dungeon design as a whole.
We do have a couple of interesting additions, though, namely in the form of the two new classes. The first one is the incredibly powerful melee DPS-esque Reaper, wielding a giant scythe, which is always a fun time. Then you got the new healer type, known as the Sage, that provides an equally fun kit for healers to play around with.
Long-time Final Fantasy XIV composer Masayoshi Soken once again returns to do the soundtrack to this final chapter and somehow manages to one up himself once again. Not only that; the usage of old themes makes for some nostalgic moments, elevating this entire expansion to the next level.
Endwalker does exactly what it sets out to do. It ends a long-running story with style, and give us even more of the game that we love. Such a fantastic end to the storyline, and I am looking forward to what the future holds for Final Fantasy XIV.
Final Verdict: 10
Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker is available now on PS4, PS5 and PC.
Reviewed on PC