I rolled credit on A Realm Reborn a few days in the past, ushering within the new Seventh Astral Period, and but I really feel kinda hole. In comparison with my gut-wrenching expertise towards the center of my journey, the top of A Realm Reborn’s storyline looks like a huge-ass letdown.
I’ve stated earlier than how I like when gameplay components reinforce storytelling—like how I typically have to make use of emotes to appease a raging beast or encourage a frightened comrade. My expertise within the sport’s last dungeons had the alternative impact—through which gameplay negatively impacted my enjoyment of the story.
Gentle spoilers for the top to ARR forward.
Ever since these imperial bastards killed my associates, I’ve been out for blood. Greater than Lahabrea or Gaius van Baelsar—ARR’s main antagonists—I’ve been wanting ahead to getting my arms on Livia sas Junius, the lady instantly answerable for killing poor little Noraxia. I used to be excited by the prospect of a grand showdown, of standing over her physique as I loosed one final arrow (or hearth spell) into her. But the ultimate confrontation you’ve gotten together with her was so bewildering and unenjoyable that it significantly smothered my enthusiasm for a sport that I had in any other case been completely wild about.
Peppered all through the principle story quest line of Last Fantasy XIV are cases the place you’re required to finish a dungeon to be able to progress the story. Since I performed (principally) alone, I’d use the Responsibility Finder to match with a gaggle of individuals with whom I’d undergo my chosen dungeon. As a rule, I matched with individuals already at max degree who have been utilizing the Responsibility Finder’s roulette system to earn max degree rewards like particular forex or crafting supplies. It made the expertise nearly senseless for me, propelled ahead by a gaggle of people that’d seen the content material earlier than and have been so overpowered, even with their ranges artificially lowered to match regardless of the degree cap of the dungeon is, that every little thing died earlier than I had the prospect to solid a full rotation of injury assaults.
Up till the very finish of ARR, dungeons have been principally inconsequential footnotes to the sport’s overarching story—”Oh no! Pirates are attacking the residents,” or “Assist, my former mistress is Elizabeth Bathory-ing the smallfolk.” So it was high-quality being basically carried by way of the lot of them. I wasn’t lacking something good and I didn’t have to fret about spending an excessive amount of time studying a dungeon’s format and mechanics. Nevertheless, on the very finish of A Realm Reborn, the character of the dungeons adjustments—they’re now very vital to the story—whereas the strategy by which you undergo them (i.e. being dragged from combat to combat by individuals infinitely higher geared than you) doesn’t. And the dungeons themselves have gotten larger and extra advanced. Now I’m taking part in with eight individuals as a substitute of 4, getting misplaced, lacking key merchandise pick-ups, and dying always, all whereas making an attempt to determine what the hell is happening as my display screen is rattling close to unreadable from all of the splashy particle results.
To the sport’s credit score, cutscenes within the last ARR dungeons, Castrum Meridianum and The Praetorium, can’t be skipped. So I’m not lacking the story beats the sport meant for me to see, however the bewildering expertise in between the story moments negatively impacted what I believed I’d really feel once I confronted Livia once more. I killed her, however I didn’t get pleasure from it.
It’s not the sport’s fault. I perceive that the Responsibility Finder roulette is important, in any other case nobody would do the outdated dungeons—dungeons which can be six years outdated by this level—leaving newbies like me caught for need of a celebration. However I additionally battle with the notion of placing large story content material in dungeon encounters like this within the first place. World of Warcraft does this too, with the vital distinction being these dungeons should not a part of a compulsory set of quests. My beef with this in WoW is there are such a lot of informal gamers who don’t raid who miss out on the massive rattling hero moments as a result of they’re locked behind a giant wall that requires at the very least 10 gamers, good gear, and a good bit extra competence than required for regular dungeons. In my decades-long expertise with WoW, you’ll be able to normally assemble at the very least two of these situations however by no means all three.
The opposite facet of that coin is making these sorts of massive dungeons a requirement to progress into the following set of content material—as they’re in Last Fantasy XIV. That’s a giant mess for causes I’ve already talked about. I get that end-game content material must really feel large and thrilling and a end result of all of the experiences that led as much as that second, however the way in which these moments have been carried out in each these MMOs simply hasn’t labored for me.
There have been end-game moments I appreciated. I’ll ceaselessly love the trope of the heroes uniting to make use of their energy of friendship to beat the boss. When the Scions arrived to assist me take down Lahabrea for good and all, I cherished that. I additionally cherished the hopeful second on the finish the place the three leaders of the city-states unite to have a good time their victory over the evil empire. Every little thing after that second, nonetheless, has been a slog. I believe my honeymoon interval with FF14 is over. I’m now mired within the lengthy stretch of quests between the top of ARR and the start of Heavensward and it’s been tough, sluggish, and boring. From what everybody’s advised me these interstitial quests are laying the groundwork for the “oh shit” moments destined to occur later, however my goodness I want they’d hurry up already. I can see Ishgard taunting me from behind that big gate in Coerthas, it’s proper there. Let me in already.