Final Fantasy XIV’s latest expansion may just be its best, offering a satisfying conclusion to many of the MMO’s narrative strands while also leaving its future tantalizingly open-ended.
Final Fantasy XIV’s story is legendary, and it’s become the poster child for games that crawl out of their own ashes. Aside from that, though, every expansion just gets better and better.
Endwalker, then, has a high bar set for it. After the story of the Warrior of Light crescendoed through Stormblood and Shadowbringers, Endwalker somehow tops them both with a satisfying endcap to the game’s current story arc, some fun new locations, and two new classes that feel great alongside the returning lineup.
Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker – Key details
- Price: $39.99 (USD) | £29.99 (GBP)
- Developer: Square Enix
- Release date: December 7, 2021
- Platforms: PC, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, macOS
Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker trailer
The End, for now
The first thing to note is that if Final Fantasy XIV never took your fancy before, Endwalker is unlikely to change your perspective. This is more FFXIV, a lot more, with over 50 hours required to push through the main story and see almost everything there is, plus plenty more time for the endgame.
What Endwalker offers then is a race against time, a globetrotting journey to prevent Fandaniel from triggering the Final Days, a cataclysmic event, with followers amassed from evil towers dotted throughout the game world.
It’s a chance to spend time with characters we’ve built relationships with for almost a decade, and while it does focus more on the grandiose than the more personal tales of expansions past, this allows Endwalker to tie up loose ends in a satisfying way, amid a backdrop of dramatic action and a ticking clock.
FFXIV has always dealt with war and the cost of it, but Endwalker’s nature as a more dramatic final conclusion to the current story arc makes it the perfect opportunity to learn more about the sadness of its world. This is still about Hydaelyn and Zodiark, but it’s also about the people caught in the crossfire.
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While much of the narrative comes via in-game dialogue, larger story moments are reserved for big cutscenes. These cinematics aren’t all voiced, sadly, but the ones that do have voice performances feel like a microcosm of all that’s great about FFXIV – drama, political intrigue, and good ol’ fashioned “good vs evil”.
A whole new world
While much of Endwalker involves engaging in the same tasks we’ve seen since the base game, Endwalker feels like a generous expansion of the game’s visual palette. Aside from being able to visit the moon, as was publicized in the expansion’s marketing material, there are also huge new icy plains to explore in Garlemald, the semi-tropical Thavnair, and more. It’s a far cry from Realm Reborn’s trudge through Gridania et al, and really highlights how much the game’s visual language has grown to support its growing narrative ambitions.
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In these places you can expect plenty of “go here, kill that” quests, but you’ll also find a few deviations. Some work better than others, and while we’re happy to see Square Enix try new things, putting stealth sections into an MMO still feels a strange decision. It’s also worth noting that while longtime fans will have no doubt got used to the quirks of FFXIV’s map by now, areas such as Sharlayan can be tricky to navigate.
Top of the Class
Aside from Endwalker’s new story and impressive location design, there’s the small matter of two new jobs to get to grips with (and level up). Players can unleash their inner angsty teen as the new Reaper, a scythe-wielding DPS option with some flashy combos and the ability to summon a Wraith.
The Sage class is a smart play on the usual healing formula, too. Rather than simply healing your party, you’ll do so by attacking enemies. As a result, you’ll block enemy attacks a la the Scholar job, while also using Kardia, a skill that heals you and a comrade while you cast offensive spells.
As you’d expect, these classes can be switched to once you earn them, with both available at level 70. It’s a great way for veteran players to experiment with new toys and tools in their quest to hit Endwalker’s level 90 cap and take on the recently added Savage raid tier.
Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker will tick every box for returning Warriors of Light. Between two fun, distinct new classes to play as, a wealth of new areas to explore, and an often surprising conclusion to a story arc that’s been running for years, Endwalker cements FFXIV’s place at the top of the MMO pyramid.
We’re desperate to see where the title goes next, but if you need us, you can find us leveling those new jobs.
Reviewed on PC