Like Shadowbringers I come to review Endwalker a game so successful they had to stop selling it for a while… yes that did happen.
Endwalkers title has essentially 2 meanings. Firstly, it’s the final part of the main FF14 story that has been going on from at least A Realm Reborn if not from the original (disastrous) launch. The other meaning is the plot related one.. well more directly. At the end of the post Shadowbringer/pre Endwalker content you encountered an Ascian (bad guys) who openly stated his goal was to usher in the final days a phenomenon that had been brought up in the tail end of the Shadowbringers main story.
While the story of previous expansions had mainly been more of journeys in major areas (Stormblood being set in 2 major locations) with the zones roughly next to each other on their map. Endwalker is more a globetrotting adventure with the major locations all over the place. This is clear in that the first two zones you encounter are the islands of Thavnair and Sharlayan which are quite a distance away. I recall that being a similar case with Cataclysm in WoW all those years ago, that we went to areas we had heard about for years but were not big enough for a big new continent.
I won’t go too much into the story because… WOW.. (not to be confused with World of Warcrafts anacronym) it’s really good and strikes many emotional moments that the climax to a story should. FF14 plays to many of its strengths for this the final chapter, reminding you of the journey and rewarding you for it, even more is unlocked if you complete optional content. Maybe it’s just an additional interaction, maybe a smiling face you remember. I was pleasantly smiling when in a big cutscene one of the characters commented on my skills as a white mage even though I was playing as a dark knight at the time.
Dungeon bosses as well don’t hold your hands just because it’s the first dungeon of the expansion. It takes into account that to get this far you have had to go through a lot and expects you to be able to hold up and learn. And that was just dungeon bosses. Trial bosses felt like the big major climactic beats of story elements that they had been lacking for some time, and that’s just the ones done when leveling through the story not to say anything about the final boss… which I won’t as story.
It’s worth noting that yes this is the end of the main story. While other expansions would usually tease something as a hook leading into the next part Endwalkers story ends with all that wrapped up no loose plot threads, to hook or tease outside of the standard one for the first raid. But they do make sure to say that while the main story is over, there are many more tales to be told. There is more FF14 to come with the patch stories working to lead us there and I want to see what we do next, Not as some new (profanity) cosmic threat (as WOW has kept doing to its detriment to the point of self-destruction now) but as more the journey our character goes on.
The expansion also gave 2 new jobs to play as, the Healer Sage and the Melee DPS Reaper. I haven’t played Reaper but after finishing the main story as a dark knight I went and started to level up sage all the way to the new max level of 90. It was described as a Barrier Healer and playing it really does give it a different feel from when I was leveling the other healers. Rather than casting healing magics, regens and other things I was creating barriers with more an emphasis on preventing damage than curing it. All feeling a lot more sci fi than simple wizard. Very good at standing apart from them, though does suffer when having to heal someone from very low hp.
As for Gathering and Crafting jobs, The major meat of their content isn’t out yet as its coming in a future patch similar to how the Ishgardian Restoration did in Shadowbringers. BUT the stories for each of these classes while leveling them I found very enjoyable. I was amazed by how good the story for Fishing of all things came to be and how it related to my characters actions and the changing world rather than just trying to stay in some bubble.
I have been enjoying the game so much I even pushed to do a lot of top end content normally I avoided. As well as getting crafting classes to max level and working on crafting the very hardest things to craft just because they exist (yes it would have been cheaper to buy that Greatsword but I wanted the personal goal of making it myself) and even in top end difficulty. For the first time beating the high end post game trials when they were fresh rather than waiting a few patches for mount farms. The game gripped me so much I wanted to bring out more of myself.
Currently as of writing this we are still in the initial content, as mentioned, later content is still to come in a lot of ways. New PVP content, the big bulk of the top end gathering and crafting, heck we only just got the first wing of one of the two raid stories so there is still so much more to come.
While normally I don’t grade MMOs or even games that are very heavily multiplayer since that greatly effects your enjoyment, I would feel wrong not giving this a mark. Now that the initial hype has died down and that game returns to being sold perhaps you will check it out, walk through many tales of your own, Grow and change as I did? I started out as a Summoner playing entirely DPS. But by the end of this expansion my main class is a Tank, even more I now think of my character more as a culinarian or crafter in how I think their story, One who when facing the end thought more about what they would do with their pub when they got back.