How do you wrap up a cohesive narrative that’s been going on for more than a quarter of my life? That’s a big challenge facing the development team behind Final Fantasy 14, as the climactic Endwalker expansion looms large on the horizon next month, marking the end of the Hadlin and Zodiarch storyline that’s been going on since 2013.
In a recent preview session, GameRadar+ got a sample of some of the brand new content Square Enix is bringing to the fore in Final Fantasy 14: Endwalker. An introductory presentation by longtime game director Naoki Yoshida was 40 minutes long, simply because Endwalker has just enough to unpack. It’s “the biggest expansion to date,” Yoshida said, “even bigger than a modern RPG.” That’s a lot of work for anyone, even more so a team working under the control of the COVID-19 pandemic, and Square Enix was eager to provide a disclaimer that “this is a pre-release build with no final adjustments to the game.” has not happened” and that “all content is subject to significant change.”
The new expansions for Final Fantasy 14 typically offer a new hub area, and we were briefly left in Endwalker: Old Charlemagne. The classical city almost has the feel of an ancient Greece, with pillars rising out of the ground and a long central walkway leading from a port area to a huge foreboded building at the top of several elegant sets of stairs, which are bounded all the way. There have been bright white little buildings. It’s quite a room to watch, especially as the entry point for this preview of Final Fantasy 14: Endwalker.
In preview builds, the peaceful areas of Endwalker such as Old Sharlayan are not entirely complete. As director Yoshida emphasized during the introductory speech, it’s still a lot of work in progress, and Old Charlemagne demonstrates that, all before giving you the cold shoulder, and the usual vendors and quest-givers, as a lesser NPC. Just give a brief greeting. All are absent. Despite this, Old Charlemagne still serves as a great premise from which to tell the story of the Endwalker, but it feels more self-contained than a vast area like Ishgard, for example.
Elsewhere though, more combat-focused areas such as Thavnir and Garlemald are filled with enemy encounters. The east is a colorful forest, with the general color palette giving way to vibrant purples and dazzling blues, which range from the peaceful beach area in the south to the packed trees and meadows in the north, surrounded by miscreants. Despite starting at a generous new level limit of 90 in preview, enemies still give you a run for your money, and luck is especially challenging without the support of other players.
Garlemald, meanwhile, was the real surprise of my time with Endwalker. Traveling the region where Final Fantasy has been teasing for 14 years, Garlemald is a wasteland, where the corpses of buildings and highways pile up on top of each other and monstrous enemies sweep away the desolate ruins. Considering that, where we saw arch nemesis Xenos try his fancy new scythe weapon on hapless civilians at the end of Death Unto Dawn: Part Two, it’s probably no surprise that Garlemald is already a smoker. Doomed until we arrive, with a scare, the twisted tower is inaccessible a short distance away.
The Thavnir and Garlemald areas were the perfect excuse to take two new job classes for a spin. Sage and Reaper make their debut in Final Fantasy 14: Endwalker, and they are classes on opposite ends of the spectrum: the former is a healer with sparse damage-based spells, primarily as a backbone for raid and dungeon groups. I intend to. The player, while the latter goes on destruction, wields a massive new scythe to slice through enemies with elegant ease.
the cutter is really, Really fun. As Final Fantasy 14 previously revealed in a letter from the producer livestream, Reaper’s massive scythe is used to create a different meter, which can be used to summon demonic allies for massive field-based attacks. can be done for. The animations for Reaper’s various flashy combat moves are sublime, almost as if someone took Nero’s moves from Devil May Cry 5 and turned it into an MMO. The damage-dealer is an absolute pleasure to play, and it looks like Square Enix has really cooldown Reaper’s ability to maintain an upbeat rhythm in the heat of battle.
Reaper won’t save your party when facing an invincible opponent, as we found out to our dismay in the new Tower of Zott Dungeon. Situated as a tough tower at the southern end of Thavnir, brimming with otherworldly energy, the Tower of Zott was the major PvE star of the Endwalker preview, and it didn’t disappoint. Scrambling your way through the tower on expandable tent-like paths was an odd treat, and battling challenging enemies reminiscent of soldiers in Stormblood was the perfect way to get to know Reaper and Sage’s moves better, but this boss were where the Tower of Zoe really stood out.
That’s because it recruits the Magus Sisters, veterans of the series, for a set of brutal battles. Mindy and Sandy fight in Tower of Zote as the first two major bosses, and they’re each spectacular fights in their own right, actually giving players ample opportunities to solve mysteries while avoiding zone of effect attacks. I’m well balanced, without having to wipe the floor with them to miss a trick. Where things get really chaotic is when the two unite with Cindy to end the dungeon for a final climactic showdown, forcing the players to take everything they’ve learned from the previous two feuds, And it is implemented on the fly for this final showdown. It’s tough as nails, but a great way to wrap up Endwalker’s debut dungeon.
trust your partners
A big focus for Final Fantasy 14 with Endwalker is actually overhauling the trust system. Yoshida says that Final Fantasy 14’s development team is upgrading your computer companions’ AI systems to make them feel more capable of supporting a single player through any dungeon. Not only that, each dungeon in Endwalker can be cleared using the trust system, and you’ll be able to recruit smarter versions of Thankred, Alisa, Alfinod, and more to your party before heading into the gauntlet.
This is part of an effort to attract more singles players to Final Fantasy 14, Yoshida said. The director knows that single players feel duped, but venture into Final Fantasy 14’s player-driven encounters like Dungeons and Raids, and he wants these players, which usually accompany these changes to the trust system. One can stay within the confines of the singles final fantasy games to feel welcome. I actually replayed Tower of Zott using the Trust System, and the upgrades worked a treat, allowing the likes of Estinian and Graha Tia to comfortably build a strong backbone for the player with which To work in the Dungeon. That’s not to say they’ll cover for the player in every instance – if the player character dies it’s still back to square one – but it’s a great improvement over the past.
These trust upgrades feed into some big quality-of-life improvements for Final Fantasy 14: Endwalker. For example, Yoshida notes that the damage attributes are getting out of hand with some high-level enemies, and the floating text passages are getting comically long—given that Square Enix wants the MMO to last another decade. To stay here and there, it is making some much-needed changes here. To get around this problem, the studio is actually reducing damage values and other combat calculations with Endwalker, scaling enemy and player HP alike so that Final Fantasy 14’s numbers favor newcomers and veterans. To make it easier to parse evenly.
Additionally, the leveling time between A Realm Reborn and Endwalker is being reduced. The Final Fantasy 14 dev team wants newcomers to hit Endwalker content faster, and to that end the experience points required between levels will be reduced, as will the difference in gear characteristics between levels 50 and 80. Endwalker isn’t just the end of the Hadalin and Zodiarch story arc that’s been going on for nearly a decade: it’s also laying the foundation for future-proofing Final Fantasy 14 for many years to come.
It may be just a tiny piece of Endwalker’s colossal mass, but for now at least, Final Fantasy 14’s extreme expanse looks like it’s heading towards something special. The expansion’s brand new content feels wonderfully put together, such that Reaper and Sage would simply exist alongside existing jobs, and meaningful new changes like the Trust System upgrade and downscaled damage features make Final Fantasy 14 even more so. Feel the primary to establish more success in the years to come. Endwalker will launch for PC, PS4 and PS5 on November 23rd, and it could herald a new territory for one of Square Enix’s biggest success stories.
For Yoshida’s comments on killing off characters in the climactic expansion, you can go over our heads Final Fantasy 14 Endwalker Interview for more information.