Wednesday, December 8, 2021

My Endwalker Experience, Days 4-5

I decided to continue recording my thoughts about Final Fantasy XIV's Endwalker expansion as I play through the main story questline (MSQ). I do need to put up a warning that the article does contain spoilers. One of the subjects I want to jot down are my thoughts on how the story is progressing.

First of all, the pacing of the story to my levelling experience is still good. I am up to a level 83 quest, To The Moon, and I am only 2/3 of the way through level 84. In addition to the MSG, I do all the blue quests I find along the way. I also do questlines I find that start with a blue quest marker. I found out the hard way during Shadowbringers to do those quests. They usually wind up as prerequisites for other important quest lines later. I also started doing FATES, as the bicolor gem currencies are worth picking up. As long as I don't fall behind the level of the MSQ quests, I'm happy.

Next is the zone I am currently in, Garlemald. If the Garlean Empire represents a fascist regime like Nazi Germany, then the month is February 1945. The Allies, in the form of the Eorzean Alliance and their eastern allies, have driven into the heart of the dying empire. The population is torn in two, between those who wish to do their duty as they see fit and those who just want to madness to stop. Throw in the fanatic tempered troops following the Galean deity (yes, they have one) and the player is presented with a chaotic situation.

Fandaniel and Zenos make their first substantive appearances in Garlemald. My reviews on our antagonists is mixed. Fandaniel has emerged from his flamboyant appearance in the latter patches of Shadowbringers into a dangerous opponent. Just because he is a sundered Ascian does not make him harmless. Zenos is, well Zenos. A very one-dimensional villain. On who, honesty, doesn't fulfill the role very well of the big bad guy for an expansion. I had the same opinion of Zenos during Stormblood and I haven't seen anything yet to change my mind.

The one scene where I felt an ominous presence from Zenos sums up my feelings. Fandaniel executes a plan in which he begins to temper all the Garleans inside the Alliance camp. During the confusion, he not only captures the Warrior of Light, but extracts her soul and puts it into another body. The player wakes up sitting at a table with Zenos with an extensive meal laid upon it. During the ensuing conversation, Zenos talks about entering the body of the Warrior of Light, walking into the Alliance encampment, and causing havoc.

What wound up happening is, when Zenos tried to walk into the camp in the Warrior of Light's body, he was spotted by multiple people as a fake and stopped by a large contingent of both the Scions and their allies. Whatever trick Fandaniel pulled picked that time to fade and the player returns to their own body.

What struck me at the time is if Zenos is supposed to inspire awe and terror, why does he need to have Fandaniel incapacitate the hero for Zenos to succeed in acting meanacing?  Zenos did go on a monologue explaining that very point, almost as if the lead writer for Endwalker, the extremely talented Natsuko Ishikawa, realized the same point. She can only do so much with such a flawed character.

At that point Fandaniel and Zenos reminded me of Lenny and George from the John Steinbeck book Of Mice and Men. Fandaniel plays the role of Lenny, the brains of the outfit. George, of course, is played by Zenos, a big man who isn't quite 100% mentally. I plan on watching to see if the comparison carries through the expansion.

But so far, Zenos is really the only thing I have major criticisms about the expansion so far. The last major action I took in Garlemald was to run The Tower of Babel. The premise of the duty is very good. The Scions and their allies flood into the tower, then split up into three groups. The Eorzeans go in one direction, the eastern allies another, and the player leading 3 Scions heads on, just like in an alliance raid. I had problems with the first boss, but once I figured out the polarity mechanic, I breezed through the rest. Well, expect for the final boss, but that was just me making a dumb mistake in the middle phase.

I did all of the above on Monday. I spent Tuesday making sure all of my crafting and harvesting classes were at level 84 before moving on to the next zone. I decided to do the crafting levequests located in Old Sharlayan. Besides gaining three levels in each crafting class, I gained about 400,000 gil after deducting purchases made from NPCs and on the market board. I also raised my fishing to level 85.

I do have to point out the zone music for Old Sharlayan and Thavnair. Crafting in Old Sharlayan and gathering in Thavnair is so relaxing due to the music in those two zones. The music so far has not disappointed. The composer for FFXIV, Masayoshi Soken, once again delivered a wonderful soundtrack and I can't wait to hear what he wrote for our trip to the moon.

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