Is FFXIV Endwalker a bad Expansion? What's all the recent uproar in the community about? We've done some thinking and came up with this explanation.
The wild success the critically acclaimed MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV has been enjoying these past few years is truly something to behold. Its latest expansion Endwalker has been a resounding success and with Dawntrail on the horizon there seems to be no limit to the heights Square Enix MMO can reach.
But recently, depending on what corner of the community you've been creeping around, you may have heard of Warriors of Light decry the current state of the game. While there is merit to those complaints there is also a lot of recency bias going around.
So instead of more complaining, we're looking at those talking points and explaining how we got here in the first place.
FFXIV Endwalker is a Bad Expansion, Right?
There has been a lot of energy behind this discussion as of late, mostly spearheaded by prominent members of the community and especially content creators. And while it's true that the Endwalkers patch cycle was a little lighter on content on a surface level, claiming that there is less content is a little disingenuous.
There is Less Content Than Ever
If we look at the wealth of content FFXIV got over the years and compare Endwalkers patch cycle to previous expansions, every other expansion would look bad in comparison. The little and big things Endwalker has introduced in its patch content are nothing to be scoffed at. Criterion Dungeons, Island Sanctuary, and so on.
What we do see is that the XIV team's focus has shifted a little towards content that is of a higher quality and complexity but takes a lot less time to clear in comparison. There has also been a bigger focus on ‘casual content' like the Island Sanctuary and Variant Dungeons instead of purely battle-focused content.
In addition to that, there have also been a lot of changes under the hood. The effort to bring older content up to the current standard in addition to Duty Support has been nothing but monumental. Older Dungeons got overhauled and fights got adjusted. In addition to that some quests and Solo-Dutys have also seen massive changes all around.
But the shift in the team's priorities is being noticed by more and more players. The Criterion/Variant Dungeons meant to replace the Bozja/Eureka type content are not as big of a timesink and are still in a very early stage of their life cycle.
But What About the Relicts?
No one will argue that the shift from Relicts being their own thing to being tied to the Hildibrand questline has been a weird one. And while the Hildibrand questline continues to impress with its ridiculous amount of production value, having to hand in Tomestones for upgrades was a bit disappointing.
But considering that last time around, players would rather grind dungeons and annihilate FATEs with their Blue Mages we can at least see where the team is coming from. XIV has always been good at not getting in the way of gear progression, even if the Relicts used to be the reward for an almost endless grind.
Is the change good? That depends on how much value you put on your Relicts. To some it's a late patch activity to justify paying your subscription, to others, it's just an easy less painful way to get an upgrade to catch up on content. It's nice that the Relicts are now something you can earn while doing other things but would also like them to feel special again.
Raids are worse now
This is a more loaded take that will take some distance to properly decode. Is one of the Ultimate encounters we got in 6.0 not as beloved as the other? Yes. But saying that the raids are worse now kind of ignores the current state of XIV battle content as a whole.
While we all got tired of the 2-minute buff-meta after year, it is just what we ended up with. FFXIVs mechanics and boss fights are so well-documented these days that it is no wonder it feels stale. Fights have been adjusted to compensate for that and the usage of 3rd party tools but it's a battle we're always gonna lose.
There is no doubt that Dawntrails needs to shake things up again. Jobs are getting stale because their variety still needs to be balanced out across the board and encounters, as pretty as they are will always be solved and optimized at concerning speeds.
There is no real answer to this, but XIV will always prefer accessibility and the onboarding of new players over its veteran player base. But adding a new type of content between Savage and Ultimate with the right incentives might be the way to go.
The Story Is Bad
Everyone will get different mileage out of the story of FFXIV. And while the ride that was Shadowbringers going and finishing with Endwalker was something to behold, it doesn't mean XIV has skipped a beat yet. The 6.x story has been a different speed no doubt, with many likening it to a Shounen Anime Filler Arc.
So far the story has mostly been confused about wrapping up loose ends from some expansions ago and setting the scene for our next big adventure. It has been a different speed for sure, but still plays to XIV's strength. Strong worldbuilding and excellent characters with just the right mix of serious and light-hearted.
Is Endwalker a Bad Expansion?
This will come down to who you're asking. We believe that Endwalker has been, so far an excellent expansion, especially for everyone on the more casual side of things. A lot of the symptoms that many attribute to Endwalker's badness are more consequences of XIV's ongoing growing pains.
Fatigue is setting in for both players and developers and it's left to be seen how Square Enix navigates around and out of it in the near future. But Endwalker has also introduced many, much more sustainable kinds of content compared to the “Let's do Diadem again but X” approach they had before.
If you're not happy with the current state of the game, nothing stops you from taking a break from playing. The last thing you want is to burn yourself out on something you really enjoy. Or maybe give some of the more casual types of content a go.
For more on FFXIV, check out our summary of the recent Letter from the Producer Live or what to expect Dawntrail. And for more guides, news, and esports check out ESTNN