Almost exactly two years after I started, I’m through the post-ARR content. I don’t know how much of this to credit to the MSQ streamlining that occurred with the 5.3 patch or whether it was simply the case that the 2.4 and 2.5 content always boasted much better story content, but I’ve really enjoyed it. Which is not something I think I conveyed well in my last post.

Not to dwell on it too much in this one, I do want to clarify the walk-away message I meant to provide with that post is that FFXIV needn’t be an MMO to be enjoyable. I’d have just as much fun with it as I’m currently experiencing it, even if it wasn’t.

Back to the topic at hand for today… Lordy. What an ending. And that post-credits scene! I’m struggling to find much to say of the non-spoiler variety. Oh! Although I can tell you that I think the main theme song (I believe) of FFXIV ARR, ‘Answers’ might be, if not the, then at least right near the top of my list of favourite Final Fantasy music tracks.

Final Fantasy XIV – Flames of Truth — an alternate version of the cutscene at the game’s opening, missing the rebuilding efforts but showing more of Loiusoix’s efforts to save us and ultimate sacrifice.

The Flames of Truth version of the cutscene is the first place that I remember hearing the song, but it also plays while the credits roll — so I figured this to be an excellent time to bring this version of the cutscene to the attention of anyone who hasn’t yet seen it. It’s the same as the game version you might be familiar with until about the 5:34 mark — then it takes off, figuratively and literally. You’ll see.

If you’d like to hear “Answers” without the cutscene background SFX (or see the lyrics), you can do so here.

In any case, back to my feelings after wrapping this portion of the game…

“Just wait, it gets better!”

I mean, yeah… It does. In a big way. Like I mentioned in the last post, it wasn’t that I disbelieved the people telling me how good things got in Heavensward and beyond. It was just that, at the time, the future promise of an engaging story wasn’t enough to keep me going when I had so much else on the gaming backlog still hoping to get an edgewise look in.

I had a look at the timings involved. According to the estimates I’ve found, before the 5.3 patch, where I did the vast majority of my play — it took ~65 hours to reach Heavensward. Now, if you were to start today, it’s ~45 hours. Main cuts being to the number of filler quests that used to exist. It sounds like 2.1-2.3 in particular which used to be quite a chore — and were ultimately what drove me from the game — are no longer nearly so tedious to get through.

But 45 hours is not an insignificant investment to demand of your players to reach the point of greatness it has to offer. Whether that’s worth it or not is going to be up to each individual. But I would say the story of ARR wasn’t bad. I was onboard with it almost all the way through.

It was really only the pre-5.3 streamlining version of 2.1-2.3 which, I think, gave the ‘The Horrible Hundred‘ its name. So much teleporting. So much talking. So little happening.

I’m SO Glad I Came Back Though

Because 2.4 to an extent, but definitely 2.5 picked up incredibly. The stakes are higher, the story has momentum and it’s so much easier to become invested.

The Heavensward Trailer gave me a spoiler on one of the events that would happen but actually seeing it all unfold. Feeling that sinking, ‘Oh no…’ in the realisation that the time had come… And seeing the aftermath and reactions of the characters involved…!

*shakes head*

It’s almost hard to reconcile this as the same game as the one I was playing two years ago.

I’m really glad that I came back and gave FFXIV another go and made it through this time. I’m exceptionally excited to get started into Heavensward and see where the story goes from here. I’ve seen the trailers for each of the expansions so I have some rough ideas of the direction of the broad strokes but the level of knowledge I had when I last saw the trailers was far less. It wasn’t likely I’d be spoiled (in a way I’d recognise or remember) about anything terribly specific.

I think that’s not true now. I know enough that watching the trailers again would be dangerous.

So from here on out, I’ll just see the cinematics as the game presents them to me. :)