Naati Nahilin on the Lodestone — I don’t think the Shire gear is as neat as the Ironworks gear, but it’s better than the mishmash I had from levelling.

I really thought there would be at least another day or two before I got to write this post — particularly since I said just yesterday I was keen to get the rest of my Allagan Poetics level 60 set (Augmented Shire Gear) finished before carrying on.

What I clearly forgot in my calculations was just how many Poetics you get simply for running the content before you get to the bonus ones at the end. Each boss kill gives you a few more.

So today I was able to get my chest, belt, ring and bracelet from the daily roulettes. I don’t need the earring as I’m using the Endwalker preorder one. Technically I do still need the necklace but I decided I was OK with earning this on my way to Stormblood.

I am, after all, just a little bit over the minimum ilvl by this point. I needed ilvl 142 to get in. With the gear obtained so far — I hit 249.

Now! Unlike yesterday’s post, I’m going to let loose with spoilers today. So if you haven’t done up to and including rolling credits on the main Heavensward story — you might want to turn away from this post for the moment.

I’m glad to have done a non-spoiler post in recognition of those who are also new to the series at the moment. But I found I still had more meat to chew when I was done with it.

So once more: Spoilers beyond this point! May include anything from ARR through to the end of Heavensward 3.0 MSQ content. I haven’t done any of the post-HW/pre-SB content yet though, so I won’t be discussing that just yet.

Spoilers Start

Characterisation and the Journey

Awaiting our turn to fight the Gnath God.

One of the things I alluded to in earlier posts is the improvement I see in the time spent on character development. To give them arcs of their own, and to make any sacrifice — if necessary — more impactful.

Moenbryda was treated poorly in this regard. Brought in from stage left to no sooner than saying ‘Boo’ being shuffled off the other side. Sure, it was a little sad — particularly for Urianger’s clear regret — but beyond that, there hadn’t been much time for an attachment to form yet.

Iceheart — or Ysayle, as we come to know her — by contrast is introduced in the ARR post-content patch as well. Initially as a faceless leader of brigands. We ultimately come to understand that while her methods have been brutal there is a greater good goal she is working toward.

You should never have come here, Warrior of Light. I labour only to forge a lasting peace. A peace you would deny us out of ignorance and blind faith. No matter. If it is our fate to be at odds, then it is mine to strike you down.

-Iceheart (Ysayle)

And, not for the first time, Final Fantasy XIV makes me wonder:

I also thought this encounter and her defeat as Shiva would be the last time we encountered Iceheart. Fortunately, that wasn’t the case. And can I just take a moment to say, her Heavensward English voice actor – Siobhan Hewlett – is amazing?

In any case, Ysayle joins our journey westward (and upward) to the dragon peaks, alongside Estinien — a more mismatched pair it would be difficult to imagine. With one understanding the wrong Ishgard has done to Dravanian kind already and the other a proficient killer of their kind, still completely in the sway of the thousand years of indoctrination the Holy See professed as truth.

The journey itself put me very much in the mind of The Lord of the Rings, actually. Constantly moving ever further from home in a singular direction, on a mission seemingly doomed to fail from the outset and harsh truths to be discovered along the way.

Honestly, the whole time, I expected Estinien to betray us. To betray the word he gave that he wouldn’t attack the dragons we came across without provocation. Throughout our entire conversation with Hraesvalgr, I sat with bated breath waiting for the — I thought — inevitable attack.

But it didn’t come. Estinien didn’t break covenant with us, nor did the burden of Nidhogg’s eye find a way to consume Estinien in this moment to ensure a continuation of the war.

It is too soon to say that Estinien and Ysayle yet see eye to eye on things — but there is certainly a kind of respect growing, and an understanding of the pain Ysayle is in after Hraesvelgr reveals the truth of primals. That the spirit Ysayle had given herself to in the guise of Shiva was false. Nothing more than a manifestation of her belief, given form by power. Moreover, her mission of peace will seemingly never be a reality while Nidhogg lives.

Ysayle doesn’t have the heart to join us on this particular mission, but it’s somewhat understandable. We give her privacy and time while we do what seemingly needs to be done if there is ever to be an end to this thing.

And still, Estinien holds it together, fighting off the attempts of Nidhogg’s eye to control him.

These two characters have, by this point, become more meaningful than perhaps any other in the game. Including the at this point, still missing members of the Scions. (Although it was most excellent to recover Y’shtola, and worrying to hear Matoya’s assertion her new form of sight was drawing from her lifeforce.)

So the ending of the main Heavensward story really does carry quite a punch.

Ysayle, having found peace with Hraesvalgr and herself both, rides in to literally save the day. The Garlean airship is built for battle and would have our miniature craft down in no time — except for Ysayle’s sacrifice, shifting to Shiva one last time to keep them at bay.

Then, after just a little time to recover — at the peak of your victory. Not one, but two Ascians down and the Archbishop to boot, Estinien picks up the second of Nidhogg’s eyes.

And in this moment of victory, now wielding both eyes together, is overcome — giving rebirth to Nidhogg’s spirit in physical form.

*shakes fist at the story writers*

And I haven’t even brought up the loss of Haurchefant earlier in the piece, who died literally holding a shield in the protection of us.

Ugh. Why? Whyyy?

It’s certainly effective, in any case.

I imagine dealing with Nidhogg nee Estinien is going to form a large part of what comes next, before Stormblood, in an effort to secure the peace we’ve fought so hard and paid so much for.

I also expect we’ll recover more of the Scions. It seems to me there is a need for bit of an upbeat tick in the mood of the story for a bit.

But I could be wrong — it might be that the hits will just keep on coming for a bit. I’m ready for that if so!

Oh! And one other final note — I think this might be the first reference to the moon? And also the first overt reference to the Warrior of Dark? It still blows my mind somewhat how far back some of this stuff was set up.

This was posted during Blaugust 2021, the annual blogging event hosted by Belghast. Blaugust is an event aiming to welcome new blogger blood into the fold and revitalise those who’ve been at it a little longer.

The Blaugust Discord is still available to join in, year-round!


Naithin

Gamer, reader, writer, husband and father of two boys. Former WoW and Gaming blogger, making a return to the fold to share my love of all things looty.

4 Comments

Rakuno · August 4, 2021 at 12:49 am

Congratulations on finishing Heavensward!

I still think the story of ARR just isn’t better because they had a lot of characters from 1.0 that they had to re-introduce plus lore like the Garlean empire, the Ascians, the echo, the primals, the Warrior of Light and so on and so forth.

With Heavensward they didn’t have as much baggage and could focus more on the story they wanted to tell and the characters.

Now here are my thoughts on the story. SPOILERS ahead in case someone is casually scrolling this far down…

Unlike you, when I met Ysayle I didn’t question if we are the baddies. Even though I did come to understand her reasons and even agree with them over time, I still felt her methods were wrong and until the journey with her, Estinien and Alphinaud started, I was fully expecting to have to defeat her as yet another villain. I am glad that wasn’t the case though as she was a pretty interesting character. And I felt bad about her when she found the truth about Shiva.

With Estinien though, I was with you. I expected him to be an extremist and just screw up any attempt at peace. Or to be possessed by Nidhogg much earlier than that or at least end up with him being the final boss of the expansion. I was actually surprised it did take him that long and having to touch a second eye for that to happen. I didn’t really expect that we would be kicking out the Bishop and doing some actual change to their government system. I guess too many MMOs and single-player games with false choices just made me a bit cynical about any in-game change being just lip service. XD

The character that I felt had the most growth though was Alphinaud. In ARR I disliked him because he came off as an arrogant rich brat. But I felt bad for him after the ARR patches and it was nice to see trying his best to learn from his mistakes and trying to make up for them during Heavensward. To the point that I now like him and respect him as a good ally.

I completely forgot about that scene in the moon! At the time I just went “Huh. That is an interesting location for a villain meet-up but not that weird considering it is a Final Fantasy game.” But I am not surprised they thought that far ahead. If I recall correctly, Yoshi-P said in the past that they had the entire Ascian storyline already planned from beginning to end. It was just a question of fleshing it out over time. I am now curious what kind of storyline will come after that. :)

    Naithin · August 4, 2021 at 5:35 pm

    Ysayle’s methods were very brutal to start with. And I had no compunction about stopping her on that basis, but on the other hand — she had potentially seen how we’d dealt with the beast tribes up until that point.

    Where the nations we were defending had been the ones to break the pacts we had, expecting the tribes to just suck it up — and when they didn’t we come along as the vaunted warrior of light to put a stop to it.

    I forget all the details now, but I remember specifically with the Goblins / Titan portion of the story wondering if we were in the wrong here.

    So with that historical context, I could understand why Ysayle might feel backed into a corner in possible roads to putting a stop to our intervention.

Spot of Mummery · August 4, 2021 at 1:30 am

Congrats on your progress!

Yes, what I enjoyed most about Heavensward was actually the simplest thing – your character going on a journey with other characters and seeing how these characters developed over time. The journey is such a basic foundation for a fantasy story, but how often does a game (much less a MMO) actually pull this off – in comparison to books or movies.

Anyhow, yeah. The moon. Still wondering what its connection is in all of this.

    Naithin · August 4, 2021 at 5:44 pm

    Agree! The gamification of the more literal aspect of the hero’s journey is hardly ever pulled off so well.

    In fact… I’m not sure I could put my finger on a single other instance of it right now.

    Heavensward’s journey to the west was so well done. You really started to feel the ever increasing distance from home as you went. I love when games can do that.

    It’s a bit different, but a similar feeling, was some of the Olthoi dungeons in Asheron’s Call. You just went down, down, down, so far into the group that the depth and distance became this additional feature of the ambience.

    Was so well done. No other dungeon in any other game has ever quite recaptured that for me.

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