Love and awe: PETER HOSKIN reviews Final Fantasy XIV – Endwalker

Love and awe: PETER HOSKIN reviews Final Fantasy XIV – Endwalker

Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker (PlayStation, PC, £29.99 plus ongoing subscription)

Rating:

Verdict: A whole new world

In normal circumstances, the release of an expansion — that is, more stuff — for the 14th game in a series would be a gross act of overstretch. I mean, maybe it’s time to give it a rest?

But these aren’t normal circumstances. The expansion is called Endwalker. And the game is Final Fantasy XIV, which had an inauspicious birth about a decade ago but has since grown into an online realm so beautiful and populous that it now threatens even the dominance of World of Warcraft.

If you’ve been playing Final Fantasy XIV for ages, then Endwalker is surely one of the most significant releases… ever. 

Endwalker itself is full of big moments, as any tale of clashing godlike beings should be. It transports us from one spectacular location to another, up to its world’s moon

After all, it’s the culmination of a story that has been told across eight years and three previous expansions. This is narrative fiction on a titanic scale.

And that is the greatest strength of Final Fantasy XIV in general: its narrative. It had been thought that mass multiplayer games like WoW could never deliver the same carefully authored experience as a good single-player game. But the Japanese developers of FFXIV have proved that wrong.

Endwalker itself is full of big moments, as any tale of clashing godlike beings should be. It transports us from one spectacular location to another, up to its world’s moon. 

We encounter practically all of the game’s most famous heroes and villains.

It had been thought that mass multiplayer games like WoW could never deliver the same carefully authored experience as a good single-player game. But the Japanese developers of FFXIV have proved that wrong

But it’s in the smallest moments — simple conversations with friends — that Endwalker’s qualities are best demonstrated. This is a game that inspires as much introspection as it does awe.

Let’s not forget the actual gameplay. Endwalker adds several features to keep long-time players satisfied — including a couple of new character types (the scythe-toting Reaper and medicinal Sage) and, eventually, a mode in which you can live the quiet life on an island.

But what is there for new players of Final Fantasy XIV? Everything, I’d say. Endwalker has brought fresh life to the already thriving FFXIV. There are thousands of initiates joining every day. It’s the place to be.

It is also quite a commitment. You can, if you wish, fast-forward to the Endwalker parts, but it’s better to enjoy the story as it was meant to be enjoyed, chapter by chapter. Besides, it takes time and effort to properly understand FFXIV’s intricacies.

But it’s all worth it; even the occasional queues for a place on the game’s online servers. Here is an entire world waiting for you.

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