Final Fantasy XIV x.3 patches are, typically, among the most story-rich and interesting patches in the game. In the traditional model the popular MMO has followed since it was reborn in 2013, the x.3 patch cycle is the one where the current expansion winds down – you get the big finale and denouement of the current story being told, a credits roll for the expansion a second time, and then the story content and setup for what comes next. In the past, this patch would mark the point at which Fan Fest events would be scheduled and started, revealing the big surprises in store in the upcoming expansion, and then we’d get 2 expository patches that largely stay chill and explore new themes and the story lead-in for the next big thing.
Endwalker, of course, changes all of that, and it makes Gods Revel, Lands Tremble both better and worse in some ways as our patch 6.3, the x.3 of legend for Endwalker.
On the one hand, there is a lot of good content and a lot to like about this patch. Euphrosyne is a well-made Alliance raid that continues the strong Myths of the Realm series with more story about the gods of Eorzea. Our new dungeon, Lapis Manalis, combines the ongoing story of the void consuming the Thirteenth shard with the struggle of the Garleans and the origins of the arts of reaping. The new trial sets the stage for the conclusion of the mini-arc that is guiding us between Endwalker and whatever is to come in 7.0, as the MSQ outside of this content also helps set that stage with additional details. We get the standard upgrades to gear that come with odd-numbered FFXIV patches – augmented crafted gear, unlocked Normal raid gear tokens, non-Savage access to augment currencies for tomestone gear, and Alliance raid gear that matches the item level of unaugmented tomestone gear. We also get the x.3 specific goodies of what should be our final crafting and gathering sets that we can make this expansion, a green-quality high-stat set that can be pentamelded and should last us until level 100 in 7.0 with relative ease, which makes the absurd material requirements in both tomestone and scrip mats more serviceable. The patch made precious few job adjustments outside of a returning Machinist ability and the rework of Paladin, leaving most jobs otherwise as they were and keeping the balance in Abyssos Savage relatively similar to 6.25. There is the content still to come in the minor patch versions, starting with a new Ultimate raid in another week and change, what is likely our last Tribal quest for the expansion in the Loporrits, and the expansion of weapon and tool quest series – with the continuation of the Manderville Weapons and the start of the quest-chained crafting and gathering tools to come in 6.35.
On the other hand, a keen sense of lightness was felt as I went through the patch content. 5.3, the last x.3 patch, had a fairly long MSQ run that stretched for around 4-5 hours of gameplay on a first pass. I finished 6.3 in a fairly light 2.5 hours, and while I enjoyed it and it has given me a lot to think about (which is why we are actually here today!), it also felt like it was missing something by comparison.
But this is enough text to set the scene and push spoilers out of the text previews that can be seen, so let’s dive in.
Zero, Reapers, and The Power of Will
The main crux of the 6.3 centers on Zero, imported into the Source from our adventures on the 13th shard. She has lived her whole life there under the idea of bargains and exchanges for aether, a life devoid of purpose or meaningful existence outside of that, but that also wasn’t her whole life, and she lived a whole other life before the darkness consumed her world. Throughout our introduction to her in patch 6.2, we see her struggling to comprehend a life outside of the boundaries that now define it for her, and struggling to comprehend how we, well, simply are. Zenos was an enemy, but she watched him express a kinship and bond with us that doesn’t compute given our response to Zenos. She watches us offer aid to the displaced of Eorzea in a way that baffles her, but it also does something else – lights a fire within her. Zero was obviously a hero of some fashion in the past, as the brief flashback we get in this patch shows, and yet she is so very far from that life that it might as well have never happened – the feeling is numb and the past devoid of meaning. Yet through her adventures with us and interactions with the Garlean contingent, including Jullus and Alisaie, the color floods back into those memories and a confusing sensation of desire to act fills her spirit.
This takes us through a small history lesson about reapers through their abandoned village in Garlemald, the caverns of Lapis Manalis, and it becomes a well-trodden device for a character to face the camera and go, “say, you know about reaper arts too, huh?” in about 3,457 different ways throughout our brief MSQ jaunt. Once again, we get a swerve from the Final Fantasy IV origins of the tales woven here, as the final two Archfiends, Cagnazzo and Rubicante, face us in a different order to that of FFIV, with Cagnazzo getting the short-straw of dungeon endboss duty while Rubicante himself becomes our final Archfiend trial (well, maybe…?). Rubicante lets us in on the inner workings of Golbez – that while he has what is an evil plan (the invasion of Voidsent to the Source so they can die and be released from the agony of existence, an invasion which would cause countless lives on the Source to also be lost), he also has a softer personal motivation that remains shrouded in mystery. As the curtain falls on the patch, we find that Golbez is musing about how his plan is to come to fruition while the location of his base is revealed – on the moon of the 13th, in Zodiark’s cradle. We lose all means of transit between the Source and 13th as Rubicante’s mission, for which Cagnazzo was a distraction, was to destroy Alzadaal’s Legacy and our gate to the 13th, in the same way that we plugged the hole between worlds that Cagnazzo and the Voidsent he commanded were using in the heart of Lapis Manalis’ ceruleum reserves.
So we end the patch with Golbez working to his own ends and trying to “liberate” the Voidsent of the 13th in death, no means of travel between the source and shard, the eye of Azdaja in our possession with the information that she lives in Golbez’ captivity, and with Zero agreeing to help us absent any grand bargain or exchange, but instead simply because she wants to and feels that fire we have lit within her soul.
So we have multiple threats closing in within the fullness of the Endwalker story and side quests – the invasion of Pandaemonium into the Aetherial Sea, the potential invasion of Voidsent and Golbez himself into the Source, and the friendly sparring challenges with the remaining members of the Twelve. Let’s discuss the Alliance raid story and then dive into some speculation and theorycrafting.
The Twelve – Servants of Hydaelyn
Perhaps the biggest lore bomb of the Alliance raid series to date (well, besides the faithful in-game representation of Nophica’s big naturals) is that the Twelve were appointed to their roles by Hydaelyn herself, which gives us our first non-mythological hint that the Ancients and Venat in particular have influence that persists to this day. As a revelation, this gives us a few things – firstly, that prayers to the Twelve are basically ineffective (they can hear but not act on them), but that through this process, change has manifested that has empowered the Twelve, and the stated reasoning the game is running with for now is Dynamis, which makes a fair bit of sense and brings that back into focus, keeping it elevated above being a plot device for 6.0. There are also some very heavy-handed hints about a Thirteenth (how appropriate given the MSQ!) and that the 13th deity might be a Watcher of some type, with Deryk and/or his opo-opo being the most likely candidates for this role.
The ways in which this expands the setting are interesting, mostly in that the scars of the Ancients still can be felt on Etheirys even now. If we follow the idea to a logical conclusion, this means the Twelve themselves are Ancients as well, and that the local cultural deities in other parts of the planet are riffs on them. It already seemed fairly easy to conclude that Azim, Azeyma, and Azem have some kind of bond, and in the context of Azeyma being a companion of Hydaelyn appointed to that role, her regional interpretation as Azim is fairly clear. What remains openly fascinating to me is who the Twelve were at the time of the Ancients then – while I expect the 6.5 finale to the Alliance raid series to conclude the story within Eorzea, it would be cool for some identity dumps and the ability to, say, meet them in Elpis or via Pandaemonium in some way. It would be even more curious to discover if this was a known fact about the Twelve, and Emet Selch, Elidibus, and Lahabrea also knew that, or if it was a secret even to them.
Either way, it’s fascinating stuff, because it plays with the established themes of the story going back to the beginning (Hydaelyn, Primals, tempering and the lack of it, the inaction of the Twelve in calamities) and adds the newer twists we have seen since (Dynamis, the Ancients, the nature of Hydaelyn and her origin as Venat) and there are a lot of themes that can still be played with in that space. The finale feels like it will be a fascinating and fun look at this foundational bit of worldbuilding, and I am excited to see what comes of it.
Golbez, Azdaja, the Thirteenth, and What Comes Next
So at this point, we have two major patches still to come. In the past, this would have been an easy prediction and also difficult – we’d get some peacetime patches with connective tissue to the expansion to come, but this time…not so much. What we can kind of play with is the ideas currently expressed, the connection to Final Fantasy IV’s story, and the speculated direction of 7.0.
First, the most readily digestible context is that of the connection and borrowing of themes from Final Fantasy IV. While the story being told is different, the themes and overarching context is kind of similar and pushes the fanservice pretty hard with good callbacks to FFIV that people who played it would geek out for while still being a good, standalone story that does not need the context of nostalgia to tell the tale. In that view, we only have a couple major points remaining – Golbez is the obvious big bad for the time being, and Azdaja needs to be dealt with (in what capacity is…uh, perhaps a problem!) but beyond that we have some additional FFIV context. Golbez, in FFIV, has a late-game face turn and helps the player party in pursuit of the real villain, Zemus, who becomes Zeromus, the embodiment of Zemus’ hate and rage. In FFIV, this is due to Golbez being the brother of the party leader, which is an unlikely connection here, but a theme that I could see being played with through other NPCs, perhaps Zero. In Golbez’ fight in FFIV, he uses the Shadow Dragon as his weapon, eventually fusing with it, and it feels most likely that this will be invoked with Azdaja in the Shadow Dragon role. This feels like it means that we will see Azdaja fall before the end of our patch cycle here, and what impact that might have on Vrtra is…an open question.
The Zemus/Zeromus question also remains open. The obvious name implications aside, the story being told does not feel like it is setting up Zero as she currently is to be a villain. However, two fairly large patches of story sit between where we are now and the conclusion of this story arc, and that could change! Golbez being in the Zodiark hole could perhaps setup a plot with some form of reflected Zodiark who has been able to bask in darkness for a long time, assuming that the idea of sundered Zodiark is a literal interpretation and not a figure of speech. Perhaps Golbez has an NPC sibling this time? There are some twists and turns that could come through here, or it could also end up still being Zero. Would that be a cool twist? Eh, I think it’s predictable to a point, which is why it feels like a red herring that she is around with us and named Zero, just begging the FFIV fans to mimic the Leonardo Dicaprio meme.
Will we stay on the Thirteenth past 6.5? I very much doubt it. The world has been shown to us as a largely dead world with voidsent gnawing on the corpse of what once was, and I think we’ve explored the array of locations that would be meaningful here. With 6.4 and 6.5, I suspect we’ll end up on the Thirteenth’s moon as part of the MSQ, wind through the lair of Golbez, and finish up our work there. I suspect the surprises we will find will largely boil down to what we see on the remaining parts of the 13th we explore and how that intersects with our actual destination for 7.0.
And that leaves us with the question of what actually comes next in 7.0, once we are on the other side of the ode to Final Fantasy IV. I think the easy and fairly obvious choice is Meracydia. This one, I think, is not a fakeout – it has a lot of buildup specific to Final Fantasy XIV and within the current context, makes all the sense in the world. We deal with dragons, made a pact with the broodmother of the First Brood, have helped Vrtra find a new way of living and helped with his search for his long-lost sister, and Meracydia logically tracks with that and with the Thirteenth and Voidsent – as Meracydia is where the Ascians unleashed Voidsent through Emperor Xande and the Allagans. The Allagans, their empire, and Meracydia are all big ticket FFXIV lore items that have been present as far back as 1.0, and there is a lot of room to still explore them. In fact, with the information we have post-Endwalker about the Ancients and their involvement in a lot of the happenings in Etheirys’ history, these things are the big ticket lore item post Hydaelyn and Zodiark. Now, could there still be a fakeout here, or a split in focus akin to Stormblood? Sure, but I think that Meracydia gives us a solid, single-continent expansion that answers a lot of questions we still have about foundational lore in FFXIV while also suiting the current narrative arc perfectly.
Outside of the nuts and bolts of the overarching narrative, what else could we discuss about the direction of things? I think one stone I’ve left unturned here is the possibility of the return of the Archfiends. In FFIV, this is the direction things go in as the climax of the story begins – Golbez brings the Archfiends back for a last swing on the player party and the Archfiends fail again. Is that a possibility for the trial of 6.4, before we head into a Golbez trial in 6.5? Sure, maybe. In Final Fantasy IV’s 3D remake, there is also a combined form of the Four Archfiends called Geryon, who is an optional superboss in that version of the game. Will that happen in XIV? Eh…that one I am less sure of. I could see a case for us maybe clearing out the resurrected Archfiends as bosses in a dungeon or story event quest before moving to Golbez, or even a potential trial in the form of a council fight or multiphase encounter that deals with all four at once, and that could serve as a filler for 6.4 before a Golbez trial in 6.5. The story beats in XIV specifically do not seem to address this prospect, however, as we’ve either used Memoriate magics to destroy the soul of the Archfiends beaten on the 13th (Scarmiglione and Barbariccia) or we’ve beaten them on the Source, allowing their souls to enter the Lifestream and removing them from their cycle of undeath (Cagnazzo and Rubicante). Given that, it becomes a bit more of a longshot for us to repeat the story beats of FFIV perfectly, and the repeat performance of Scarmiglione in 6.2 was kind of in the same spirit as the reappearance of the fiends in FFIV, so the throwback is already kind-of accounted for.
My safe-feeling bet is that we get Golbez and Shadow Dragon (Azdaja) in 6.4, and some other thing in 6.5 as our trial – likely something to do with Zodiark on the 13th that calls back to the Zemus/Zeromus ending of FFIV without being strictly the same, and if that callback isn’t made, then I suspect it will be a story lead for 7.0 out of left field – something to do with dragons, most likely, and perhaps an enraged Vrtra could be our enemy in that case. That feels like a reach – Vrtra is very level-headed and has been pretty well behind us the whole time we’ve known him, but the shock of his sister’s (likely) death in the Golbez fight could cause a psychological break. The fun thing right now is that even with the nature of the story’s clear inspiration, we kind of don’t know where we go next, and that’s exciting in a way!
Outside of the gameplay aspects still to discuss, patch 6.3 offers a wealth of new content worth thinking about for FFXIV fans, and as a patch, defines the game’s way forward from Endwalker and towards the future with a story that embodies some of the cooler things about Final Fantasy XIV – the ability to make references and draw inspiration from a wide array of popular games under the FF umbrella, the forethought to shape these references into something new and freestanding that doesn’t require the knowledge of the subject matter, and a narrative that feels well thought-out and planned. At the same time, I find myself slightly disappointed in patch 6.3, largely because for the ways in which it breaks with FFXIV trends and traditions, it also falls short for it. The x.3 patch of all past expansions was this big production with a lot of MSQ content, a sense of finality to the story of the expansion, given room to breathe past the initial launch, and 6.3 is just not that. It feels shorter than average, it even feels shorter by a bit compared to 6.2, much less the x.3 patches of the past, and the story is in this interesting transitional period where it has to establish a relatively new character in Zero alongside catching us up on all the happenings with the Leveilleur twins in Garlemald, and one of these is pretty well paid off (Zero’s development is great, genuinely) and the other is not (there’s a lot of show, don’t tell all over the way we are simply told that Garlemald is slowly getting better but not shown much in the way of concrete evidence of that change).
Still, given that the story being told in Endwalker’s patches is a new arc unto itself, I expect there to be some feeling of gaps in that way, and I’m withholding anything more severe than slight disappointment or slight delight until the whole arc can be judged when we reach the grand finale of it all. Patch 6.3 delivers a good story and some good content worth engaging with, and it sets the stage for an interesting set of possible future outcomes, and that’s a good foundation for an FFXIV content patch, all told.
7 thoughts on “Gods Revel, Lands Tremble – Story Spoiler Talk About Final Fantasy XIV Patch 6.3”
What about the guys from the Thirteenth in the First, the Ardbert’s co-tank Cylva and that creepy albino teen that we finally chased out of Minfilia’s office? 🙂 Last we saw them, they were very determined to work out a solution to save their star, Beq Lugg involved. I don’t think the writers would have us visit them and inform “oh well, it’s beyond saving”.
I think it’s a valid possibility that they could find a way of travel there (as we conveniently lost our own path there too) and/or means of saving it, reversing its denizens to their original form and setting the catalyst reaction much like we reversed the First. The only question is: when?
They could do it in 6.4.-6.5. (and in that case, the MSQ will be definitely longer in those patches), them and Zero waving us goodbye after we deal with Golbez, free Azdaja and set a first reversed patch to work from (for example, Zero’s domain). Or the whole thing could stretch to yet another expansion: imagine how cool it would be as we win and reverse the shadow areas one-by-one as we progress.
My guess is that the next expansion will be more down to Earth (rather: down to Eorzea) – Meracydia and/or The New World, and we get a proper Thirteenth expansion a while after – once the guys have done some work there.
I’ll be honest – I had actually kind of forgotten about Cylva and Unukalhai when writing this up. Oops! However, I would also say they could end up being a long shot for direct involvement just yet, given that them uniting and the nature of them is in optional content. They’ve broken this general rule a few times, but it is generally the case that optional quest stories only get pulled into the MSQ in references if completed by the player to avoid both confusion and/or requiring players to backtrack. There’s probably a way they could do it, and they could just do it without needing a mechanism for it, but I am curious to see how that works out.
I do like the idea of a Thirteenth expansion and I agree that the overall story direction is trending towards us trying to fix the Thirteenth in some way, but I am curious to see how the next steps go given that the world is a unique case even for the Ascians, who learned a lot about rejoining by making that world unable to rejoin.
Yes, I see how that could be a problem. Especially that Cylva and their joint sequel requires completion of all combat role questlines in ShB.
In that case, I think that Beq Lugg might be the link. Everyone had to get acquainted with her by MSQ, she might introduce those two as “guys from the 13th” if you haven’t met them previously, and they greet you as a dear friend if you did.
“it would be cool for some identity dumps and the ability to, say, meet them in Elpis” reminded me of this reddit thread: https://www.reddit.com/r/ffxiv/comments/1094nxs/spoiler_63_alliance_raid_we_may_have_met_two/
I enjoyed the 6.3 MSQ. I agree it felt shorter but you know what it didn’t feel? Padded. It was just good, solid content and pacing from start to finish. I liked the spectacle of Euphrosyne but mechanically it felt too simplistic. Except for Halone! I really enjoyed that fight. Seeing Nophica for the first time, even as a gay man I thought “oh those are going to be a thing”.
Speaking of how savage raiding might have altered my difficulty perception, how’s your savage tier going? I like hearing about your experience as we’re both going through savage in an organised group for the first time. We JUST got our first P8S phase 1 kill on the Saturday before 6.3, managed a reclear on the raid after that. We’ve progressed to … the first major mechanic in phase 2.
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I definitely agree on the point about lacking padding – sometimes brevity is good if it serves a purpose! Also, felt a lot of the same about Euphrosyne – mechanically it’s a little easier than Aglaia, but I like that there are enrage timers and some more interesting rapid-fire mechanics.
As for savage, well – it’s been pretty good! Still haven’t gotten P8S P1 yet, between taking a winter break and then having a rough first week back. We’re going to have to fill another spot now too, so that feels a bit further out, but the mechanics of the fight are definitely starting to click and I think we can get there soonish!
According to FFLogs P8S-1 took us over 400 attempts. I think the random Reforged Reflections really slowed down our learning. And snakes feels SO GOOD for DPS cooldown timing which makes centaur feel SO BAD. Oh how I don’t enjoy trying to time a Technical Finish to hit everyone mid-Illusory Creation.
Sorry you have to find another raider! I know how that’d feel, having to essentially relearn the fight for a new person. My group’s done shockingly well in that regard. We lost a ninja in the very first week, replaced them with a dragoon and we’ve had the same group ever since.