Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker Review (PS5) – Few MMO’s have taken the world by storm in such a way like Final Fantasy XIV, so it’s no shock that the next big expansion would be one of the most anticipated releases of the year.
That day has finally come, and Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker is in public hands. The expansion follows what is for me, one of the best storylines that’s been in an MMO in recent years – even RPGs for that matter.
Does Endwalker continue that legacy? Thankfully, the answer is yes.
As a heads up, there may be some spoilers for the start of the game, and for the ending of the previous expansion. I won’t be covering any content past level 82, but it should be noted there’s a new level cap set to 90 now.
Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker Review (PS5) – A Satisfying Conclusion To A Decade Long Story
Hey, This Is New
Endwalker introduces two new jobs, Sage and Reaper. Both start at level 70, which can honestly be a bit jarring at first. You have access to level skills from 1-69, which means it’ll take a fair amount of tweaking to get the hot bar just right.
There’s just so much for you right away that even after spending a chunk of time adjusting everything to your liking, you’re still likely to find yourself making the odd change with some frequency, especially as you learn new skills.
As a frame of reference I play on controller, although there is support for using mouse and keyboard as well. I find that Sage worked perfectly on controller, by just adapting my previous White Mage bar and tweaking it for shield healing instead of burst.
Regarding Reaper though, I’m still struggling to find a decent Reaper controller hot bar setup.
There’s more I could say about the new jobs, but in all honesty I feel like I need more time with them before saying anything definitive. Currently I’m trying Reaper, after playing a fair amount of Sage, which is what I have a better understanding of.
It’s Nice To Have Company
Spoiler warning for story ahead. Read at your own risk!
After doing the first mission of the game, you end up heading on a boat to a new city, which was shown off in previous fan-fests and the media tour that we were able to attend digitally. *Thank you again to Square Enix for inviting me to the event.
Once you get to the town though, it shows off the new follower system, and it is really cool. In previous expansions when you did escort quests they would just warp from location to location based on the area you had to head to.
Now with the change it feels a lot like a single player game because each player gets an instanced version of the NPC that you have to escort, and they will follow you around.
You’ll also find these blue rings round the map, which can provide some information about your location, and even let you have a nice chat any NPC following you.
There are a few graphical glitches with this system, particularly in elevated locations – but it doesn’t pull away from the experience.
However, there were some quests that I found annoying because of what can happen due to this new feature. Some quests require you to follow an NPC, while staying out of sight.
Unfortunately, it seems that even on those quests, if you get too close the NPC this new system will trigger. You’ll be caught by the NPC, and have to restart the quest. It was a very annoying side effect that often ruined what were otherwise well paced moments.
Living Up To The Hype
A lot of people were worried that Endwalker wouldn’t be able to live up to Shadowbringers, as this expansion is supposed to be the culmination of a decade long storyline. Though this expansion does have some low points, the highs are incredibly high, and overall I feel like it was much better than Shadowbringers.
In all honesty there was a dull part towards the middle which I wish could have been made shorter with fewer quests. I don’t want to go further into detail to avoid spoilers, but little tweaks to avoid that kind of dull middle would’ve been the difference from good to brilliant.
The zones from this new expansion are some of the best they’ve ever done, with each one feeling completely different and unique. Exploring them feels even better because of their differences, and the wealth of colour palettes on display.
The flying system is back from the previous expansions, but for a lot of the new zones I think they are even easier to get than before. Also your compass is now more conveniently part of the collection tab instead of being in your key items.
Altogether I put about 50 hours into Endwalkers since launch, sometimes having marathon sessions just because I didn’t want to stop exploring each zone. I also couldn’t stop listening to the music, which was stunning as always. Thank you Soken, truly, for your work.
One And Done
As you go through the MSQ, you’ll unlock new dungeons and trials, though each of the dungeons have new mechanics that take some time to get used to. Even so, that wouldn’t discourage me at all from going back and playing through it them again.
On the topic of repeating dungeons, I found that you get enough experience points from doing the MSQ, you’d only actually need to do everything once. A friend and I were consistently two levels above the story questline just through completing main quests and the odd side quest.
Repeating the dungeons can of course help though, as we did decide to repeat a couple in the end. At the very least all the experience points you can potentially earn are great for levelling up different jobs. Otherwise it can feel like the experience you ought to be earning is eventually wasted.
That does however bring up an annoying choice. Either level up multiple jobs at once, slowing down your progress through the narrative, or forgo the experience points and just play the story in a nice, linear fashion.
The trust system has returned, and it seems a little improved compared to its predecessor. Just like before you are able to go into dungeons as a scenario, but now they’ll be levelled up alongside you.
Previously you only had one chance, and if you wished to redo the dungeon, you’d need to level up the trust for that specific level. That’s thankfully changed, and you can now click scenario mode to redo dungeons again with trust.
At The End(walker) Of The Day
There may be a few flaws to Endwalker, but they truly don’t take away from the fun that can be had with what is a very good Final Fantasy XIV experience.
It’s great to see a story over a decade in the making grow the way it has now with Endwalker, especially considering how much Final Fantasy XIV has improved over the years. If you are a new player coming into the fold, I’d highly recommend you take your time to play the story from the start. It’s well worth it.
Moving forward I’m personally anxiously anticipating new story information, the upcoming raid based on a good chunk of Final Fantasy XIV lore, the new PvP mode, and the Island Sanctuary expansion.
No matter what it is however, this team has proven themselves to me and the rest of the fanbase time and again. I can’t wait to see what the next decade is like.
Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker is currently available for PS4 and PS5.
Review code generously provided by the publisher.