The beautiful thing about Final Fantasy XIV’s content roadmap and story structure is that whenever new quests get added, the game takes the time to welcome you back into the fold. We’re only in the first paragraph and I’m already getting sappy here, but returning to FFXIV after an extended period of time does feel like home. That feeling is even more prevalent now, especially since the end of the Endwalker expansion, which saw the Scions going their separate ways and looking for their own adventures.
Patch 6.1, titled Newfound Adventure, starts up the main story again with a scene of the Warrior of Light paying Tataru a visit back in the Rising Stones. The energy here is largely laidback and relaxed, with the pair reminiscing about their other friends, and Tataru prattles on about her sewing while the Warrior of Light eventually drifts off and starts napping. This goes on for about five minutes, which is about an eternity in MMO World.
If this scene sounds slow and extremely inconsequential and unimportant and irrelevant to, well, anything, that’s because it is. In any other game, this would be a huge knock against it, but in Final Fantasy XIV, it completely works.
Having spent nearly eight years with these characters and watching them put a stop to world-ending threat after world-ending threat in each expansion, FFXIV has completely earned its quiet moments. The Scions came back from space at the end of Endwalker after putting a stop to another devastating world-ending plan, and they’ve quite literally achieved world peace in Eorzea. If the game wants to put me through a five-minute cutscene of nothing but Tataru talking about fashion and money, they’ve earned the right to do so dammit.
Indeed, it’s the little quiet moments where patch 6.1 truly shines. It’s been years since the stakes have felt this low, and it was a real breath of fresh air when the game quickly sets you off on a quest to go hunting for treasure and riches buried deep beneath Thavnair. FFXIV kickstarts a hilarious sequence involving the Warrior of Light bribing a drunkard with alcohol for information, before proceeding to get (knowingly) scammed by a couple of con artists in Radz-at-Han alongside Estinien.
Which is why I couldn’t help but feel a tad disappointed when that quest for treasure swiftly came to an end when we discovered that what awaited us at the end of the dungeon wasn’t riches, but a voidgate that could take us to yet another dark, dangerous realm. The revelation at the end of patch 6.1’s story dungeon raises the stakes of the story significantly, as personal stories and emotions get involved yet again, and that lighthearted feeling of seeking new mysteries and adventures quickly evaporates.
The game still manages to keep things relatively light, and the potential threat we’re up against isn’t quite at the level of World-Ending just yet, but I’ve played enough FFXIV at this point to know that Square Enix won’t be able to resist introducing some terrifying enemy that threatens to consume the realm somewhere along this storyline. Remember when we were just hunting pirates and bandits for the hell of it? Bring that back, Square Enix. If Final Fantasy XIV is a long-running anime series, it’s time for a filler arc where the Scions just chill for like a year or something.
Newfound Adventure is still an excellent way to kickstart the story again after being away for a few months, and I’m constantly amazed by how FFXIV can continue to surprise me even after all these years. I’ve yet to jump into the new Alliance raid, but even the new level 80 dungeon comes with some unique mechanics that continue to keep the players on their toes.
And who knows? I might be wrong about the direction of the story in these series of patches. Maybe the stakes won’t be that high after all, and maybe we’ll be treated to even more moments of Scion goofiness. Even when we do inevitably come up against another otherworldly force of evil, at least we’ll always have these precious moments of peace in-between.