Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker provided a fulfilling sense of closure for fans of the MMORPG. The story arc that originally began with the game’s 2010 launch has reached its climactic finale. However, this is not the end for the game, as many more expansions are yet to come. Yet fans can only speculate at what’s to follow in the wake of the Hydaelyn and Zodiark arc. The game’s future is now free to wildly experiment with new concepts and directions. While it would be wise to temper expectations, it should also be said that the game needs to evolve. We shouldn’t anticipate vast improvements to the engine or graphics, for example. However, Square Enix needs to continue pushing the game to new heights. As such, in this article, I shall present possible ideas for the future of FFXIV after Endwalker without spoilers.
A New Continent
We began our adventures in the land of Eorzea, an area the players have since explored from top to bottom. The story soon took us to the Far East in Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood. The most recent expansion opened up zones such as Old Sharleyan and Thavnair. While some places certainly got more deeply explored than others, we’ve left few stones unturned in our immediate vicinity. Most of the lands whispered of in prior expansions have now played host to our adventures. While it would be easy to incorporate new zones or dungeons within those pre-existing areas, I would like something more.
I feel it’s time to get lost once more in a land quite unlike anything seen before. To almost begin anew with a place unfamiliar with who we are. There is a certain thrill in building up your reputation and alliances, forming new bonds, and establishing new goals. I doubt anyone would want the game to outright abandon the characters we’ve met so far. Even so, there is a limiting aspect that comes from basing your story around areas and people with completed arcs. We need a setting with previously untapped potential to get a new story rolling.
The fandom is already aware of the probable next settings for FFXIV after Endwalker. Places like The New World and Meracydia currently seem the most likely. As for any fans who might be scared of such a drastic change, know that it’s been done before. The popular expansion Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers took place in a setting almost entirely isolated from those prior. In many ways, it was that feeling of separation that made it such an iconic expansion.
New and Relevant Factions
The Grand Companies of Eorzea were the player’s introduction to factions in A Realm Reborn. While having little impact on the story, your GC determined some of the gear you had access to. It was also somewhat more relevant in regards to PvP, determining the side you fight for. As you obtained promotions you could access more gear and even obtain new provisioning missions and your own squadron. The issue is that it’s an aspect of the game that didn’t continue to grow with each expansion. Outside of the PvP gear, the items offered by GC’s didn’t really increase following ARR. With the exception of a few additions to Squadron missions, it became a static aspect of the game.
Perhaps it’s due to not wishing to overcomplicate PvP, but the game has also refused to introduce new GCs. ARR’s Maelstrom, Immortal Flames, and Order of the Twin Adder are the only joinable Grand Companies. It’s old content that mostly provides a bit of glamour and the occasional block of flavour text. I find this to be such a shame because I was really quite invested in my military rank when I first started the game. It felt good to start regularly hearing NPCs address me as Captain.
FFXIV after Endwalker needs to bring factions back into the narrative fold. It would be difficult to do this with existing factions due to that noticeable gap in content across multiple add-ons. New Grand Companies could provide players with new goals to strive towards. However, it’s more important to ensure they play a core role in the story. The beginning of ARR included unique missions depending on your starting area. I would similarly welcome unique story missions depending on your chosen factions.
More Fulfilling PvP
This is a tricky topic for me to discuss on account of my own extremely minimal experience with the PvP. Just know that in terms of the gameplay, most players will tell you it’s far from ideal. The fact of the matter is that the game is designed primarily around PvE. For example, players can’t construct unique builds to help give them an edge in PvP battles. Everyone is dealing with essentially the same tool kit, and those particular skills aren’t advantageous against other players. There is also a significant imbalance in the effectiveness of different roles. Overall, the game simply hasn’t found a way to overcome the obstacle of its own design.
However, the reason PvP came to mind for me was due to its near absence throughout my playthrough. After nearly a year of playing, I barely touched that part of the game. While I’m not a huge PvP gamer, I’ve experimented with other obscure features such as crafting. This is because the game presents story reasons to provide those initial hooks that get me invested. I’m willing to bet many players are unaware of the feature’s existence, or where you would go to start it. It’s as if the game is shamefully hiding it away in a corner somewhere.
FFXIV after Endwalker needs to reinvigorate the PvP, not only with a system overhaul but also a narrative one. As mentioned with factions, providing some additional story incentive would go a long way to seeing players investing their time. However, it should be noted that some fans fear an upsurge in PvP due to the possibility of increased toxicity.
A New Story
Perhaps the most obvious and unnecessary sounding point to raise. Of course, the game will have a new story, right? The previous arc has concluded and it’s off to the next great adventure. A new story also doesn’t mean a complete detachment from what came before. Faces old and new will still reoccur throughout your next expansion. Even so, there is a risk of the game being too afraid to stray from tried and tested ground. To rely too heavily on references to beloved characters and events, to repeat material and fall back on habits. If an Ascian reappears in the story going forward, that sense of closure from Endwalker will suddenly be lost.
The same could be said for our main cast of characters. This could be a more divisive subject, as fans have varying levels of attachment to the Scions. I think it would be a shame to never see any of them again. But that being said, I do think the next arc should make room for some new characters. New personal stories to become invested in. To watch a new cast grow and rise to similar heights. Sticking only to the familiar cast risks boring repetition or, at worst, regression.
FFXIV after Endwalker needs to be unafraid of walking a new path. It doesn’t mean abandoning its history to irrelevance, but it does mean not treating it like a life preserver. As fans, we should also be willing to give that new story time to develop. Anyone who goes into a new arc expecting the first instalment to rival Endwalker or Shadowbringers will likely be disappointed. But when given equal time and commitment, who’s to say how high they might soar?
Break the Mould
Perhaps the most important next step for the game is to find a way to break its previous cycle. This is by no means a criticism of what’s come before. Rather, it’s simply an acknowledgment that it played the part well and it’s time for something new. The expansions have settled into a rhythm since Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward. It almost became predictable when to expect a Trial, or what sort of endgame content to anticipate. The game has managed to suspend repetitiveness with its unique story, but it cannot maintain this pattern forever. FFXIV after Endwalker needs to be bold and experiment with its presentation and gameplay. Perhaps unique MSQ duties that are dependant on your job or faction, for example. Providing it remains true to its core ideals, fans will welcome new ways to engage with this beloved MMO.