Ten years in the past, in a cataclysmic rain of flaring power, Final Fantasy XIV died. That’s each true within the sense that the land of Eorzea was raked with the almighty megaflare of one among Final Fantasy’s strongest beings, the dragon Bahamut, and that developer Sq. Enix shut down the servers of its troubled MMORPG for good.
The launch of Final Fantasy XIV had been an unmitigated catastrophe, and almost cratered the studio behind it within the course of. But whilst gamers gathered in cities and fields to gaze up on the sky awaiting Bahamut’s reckoning, plans had been underway to rehaul the MMORPG solely, relaunching it as Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn—a game with the exact opposite story of the unique XIV. It was a wild success that’s nonetheless going robust to this present day, and sure for the foreseeable future.
However what makes XIV 1.0’s shutdown so memorable—past the success story it grew to become in A Realm Reborn—is that this was greater than the tip of 1 recreation and the beginning of one other, a unhappy, quiet shutdown earlier than a vaunted relaunch. Final Fantasy XIV’s inheritors had time to plan the unique model’s finish and pave the best way to their new model, and in doing so created an epic ultimate story for gamers to witness, one which went on to echo all through the last decade as A Realm Reborn’s lengthy story performed out. The choice to not simply shutter Final Fantasy XIV however to rebuild it into a completely new recreation was made the yr earlier than 1.0 would finally finish, and within the time given, its new producer—Naoki “Yoshi-P” Yoshida, who nonetheless helms the present model of the sport and is engaged on Final Fantasy XVI—made the selection to retool 1.0’s unique story to inform a story of apocalyptic proceedings.
The factor about Final Fantasy is that the apocalypse occurs on a regular basis. Virtually each entry within the recreation franchise’s historical past has tackled some type of probably world-dooming risk, and its heroes have prevailed, as a result of that’s what Final Fantasy heroes do after they’re not summoning gods or working within the rigorous hair care routines required to appear to be Kain Highwind or Squall Leonheart. The specter of Meteor in Final Fantasy VII, the rise of Kefka’s godhood in VI after he sundered the world, the battle in opposition to Sin in X, time and time once more Final Fantasy is a story of myriad warriors and mages coming collectively to face a fated finish and deny it. The top of XIV’s unique type was a probability to inform that story the place its heroes, the remaining gamers, did that and misplaced.
1.0’s end is heralded by a small red moon—the artificial construct Dalamud, summoned by Final Fantasy XIV’s primary villains, the Garlean Empire, in an attempt to devastate the land of Eorzea before its forces swept in and seized the ashes for themselves. As players and the leaders of Eorzea rallied together to fight back against the Garleans, what started as a small red dot in the skies got bigger and clearer as, patch by patch, Final Fantasy XIV went to its end. Even when the story climaxed with the defeat of the Garlean commander, Nael van Darnus, at the players’ hands, they learned that it was a Pyrrhic victory: Dalamud would still fall, and the world would perish beneath it. In the final days and hours of the game, players took part in events to push back against the invading Garlean forces, thrown into disarray by their leader’s death, a sense of dread in the air—and the events kept going. Dalamud stored getting nearer. Till, within the ultimate minutes, Dalamud’s fiery visage burned within the skies with echoes of unusual, ethereal music, and Final Fantasy XIV died with one final cutscene:
“Finish of Eorzea” is a six-minute epic nearly in contrast to something Final Fantasy XIV had seen, because the forces of Eorzea, heroes and grunts alike, clashed with the Garleans. Dalamud’s true goal was revealed—not a moon, however an historical jail, housing the almighty primal dragon Bahamut. Eorzea’s armies fall to Garlean arms, our heroes—the identical heroes that had heralded XIV’s arrival in its unique cinematic trailer overwhelmed again. On the ultimate minute, an act of prayer by your closest allies in XIV, a group often known as the Circle of Understanding, makes an attempt to magically restrain Bahamut, solely to dramatically fail, and be rewarded with the beast unleashing its strongest assault from the collection, Megaflare—solely this time not wielded as a participant fantasy, however a horror to carve hearth the world over that they had failed to shield.
However in fact, Final Fantasy XIV wasn’t ending without end. Within the ultimate moments, the Circle of Understanding’s chief, Louisoix Leveilleur, whisks the heroes away to survive the devastation Bahamut brings, to allow them to re-emerge within the remade world for A Realm Reborn. However the legacy of 1.0 ending prefer it did didn’t simply linger in that metatexual premise that gamers went on even after the world itself was razed to the bottom. The selection to rebuild Eorzea from apocalypse was woven into the story of its rebirth, its ramifications echoing not simply throughout A Realm Reborn, however each enlargement the revived recreation has had within the final 9 years, as Final Fantasy XIV kicked off a whirlwind redemption arc to make it one of many crown jewels of Sq. Enix’s library. The tune that performs to bid farewell to 1.0, “Solutions”—composed by Final Fantasy legend Nobuo Uematsu—even grew to become a important a part of the newest of these expansions, Endwalker, framing a equally apocalyptic narrative the place the heroes of the remade Eorzea confronted an almighty doom, solely this time they defeated it, saving not simply the realm however the complete world. A justice for the world that they had failed to shield all these years in the past.
One of essentially the most compelling, endearing, and maybe daunting points of Final Fantasy XIV is that’s an ongoing story, one which offers with highs and lows of stakes and journey as story cycles wax and wane, and one that’s steeped in a type of historical past nearly unprecedented on this planet of video games past it. Its gamers have taken their character on a journey that has been occurring for nearly a decade, and a few of them—gamers of the unique XIV who introduced their characters over—for even longer. Making the dying and rebirth of the sport a elementary a part of that base story, and having it echo all the best way up to XIV’s newest apocalyptic occasion, is a essential a part of what makes its success story so miraculous within the first place. Not many video games get the second probability Final Fantasy XIV acquired, whether or not in the true world or within the land of Eorzea itself, however taking that story of failure and weaving it into one among redemption is a fascinating a part of what makes it such a compelling recreation within the first place.
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