Review: Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker Patch 6.4 The Dark Throne
As the Endwalker patch cycle continues, we finally find ourselves at the confrontation with Golbez! How do events unfold, and what kind of things are Square Enix giving us to hold us over while we wait for more content to drop in 6.45?
This review was conducted by the four hosts of our Final Fantasy XIV Podcast Aetheryte Radio. Let’s see what they had to say! If you would rather hear what they had to say, make sure to check out this episode!
Warning: This review contains spoilers for Patch 6.4.
The Dark Throne
Fusionx: The 6.x series continues its mostly predictable narrative. After our battles with each of the Four Fiends, we’re lead to then battle their master, Golbez. After that, unsurprisingly, we’re faced with yet another adversary from Final Fantasy IV‘s narrative (and one in the dungeon too). The way Naoki Yoshida hyped up this patch made me believe we’d finally get something, anything, about our 7.0 destination, or a reason why we’ve been playing through a highlight reel of FFIV bosses. All we got though was a “blink and you’ll miss it” type of mention regarding Archons and some kind of trip. Overall the MSQ underdelivers. The major beats still remain predictable (absolutely shocking that after fighting Golbez we would then have Zeromus to deal with), and the filler between them just isn’t exciting to me. In addition, Zero at times can be a really interesting character, but I can’t help but feel like her progression is a Sesame Street episode every patch. “Today we’re going to learn about friendship”.
Thankfully, Pandæmonium is here for us to rinse the bad taste of the main story out of our mouths. I find the raids in FFXIV are always better when they have bigger ties to the main narrative of the game, and the completion of Endwalker’s 8-man raid solidifies that feeling. Especially when one of the set pieces was the very room in which the convocation would meet in Amaurot.
Tataru’s continued quest to re-visit old allies is, once again, a solid entry to the series. This time we take a trip to see our comrades in Werlyt and see how things have been going since our Gundam piloting days. I got teary eyed here. This quest made me feel feelings- Zero would like it.
Xenedra: I’m gonna be honest with you friends, I haven’t gone to visit our mutual buddy Tataru yet. You can shame me if you want to, it’s ok. I accept your disapproval. I think she’ll understand though. She knows Estinien and why I needed to spend so much time in Radz-at-Han. That’s right, I’m talking about that early MSQ highlight: sweaty push-ups Elf man.
Whatever connective tissue there is holding the current MSQ to 7.0 is feeling a little thin. I’m still here for the lore and the plot points that we do get, but the big turning point moments we got this time just did not hit as hard as I felt they should have. Finally, meeting Azdaja was great and using her desires against her after all that time, was a beautiful, evil, twist- but the delivery of it felt lacking. Same goes for Zeromus showing up. I’m still excited to see how they’re going to link up the First to the Void, I want to be hopeful for that, but even Y’shtola’s delivery of her purpose there was pretty flat.
On the flip side, Pandæmonium did deliver to a greater degree. The lead in quest and the smidges of story between were very brief, more-so than ever, but I’m not sure that was actually a negative. We got a long-awaited follow up on the Heart of Sabik and some more insight into how the Lahabrea we knew before came to be. The nonsense with Athena tied up fairly nicely, though, in my opinion without a whole lot of punch. That said, the ending with Themis/Elidibus finally gave us that good-feelings wrap-up that Endwalker never really did.
Aldianaux: Overall, the patch series MSQ serves as a bridge to the next expansion story. That’s not new. Each expansion has a similar cadence. What is new for me is the fact that it feels that way. There are some good moments in this patch, especially for fans of a certain Elezen, but nothing that really stands out. It felt like a quick set up for the next patch’s MSQ.
The raid however- slaps. The Pandaemonium story sticks the landing and does a great job in calling back to the main story and filling out some of our burning questions.
Rook: Though the main story had several notable (and very sweaty) highlights, the momentum seemed to rise and then plateau without a strong push towards the culmination of our void conflict. Being more invested in our post-Endwalker quests than some, I still greatly enjoyed the character moments and void-lore, but even I found the cliffhanger a bit lackluster. Instead, Tataru’s quests and the finale of Pandaemonium really shone in the MSQ’s place.
Fusionx: Everything included in this patch feels like more of the same. Another few Island Sanctuary ranks (albeit with the inclusion of outdoor furnishings), another dungeon with the same pattern of enemies, another EX trial and… eventually in 6.45 another variant dungeon with what is likely to be the same unfulfilling reward system that the first one had. The savior of this patch hands-down is Pandæmonium. The fights were fun, well balanced, and just hard enough to cause wipes in duty finder while also being designed in a way that didn’t make restarting annoying. They absolutely nailed the normal versions of these fights.
I don’t think anything in this patch is necessarily bad- it’s just more of what we’ve been getting, which arguably feels like less than in previous patch cycles. Patch 6.4 however, aside from the raid, doesn’t have anything else that excites me and only serves to compound those feelings further, making the 6.x series continue to feel boring and empty while also still delivering content.
Is 7.0 here yet?
Xenedra: Another day, another dungeon following the tried and true(?) formula, but you know… Something about this one was more satisfying than previous ones. It could absolutely just be a personal thing. I love/hate that first boss; he’s a 5-year old’s fridge drawing creation and it cracks me up. The mechanics for the second boss are genuinely fun and his roar also has me snickering.
The MSQ trial felt fairly well balanced for one that everyone needs to get through to progress, with appropriate mechanics for a boss like Golbez. The extreme version however, felt a little lacking to me. Golbez needs to be more… threatening? Challenging? I’m left wondering where the difficulty balance between types of content is settling. It seems uneven.
Pandæmonium feels pretty good. A mechanics cascade that feels fun to do instead of punishing. So far I hold that opinion for both normal and savage versions, though I’m only in p10s. The book requirement adjustments for savage are interesting! I’m not personally sure they were necessary, as I’ve become very wary of any easing of difficulty in the game at this point. But, hey, if they want to make it faster to get gear, why argue? As I’ve mention before, I’m not the biggest fan of Island Sanctuary, but I do think the upgrades this time are very pretty.
Aldianaux: There were few changes to Jobs this time around, with Warrior, Black Mage and Samurai receiving some sizeable buffs. Most of the actions that buff the party were increased in size, to help with issues springing up from more mechanics that spread the party around the battlefield. The Extreme trial brought a dose of fun, albeit not groundbreaking. However, the raid introduced some unique and memorable mechanics, providing a refreshing challenge (especially in Party Finder).
Rook: New dungeon mechanics, a range of creative and challenging raid bosses, and a decently satisfying trial fight, including its extreme version, offered a good range of gameplay. While it’s hard to truly round out the gameplay evaluation without the Variant Dungeon coming in 6.45, there’s still a solid amount of content to dive into with innovative mechanics.
On a different note, the ability to place furniture on your Island Sanctuary is a great new feature that will hopefully be expanded upon in our larger-scale housing. It’s a nice expansion of features, but still lacks true depth to make the game mode itself gripping.
Fusionx: The music this time around, especially for the raid, was another incredible inclusion to the soundtrack of Final Fantasy XIV. While they did sprinkle in some of the last tier’s music in again, they remixed it a bit and truthfully, I got major .hack vibes from the first two fights’ BGMs. Another Amaurot arrangement was just further icing on this musical cake for me.
When it comes to the voice acting, I absolutely loved how the lines for Athena in the final raid fight just absolutely went for it. They were delivered with such an energy that I find myself going “…shall tremble!” every time I do the final fight.
The issue of Azdaja’s dragon speak came up in conversation, though truthfully, it hadn’t stood out for me while going through the MSQ. What did stand out for me though is how much the dungeon music stood out as being… not a dungeon track. The acoustic arrangement of Sharlayan’s town theme is great, but doesn’t do well when accompanying pull after pull of trash mobs. I genuinely wonder if this was intended for another use before finding its way into the dungeon.
Xenedra: The new cave and upgraded building in Island Sanctuary are beautiful. Estinien? Sweaty sweety. The music, even though they’re basically the same songs, I’m still into! Each iteration of the Pandæmonium themes are more fun than the last and I’m digging the dungeon track.
Aldianaux: There were a few more bugs popping up this time around, including a maddening return of the dreaded audio issue that requires players to restart the client to fix, and some interesting repair shenanigans in combat. For me the overall increase in the number of bugs, this time around hold the patch back a little.
Rook: New animations, incredible music, and improvements to various UI elements like the class symbols on name displays added a nice polish to the overall patch. However, audio bugs did cause problems for many players at release and lessened the experience for those who encountered them.
Square Enix, it’s time to Remove Glamour Restrictions
Fusionx: There’s another ocean fishing route. It looks pretty, there are new rewards… but at its core, its… another ocean fishing route. We’ve had them before.
New furniture pieces are really neat, and I love the inclusion of the skylights. The problem is though that they have the same behavior as lofts as opposed to being something you can snap onto your ceiling. Of course, that’s not going to be a problem for those that are masters of housing- but it makes the need for a housing rework even more apparent.
This patch included a few small UI options to enable job icons and even role colors for your party members. It’s a small, but helpful adjustment that continues to make us wonder about why the glamour system is still role locked when they continuously add things to simultaneously hide, and identify a members’ role. If a tank needs to have tank gear, why can they dress like a Tonberry? If a tank can be a Tonberry, who cares if our healer wants to wear something that isn’t a robe?
And while I’m on such a positive roll so far- the inclusion of more hairstyles for Viera and Hrothgar serve to remind us just how badly they fumbled the release of those races in the first place.
Xenedra: There was a solid selection of furniture gems this time! I’m looking at you, giant stained glass window, skylights and hammock! I love a good hammock… the only thing here that didn’t really ring true with me was the new gear. Please, please mix it up. All the gear has felt fairly similar for awhile and I haven’t been a fan of those styles so far. I get it, not everything’s for me, but I would like a turn. Please? And this is where I repeat myself: get rid of job gear restrictions (except on AF style gear). This opens up all gear styles in a set to everyone and would alleviate some of that, “can’t I get something new?” feeling. ‘Cause we could! And at no extra work done on SE’s part. The addition of the ability to color code and/or straight up add job icon labels to names (which is a great change!) only further negates the need to keep this archaic gear rule in place.
The other things we got… the hand-over-heart emote, the weird face umbrella, and the buffalo mount… are just ok. Meanwhile the Ruby Weapon Minion brings me tiny rage to match his scale. He may not have his big, gross feet, but I still hate him.
Aldianaux: Fairy glamours for Scholar are nice (RIP Selene), we got some Fantasia and Aesthetician changes that help hone character creation a little more, and the Weapon design contest winners look pretty great in practice. Although, personally the new gear doesn’t quite resonate as much with me this time around. Portraits are still… not a finished system, but they’re slowly moving in the right direction.
The new job icons and role-based nameplate coloration are commendable improvements, significantly enhancing visibility in chaotic battle scenarios. Plus, the additional signs for target designation in combat are a thoughtful addition.
Rook: We were given a decent range of additional items and rewards this patch. Updates to furnishing items, implementation of contest design winners and new gear sets are certainly welcome! It would be nice to have a wider range of styles and looks for classes as some of the gear feels a little visually similar recently and doesn’t always take into account the full range of aesthetics within a class category.
While Patch 6.4 continues to expand previous offerings of the patch cycle, it ultimately fell short for us in certain areas- with the Pandæmonium raid doing most of the heavy lifting this time around. As we get closer to Fan Fest, the weight of anticipation of what 7.0 will bring is hanging on everyone’s mind.
Images courtesy of Square Enix.