Final Fantasy XIV’s Patch 5.5 heralds the beginning of the end as the story crawls ever closer to the conclusion of Shadowbringers and the transition into the upcoming expansion, Endwalker. The Main Scenario Questline remains something of a slow burn as events begin to fall into place that will no doubt lay the foundation for future plot threads that will be interwoven into Endwalker. Content remains padded out in optional storylines and activities — specifically the NieR: Automata YoRHa Dark Apocalypse raid scenario and The Sorrow of Werlyt questline. While Final Fantasy XIV Patch 5.5 remains divided into two parts, this update attempts to give players something to cut their teeth on in the meantime.
The NieR: Automata YoRHa Dark Apocalypse storyline remained the most engaging content for me, at least mechanically. The fights were interesting enough to keep me investing and wanting to run the content even outside of the weekly rewards. And I think perhaps it had the most payoff in comparison. Naturally, you would assume that might be the case, because it is effectively the end of this narrative. However, it was the feeling that the final fight gave me that made me immediately want to jump back in. It wasn’t so much the NieR related content, but more or less the nods to Drakengard that had me invested, even though they were miniscule in comparison as Kaine’s theme creates a somber mood as you fight over the remains of Tokyo against The Flower.
Part of me wishes it would have leaned further into those little bits of fanservice directed towards the Drakengard series. I would have liked to hear more of The Queen Beast’s theme, but that didn’t make it any less effective. It’s hard not to walk away from the YorHA Dark Apocalypse questline wanting something else, as the series it draws inspiration from lends its success to speculation and an open ending that allows for theory crafting on behalf of the player. And in that way, I just wanted more even if Final Fantasy XIV couldn’t exactly provide that for me. It relied on my feelings of attachment and investment to the franchise it collaborated with successfully.
Enjoyment of the Main Scenario Quests will vary depending on which characters you’re invested in. The patch mostly focuses on Alphinaud and his transition to the character we see in the Endwalker trailer. Estinien is there a fair amount as well, as his inclusion will more than likely be integral to the next series of events. I’ll avoid detailing anything in the patch for those who wish to experience this narrative on their own. However, I will mention that some moments have a great amount of payoff, especially seeing threads that began in Heavensward finally come together in Shadowbringers.
The Sorrow of Werlyt storyline also comes to its conclusion in a thematic battle against the Diamond Weapon. In a previous interview with FFXIV Producer Naoki Yoshida, it was revealed that he was a fan of Gundam, specifically projects headed by Tomino. This is keenly felt throughout the storyline and is further cemented in its finale. However, what Werlyt is most concerned with is the rehabilitation of Gaius van Belsar, as the narrative tries to emphasize whatever kindness he might have exhibited towards his adopted children. It further softens the image of an imperialist who was hellbent on conquering Eorzea, as his motives now align with the Scions and the player character’s. I found the fight middling and the conclusion somewhat disappointing, as I was hoping it would avoid something of this vein.
Overall, my experience with Final Fantasy XIV Patch 5.5 was at its best when I was playing with friends or talking about our shared experiences afterwards. The new dungeon was short, but one of the fights felt half-baked and the most complex encounters were the YoRHa Dark Apocalypse raid and the Diamond Weapon Extreme challenge. It was enough to bring me back to Eorzea, but not enough to stay for an extended period of time. I’ll probably log in once a week to get my weekly rewards and more than likely just to idle with friends from time to time. Either way, I’m hoping the next update will prove to be more engrossing narratively at the very least.
Final Fantasy XIV is immediately available for PC, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.