‘Final Fantasy 14: Endwalker’ review: a fantastic conclusion to an unforgettable story

Once you're through the queues, 'Endwalker' offers an unparalleled adventure

Leading up to the launch of Final Fantasy 14: Endwalker, I had no idea how a story that has been built over a decade could be wrapped up in one more expansion. How could one final chapter possibly tie up every loose end, complete every character’s arc, and still leave me satisfied by the end? And yet, as the credits rolled on the conclusion to the Hydaelyn and Zodiark saga, I was left stunned because every idea and every prediction I had for the finale turned out to be so much better than I could imagine.

Endwalker picks up right where it left off and wastes no time getting back into the action. The Warrior of Light and the Scions of the Seventh Dawn must face the end as the Final Days approach, a calamity that threatens to destroy the entire world. There are so many aspects of this expansion that have impacted me so strongly that, I’m not going to lie, I’m still processing everything I’ve played.

There is definitely a sense of dread this time around and my role as the Warrior of Light had never felt more significant. With the threat of the Final Days bringing about the end looming over my head, the story continued to make me feel the weight of what was at stake throughout and it was honestly kind of nerve-wracking and yet so effective to the narrative development. Despite this, the dread and the anticipation to find out what would happen, I was absolutely enthralled by it all.

Final Fantasy 14. Credit: Square Enix

Endwalker hit the ground running and the excitement didn’t stop, constantly delivered a number of high points throughout. There were times – especially in the second half of the story – where the sheer weight of what was happening was emotionally exhausting, and the gmae doesn’t relent. There are moments where my Warrior of Light was subjected to numerous slow-progressing quests in between these dramatic moments that would often have me itching to get back into the action, so this did cause some minor pacing issues for me, especially early on in the story, but I was glad for the breather either way and they didn’t take away from my overall enjoyment.

This chapter is very motivated by its themes and places a focus on them to tell a very nuanced story. The intelligent writing pulled me in once again, but it somehow managed to do just that. The narrative only elevated the foundations that were already laid in Shadowbringers and it’s just brilliant. For long-time players, and even players like myself who began playing the game prior to the release of Shadowbringers, all of those burning questions are finally answered and it is utterly satisfying to see the pieces fall into place.

Final Fantasy 14
Final Fantasy 14. Credit: Square Enix

Threads that have long been established in the world managed to come together so perfectly, and even though this is the final chapter in the saga, nothing felt rushed in order to reach the climax. Every line of dialogue and every revelation felt carefully crafted and earned, and not in the least bit clumsy. I’m actually in awe that it was executed so well.

Endwalker takes big risks in the way it delivers those big plot developments. It’s bold in a way I never would’ve expected and I was repeatedly caught off guard. It also doesn’t shy away from delivering those gut-punching moments either, but they are carefully placed throughout the journey that each one hit all the right emotional points they were aiming for. One way or another, they all mean something to the story and aren’t just thrown in for the sake of shock value, something I was initially worried would happen.

Final Fantasy 14
Final Fantasy 14. Credit: Square Enix

I deeply appreciate that the game took the necessary time to develop new, and even returning, characters despite the impending doom. In Shadowbringers, we were introduced to a new villain named Fandaniel, someone I wasn’t so keen on. There was definitely some worry early on regarding this character because I was concerned that a single expansion wouldn’t deliver a worthy antagonist, especially following on from Emet-Selch. I was so happy to learn how wrong I was. Endwalker was able to take my expectations of Fandaniel and completely turn them around. He became a compelling and important part of the expansion, and I was so incredibly invested in his character throughout.

Then there’s Lord Zenos, a villain who I liked for the most part when he initially made his first appearance, but I wasn’t fully on board with him as the imposing villain. Unfortunately, Endwalker wasn’t able to make me care about him in the way I do about Emet-Selch or Fandaniel, but I don’t think that was the goal anyway. Zenos’ role as the secondary antagonist ends up going in a completely different direction and, without getting into obvious spoilers, I thought he served a key role in the overall narrative in a meaningful way by the end.

Final Fantasy XIV
Final Fantasy 14. Credit: Square Enix

Something I’ve always loved about Final Fantasy 14 is that although it places its focus on the player, the writers know how important it is to cast the spotlight on the Scions of the Seventh Dawn as well. Endwalker does just that and doesn’t avoid giving them the attention they deserve.

Throughout the saga, the player has witnessed these characters develop and mature into believable companions and this chapter does a fantastic job of not only giving them closure but making them feel honoured by the end of the story, which was just as important to me as anything else. To me, the writing behind these characters are some of the best I’ve ever seen in a game, and they’re a prime example of how to build a close-knit group of characters that have been with the player from the very beginning.

Final Fantasy 14
Final Fantasy 14. Credit: Square Enix

The journey has a great number of quiet character moments between the Warrior of Light and the Scions of the Seventh Dawn as well, and they serve each of them in some major way. As much as I love the action and exploration, I looked forward to these moments the most because, as we raced against the clock, I knew my time with them would be coming to a close.

Endwalker also introduces a brand-new interaction mechanic called “conversation points” which offer the player more opportunities to speak with the Scions of the Seventh Dawn and various other characters during Main Scenario Quests. I adored this new mechanic because it allowed me to engage in additional topics of conversations with my favourite characters along the way, as well as gain more insight into how each of them was feeling or thinking in those moments.

In addition to this, the game also provided a lot more dialogue choices for the player. On many occasions, a character will ask the Warrior of Light a question, and although every option would send you in the same direction in terms of story, each response felt personal anyway. I was able to say things I’ve always wanted to to the characters that I care about, and I loved that the game gave me that choice.

Final Fantasy 14
Final Fantasy 14. Credit: Square Enix

This time around, the dungeons and Trials in Endwalker are probably some of my absolute favourite Duties in the entire game. There aren’t many in the main scenario, but each one is significant to the journey. The fights were exhilarating and challenging and just made me excited to run them once I’d finished the game. The new zones introduced in Endwalker are also gorgeous and some of the best Final Fantasy 14 has seen yet, I think I must’ve spent hours taking screenshots.

Alongside everything there’s the accompanying original soundtrack and, once again, it’s absolutely stunning. Thanks to composer Masayoshi Soken, every single track either had me fist-pumping the air or weeping like a baby–each melody and every single lyric holds significance and ties beautifully into the narrative.

Endwalker is a game about holding on to hope in the midst of despair,  facing down the end with your closest allies, but believing that there is something to look forward to in the journey ahead. The way these themes were woven into the overall narrative was so effective that I’m still coming to terms with how much the story has affected me. Endwalker feels bittersweet, personal, and manages to wrap up everything perfectly. My heart feels heavy, but I couldn’t have asked for a better ending.

Final Fantasy 14: Endwalker is available now on PC, PS4 and PS5. We reviewed the expansion on PC.

The Verdict

Endwalker, and Final Fantasy 14 as a whole, is an inspiring feat. Over a decade later, Square Enix has told an unforgettable tale and managed to deliver a satisfying, beautiful end to the Hydaelyn and Zodiark saga. This is a story you’ll be thinking about for years to come.

Pros

  • Fantastic narrative with a satisfying conclusion
  • Incredible characters
  • Top tier music and dungeons
  • Stunning environments
  • Beautiful writing

Cons

  • Some pacing issues
  • It made me cry too much
  • I wish it wasn’t over
Advertisement

More Gaming Stories:

Advertisement