It’s been two years since Final Fantasy XIV’s last expansion, Endwalker, marked the end of a years-long storyline. In that time, the Warrior of Light has saved the world more than once. So it’s about time that players get a break!Q
Thankfully Dawntrail, the next expansion to FFXIV announced during Fan Fest in Las Vegas, looks to offer players precisely the getaway they need with its tropical setting and back-to-basics narrative.
The last time a Final Fantasy XIV expansion wasn’t about the impending end of a world was 2017’s Stormblood, which was focused on the cruel rule of the Garlean Empire. Since then, Shadowbringers and Endwalker have put the Warrior of Light in increasingly high-stakes situations — with the fate of more than one plane of existence on the line.
These have also been some of the most emotionally taxing expansions for players invested in the game’s decade-long narrative. All of this has helped make Final Fantasy XIV one of the best Final Fantasy games period, but Dawntrail’s more relaxing aesthetics are a welcome reprieve. During FanFest, Naoki Yoshida described Dawntrail as a “summer vacation” for players during the FanFest keynote.
The need for a vacation expansion is linked directly to how Endwalker finally tied up the game’s long-running story. While not an end to Final Fantasy XIV, Endwalker was described as ending the Zodiark-Hydaelyn saga, which can be traced back to the original Final Fantasy XIV. As a conclusion to a multi-hundred-hour plotline, it is only natural that the MMO would want to give players content that felt more laid back.
Single-player RPGs often have self-contained vacation sections that break up the game’s main plot to keep the player interested without burning them out. Final Fantasy VII had players visit the sunny seaside town of Costa del Sol, as well as a theme park full of minigames in the Golden Saucer. It helps take your mind off of the impending impact of Meteor. This same idea is even more necessary in an MMO that invites players to spend years playing it.
At some point, the endless plots about fascist governments, assassinations, religious zealotry, and the end of the world will tire you out. Final Fantasy XIV’s answer to this in Dawntrail is to give players a tropical vacation.
The expansion’s trailer shown during FanFest immediately sets itself apart from the dark worlds of Shadowbringers and Endwalker with bright blue oceans, golden beaches, and verdant forests filled with palm trees. Exploring the new area of Tural promises to be a breath of fresh air in the environment it offers.
While players are already excited by the beach vibes of Tural and hope that Urainger and Thancred will get to enjoy some tropical cocktails in peace, the story of Dawntrail itself seems to be a refreshingly simple affair as well. As mentioned, the past several years of Final Fantasy XIV have been defined by the impending threat of an apocalypse as well as constant political problems across Eorzea. Yet for Dawntrail, the stakes are relatively low.
The Scions will be tasked with helping decide on the new ruler of Tural, which will include a search for a city of gold in the past the Warrior of Light has felt like a soldier in a larger battle, but Dawntrail is described as a “journey of discovery” and gives players the chance to be an explorer (and maybe even a swashbuckling buccaneer).
Dawntrail’s laid-back vibes are more than just a well-earned vacation for Final Fantasy XIV players, it's a new beginning for the decade-old MMO rooted in a more light-hearted approach to the game.