My journey through Final Fantasy XIV continues apace. My bard and my black wizard are now at level 46, and I’m currently navigating the icy Coerthas, which look strangely French with all names ending in -x and -eau. When I started playing, my circle of FF14-playing with friends told me to be patient. A kingdom reborn It would be slow, but the story would improve when it hit the first expansion, To the sky. I was expecting a slow burn, a gradual build for a big showdown with the bad guys that I’ve been chasing for the last 30 levels. What happened to me this weekend was not slow, nor gradual, but Square Enix pierced my chest with a gauntlet, poked through my rib cage before taking out my still beating heart and eating it before my eyes while thanking them for the Pleasure .
Final Fantasy XIV enthusiasts will probably recognize the mission I’m talking about: raising the dead. Those that don’t, fair warning, there are spoilers here.
This story begins 20 levels earlier. I was tasked with visiting a village of sylphs, tiny insectoid-like flying creatures that appear to be made from the leaves of plants. The sylphs had long been allies of the local government, but that relationship had deteriorated over the years. My job was to repair it and bring them back to friendly harmony. Once this was done, the sylphs thanked me for my efforts and sent an ambassador with me to assist me and my comrades, the Scions of The Seventh Dawn, in our fight against the shadow powers that threatened war. I leave the ambassador, named Noraxia, in the care of my friends at our headquarters and go about my business.
Levels later, I returned to headquarters to deliver my last report. When I first teleported into the city, I noticed that there was a new group of “Concerned Citizens” NPCs by the door. I realized it was strange, but I thought, “Oh, this must be my next mission. The Scions operate with little supervision and must be alarming the local population. It will be my job to calm them down. “I walked into HQ and nothing happened. I went downstairs and through the door to my superior’s office, and I remember the visceral physical reaction I had when I saw the ground. full of the bodies of my companions. “Oh no!” I screamed.
This is not the first time that I have faced a senseless death in an MMO. It happens frequently. A place I visited once was full of life and then full of corpses. What struck me about this experience was that the game went to great lengths to remind me that Knew these people. In games, I’m used to bodies being nondescript and indistinguishable from other NPCs. They are typically a random variety of races and genders from the game, all wearing the same three sets of generic NPC clothing. But these were different models, with different armor. They were the people at the bar I imagined my character would sit down with and have a drink with after a long day at work with Scion. It’s a really devastating thing to be able to choose someone from a mass of bodies and think, “that person sold me potions” or “that person repaired my armor” or “that sylph came here with me.” You see, Noraxia, the sylph’s little ambassador, also died. His death was singularly disturbing, his people entrusted it to me, sent to help save the world. I figured they had no idea that they would send one of their sisters to their deaths.
But Final Fantasy XIV He was not content with leaving me there with my pain. They planned to add an insult to my injury. After a few intermediate missions, I was sent back to the scene of the butcher shop, tasked with carrying the bodies of my companions to a cart that would carry them for burial. When I arrived I was greeted by an extremely insensitive worker who basically says, “Oh, you look like a sturdy girl, take those bodies over there and be quick, they’re starting to stink.” You accept the mission and suddenly you become aware of the pile of bodies dumped in an alley behind you.
The mission has you pick them up like any other mission item, but with a devastating twist: the bigger the body, the longer it takes to pick them up; The action bar fills up faster or slower depending on your body size. you are interacting. The robust Roegadyns take longer to “rise” over the slender Miqo’tes. But none go as fast as the little sylph, her small, leafy body contrasts with the rest. Then, just like in any other mission, the bodies enter your inventory of key items and you must deliver them to the undertaker. In most MMOs, if you collect more than one item of the same type, they pile up in your inventory. In another cruel twist of the knife, Noraxia’s body is not stacked with the rest. You get your own inventory space with your own gut-flavored text.
Whenever you complete a collection mission in FF14, you have to “deliver” the key item to the mission NPC. When it was time to “deliver” the bodies (represented by a white flower icon with some totally inappropriate flavor text), I didn’t want to. For a moment my cursor hovered over the “deliver” command and I couldn’t click it. I started to cry. And my reluctance was well founded. Whenever you “deliver” something normally, you never see the item in question. Your character goes through the movement of taking something out of your pocket, the mission NPC accepts it, but nothing materializes. When I handed the bodies over to the undertaker, they appeared in the back of the funeral car, mouths limp in their death wail, eyes wide and staring blankly.
I love when the mechanics of a game reinforce its storytelling. In Final Fantasy XIV, the commands you have been mindlessly using throughout the game to complete missions (collect, use, deliver) have now become very important. The game forces you to think about exactly what you are doing while the callous reactions of the undertakers teach you a meta-lesson of compassion.
In most MMOs, you are a merchant of death. Up to this point I have probably completed dozens of missions where I am asked to search corpses for one trinket or another. I have done this habitually and without thinking, the dead are nothing more than a search box to tick.
The way the undertakers talk to you, urging you to hurry, noting that the dead won’t mind a little rough handling, the script is changed. They are the foolish quests who are eager to check that box while you are the one left behind after the devastation. How many times have I thoughtlessly clicked on the text boxes of a widow mourning her husband’s fate? And now, when they have done that to me, I am furious that somehow I can’t immolate these people with a Fire III spell.
This quest is something that will stay with me for a long time. It has become one of my “this video game made me cry” moments, archived alongside the pacifist ending of Under the story and the time of the menu in Final Fantasy XV. Despite all the pain and suffering this game has put me through, from the way it’s told, this is just the beginning. I can’t imagine how future moments in the game’s storytelling can beat this, but I’m excited to see him try. While conducting this search, I thought about writing a heavily worded letter to Square Enix detailing my distress. Here it goes:
Dear Square Enix:
How dare you. What the fuck How dare you!
I love this. Please hurt me again soon.