Final Fantasy 14’s ensemble of lovable characters have been through some heavy shit. Our heroes have saved the realm countless times over, having most recently brought the tale of Hydaelyn and Zodiark to a close with the events of Endwalker. Now, as the deluge of patch quests and regular updates unfold, we’re finally starting to catch a peek of what awaits us in the next expansion. Dawntrail is all about sunny beaches and mischievous pirate hijinks.

Unveiled this past weekend at the Final Fantasy 14 Fan Festival in Las Vegas, the upcoming expansion is still a year away, but that hasn’t stopped fans from speculating on what the new world will encompass and

exactly what our favourite characters will be getting up to. Since it released almost a decade ago, we’ve been following a singular narrative from the beginning of A Realm Reborn until the events of Endwalker, and only now are we able to settle down and take some time to smell the roses. It’s a well-deserved break for everyone involved.

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The whole affair exudes a joyous optimism from the reveal trailer alone. While it’s clear the Scions of the Seventh Dawn are hot on the heels of an emergent mystery across this newly discovered world that delves into its shrouded history; the research of destroyed statues and monster-infested ruins are juxtaposed liberally with a sense of fun that previous expansions have cast aside in favour of drama. While the stakes here are much lower, it’s a necessary shift in tonal execution to kickstart the next ten years of adventures far from the well-worn plains or Eorzea. Before we get all serious again, I want to kick back and relax.

And so do the Scions. Alisaie is seen walking the streets of a luscious new city as a foreign fruit falls into her grasp, eliciting a smile before the scene shifts to G'raha Tia biting into a delicious-looking taco. Y’shtola and Estinien are elsewhere performing serious duties, but even as the trailer follows monster hunts and massive dungeon encounters, there is a huge feeling of exuberance that makes it clear Dawntrail is about setting the stage rather than setting the world asunder. The time for that will come, but for now I’m all about surfing the waves and basking in the sun, especially if the new job ends up being Pirate like many are already theorising. Give me a cool scimitar and an even cooler eyepatch I can use to crush dungeons in search of sweet, sweet loot. Such a choice is also in service of innocent fun.

Final Fantasy 14 Dawntrail

Previously, I feared that a fresh start like this would stall Final Fantasy 14’s momentum that for the past several years has attracted millions of players and helped turn it into one of the biggest MMORPGs on the planet.

Anticipation surrounding Shadowbringers and Endwalker was palpable, and it seems none of that passion has faded away even as the story begins to take a turn for the mundane. We might be set to embark upon a relatively uneventful journey with Dawntrail, but we will be embarking with characters we love who for years now have been developed into figures we can’t help but care for. To see them earn a break after so much hardship is an oddly perfect palette cleanser, and one I hope the development team is basking in too.

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