my journey throughFinal Fantasy XIVcontinues at an accelerated pace. My Bard and Dark Mage are now level 46 and I'm currently on the hunt for the stone cold Coerthas who looks oddly French with his names ending in -x and -eau. When I started playing, my circle ofFF14-Game friends all told me to be patient.a kingdom rebornit would be slow but the story would go on when i get to the first expansion,to the sky. I expected a slow burn, a gradual build up to a grand showdown with the bad guys I'd been chasing for the past 30 levels. What happened to me this weekend wasn't slow or creeping, but Square Enix punched me in the chest, twisting my ribs before ripping out my still-beating heart and eating it in front of my eyes as I thanked them for what they did.
Final Fantasy XIVEnthusiasts will likely recognize the quest I'm talking about - Bringing in the Dead. Those who don't, be warned, there are spoilers here.
This story starts 20 levels earlier. I've been assigned to visit a village of sylphs - tiny flying insect-like creatures that appear to be made out of plant leaves. The Sylphs have long been allies of the local government, but this relationship has deteriorated over the years. It was my job to fix the problem and bring them back into consensual harmony. When I finished, the sylphs thanked me for my efforts and sent an emissary with me to help me and my comrades - the descendants of the Seventh Dawn - in our fight against the dark forces that threatened the war. I'll leave the ambassador named Noraxia in the care of my friends at our headquarters and mind my own business.
Levels later, I returned to headquarters to make my final report. When I first teleported into town, I noticed that there was a new group of Concerned Citizens NPCs outside the door. I realized it was weird, but I thought, 'Oh, that must be my next mission. The Scions operate with little oversight and must alert the local population. It will be my job to calm her down. I went to headquarters and nothing was wrong. I walked down the stairs and through the door to my manager's office and I remember the physical reaction I had when I saw the floorfilled with the bodies of my comrades."Oh no!" I shouted.
This isn't the first time I've encountered a senseless death in an MMO. It happens often. A place I once visited was full of life and now it's full of corpses. What surprised me about this experience was that the game went out of its way to remind meI knew these people. In games, I'm used to the undefined, indistinct bodies of other NPCs. They are usually a random selection of races and genders from the game, all wearing the same three sets of generic NPC attire. But these were different models wearing different armor. They were the people at the bar that my character would sit down and have a drink with after a long day at the Scion. It's really devastating to pick someone out of a mass of bodies and think, "This person sold me potions," or "This person fixed my armor," or "This sylph came here with me." You see, Noraxia, the little ambassador of the sylphs, also died. Her death was particularly disturbing, she was entrusted to me by her people, sent to help save the world. I guess they had no idea they were going to send one of their sisters to their deaths.
ButFinal Fantasy XIVHe wasn't content to leave me there with my pain. They planned to further insult my injury. After a few intermediate missions, I was sent back to the scene of the slaughter with the task of carrying the bodies of my comrades onto a wagon that would take them away for burial. When I arrived I was greeted by an extremely insensitive worker who basically said, "Oh you look like a strapping lady, carry those bodies over there and be quick, they're starting to stink." You accept the quest and suddenly notice the pile of corpses dumped in an alley behind you.
BRB calls my therapist. (Screenshot: Square Enix)
The quest requires you to pick them up like any other quest 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 how big your body is on looking for. interacts with. Sturdy Roegadyns take longer to "get" the lean Miqo'te. But none is as swift as the tiny sylph, whose small, leafy body stands in stark contrast to the rest. Then, like any other quest, the corpses go into your key inventory and you must hand them over to the undertaker. In most MMOs, if you pick up more than one item of the same type, they will stack in your inventory. In another gruesome twist on the knife, Noraxia's body is unlike the rest. It gets its own inventory slot with its own flavor text.
These are my friends! Now is not the time for jokes that break the fourth wall! (Screenshot: Square Enix)
Whenever you complete a collection quest inFF14, you must "deliver" the key item to the quest NPC. When it comes time to "deliver" the bodies (represented by a white flower icon with sometotally inappropriateflavor text), I didn't want that. My mouse pointer hovered over the "Deliver" command for a moment and I couldn't click it. I started to cry. And my reluctance was well founded. When you normally "deliver" something, you never see the item in question. Your character makes the move to get something out of his pocket, the quest NPC accepts it, but nothing comes about. When I handed the bodies over to the undertaker, they appeared in the back of the hearse, gaping in their dying howls, eyes open and staring into space.
I love it when a game's mechanics reinforce its narrative. InFinal Fantasy XIV, the commands you thoughtlessly used throughout gameplay to complete missions - pick up, use, deliver - have now been invested with a lot of weight. The game forces you to think about what exactly you're doing, while Undertaker's callous reactions teach you a meta-lesson in compassion.
In most MMOs, you are a dealer of death. Up to this point, I've probably completed dozens of quests that require me to search corpses in search of the odd trinket or two. I did it out of habit and without thinking, the dead nothing more than a quest box to check.
The way the undertakers talk to you, urging you to hurry, realizing that the dead don't mind a little rough treatment, the script is inverted. You're the mindless quest-givers eager to tick that box while you're the only one left behind after the devastation. How many times have I thoughtlessly clicked through the text boxes of a widow bemoaning her husband's fate? And now that it's been done to me, I amfuriousthat I can't somehow incinerate these people with a Fire III spell.
This quest will stay with me for a long time. It became one of my "this video game made me cry" moments, filed alongside the pacifist ending ofUndertaleand the moment of the menu inFinal Fantasy XV. For all the pain and suffering this game has caused me, as you put it, this is just the beginning. I can't imagine how the game's future storytelling moments can top that, but I look forward to seeing it try. As I was doing this search, I considered writing a clearly worded letter to Square Enix describing my agony. Here goes:
Prezada Square Enix,
How dare you. What the hell?How dare you!
I love it. please hurt me again soon