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Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail review - The start of a new adventure

Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail review - The start of a new adventure

The latest expansion is the start of a brand-new journey

When the credits rolled on Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker back in 2021, I thought the story that had spanned over a decade had finally come to an end, as the title suggested. However, it was soon announced that another story would be told in the shape of Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail and I must admit that I was a bit unsure if anything else needed to be said.

Released worldwide on 2 July, Dawntrail is the fifth expansion pack for the MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV and would take our main character, the Warrior of Light, on a whole new adventure.

Check out the official trailer for Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail below!

Originally set to be a relaxing time for our Warrior of Light and their comrades following their battle to prevent the Final Days, in typical FFXIV fashion, it wasn’t long before the story saw us reunite for another mission in the brand-new faraway continent of Tural.

With a brand-new continent to explore, jobs to level, people to meet and dungeons to tackle, Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail promised us more of everything we have come to love in the MMORPG series and my experience with it was definitely a tale of two halves.

As we already knew, the start of the expansion would take us to the continent of Tural which in itself is inspired by Central and South America with the golden cities a nod to El Dorado. Although I can’t talk too much about its representation of a real life continent as well as its people, culture and cuisine, it is still evident from an outside perspective that a lot of thought went into this new location.

From new foods to try (and even cook), traditional clothing to wear, cultures to learn about and respect, Dawntrail seemed like a nod to Central and South America with every part of the new map working together to make you feel immersed in a brand-new world outside of Eorzea.

With a new map comes new characters and alongside our beginning comrades, we also set off on our journey alongside Wuk Lamat, a character who we were first introduced to at the end of Endwalker and becomes something of the main character in Dawntrail. Accompanying the Warrior of Light and the friends we have made since A Realm Reborn is Erenville, another character introduced in the previous expansion.

Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail /
Square Enix

Altogether, the Warrior of Light and characters both old and new must set off on a journey across Tural and other distant lands and the journey does not only test their mettle but also explore their very connections with each other.

That is because, above all else, Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail is a story about family; whether that is those bound by blood or those found. It explores the concept of fatherhood, the bond between siblings, the idea that blood is not always thicker than water. It shows us the different kinds of love we can experience in life and how one is no more important than the other. Most importantly, it emphasises how family is what we make it and can be found, and made, in the most unlikely of places.

It will be this found family that join you to take on some of the toughest battles in Dawntrail and Square Enix did not pull any punches with its dungeon, trial, and duty content in its newest expansion. Considering I returned to play Dawntrail after a year hiatus from FFXIV, diving straight into such content was not the best of ideas considering many of these activities rely on you remembering mechanics from previous fights as well as your job’s rotation.

However, it was nothing if not a learning experience and there was no trial, dungeon or duty that I thought felt stale. Even though I was getting my butt kicked, I can still say that I enjoyed my time with the new content. With mechanics we all know (and probably hate) as well as brand-new ways to die at the feet of your healer, Dawntrail added incredibly fun ways to take down its newest bosses.

Not only that but there were new ways to take them down in the form of two new job classes: Viper and Pictomancer. I tried my hands at both jobs and despite both being very different, they still added a fun new element to combat.

Viper is very much a melee class where you get to wield twin blades in sharp, fast movements. The class starts at level 80 but is very easy to master with rotations being simple to learn. In contrast, Pictomancer is a casting class unlike any other as players will “draw” pictures in the air which correspond to attacks you can unleash on the enemy. Not only that but you will be able to whip out a giant inflatable-like hammer to bonk the boss with which is something I never knew I needed until now.

Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail /
Square Enix

As mentioned at the start of this review, my overall experience with Dawntrail can be summed up as a tale of two halves. The first half of the story is slow, there is no denying it. We are exploring a new place with new characters and history and it is very much setting the scene for the next arc in the overall story.

In comparison, the second half is very much the Final Fantasy XIV we know and love with action, heartbreak, plot twists and more. The narrative picks up and very much spells the end of our vacation but it also serves to tie up some loose ends in the decade-old story.

As a result, my rating had switched dramatically by the time the end credits rolled and saw Dawntrail become my third favourite expansion so far behind Shadowbringers in first place and Endwalker in second.

When thinking about my score for Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail, I asked myself whether the slow start was a negative but upon finishing the game, I can safely say that it worked as a perfect run-up to the main events and was important to let us get to know the new land and its characters enough to care about their story.

Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail /
Square Enix

Nevertheless, the pacing could sometimes break your immersion and I much preferred the story of some previous instalments. However, my final score reflects the knowledge that Dawntrail is just the start of a brand-new story which, if the past is anything to go by, will only get better.

Overall, from stunning new locations, exciting new jobs, multi-dimensional characters and heaps of new content that I will be spending the next few weeks on, Dawntrail was the perfect way to introduce the start of a new arc to Final Fantasy XIV and as a result, still has a lot of story to tell.

Pros: Stunning new locations, fun gameplay, intriguing storyline

Cons: Pacing could be a bit clunky, slow start

For fans of: Final Fantasy, The Elder Scrolls Online, World of Warcraft

7/10: Very good

Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail is available now on PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X/S, Xbox One and PC (version tested). Review code was provided by the publisher. Find a complete guide to GAMINGbible's review scores here.

Featured Image Credit: Square Enix

Topics: Final Fantasy, Square Enix, Reviews, PlayStation 4, PlayStation 5, PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, Xbox Series S