Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers just released its anticipated 5.4 patch this week, entitled Futures Rewritten. With new story advancements, raids, dungeons, and charming catboy hijinks galore, this update makes for a delightful yet relaxed distraction from the frustrating state of the world and the never-ending discourse about certain other games.
The past few updates brought many grand changes to the world of Final Fantasy XIV for veterans and new players alike. In particular, the last patch, Reflections in Crystal (and the first patch since the beginning of the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic) revamped much of the base game while offering one of the franchise’s best stories yet. But if Reflections was the grand finale of the Shadowbringers saga, Futures Rewritten is the calm beginnings of a new chapter.
If Futures Rewritten has a unifying theme, it is all about vibing with the homies. With the new Exploration Mode feature, players can enter their favorite Shadowbringers dungeons minus all the enemies, perfect for a charming stroll, a fun photoshoot, or a dance party in the middle of a burning village. There’s also a new treasure dungeon, The Shifting Oubliettes of Lyhe Ghiah, where you and your party can test your luck and your mettle against ridiculous fae enemies for rare items.
The new story content is played through the main scenario as well as new quests in the Eden raid series. The last patch ended on a hopeful note for The Scions of the Seventh Dawn, not only with them saving The First once more by triumphing over the last of the unsundered Ascians, Elidibus, but also finally being returned safely to their homeworld of The Source. But now our band of heroes has a new member, the former messianic crystal catboy turned awkward regular catboy, G’raha Tia, and this chapter is really his moment to shine.
Whereas Reflections in Crystal was full of spectral warriors, false prophets, and battles for the fate of a world, Futures Rewritten feels like a sitcom about you and your buddies just goofing off and running errands. While the crux of the story is our heroes using their downtime to seek a cure for those brainwashed by the primal summons, it’s mostly a bunch of oddball adventures in which G’raha Tia is the star.
G’raha Tia and the Warrior of Light feebly try to figure out the password to a magic computer ball they find. G’raha Tia tries to go undercover buying summoning crystals from pirates, but also he is a terrible liar. Even the patch’s main dungeon amounts to you gathering ingredients by beating large monsters so you can make a giant magical mommy pig so that G’raha can imbue it with magicks that will cure the aforementioned religious madness and solve Eorzea’s version of colonialism, which also involves more pirates.
Only in the patch’s final moments does Fandaniel, the newly introduced, unhinged Ascian playmate of returning villain and cheeked-up bishonen scumbag dictator Zenos yae Galvus, incite the new major conflict. But I have to say, none of this light drama feels particularly unwelcome. My white-mage girlfriend and I played through the majority of the patch’s story content the night of release, and found that after all the high-fantasy drama and centuries-long tragedies of Shadowbringers, it was nice to see these characters we love just kind of hang out for several hours until some flamboyant guy with a bowl cut (the aforementioned Fandaniel) blows things up with his purple dragon in the last five minutes.
No, the real meat of the patch is in the final chapter of the Eden raid series, Eden’s Promise, which also serves as a denouement of sorts for the Shadowbringers arc that took place in the world of Norvrandt. Much like the patch’s main story, it’s about bonding, focusing on the very clearly romantic (though never outright stated as such) relationship developing between Ryne, the scion left behind in The First, and her mysterious friend Gaia, as well as truths in Gaia’s past tying her to Norvrandt’s centuries-long tragedy.
Despite technically being relegated to a side story, the Eden sequence definitely feels like the patch’s dramatic high point, which is probably why Ryne and Gaia are featured in the main promotional artwork. The narrative is thoughtful, heartwarming, exhilarating, and honestly very gay! The two are constantly talking about sharing coffee biscuits and how much they need each other. In every cutscene I shared with the pair, I felt like my Warrior of Light was me accidentally third-wheeling a friend’s date that they didn’t know was a date at some Oakland beer garden in the pre-covid era.
While very little of this new endgame content is as particularly hard as prior Eden raids, it’s all a beautiful spectacle and felt engaging (speaking only for the normal raids here; from videos I’ve seen, the Savage versions of each look as mindbendingly difficult as ever). The last raid in particular beautifully mixes narrative into the gameplay, making that final battle all the more emotionally compelling.
All of that, along with a new trial in the Sorrow of Werlyt series and a new tomestone, makes for a cornucopia of content to play, master with your friends, and grind for that sweet FFXIV gear drip. Other than that, there are some minor changes. There’s an overhaul for the Monk job here, some new rules for Doman Mahjong and Triple Triad there, and a couple of UI simplifications sprinkled all around. In upcoming minor patches we can expect to see an overhaul and level boost to the limited blue mage class, a follow-up to the Save the Queen: Blades of Gunnhildr relic weapon series, and the final part in the Ishgardian Restoration crafting event that followed the Heavensward saga.
You can read the entirety of the new patch notes here.
Chingy Nea is a writer, comedian, and critically acclaimed ex-girlfriend based out of Oakland and Los Angeles.