Final Fantasy 14 Dawntrail proves that the journey is far from over

Spoiler-free thoughts and musings on Final Fantasy 14's latest expansion, Dawntrail.


Dawntrail might be a slower, more considerate journey compared to its predecessors but is easily the strongest expansion launch in the MMORPG’s storied history. With its latest expansion to Final Fantasy 14, Square Enix proves above all else that the world of Etheirys has many more stories to tell.

Our latest adventure takes us to Tural to help our newfound friend Wuk Lamat in a contest that will determine the new leader of her fledgling nation. It is, of course, all but an excuse for us to explore strange lands and their cultures. Sooner or later, we find ourselves in the usual Final Fantasy 14 groove, where we meet new people and help them through their daily struggles.

An image from Final Fantasy 14 Dawntrail

It’s a welcome change of pace that the story is framed from Wuk Lamat’s perspective. We’re more of her mentor this time around, not here to solve every issue we come across but rather to help her find her way until she grows into the leader of the people she wants to be. Seeing her and other characters grow throughout this adventure is a nice change of pace to the drama FF14 usually tends to indulge in. While Dawntrail might lack the charisma of an Emet-Selch or the bravado of Zenos, without giving away too much it might be Final Fantasy 14's most thematically relevant tale yet. And it turned out to be an interesting rumination on ideas and themes we’ve explored in previous adventures.

Dawntrail offers the best selection of dungeons and trials we’ve ever seen. Dungeon bosses have hands and hate melee DPS, and boss fights in general boast an unprecedented variety of cool mechanics for you to solve. All the Dungeons are visually stunning with yet unseen scale, even though they follow the usual formula of four trash packs and narrow corridors between each boss.

Job changes are more of the usual. Smart changes to existing jobs slim down previously cumbersome rotations while new skills offer more depth. As always, these choices make sense from a distant point of view but continue to let jobs play very similar to others in their category.

An image from Final Fantasy 14 Dawntrail

The new jobs, Viper and Pictomancer, slot right in there offering new flavors to Scouting and Magical Ranged DPS. They both start at 80 which sucks if you want to jump right into the new content, but we’re used to that by now. Viper feels like the estranged, monster energy-sipping lovechild between Monk and Gunbreaker. It juggles several combos at once while weaving continuation skills in between. The Pictomancer on the other hand plays more like a mix of Summoner and Black Mage that offers both utility and big damage without trading mobility.

The undisputed star of the expansion is the graphics update that came with the 7.0 patch. Words can not capture how much better the game looks now despite barely having changed at all. Even the older zones that were only touched up with a revamped lighting system, new shaders, and better foliage generation look so much more alive and vibrant now. Final Fantasy 14 has always been a game that visually punched way above its weight class, thanks to a strong art direction and expertly laid out environments it always knew how to bedazzle any spectator. The new tech lifts the game's lovingly created world to yet unseen heights.

And then there are the new zones.

An image from Final Fantasy 14 Dawntrail

Dawntrail’s environments offer a staggering sense of scale and detail that even puts most single-player games to shame. Be it the busy villages of the Pelupelu that dot  Urqopacha’s landscape inspired by Peru’s mountain ranges or Shaaloani’s desert towns that evoke a Wild West atmosphere. The visual step-up even from Endwalker’s zones is staggering and never before have Final Fantasy 14’s environments had such an immersive grasp, accompanied as always by a fantastic soundtrack that is as colorful and varied as the people of Tural.

There is still so much to be said about Final Fantasy 14 Dawntrail, but let me try and sum it up. If you are a fan of what FF14 has been doing for the past 10 or so years, you won’t be disappointed. Dawntrail is more of the usual and might not soar to the same heights as Shadowbringers or Endwalker's narratives but offers the most consistent and strongest first batch of content the MMORPG has ever had. With more to come, Dawntrail makes a strong first impression for the next chapter of Final Fantasy 14’s unending journey.

Contributing Editor

Timo is an avid enjoyer of all things video games hailing from  Germany. After being abandoned as a child on the Rolanberry Fields of Final Fantasy XI he has since developed an undying love for the digital worlds of MMOs. But if you can't find him crafting up a storm in Final Fantasy XIV, you'll probably find him workshopping combo's in Action/Fighting games or being extremely passionate about the latest mobile title.

Outside of gaming, Timo is usually skimming through the Criterion Collection  or praying to whatever Eldritch Horror for his latest favourite Manga doesn't get damaged in shipping. You can find live reactions to all of that on X @ALahftel.

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