“End of Eorzea” is a six-minute epic almost unlike anything Final Fantasy XIV had seen, as the forces of Eorzea, heroes and grunts alike, clashed with the Garleans. Dalamud’s true purpose was revealed—not a moon, but an ancient prison, housing the almighty primal dragon Bahamut. Eorzea’s armies fall to Garlean arms, our heroes—the same heroes that had heralded XIV’s arrival in its original cinematic trailer beaten back. At the final minute, an act of prayer by your closest allies in XIV, a group known as the Circle of Knowing, attempts to magically restrain Bahamut, only to dramatically fail, and be rewarded with the beast unleashing its most powerful attack from the series, Megaflare—only this time not wielded as a player fantasy, but a horror to carve fire across the world they had failed to protect.


But of course, Final Fantasy XIV wasn’t ending forever. In the final moments, the Circle of Knowing’s leader, Louisoix Leveilleur, whisks the heroes away to survive the devastation Bahamut brings, so they can re-emerge in the remade world for A Realm Reborn. But the legacy of 1.0 ending like it did didn’t just linger in that metatexual premise that players went on even after the world itself was razed to the ground. The choice to rebuild Eorzea from apocalypse was woven into the story of its rebirth, its ramifications echoing not just across A Realm Reborn, but every expansion the revived game has had in the last nine years, as Final Fantasy XIV kicked off a whirlwind redemption arc to make it one of the crown jewels of Square Enix’s library. The song that plays to bid farewell to 1.0, “Answers”—composed by Final Fantasy legend Nobuo Uematsu—even became a vital part of the most recent of those expansions, Endwalker, framing a similarly apocalyptic narrative where the heroes of the remade Eorzea faced an almighty doom, only this time they defeated it, saving not just the realm but the entire world. A justice for the world they had failed to protect all those years ago.

Image for article titled 10 Years Ago Today, Final Fantasy XIV Destroyed Its World to Build a New One
Screenshot: Square Enix

One of the most compelling, endearing, and perhaps daunting aspects of Final Fantasy XIV is that is an ongoing story, one that deals with highs and lows of stakes and adventure as story cycles wax and wane, and one that is steeped in a kind of history almost unprecedented in the world of games beyond it. Its players have taken their character on a journey that has been going on for almost a decade, and some of them—players of the original XIV who brought their characters over—for even longer. Making the death and rebirth of the game a fundamental part of that base story, and having it echo all the way up to XIV’s latest apocalyptic event, is a crucial part of what makes its success story so miraculous in the first place. Not many games get the second chance Final Fantasy XIV got, whether in the real world or in the land of Eorzea itself, but taking that story of failure and weaving it into one of redemption is a fascinating part of what makes it such a compelling game in the first place.

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