Stormblood Retrospective: Beast Tribe Quests

We’re now mere weeks away from the release of Final Fantasy XIV’s third expansion, Shadowbringers, and we’ve reached the end of its second, Stormblood. The game’s next major version of 5.0 is nearly upon us. As I did before at the end of Heavensward, I’m taking this time before the expansion to look back at some aspects of Stormblood, with emphasis on the ways Stormblood built (or didn’t build) on the solidified foundation provided by Heavensward. So far, I’ve covered Eureka (in two parts), examined the Main Scenario, and mused about glamour in Stormblood. By request of Fashion Ninjutu’s patrons, I’ll be spending more time today on the expansion’s Beast Tribe Quests, something I only covered briefly for Heavensward.

Hiding quietly in the background for nearly as long as FFXIV has been A Realm Reborn, Beast Tribe Quests are as much a staple in the game as dungeons, trials, and raids. After their original, sometimes convoluted implementation in A Realm Reborn, Beast Tribe Quests received numerous refinements in Heavensward to make them more palatable as repeated daily tasks. Stormblood has continued this process of streamlining, standardizing quest length and objectives so that the experience (and particularly, the time investment) remains largely uniform across each Tribe. Like both A Realm Reborn and Heavensward before it, Stormblood includes three tribes of Beast Tribe Quests: two intended for battle classes and one intended for crafting and gathering ones. Each tribe offers similar rewards from familiar fare: minions, mounts, orchestrion rolls, and emotes, with a few unique offerings per tribe, such as glamour gear.

Griffon statues added to Castrum Velodyna by the Ananta.

The first of Stormblood’s tribes is the Ananta, though it’s fair to say that this series of Beast Tribe Quests isn’t about the Ananta as a tribe in any significant way. Instead, the Ananta quests focus on a unit of the Ala Mhigan Resistance—led by an Ananta, Alpa, and with several Ananta members—who set to work to turning the captured Castrum Velodyna into a waypoint for travelers in Gyr Abania. The story’s central conflict—that Alpa must whip the Castrum into shape before her mother’s molting or return home—loosely ties the whole series of quests in with the Ananta as a whole, but the real focus is on the establishment of a new foothold for the Resistance in their retaken homeland. Quests largely involve assisting the Resistance in various ways, from establishing an infirmary to gathering food and other supplies. In this way, the Ananta Beast Tribe Quests serve to fill in some of the development that Ala Mhigo and the Resistance lacked relative to the Othardian side of Stormblood, though that comes at the cost of more specific development for the Ananta themselves.

In the case of the Kojin Beast Tribe Quests, much more time is spent on the Kojin themselves, providing a thorough look into their way of life and how they fit into the greater Othardian landscape with the Garlean empire overthrown in the region. The overall story centers around the establishment of a new treasure vault for the Blue Kojin, meant to replace the one now firmly in control of their villainous rivals, the Red Kojin. Along the way, the leader of the Divine Circle in charge of the vault—Kabuto—learns to believe in himself with the help of one of the kami, in a fairly standard “coming of age” story. The Kojin’s Beast Tribe Quests are mostly split between assisting in matters of trade with their neighbors in the Ruby Sea and handling other matters of import for their community. Overall, the Kojin series of quests follow the familiar formula, but that formula works well to help flesh out both the Blue Kojin’s place in the world and their culture.

The Blue Kojin celebrating some new additions to their treasure vault.

The same is true for Stormblood’s third and final set of Beast Tribe Quests, this one devoted to the catfish-like Namazu. Structured much like Heavensward’s Moogle Beast Tribe Quests, the Namazu quests work as a catchup mechanism for crafters and gathers and a source for materials needed to craft high end gear for both. The Namazu quests bring with them one very welcome change, however: each quest can be undertaken as either a crafter or a gatherer, with both quest text and objectives varying based on your chosen class. While in the past, a small selection of quests would be available to gathering classes, the Namazu quests mark the first time for the quests to work for every one of the non-combat classes. This alone makes the Namazu feel more worthwhile than Stormblood’s other tribes, but the story—of helping the Namazu forestall their prophesized extinction through the creation of a grand festival—contains some of the funniest writing in all of FFXIV. Built on the endearing daftness of the Namazu as a tribe, the story weaves humor and world-building together in charming fashion, and it’s no wonder that the Namazu have become fan favorites in the community.

All the stories eventually come full circle, culminating in one final quest series that ties all three Beast Tribes together, as has become tradition for FFXIV. Naturally, a small bit of contrivance is necessary to get representatives of each Tribe in Kugane, with Alpa and her second in command J’olhmyn having to make the journey across the sea from Eorzea. Outside of that, though, the story proceeds as you might expect, with the three tribes uniting to stop the plot of a pair of dastardly villains—familiar characters that I won’t spoil here! The final confrontation lacks some of the grandeur of its predecessor in Heavensward, but that seems almost fitting for the ragtag crew assembled through Stormblood’s Beast Tribes and their generally smaller, more personal stories.

A giant effigy built by the Namazu as part of their celebrations.

Overall, Stormblood’s Beast Tribe Quests largely stick to well-established formula. Within the framework of that formula, the quests in Stormblood exhibit the sort of quality expected from FFXIV, complete with the usual streamlining and quality of life improvements the game is known for in its iterative design. Other changes in Stormblood have robbed the Beast Tribe Quests of some of their raison d’etre, however, with the folding together of the game’s relic weapon quest and exploration content for Eureka leaving the Beast Tribe Quests somewhat isolated from the game’s broader tapestry. The Beast Tribe Quests of both A Realm Reborn and Heavensward served as one of many ways to obtain currencies needed for building ultimate weapons in addition to their normal rewards of experience points or crafting items, but the Stormblood quests have nothing similar on offer, relying instead primarily on the various vanity items Beast Tribe Quests have always offered. More generous experience or Tomestone rewards (particularly for the two tribes focused on battle classes) might have helped to offset the loss of weapon quest tie-ins, but this round of Beast Tribe Quests does manage to stand largely on its own merits.

Shadowbringers will undoubtedly continue the trend, with three Beast Tribes, the Pixies, the Nou Mou, and the Dwarves, having already been announced for the expansion. The Dwarves are noted as having “skill at mining, metallurgy, and crafting mechanical marvels,” suggesting that their quests will be aimed at crafting and gathering classes, with the other two focusing on battle classes, as has become tradition. How well the quests are integrated into Shadowbringers as a whole remains to be seen, but Producer Yoshida has mentioned that the team hopes for the expansion’s relic quest to be somewhere in between the quests of A Realm Reborn, Heavensward, and Stormblood, so the quests may see something of a return to form depending on how that pans out. Of course, further refinement is likely, too, given FFXIV’s solid track record in that regard, especially with respect to Beast Tribe Quests—we’ll know more come Patch 5.1, if tradition holds!

Thanks to the support of Fashion Ninjutsu’s patrons, I’ve been able to put more time into this expansion retrospective, with special thanks going to current $5 patrons Del, Francisco Galicia, NiaYumiya, and Nomolun. If you’ve enjoyed this retrospective and would like to support future ones or other content like Mog Station Reviews, you can offer support of your own on Fashion Ninjutsu’s Patreon.

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