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FFXIV Dawntrail boat to Tural
Screenshot by GameSkinny

Final Fantasy XIV Dawntrail Review: Setting Sail for a New Adventure

FFXIV Dawntrail starts with a trip to the New World, and it sets up the next narrative journey for the Warrior of Light.

Now that the tale of Hydaelyn and Zodiark has come to an end after 10 years, it’s time for you, the Warrior of Light, to set sail in search of a new adventure. Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail seeks to kick off the next 10 years of story for the game. The real question is if it manages to set up another epic story.

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Dawntrail picks up right where the post-Endwalker patches end. Your help has been requested by one of the participants in the Rite of Succession in Tural. Compared to what you faced in Endwalker during the Final Days, this request might as well be a vacation. However, if you think that this might be nothing more than an expansion of filler content, then think again.

Starting with a Crisp Graphics Update

Before we dive into the meat of the game, it’s important to take a look at the graphics overhaul. Having been released about a decade ago now, FFXIV’s graphics started to appear dated. Luckily, 7.0 also implements the graphics overhaul the team revealed to be in progress last year. 

Tural’s zones are already beautiful and lush by design, often featuring settlements that take advantage of the natural wonders around them rather than destroying them. Thanks to the graphics update, the zones are crisp and clear, enhancing their designs. The updated lighting also makes a big difference in graphic quality. Regardless of the actual content of Dawntrail, this update was a needed change. Plus, it doesn’t seem to be too much more taxing on my system and runs just as smooth as before. It just looks nicer.

The Beginning of a New Story

As promised earlier, there won’t be any spoilers here. I’ll be talking about the story in rather vague terms and focusing on what it accomplishes in terms of narration. With a game like FFXIV, it’s tough to truly review content without talking about the Main Scenario Quests. 

The first half of the MSQ is slow. Extremely so. While I understand that it has to act as a transition from the previous world-ending arc of Endwalker into a new arc, it felt like a chore to get through at times. It doesn’t help that the Warrior of Light is more of a side character for this section, and you feel like an NPC yourself at times. It also feels like mostly cutscenes. So, adding more combat duties to the MSQ could’ve helped spice it up as well through more interactive moments.

I expected disappointment throughout the rest of the MSQ once I started it. Therefore, the story kicking into high gear pleasantly surprised and relieved me. While I loved the idea of the last zones, I felt that the MSQ could’ve been more involved. It’s not the worst to have somebody else as the main character, but Krile searching for her origins and learning about her grandfather would’ve been a more consistent and interesting option that can carry through every zone, whereas Wuk Lamat as the main character makes sense for the beginning zones, then feels forced in the final half. Even with a stronger second half, the MSQ felt like the low point of this expansion.

Tural’s Friends and Enemies

You meet no shortage of people as the Warrior of Light, and a new expansion means new and old characters alike appear as part of both the MSQ and side quests. A lot of characters you journey with show development as you progress, and it’s done in a way that feels natural. In one case, the character’s development is unexpected. But it’s executed so that you believe in their changes and that this is a reasonable path for them to have taken.

Of course, not every character you meet is particularly likable. A few of the new characters are rather over-the-top in the way they act, to the point that they seem silly at times. The most notable example is probably Wuk Lamat herself, which you see in the patches leading up to Dawntrail where you first meet her in Sharlayan. I think she should’ve been toned down with her exaggerated reactions, and it would stop her coming across as cartoonish at those points.

She gets somewhat toned down later. However, I feel that point should’ve come earlier than it did. It doesn’t help that so much focus and screen time is directed towards her, making her character flaws more pronounced. Shifting some of her time to other characters who have important storylines in Tural like Krile and Erenville would’ve helped a lot by adding variety.

On the other hand, characters like Koana and Gulool Ja Ja are balanced between their seriousness and a few humorous moments. They don’t have times when they feel over-the-top, and it’s fun to interact with them. Naturally, a variety of characters is needed to tell a story, and personalities vary greatly. As such, I think a bit of fine-tuning at certain points would’ve been a nice touch, alongside dividing screen time among important characters more evenly.

Dungeon Mechanics and Bosses

The dungeon designs are beautiful, and both the general music for each one and boss fight music are a joy to hear. Each set-up and theme fits perfectly with the dungeon’s location in the MSQ. Fight mechanics are easy to follow with the help of indicators, and you’ll find that some are similar to mechanics you deal with in older expansions. Trials and dungeons are among my favorite parts of each expansion. Even after so many years, the dungeons in Dawntrail definitely don’t have a stale feeling to them. While I didn’t find any of them particularly challenging, I look forward to future Savage variations when they’re released.

Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail – The Bottom Line


  • Great music
  • Fun dungeons and bosses
  • A strong MSQ in the latter half


  • Slow start
  • Some over-the-top characters
  • Dungeons and trials aren’t that challenging

It was incredibly difficult to give this game a score. Especially since FFXIV is among my all-time favorite games. The slow first half can’t be ignored as a downside, but the second half does a lot of work towards making up for most of it. The overall result is an expansion that successfully sets up the next 10 years of adventuring. It has some flaws, but it’s still a fun experience and has its own charm. I look forward to seeing where the MSQ goes in patch content leading to the next expansion. If you’re uncertain about this expansion after Endwalker, then I recommend giving it a chance anyway. There’s plenty to enjoy in FFXIV: Dawntrail.

Final Fantasy XIV Dawntrail Review: Setting Sail for a New Adventure
FFXIV Dawntrail starts with a trip to the New World, and it sets up the next narrative journey for the Warrior of Light.

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Melissa Sarnowski
Melissa Sarnowski has been working as a gaming writer professionally for two years, having been at GameSkinny for over a year now as a horror beat writer. She has an English degree from University of Wisconsin - Madison. While she focuses on all things horror, she also enjoys cozy games, MMOs like FFXIV and WoW, and any and everything in between.