This is kinda late since on the last two weeks of August I just wasn't in the best of moods for... well, anything. Still as it is tradition here a level milestone for Final Fantasy XIV must be recorded.
In the same week I reached level 60 in Machinist, I reached level 50 in Dragoon. This was another Job I wanted to get to a new milestone for various reasons. Mainly because the outfit I had been wearing for those last 5 levels was pretty ugly and I was too lazy to make a glamour just for that. Yes, I am silly. :p
Another reason is because I wanted to see how that storyline of the Dragoons finished and I was disappointed.
WARNING: Spoilers about the storyline for the Lancer class quests and the Dragoon quests levels 30 to 50 ahead
The Lancer quest storyline
Before we get to the Dragoon storyline properly, let me try to briefly cover the Lancer storyline first.
Covering briefly the level 1 to 30 class quest going forward is something I want to do as there are some pretty good ones. Also, in this case I think the Lancer quests share a lot of the same problems as the Dragoon ones.
It all starts with Ywain, the guildmaster of the Lancer's guild in Gridania. His initial spiel about what the fighting style of lancers is fine, until he starts talking about the need for courage, which will be the whole theme for this questline.
It doesn't take long for this story's antagonist to show up (by level 5 to be more precise). A man named Folques who calls all the lancers in the guild weaklings and cowards. And of course, that all makes them unworthy of the title of Lancer.
The only exception to this rule are us, which Folques respects just because we didn't flinch when he fainted an attack at us. In fact he even try to get us to join his side which the game doesn't even allow us to reply to, it just assumes we won't. Granted, the game is right, Folques doesn't make a very compelling case to join him but it would still be nice to have a say on this.
The next few quests are this back and forth where Ywain will try to setup a trial to show his interpretation of courage while Folques shows up to be jerk while trying to impose his own belief about the subject.
Eventually we have to fight Folques himself. Unable to accept his defeat he ends up slipping and falling down a chasm never to be seem again.
If I am to be brutally honest, this whole questline left me cold. The idea isn't bad it is just the implementation didn't work out for me. Ywain just feels like he was spouting platitudes about courage while just giving us "Kill X mobs" quests for us to learn about it.
As for Folques he feels like just a high school bully for most of the questline. I mentioned this before, I don't expect any grand motivations for what they do. But these kind of villains I just find horribly boring.
A lot of the problems with this questline might be due to the nature of MMOs. I could see this kind of storyline working on a more traditional medium like a book or an anime. In that the hero could end up having to re-examine his beliefs as they went through the trials or learn something new about themselves. They could even end up forming a rivalry with Folques along the storyline. As it is though, it just feels like one of the weakest 1 to 30 class storylines that I did so far.
Dragoon 30 to 50
The dragoon questline starts when Ywain asks us to help a friend of his in Ishgard. The friend in question is a man called Alberic. As for the help, The Eye, a holy relic for Ishgard was stolen so they were hoping we could help recover it.
To make matters worse, the thief was Estinien, a dragoon on the service of the Holy See.
Due to Albric duties to Ishgard he isn't that much knowledgeable about affairs outside its walls. He also wishes to keep his identity a secret so that is where we come in.
He gives us some direction to where to track our criminal and off we go.
After a very brief investigation we end up finding Estinien. As he gets ready to fight us, the Eye glows surprising the dragoon. From his dialogue, the eyes was reacting to us. He decides to leave then, swearing that our paths will cross again.
Back to Alberic he finally tells us the truth. The Eye is a holy relic that harbors the power of a dragon. It bestows such power to someone of its choosing. That person ends up receiving the title of Azure Dragoon.
Oh, and the thief was not only the Azure Dragoon himself, but also Alberic's former pupil.
Because of that Alberic feels responsible for Estinien's actions. To the point where he is willing to do whatever possible to stop the Azure Dragoon. He can't do it alone and since the Eye seems to have chosen us too, he requests our help.
Alberic even gives us his old Dragoon soul stone to help awaken the dragon inside us. Before Estinien, Alberic was the Azure Dragoon but he lost that power a long time ago and just has been carrying the soul stone out of habit.
Which makes me wonder again how Soul Stones are even created in the first place, how they work and so forth. I am pretty sure there is a lore explanation for it somewhere but let's get back to the story at hand, shall we?
Alberic has absolutely no clue why The Eye would choose a second person as such thing never happened before. But since the only one that has a chance of defeating the Azure Dragoon is another chosen one we are pretty much the only hope of stopping Estinien.
At least Alberic promises to help out with his knowledge and with training. Which in practical terms means, go out to level by yourself, then come back to him for a "trial" where you kill X mobs and learn a new skill.
Here is where I have a problem with the questline. These trials are very thinly disguised excuses to kill X mobs. Yes, I know that kind of thing is a inevitability when playing MMORPGs but there are better ways to integrate them with the story and Final Fantasy XIV did it in other class questlines. Case in point: the rogues class questline.
It is the same problem I had with the Lancer's quests. It makes sense in terms of in-character: you don't want to send the person who just got some new power, untrained, against the most powerful person of your nation after all. It is just the implementation of it doesn't work for me.
Back to the story. Between the trials we get some bits of lore. Apparently the first Dragoon was a man named Haldrath. A long, long time ago, a guy named Thordan got a vision by the goddess, Halone, aka the Fury, to guide people to a new land.
During their journey they came to a chasm. As they started to build a bridge a dragon, called Nidhogg attacked. Thordan tried to fight the beast but one of his own men was seduced by the dragon's power and pushed Thordan down the chasm.
Haldrath was enraged, picked up Thordan's lance then jumped to attack Nidhogg, taking out the dragon's eye. Nidhogg fled and the eye became a Holy Relic for Ishgard.
It grantes enormous power to its user but the drawback is that even away from Nidhogg it can still control men.
Even Hadrath himself was almost corrupted by it, but according to the legend, his love for justice allowed him to prevail and thus he became the first Azure Dragoon.
As far as lore for a Job goes, this one is pretty cool. I am a sucker for these mythical-level of legends. I also like the irony of the strongest dragoon being one who uses his enemies' power to fight them.
Alberic also tells us the story of how he first met Estinien. About 20 years ago, Nidhogg awoke from one of his slumbers. As a typical evil dragon he went on to destroy villages in Ishgard.
Other dragons followed right behind and Alberic, being the Azure Dragoon of the time, witnessed all the horrors they brought.
Eventually he was able to track down Nidhogg and confront the dragon in a tiny settlement at the borders of Coerthas. The battle lasted for 3 days and 3 nights without neither side gaining a significant advantage.
Mustering whatever remaining strength he had, Alberic gambled everything on a final attack. He thrust his lance upon Nidhogg's empty eye sock, making the dragon thrash around in pain as Alberic fell to the ground.
He got lucky though as Nidhogg decided to flee instead of killing him right there.
After the battle Alberic was declared unfit to continue bearing the power of the Azure Dragoon due to his wounds.
As for the village where that last battle happened, there was only one sole suvivor, a boy called Estinien.
Out of guilty, Alberic decided to adopt Estinien. Then when the boy became of age Alberic started to train him as a dragoon.
And now he feels he failed Estinien a second time, as a father, since he can't comprehend what kind of man would become not only a thief but one who is pretty much endangering the lives everyone in Ishgard.
The reason he believes this is because he thinks the theft will rouse Nidhogg from his slumber. Proof of this is all the the other dragons already awakening.
Near the end of the questline Estinien contact us asking to meet for a talk. Normally I'd think this as a trap but given the circumstances it didn't feel like this would be the case.
We go to the meeting point with Alberic. Estinien calmly appears at the scene, greeting us like this was completely normal.
Alberic tries to convince the dragoon to end this madness before it is too late. Estinien reveals though that it is already too late. Nidhogg has awakened. He doesn't believe that the Eye is the cause of the dragon's return.
Due to the power of the dragon within himself, Estinien had a premonition that Nidhogg would soon awake. Plus the beast is still holding a grudge for that wound it received 20 years ago.
To avoid more death and destruction, Estinien's plan is to take the Eye as far away as possible, to a remote location, hoping to attract Nidhogg with it.
Alberic immediately senses that Estinien doesn't plan to just be a bait but rather use this opportunity for revenge. The dragoon does not deny this, saying that he started to train with the lance simply to one day enact his revenge.
Estinien also believes that since the Eye chose two people to become an Azure Dragoon at the same time that it is a sign that we should work together. He also tells that we must earn the Drachen Mail, a set of special armor, forged in dragon's blood, that strengthens the user's power.
Only when we have won that set of armor, through yet another trial, will our training be complete.
Estinien doesn't even wait for our answer to his proposal, he just leaves.
Back at Camp Dragonhead Alberic admits he would gladly just give his old set of Drachen Mail to us since he is retired and thus it is useless to him. However since it is attuned to him it would give barely any power to us. So we need to go do one last trial to earn it.
Like all the other ones before it, it isn't hard, pretty much just kill some monsters.
When we get back to Alberic he gives four pieces of the armor set to us, just like every other level 45 quest. That is something I never will understand.
Anyway, Alberic also confess he wasn't entirely honest when he told about his battle with Nidhogg 20 years ago. Turns out it wasn't the power that abandoned Alberic, it was he who abandoned it.
Because the power of the dragoon is derived from dragons it makes them more susceptible than ordinary people to being controlled by them.
That is almost what happened to Alberic when he fought Nidhogg. Emotions not his own started to flow through him in a torrent, threatening to drown the man inside him and leave only a dragon.
Fearing that he would turn traitor, Alberic decided to purge the power of the Eye. That allowed him to come back to his senses and route the dragon's attack.
Unfortunately there were still a lot of other dragons around who were more than willing to massacre what was left of the village. Alberic only had only enough strength left to save Estinien.
Nobody else, not even Estinien, know about this. But after that last meeting Alberic intends to confess everything to him, in the hopes that the dragoon will abandon his quest for revenge.
On the last quest, it appears Estinien sent an urgent summon. Nidhogg supposedly awoke and it is on his way. The dragoon bids us to meet him at Steel Vigil at once.
Even though Alberic doesn't believe we are ready for this kind of fight, it is not like we have much choice so we'll just have to do with what we have learned.
When we arrive at the location the only one waiting for us there is Estinien. Apparently the Eye told a twisted version of Alberic's tale: that our mentor just gave up the power, watched the village die and fled. Now Estinien wants revenge against his former mentor.
Alberic still try to argue with Estinien but seeing like the latter won't listen anymore, we just end up fighting the dragoon.
Again, not a particularly hard fight. But just as Estinien is on his knees, a voice from within him starts to speak, offering him power. The dragoon begs Nidhogg for such power.
The sky darkens and a column of purple light falls upon Estinien. As we try to protect Alberic we are clad in a full set of dragoon armor and lance. Alberic is surprised but we just do the silent hero thing and use this power to defeat Estinien who then disappears.
Back at Camp Dragonhead, Alberic says that at those last moments we appeared like the Haldrath, as he is described in the holy scriptures. If it wasn't for the Job stone shining brightly then ever, Alberic would think himself crazy.
Also, it seems Nidhogg's aura subsided, meaning that other dragons won't be awakening for now. Whether is was because of what happened to us or something else, Alberic doesn't know.
Nor does he know what happened to Estinien but he does hope the dragoon is safe.
And with that this questline for the Dragoon ends. Like I said, before I didn't like this one much. Part of it is due to what I said about the trials. The other part is because I played through Heavensward storyline before I did completed this questline.
In Heavensward I know Estinien is a pretty good character. And even here I wouldn't say he was badly written. I guess it is just that with that ending, if I didn't do this quest before Heavensward my expectations would have to meet him again in the level 50 to 60 questline for a round 2.
Having played through Heavensward though, it makes me wonder how Estinien got involved in the events there. Maybe they explained it better then and I am just forgetting.
In any case, I already started the next questline for dragoon. The premise seems promising at least. 🙂