It's not every day that a game from a giant franchise is released, criticized, ignores the criticism, decides to walk into the flames, and finally decides to embrace destruction only to be reborn as a Phoenix.
That's what happened with Final Fantasy XIV, or at least, its first version. If you want to know more about this story of overcoming that would make Rocky Balboa's motivational speech proud, we have an amazing article right here.
Although this version gave Square Enix a lot of headaches, they decided to keep the plot of the original game as official, only adapting things here and there in the re-release, in order to avoid too many loose ends, such as one pretty convenient widespread amnesia that made almost everyone forget who you were. It is understandable though, considering that they would have to create two dialogs for each character present in both versions if you were a legacy (who played version 1.0) or non-legacy player.
However, in case some nostalgic or completionist players (like me!) would like to try the 1.0 version to know its story, so far, this is impossible. Therefore, to satisfy your curiosity and to introduce you to the beginning of the Warrior of Light's journey, I wrote this article telling you about the plot before the world was almost destroyed by the most awesome dragon king in games, Bahamut.
Final Fantasy XIV Protagonist
Every story has a protagonist, and it is interesting to go a little deeper into them to put it into context. You play an adventurer seeking fame and glory as most around the continent of Eorzea and as you progress on your journey, your story becomes intertwined with the world.
In the game trailers, your character is depicted by a male Midlander Hyur, but you could choose from five different races. They are a silent protagonist who apparently has no outstanding abilities or remarkable skills. Eventually, you discover otherwise. You have a special ability called the Echo which allows you to take a peek into the happenings of the past. It also protects you from the primal's tempering, a type of mind control, making you a powerful ally against those entities and a reason to always give you the frightening roles.
Final Fantasy XIV Story
In character creation, at some point, you would need to choose between one of three initial city-states. Each city had its own storyline and a recurring character that would accompany you at various points in the plot. Eventually, your fate converged at the same point regardless of where you started.
Limsa Lominsa Storyline
If you started at Limsa Lominsa, the independent marine city, you will wake up on a ship hearing a soft singing voice the words "hear… feel… think". As you explore the ship and go out to the deck, you watch a meteor shower, but a jolt releases you from this reverie and you realize that the boat is holding on in a storm and the shower didn't exactly happen. A Miqo'te appears to help you. She is Y'shtola, one of the recurring characters who will help you in the marine-city storyline. Sea beasts start attacking the ship and you help the sailors. After defeating them, you reach Limsa Lominsa, and the city-state storyline begins to unfold.
During your journey through the seas, you will face the Sahagins' beast tribe, engage against female pirates, watch your boat be swallowed by a Leviathan's lookalike serpent, and wake up to find yourself alone a dozen times.
When you are adventuring to capture a trio looking for the treasures of Seal Rock, you see a vision of the past through Y'shtola perception and when it ends, a meteor shower erupts from the skies, this one being actually physical. You lose consciousness and awakes in Limsa Lominsa with a message telling you to visit the Path of the Twelve, in Ul'dah, and from then on, the Limsa Lominsa storyline ends and the main begins.
If you chose Ul'dah, the city-state located in the deserts of Thanalan and the wealthiest of them all, you will wake up by the same singing voice. This time you are on a carriage on the way to the city. After exiting the carrier, you notice the sky darkening and the imaginary meteor shower begins, but this time, you are awakened more gently than before.
There is a small parade happening in the city and during it, a monster gets berserker and starts attacking people. It's up to you with the help of Thancred - another recurring character - and Niellefresne, to stop its assault. Later on, Thancred believes the monster attack was caused by imperial interference and during your journey in Ul'dah, you help several guilds always look over your shoulders for the supposedly imperial threat. In one quest, you find a mortally wounded Niellefresne and your Echo activates when close to him, showing the events that lead to his death.
When you return to the present and rush outside, the sky is black and a meteor shower is occurring. After it ends, you pass out. Waking up in Ul'dah's Adventurer's Guild, you learn that a girl named Minfilia took care of you while you drool napping and requested your visit at The Waking Sands, thus ending the Ul'dah storyline.
And then there was, Gridania, a city surrounded and protected by the forest. If you chose it, upon reaching the city-state you start hearing that same ol' voice and suddenly the sky turns black and the meteor shower occurs - and as you guessed, not a real one. Seconds after, everything turns back to normal and you notice one black-smoking debris falling from the sky. At the point of the crash, a small light reveals Yda and Papalymo, the Gridania's recurrent characters. A wolf battle starts and the same combat tutorial occurs.
Into the town, you learn about the Greenwrath, some kind of anger issues the forest has against outsiders. Now, your quest is to bathe in a cleansing ritual if you don't want to wake up with a spiteful root across your belly.
After some adventures and errands like fetching items for lazy villagers and slaying monsters for no apparent reason other than the joy of slaughtering, the common denominator between all the intros surges. Yda and Papalymo start asking whether Gridania is preparing for a war against the Garlean Empire.
Eventually, you return to the purification questline to help Fye's oldest brother Dunstan and his tragic fate of becoming a wildling (a person enthralled by the Woods. Looks like he ignored the cleansing part). To prevent yet another boy from becoming a wildling, the Conjurer'’s guild master orders a grand rite of purification. When the rite begins, a group of Moogle appears to talk to you. During the rite, your Echo activates and past events are shown to Yda and Papaylmo as if they were in an IMAX session. Soon after, the actual physical meteor shower occurs and you collapse, only to wake with a wood hermit telling you to visit the Path of the Twelve, and the Gridania storyline ends.
Path of the Twelve Storyline
Respecting the message given to you in your respective city, you arrive at Waking Sands, the meeting point of Path of the Twelve. You meet Minfilia, their leader and she asks you to use the Echo. She claims that everyone who saw the star shower was gifted with this power and that the Waking Sands is a haven for those people. Minfilia also tells you that The Path of the Twelve's goal is to bring peace to Eorzea.
She offers you the chance to join, which you grab with both hands since you were paying monthly to play this game and deserve to be the Eorzea's peace bringer. After joining them, you learn a bit more about the Echo and must choose a Path Companion, an NPC who will accompany you in cutscenes as you venture through Eorzea.
Fast-forwarding a bit after grinding some levels, you help beast tribes and discover that much of the realm's crystals were obtained by trading with them. But since then, beings known as Primals started to appear and the beast tribes refused to sell any more crystals because they are an essential material to summon a Primal. After talking to the tribes - with words or with swords - you convince them to stop the summoning because if they continue, it will cause the death of several. Before they can finish their negotiations, a strange creature known as the Ascian appears and frightens the beastmen, but soon after the conversation resumes.
After a lot of talking and negotiating, you return to the Waking Sands to learn about an imperial message sent to every city-state. According to the Empire, the beast tribes are enemies of Eorzea and want to summon their eikons (primals) and demand everyone to accept Imperial Rule to face the beastmen. Furthermore, anyone who interacts with the beast tribes will be branded as heathens - and to add to your criminal curriculum, anyone who was the Echo will also be treated as heathen. So now you are a twofold-heathen. Hoo boy. Since you are naturally the empire enemy, you decide to help Minfilia in her endeavor to bring the beast tribes to your side.
Venturing to the Amal'jaa stronghold, you are surprised that the beast tribe doesn't share the same affection for you, and you are captured and imprisoned. The Amal'jaa take the other prisoners to participate in a ritual, where they undergo some sort of mind control, and the Primal Ifrit is summoned. Many battles later, Ifrit tells you that you and everyone else with the power of Echo also have the ability to summon a Primal, and promises to let you go as long as you never use this power and are loyal only to him. You lie, after all, you don't want to look like a well-done steak, and you flee the fortress.
Many random sidequests later, you meet up with a member of the Ala Mhigan Resistance. Ala Mhigo is a city-state that has been captured by the Garlean Empire, and many of its former residents have created a resistance to try to free it from imperial hands. At this point, your adventure is occupied with constant confrontations against the empire. On a mission to help the resistance, all of its members are killed by the Imperial Legatus Gaius van Baelsar, who also injures your Path Companion and is about to kill you. But before he can, all the recurrent characters show up to save you.
The Echo activates and you see the past where children are being brainwashed by Imperial Soldiers, who utter strange verses about eliminating the Beast Tribes and Primals of Eorzea. You faint and after waking up, talk to the recurrent character of your respective starting city who claims that your strength is not enough to face the empire and that you need to find something much greater if you want to have any chance of ridding Eorzea of the imperial threat.
Coming of The Seventh Umbral Era
A greater threat is eventually brought to the nations' attention by the scholar Louisoix Leveilleur: another Garlean legate named Nael Van Darnus is attempting to use arcane magic and technology to summon Dalamud, one of Hydaelyn's natural satellites, to collide with Eorzea and wipe out the Beastmen and Primals. Meanwhile, a prophet by the name of Urianger is spreading the word about the coming of the Seventh Umbral Era.
There is a belief among Eorzeans that the world is constantly changing. Periods of abundance and periods of scarcity alternate, bringing prosperity or calamity. When the age brings abundance it is known as Astral, and when it brings scarcity, Umbral. In other words, the prophet indicates that this will be the seventh time that the world will change, and it won't be a change Eorzeans will be looking forward to.
Back to the empire problem at hand. You, with the help of the defecting garlean Cid nan Garlond, discovers that Nael has established a beacon in the fortress of Castrum Novum to summon Dalamud. Each nation makes individual attempts to storm the castle, but all fail. Thus their leaders form a pact and unite their countries under the banner of the Eorzean Alliance.
Now united, the nations and the Adventurer manage to enter Castrum Novum and destroy the lighthouse. Nael, insanely committed to her plan, becomes a new beacon. Now is the time when things get interesting. If you read the article about how FFXIV got back on track, know that the transition between the former and new Final Fantasy XIV count as official lore, and it occurs at this very moment. The battle with Nael is the last battle of the original game. Although the Legatus is defeated in the ensuing battle, Dalamud had already descended too far to return to its original orbit. In-game, players could see an ominous flaming giant sphere in the sky and Square announced that the servers would shut down on November 11. A timer started to appear in the chat and when it ended, a cutscene started, depicted by the following events.
Louisoix proposed one last plan: summon the Twelve, the deities of Eorzea, and push the satellite away. Each of the most prominent characters prays at the altars dedicated to the gods across the continent and then leads the armies of the Eorzean Alliance to confront the legions of Nael on the Plains of Carteneau, the predicted location of Dalamud's impact.
The satellite disintegrates in the middle of the battle and it is revealed that it was a prison for the elder primal Bahamut. He begins to destroy Eorzea, enraged by the imprisonment. The attempt to summon the Twelve fails and Louisoix uses the rest of his powers to send you and your party into a temporal rupture so that you can return when Eorzea recovers. You can see in the video below the cutscene that ran when the servers closed and in the sequence, you arriving in Eorzea 5 years after the event that would be known as Cataclysm and a new story begins in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, consequently concluding the Version 1.0 story.
What Happened to Bahamut?
Although Bahamut’s storyline is not tangled in the main story, you can confront him in an 8-player raid in A Realm Reborn to uncover what occurred. Considering that the moment you left, he was razing the entire continent and 5 years later, birds are chirping and bards are singing as if hell hasn’t broken over in the meantime, something must have happened. At the end of the raids, you meet Louisoix, who has been transformed into Phoenix, and you watch a cutscene that shows what happened right after you were teleported. Louisoix sacrificed himself to defeat Bahamut, razing the entire planet. However, even though he was astonishingly injured, Bahamut survived and stayed in the Coil to recover, until you arrive with your seven friends to kill him in one go in exchange for draconic loots or to farm achievements. Life isn't fair to the dragon king, eh.