Meanwhile I admit that I am going by JRPG tropes here, which FFXIV, while subverting somewhat sometimes, DOES tend to have in spades, and the fact is we get sent after primals for less because they can cause destruction. One that can potentially fragment the world again and probably to the point of no return with the wrong summoning.
If we go by primals taking on aspects of the people who summon them at that moment-in the case way back when, despite hydaelyn not being out and out evil-which btw i don't think Zodiark is either, primals need aether to work, and in those days, they didn't have like, loads of crystals to dump on them. They didn't KNOW.
So I wouldn't put it past XIV for us to end up, after this arc, with No More Traditional Primals when we move onto a new arc, which who knows what that might deal with Meracydia? Old Sharlayan? Thavnair? Another PLANET? Could go anywhere. I'm not too bothered if they decide to go the no primals route, I admit, but I'm also indifferent to the trope. It's a JRPG trope, it exists, I'm neither particularly here nor there with it so long as the general story is good to me. I think in this case my lack of bias comes from me being fairly indifferent on most JRPG tropes.(That said the Age of Man trope isn't just in JRPGs, but it IS used in JRPGs.)
I generally also think Hydaelyn is more sympathetic than a lot of people seem to--it may be that she concealed being a primal from us, or it may be that she literally doesn't know. Primals are, after all, essentially a magical AI; she may have been programmed to genuinely believe the story we know. And we have no reason to believe anyone has summoned her more than the one time the anti-Zodiark rebels summoned her. Certainly the Ascians seem to behave like there is, and always has been, only one Hydaelyn, unlike (say) Titan or the like where there has been more than one instantiation of the same primal. I wouldn't necessarily mind an "Age of Man"-style thing, but I would want them to earn it. I believe they totally can and will, I just don't think we should assume it until we've got more concrete reason to. Edit: If anything, un-summoning the Hydaelyn we already have would be worse, if she's actually well-behaved, than keeping her as-is. Remember that Bahamut could not be totally defeated while the suspended-animation bodies of his Tempered remained in the fragments of Dalamud--but he also couldn't be re-summoned, either, because the primal Bahamut still existed. How much worse might "sunder my enemy" be if summoned by people with less moral fiber than the ones who summoned Hydaelyn originally?
As for Zenos...I'll be honest. I find him extremely boring. I don't see any of the Chekhov's gun type hints you see Azaael, and if I did I don't think I'd be particularly happy about it. Zenos feels incredibly flat as a character. He's a straw nihilist who's decided risking his life is the only way to make it worth living, and risking it via conflict (e.g. where everyone involved is forced to respond in kind) is the only way with enduring consequences. Compared to every other villain we have--even the Ascians, now, the previous ur-example of "they're just evil, nothing more"--he feels entirely one-note, irredeemable, and irreconcilable. His motives are so simple they feel adolescent, and I just can't see anything they can do to add new dimensions to him. Literally the only gambit I could see is pulling out something about his mom or childhood, to maybe give him the Azula treatment, but neither sounds particularly compelling.
Literally the only aspect to him that is novel or surprising is that he's willing to tear down ANYTHING that gets between him and fighting us "correctly." But unlike (to continue the Avatar analogy) Zuko, this "complexity" doesn't extend very far. The author has if anything gone out of their way to show how deeply broken, insane, and irredeemable Zenos is, as opposed to Zuko, who was shown to be morally complex, struggling, complicated. Everything about Zenos is single-minded, and this characteristic is so thorough to his personality as presented that I find it hard to see anything else ever being in or with him. Ironically, I had actually hoped they would exploit this in Shadowbringers--after all, the Sin Eaters are the ultimate foe, implacable, nigh-endless, and as we later learned, legit infectious if they can touch you. Why not release Zenos, who is practically Darkness Incarnate now, onto the First? He'd have a fight everyone would CHEER him fighting, after all, and his indefatigable single-mindedness would be an asset rather than a problem. But...no. He's just spinning his wheels, waiting for us to show up again so he can slap us around again because that's the only thing that gives his life any meaning and he violently resists anything and everything else.
I'm quite willing to be proven wrong though. That's kind of the best thing when it comes to people writing a story, isn't it?
See, he HAS a backstory, a canon one, a very good one, written out in a story collection, so I'm probably more biased here. I see nuance because *it's literally written down.* There's also bits on him written in the lorebook which straight up basically say he's had some sort of anhedonia, which went completely neglected. Between that and the things he was raised with and instilled, and the weird training situation he was put in, it's more a miracle he even came out of it. No, he's not the most complex villain(I'm also biased because he's one of my favorite villains and I don't really judge on complexity, I just go by individual character.)
When I got to the end of 4.0, I saw a broken man, who was so empty and depressed that the first time he felt something in his life-which happened to be through battle-he considered that person a friend, in his messed up mind, and then wanted to end it because he'd never feel it again and he wanted to die having felt something. He didn't know he'd come back; it was apparent he had no idea that the resonant would make him immortal. Nothing else could make him feel due to whatever is wrong with him, so he wants that feeling back. I can relate, and know people who can relate to wanting to get That One Best Feeling you had back(even if we aren't ahh battle thirsty blood knights), so it's done in game on a more fantastical scale. (Anything I guessed at him in 4.0, btw, was proven in the lorebooks and the backstory, so I ended up RIGHT, oddly enough.)
I do have an opinion about antagonists: maybe others disagree. I think a story benefits from, no, NEEDS, a wide variety of baddies.
If all of your baddies are Littlefingers, or Tywin Lannisters, or deep, super heavy characters, or broken characters, or whatnot, then your story I feel gets predictable. I think you need your tragic villains, your sympathetic villains, and sometimes, you just need a 'Godzilla', which is what I see Zenos has-the big, force of nature type baddie who smashes everything in their path. I feel stories do BETTER when you have a deep pool and variety of baddies to pick from. If every single one of your villains are like, the type who End Up Super Tragic, who are behind the scenes machinations types, then every villain that comes in, you start to expect it. When everyone's a Littlefinger, no one stands out as anything different. Sure, you can HAVE favorites, but I personally think a story does fine when you have simpler characters sometimes. I LIKE having a Godzilla. Nidhogg was a great Godzilla, I think, and now we have Zenos as a Godzilla. Nidhogg was literally 'Angry Revenge Dragon', who...well, we beat once(a bit over halfway through 3.0), and then he became the Big Bad for 3.2/3.3.
The game has only had a couple of Godzillas/Force-of-Nature so far in all of its time, so it's not like they overuse them, I feel. Now, I mean, everyone can have their preferred types, of course, but I still feel, even then, a story, especially one as long running as an MMO, could use a variety of baddies. I mean I love Emet-Selch, but if every single baddie ended up like an Emet-Selch, I feel that he'd lose his charm.
For example, the Turks; Rude is a bit less developed than Reno; Rude has some little bits and pieces, but he's generally just The Big Guy. You find out he has a crush on Tifa during a chat. But he doesn't have the extra development of, say, Reno, whose probably the most developed of the Turks next to Reeve, and Rude and Reeve are totally different types, and I think that gives the Turks more color. I like both characters for what they are.
(also I wish I got the Avatar references, but I haven't watched it. I keep hearing people talk about Azula as a bit of a base-breaker sometimes,like, it seems some people like her, some people are iffier, and I heard some bits and pieces about the Zuko thing, but I'm pretty unfamiliar with people besides names and a few cutscenes I've seen like the old dude singing which was pretty cool.)
And again, he's written by Ishikawa. The same person who brought us DRK, ALC, Azim Steppe, AND SHB, the most beloved stories. I think that she deserves the benefit of the doubt. I'm not asking people to trust blindly-that would be me asking people who olay WoW to trust the WoW devs will write a nuanced faction story. I don't blame people who don't buy that, but when you have a writer as skilled as Ishikawa I dunno I think I'm willing to trust her. Maybe he'll be a more developed Godzilla. I don't expect him to ever be like, a Tywin Lannister or anything, though. It's like expecting Nidhogg to become a Tywin.
That said I agree that they should have just let him loose on the First while we handled the Source, but again, they seem to be setting something up there with all of the crossover between us. All I know is this:
They actually have to, IMO, do right by that character, and it's important to do so. Why? They risk pissing off a lot of players if they don't.
He's got a VERY large and sizeable fanbase(the guy is a fan favorite to the point where the devs have joked about it; he's got fanart, fan comics out the ass, he's their primary crossover antagonist-granted, he makes for a great crossover for fighting and action games since that's totally his style), and so if they screw him up and don't give him what he's due? His fans will be upset.
Now, like you, there are people who find the 'Godzilla' types boring(Zenos, Nidhogg, etc), which means if they don't do well, these types will think the story gets wasted if they break out said Godzilla. (I personally don't think Force-of-Nature baddies mean 'boring', again, but I do understand the FoN types tend to be, yes, less 'deep' just by, well, their nature.)
Then there's the 'indifferent' crowd, who are, well, indifferent(some think he makes a good 'arc baddie' but not a good 'long term' baddie, or are just like 'He was fun, but time to move on' or whatnot, and those people might just be sad they 'wasted a perfectly good opportunity.'
I do think that regardless of how one feels the rest of ShB kinda banks on them doing a good job with this if they want to end it well; 5.0 is stellar, and people are hoping they can keep it up for the 5.X series. They plan this stuff long in advance; for example, when Stormblood was released, they immediately basically started writing Shadowbringers, and the 'broad strokes' have been already planned even before that.
On a note doing well by a character-what happened to Sylvanas. Her die-hard fans are mad because they're clearly flushing the character the rest of the way, some old fans ditched her because the writing was horrible, her non-fans are like 'she's horrible why is she here' and the indifferent people are 'wow you guys wasted a perfectly good opportunity.' No one's happy. I trust XIV will do well here because I've seen what the writers can do, and I hope I'm right.
(as a side note, btw, when it comes to 'different character types', and such, I do notice like-certain congregations end up feeling differently about the character. RPGnet and a couple other forums seem a bit lukewarm on him, while when I go to new MMO/RPG players, big long time JRPG fans who pick up MMOs, and people like the Fighting Game fanbase who actually had a lot of members who recently started getting into XIV for whatever reason, they all practically end up loving the guy, so there might be something about certain demographics finding certain characters more popular? which is certainly a thing, I think.)
EDIT: Not a spoiler thing, but I think I should explain why i feel passionate about this particular topic. It's less to do with This Character and more to do with the concept of 'simpler antagonists.'
I have been in situations, and seen friends in situations, where we were scorned and looked down at noses upon for liking such 'boring and simplistic' characters, as if we cannot wrap our heads around the more Complex and Deep baddies(or characters in general); sort of like getting scorned for not liking the Current Arty Film(I didn't get this but happened to some friends of mine who were in film school), or Not Getting the Complex Nuance of a prog band(which has also happened to me somewhat in my music years.)
Now this forum's cool with it; i never felt 'looked down on', but truth is it's happened enough that I think I get a knee-jerk reaction to it. I'm really fine with people who prefer their stuff with a lot more layers/nuance/background/etc, but I get just a bit defensive after one too many instances of being looked down on for daring to like something simple.
I don't particularly like him myself and admittedly was sad they were making him so prominent in other games as it makes it unlikely he'll ever truly fade into the background. But I'm fine with others liking him, yeah, for much the reason you state.
But nothing wrong with it. And yeah. I love Superman. The number of people who just go 'har har, he's boring and simplistic, not like REAL characters like Wolverine' are phenomenal.
I agree. I mean Niddy was also uncomplicated(and VERY driven, albeit for different reasons. Both of them, when you look into their pasts, you can see where they made the jumps to where they did, but it didn't make them complicated.) Niddy certainly needed all hands on deck(and he kinda kept causing some trouble even past his death, in a way...)
Yeah, I mean going down the line of various baddies, we've indeed had/have far more schemers than 'forces of nature', so if anything I find letting them throw in a more uncomplicated and straightforward baddie for the crew to face now and then a nice change of pace. That said, I do think Zenos' 'I don't care if I win or lose, its the journey to the end of the fight' aspect is fun. (This actually is touched on in the book.)
practically brought down the entire Garlean Empire, one of the major villains for the past literal near decade of the game even since the old days, something that his Ascian great-grandfather engineered from the ground up like he did Allag and gods knows what else, himself within the span of what is probably less than a year of in-game time because of his obsession with a challenge.
There was this great fanart when he was announced for Dissidia NT(that game's storyline is basically a case of the characters get dragged out of their worlds to keep conflict going in that world, because that world is literally fueled on neverending conflict):
He fits under Blood Knight as a trope(Blood Knights do come in different flavors at least even if they're generally fairly simple); for him it's more about the *challenge* than anything else. I mean he thinks nothing of human life, but if you point him in the direction of a village of nobodies and the WoL, he'll take the WoL every time.
FFXIV does use its pretty classic tropes when you break it down, but they occasionally put a little twist or two on them.
In other news, not really spoiler stuff. Some comments on classes.
I really am not fond of ShB DRK, though it's better than SB DRK.
AST just feels ... harder than WHM. WHM has a ton of insta-cast spells. AST has a lot fewer. Will see about SCH, working on getting all my tanks/healers to 71 so I can dungeon grind. (PLD and WHM are at 80. I honestly don't mind the card tweak, at least in general. They /needed/ a heavy nerf to the cards, they were just too strong, the current ones provide an okay boost, and I like aligning seals rather than 'Hey, yeah, all these other cards are useless except for Royal Road fodder'. Fishing for seals for Divination is okay.
I am really sad that they removed the self heal from WAR AoE. I know they get Nascent Flash later, but that's later.
I -absolutely adore- MCH now. It feels kind of like a ranged Enhance Shaman from WoW, circa Legion when you had tons of procs that made your rotation really fast. With how you can go into overheat and spam heat blast and ricochet/gauss, it's pretty great. And a Reassemble'd Drill will NEVER not be fun. If I had any issue, it's that aoe doesn't really build up energy at all. It should build up 3 or 5 energy at least.
Need to try BLM to see how its tweaks look, and SMN as well of course.
I actually find I'm enjoying Dark Knight a bit more than when it was all about using Dark Arts to enhance most or all of your attacks without running out of mana. I'm more comfortable with the rotation, I can tell what each part of the kit is useful for, and I'm confident I know what I'm doing most of the time. About the only thing I don't like about it is the monotony of the Delirum phase, spamming Bloodspiller or Quietus over and over again.
I'm gradually getting back into my DPS classes, Ninja and Red Mage, to do their Role Quests, and Red Mage is as comfortable as always, while I'm gradually getting back in the swing of Ninja. I'm not great yet at keeping track of Kassatsu or Ten-Chi-Jin windows, so I often leave them unused, but I'm getting there.
I'd also like to run all the Role Quests, so I've been starting to level my Scholar again. Given that it was at level 38 at the start of Shadowbringers, I've... got a ways to go. Nevertheless, I hit 45 today, mostly through Palace of the Dead, and I've dared to try to heal a couple of leveling dungeons. It... didn't go perfectly, but I managed. I still find healing stresses me out a lot, especially since I haven't got the hang of managing mana yet. Still, the tank only died once in my Qarn run, and I managed to get a Swiftcast-Resurrect off pretty quickly. (Though there was another pull when everyone was very low and the tank was in double digits... I somehow managed to recover from that, but I still have no idea how.)
What I've really been obsessing over, though, is crafting and gathering. I spent hours upon hours today mining, harvesting, turning in collectibles, taking a chunk out of my guildleve allowance, doing Crystalline Mean quests and Grand Company turn-ins... I must have spent about two million gil on supplies at this point, though I've still got plenty to spare. Everything's up to level 74 or 75 now. My big trouble is finding enough bag space for all the materials...
I've been considering trying out the Extreme trials at some point, but I'm not confident about it. I've never yet run an Extreme mode without being overleveled and unsynced. I've studied the strategy videos for Titania, but I'm not certain I could remember everything in the heat of the moment. And while I'm a decent tank, I don't think I'm a great one. Is it worth trying them if I don't have a good static group to work with, or should I just wait for Eden next week? (On an incidental note, I may have accidentally been spoiled on datamined names for the Eden bosses -- I'm sort of hoping they're fake, but they do sound interesting, so I'm just waiting to see.)