The Returner: Rediscovering Final Fantasy XIV’s true endgame

The Returner: Rediscovering Final Fantasy XIV

As everyone who has played Final Fantasy XIV knows, glamour is, of course, the true endgame. Even if you’re not at the actual endgame.

For the unfamiliar, “glamour” in Final Fantasy XIV refers to the fine art of taking something and making it look like something else.

Final Fantasy XIV
Hanging out in my Ul’Dah inn room, ready to get dollied up. That level 70 Samurai gear was getting a bit sweaty.

In the Final Fantasy XIV game world, we often see characters and foes making use of glamour magicks to make themselves appear more intimidating — late in A Realm Reborn’s 2.0 storyline, for example, an impostor Ishgardian Inquisitor glamours himself into the form of a Dravanian dragon in a last-ditch attempt to save his own life from being cut down by the Warrior of Light. But the most common use of glamour by far is purely for the sake of fashion.

The glamour system was originally implemented in patch 2.2 of A Realm Reborn after frequent requests from the player base. The game already contained a large number of gear items that were more “costume” than actually useful equipment, after all — seasonal events have handed them out like candy ever since Final Fantasy XIV’s launch — so people thought it might be nice to be able to make use of these pieces of gear in situations other than social gatherings.

Originally, the glamour system had a number of steps to it. First, you’d need to be level 50; fashion is only for the elite, after all. Next, you’d need a Clear Prism. Then, you’d need to either craft it into a Glamour Prism of the appropriate grade and type for the piece of equipment you were hoping to glamour. Then you’d need to cast the glamour on the piece of equipment, which would semi-permanently alter that gear’s appearance to that of the gear you glamoured onto it. You could remove the new look with a Glamour Dispeller item, but otherwise the item kept its new appearance.

Final Fantasy XIV
Having not fiddled around with the new glamour system, I thought I’d stock up on Prisms.

This was all very well and good for quite some time. It gave low-level crafters something to do — and a means of making money by selling completed Glamour Prisms on the game’s Market Board — plus it meant, just like everything else in the game, you had to make a bit of an effort to achieve something rather than just having it handed to you.

From patch 4.1 onward, however — the first content update after the launch of second Final Fantasy XIV expansion Stormblood — the game completely revamped the glamour system. Gone were the graded Glamour Prisms that corresponded to different types of crafters, replaced with generic Glamour Prisms. They still needed to be crafted from Clear Prisms, but you no longer had to faff about figuring out what type of Glamour Prism was the “right” one for the piece of gear you wanted to glamour — and inevitably getting it wrong some of the time.

The level restriction for the glamour system was also dropped to 15. This is around the point in A Realm Reborn’s narrative where things get going and people are starting to get attached to their character, so it’s a sensible point to allow them to take a bit more control over their own appearance.

Final Fantasy XIV
You better believe that dresser ain’t staying empty for long.

Perhaps most significantly, the means of casting glamours was changed. Now, Glamour Prisms are not used to cast a glamour directly onto a piece of gear, but instead to turn a piece of gear into a glamour that can be stored in a Glamour Dresser. You can’t equip the gear as a regular piece of gear while it’s in the Glamour Dresser, but you can use it to change the appearance of what you are wearing. You can also remove the gear from the Dresser if you decide you want to actually use it as gear from some reason, so none of this is permanent.

The Glamour Dresser approach is eminently sensible, because it frees up space in players’ inventories and Armoury Chests — the latter of which being the equipment-specific inventory each player has. Prior to this change, it wasn’t at all uncommon for players’ Armoury Chests in particular to be perpetually bursting at the seams with items “just in case” they wanted to use them for glamouring purposes. Now, you can simply tuck ’em away and change outfits as you see fit. Much nicer.

The other new thing you can do with the Glamour Dresser is create a “Glamour Plate”. Using this, you can put together a complete ensemble and immediately switch to it without having to glamour all the individual elements. Again, very sensible — and a nice complement to the existing “Gear Set” system that has been in the game since launch.

Final Fantasy XIV
Guess I’ll dye

On top of all this, there’s an incentive to engage with the glamour system if you haven’t explored it before: the weekly Fashion Report challenge in Final Fantasy XIV’s Gold Saucer theme park challenges players to assemble outfits on particular themes, with Gold Saucer currency on offer simply for participating — and more for attaining good scores.

And, of course, creative types are free to play around with the delightful /gpose “group pose” system that has gradually evolved over time. This is essentially Final Fantasy XIV’s photo mode, and allows you and your friends to trigger and freeze animations, adjust effects, apply frames and stickers to your images and generally have a good time expressing yourselves with your characters.

Since your character is an extension of yourself in an MMORPG — and this only becomes more and more true as you spend more time with the game — it makes sense for features like this to be incorporated into games like Final Fantasy XIV. And it’s even more fitting that just as much care and attention is paid to this aspect of the experience as the main narrative and battle content.

Final Fantasy XIV
Have you seen this Warrior of Light? Last seen giggling like an idiot in Ul’Dah. REWARD OFFERED!

It’s just one of many pieces of evidence that Naoki Yoshida and his team care deeply about the players of Final Fantasy XIV, and want them to be able to have a good time in this virtual world — whether they’re in combat or just hanging out having fun.

Me? Having finally cleared A Realm Reborn’s 2.0 story in my New Game+ run the other night, now I’m ready to face my next adventures in an all-new outfit. You better watch out, Primals, ’cause a rather snappily dressed Amarysse is coming for ya!

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