Final Fantasy XIV: Dawntrail Review – Adventures Across the Ocean

It is finally upon us. The latest expansion to Final Fantasy XIV Online, Dawntrail, is now finally upon us, and not a moment too soon. With our sights set on the grand continent of Tural, what awaits us, the Warrior of Light, in this brand-new adventure? I can still seldomly believe that I’m now here, reviewing an expansion myself, but let’s get to it!

The Culture-Rich Tural Beckons You

Dawntrail’s story begins with the Warrior of Light sailing to the nation of Tural, where its ruler, Gulool Ja Ja, announces a contest to determine who will ascend him and rule the land as the Dawnservant.

Together with Alphinaud, Alisaie, Krile, and Erenville, you tag along with Wuk Lamat, who’s vying for the throne alongside two of her brothers: Koana, a scholar who is enamored with the technologies of Old Sharlyan, and Zarool Ja, a taciturn warrior who believes that combat prowess is what will reign supreme.

You also have Bakool Ja Ja, a two-headed Mamool who calls himself the “blessed sibiling”. Each and every one of them has their own little agenda regarding their plans for ruling Tural, some being more unsavory than others.

The competition is simple: the nation has a legend that talks about a city of gold where everyone lives in pure bliss. However, as the years went by, its existence was reduced to being pretty much regarded as a silly fairy tale. By retracing the steps of Gulool Ja Ja from before he became Tural’s Dawnservant, the claimants must obtain the seven keystones, and then use those said keystones to find the city of legend.

The main city, Tuliyollal, is considered a true hub where all sorts of cultures mingle together, so you’ll meet a lot, and I mean, a LOT of new clans and cultures during your journey with Wuk Lamat. You have the Pelupelu, a clan of merchants that will always focus on making the most profit they can, the bird-like Hanu people and their love for harvest, the giants of Yok Huy, and even the Mamools in the deeper parts of the forest.

A Supporting Role in the Story

If I were to compare it, Dawntrail’s story as a whole reminds me of the Stormblood expansion, in the sense that, the Warrior of Light isn’t the main star of the show, and plays more of a… supporting role, with Wuk Lamat and her brothers being the main stars instead. Furthermore, we also get to dive deep into the ambitions of each of the participants of the contest, their reasons, and even get a glimpse on the journey of what made Tural what it is today.

I liked how Koana’s character developed.

And good grief, once again, I’m just constantly reminded on how good Naoki Yoshida’s writing team is. The plot twists, the narrative as it progresses, and the way everything is presented…are all simply amazing, to the point I’d even watch what I say sometimes, as I would love for anyone to experience the story themselves completely in the dark, like I did.

That doesn’t mean it’s totally perfect. There are a couple times that I feel the story drags out a bit, but at this point, I feel all Final Fantasy XIV Online expansions have “that one part” that many aren’t fans of playing. When it comes to Dawntrail, I feel it’s somewhere in the middle between the first half and second half of the story, or to put it simply, the transition in-between those acts.

The Two New Classes: Viper and Pictomancer

In Dawntrail, two new classes were added: the Melee DPS Viper and the Magic DPS Pictomancer. One of the key aspects of both jobs is something that the developers have done in regards to how their skills operate.

This requires a bit of pre-ramble, so bear with me. Final Fantasy XIV’s Jobs have a specific sequence of skill combos. These are vital in order for you to deal the maximum amount of damage possible, which is especially crucial when it comes to DPS classes.

Final Fantasy XIV Pictomancer
Don’t underestimate that paintbrush!

However, when it comes to Viper and Pictomancer, the developers have done their best to reduce what is known in the community as “hotbar bloat”. Instead of their combos requiring three buttons to be assigned to your cross-hotbar, their skills have what are called Action Changes, where the skill will automatically change itself to the next one to continue your combo, saving precious spots from your hotbar.

And these classes hit hard on the damage department, outclassing even my personal main, Samurai, in some aspects. As of the time of writing, the Pictomancer class has quickly rose up the ranks, with the more hardcore players crunching the numbers and finding that when it comes to Pictomancer, that brush is NOT there just for show. Trust me.

Then we have Viper, which is just extremely fun. Normally, Melee DPSes are a tad hard to grasp, but when I first grabbed Viper, it was smooth. The rotation is very straightforward to pick up, and like Pictomancer, its damage output is also really high.

That said, it isn’t like the other classes did not get some love either. All of the classes have received significant reworks that made them stronger, and in fact, Astrologian, a class that was introduced in Heavensward, basically received a ground-up change to its systems.

It would take me way too long to list them all, but some of my favorite changes include a reduced cooldown for the Swiftcast skill from 60 to 40 seconds, allowing for a quicker uptime for caster classes, and the increased mitigation on Tank skills. It also pleases me that Summoner, even with the addition of a brand-new summon, has barely had its rotation changed, which helps when you’re trying to get used to all those new changes.

The Grand Graphics Update

With the release of this brand-new expansion, Final Fantasy XIV Online has received its very first major graphics update in a very long time, which greatly overhauls the lighting effects, as well as the character and location textures. This update is massive, because gone are the times where the game needed to be compressed in order to run on the PlayStation 3. Every single one of the locations in Tural look downright beautiful, and the cutscenes look stunning.

The lightning on these new scenes is breathtaking.

And the great news is, the graphics update applies to every single area in the game, including the ones from previous expansions, meaning that anyone who experiences Final Fantasy XIV will be able to experience it with those updated graphics. I even took this opportunity to even replay a couple of cutscenes from my favorite expansion, Shadowbringers, and well, the new graphics update made those scenes even more beautiful.

Special Shout-Out to the Server Engineers!

I would honestly be doing a disservice to the team of server engineers if I didn’t mention one key factor in this expansion, and that is the painstakingly elaborate work that they’ve done to Dawntrail’s release. In case you’re unaware, back when Endwalker first came out, from the semiconductor shortage to the pandemic, a lot of unsavory world events forced everyone to stay at home.

And when the expansion was finally out, it made the servers absolutely explode, with many players having to wait 3 whole hours just to get in the game, and even caused sales to be SUSPENDED temporarily. Yeah, it was…rough.

But! This time around on Dawntrail, it felt like the team was much more prepared than ever to handle the ever-growing amount of players, from dividing the areas with multiple identical instances, to even estabilishing probationary Worlds, that is, Worlds you can travel to, but not create any characters in just yet.

Naturally, during peak times, which is usually during the late parts of the afternoon to evening, you can certainly expect the World queue to be above 700 to 900 player, and maybe face a disconnect or two, but from my experience in the Primal data center, I have barely encountered queues that were gigantic, and even the most I’ve had to wait was barely 10 to 15 minutes.

I had braced myself for the worst, and…the queues were surprisingly fast. Kudos!

There’s Still Lots of Content To Come!

Besides the main scenario quest, which spawns over a total of 100 quests, Dawntrail has several other types of content to enjoy. For starters, at level 92, you will be able to begin the role quests of your respective class, where you must help the tribes reclaim their lost treasures, and if you’re a crafter or gatherer, there’s the Wachumeqimeqi Deliveries, where you craft or collect specific items to aid the Pelupelu tribe.

There’s also a brand-new raid series that will be added in the near future, called the Arcadion. For the purposes of this review, I will be only be focusing on rating the 7.0 content, but I am very excited for what we will be seeing in the post 7.x patches that will be coming in the next couple months.

This is a small tangent, but I have such a soft spot for crafting that I’ll be honest, every time a new merchant NPC offered me new items, I almost instictively clicked on the “Check Recipes that use this Material” button a lot of times…more than what the average player would, to be honest. And let’s just say the newly added recipes are…very interesting. So much so that I’ll definitely have some guides in the coming months about this content, so stay tuned for that.

Let’s not talk about how that tower looks like a GPU, okay?

A Golden Sheen of an Expansion

Words simply cannot describe just how great of an experience Dawntrail was for me, and I am stoked to have had the opportunity to witness a brand-new era to Final Fantasy XIV Online, and even now, I still have a plethora of content to enjoy, that I feel this might be when I reach the 2000-hour mark since I started months prior.

If you have even the slightest interest in Dawntrail, then I urge that you give it a try. And even if you’re not caught up with the story, there’s still something to enjoy with Version 7.0, with the beautifully crafted graphics update, to the many quality of life improvements done to the overall gameplay experience.


  • Beautiful graphics update sets a new standard
  • An engaging story that just makes you beg for more
  • Numerous quality of life improvements


  • Story can be a bit of a drag sometimes

Final Fantasy XIV Online: Dawntrail

A Golden Masterpiece

An expansion that is nearly flawless, but falls short in some parts of the story. A must-play to any fans, and it sets a new era in Final Fantasy XIV.

Angelus Victor
PC and PS5 versions purchased by reviewer for reviewing purposes.