Final Fantasy XIV's new Bahamut mount is cool, but there's a giant cat-shaped hole in my heart
With one exception, I've been generally pleased with the slate of Extreme Trials that Final Fantasy XIV: Endwalker has brought to the table; and part of that was seeing how cool the Lynx motif was this time around. Previous expansions have consistently had a theme which each set of Extreme Trial mounts would abide by; A Realm Reborn had players collecting horses, and the reward for gathering all of them was the Golden Kirin. Heavensward had players gathering birds, and the reward was a Phoenix. Stormblood had players gathering wolves, and the reward was a Nine-tailed Fox. Finally, Shadowbringers had players gathering Wyverns and the reward was a mechanical Dragon.
While the ultimate reward was never an exact match for what the base Extreme Trial mounts were, its always been easy to make the connection between what players may have been gathering for the last year and a half to what the reward would be; so up until earlier this year most, if not all, players expected some sort of giant cat for Endwalker's reward for gathering all of the Extreme Trial Lynx mounts. Maybe we'd get something like Couerlregina as a mount; or hopefully something new to fit the theme! While other players were disappointed with patch 6.4's Savage Raid mount, I loved that it was both something different from other mounts available in the game, while still staying thematically appropriate for the content you received it from. So, I was personally looking forward to something along the same lines with the culmination of Endwalker's Trial mounts.
Well, that has not been the case, with players instead receiving the "Aprocyphal Bahamut" mount referencing Bahamut from Final Fantasy IV. As cool as I think the reference is, I think I can speak for many players when I say that I'm more than a little confused - and perhaps a bit disappointed. While it's true that Endwalker's patch quests have been essentially one giant Final Fantasy IV reference, and indeed 4 of the expansion's Trials have been lifted directly from the SNES classic, that still means 3 of the expansion's Trials have had nothing to do with Final Fantasy IV; and indeed this still singles out Endwalker's Trial reward as the odd one out as far as Final Fantasy XIV is concerned.
Plenty of players are happy with the new mount, of course, and I wouldn't dare say that it shouldn't be in the game; but I do wonder if perhaps it wasn't misplaced. What if it was a reward elsewhere in the expansion; as a reward for engaging with PvP, or the new Deep Dungeon, or even Island Sanctuary. While I don't necessarily condone the idea, why couldn't it have been released as part of a celebration for this year's Fanfest? Another Final Fantasy IV reference, the Lunar Whale, was also tied to a Fanfest in the past, after all. Though that, of course, means that the mount that we got for this year's festivities would've likely had to have been placed elsewhere, too.
There's also the possibility that whatever pattern players have observed was never a deliberate intention by the Creative Business Unit 3, of course. Just because mounts in the past have matched up, doesn't mean that the decisions were inherently tied to that goal; it's also eqaully likely that Aprocyphal Bahamut was always the intent, and there was simply no good way to tie the Extreme Trial mounts into it, and they went with something else entirely as a result. It's simply impossible to say without asking the developers themselves what the thought process was when delegating the mount that would be the reward.
Whatever the reason; I still wish we could've gotten a giant cat instead, even if at the same time I'm happy for players that are excited to unlock Apocryphal Bahamut for themselves. It's not a bad mount, but after so much build-up it's hard not to feel that pang of disappointment that it didn't live up to those expectations; misattributed or not. On the bright side, at least I won't have to grind out the rest of the totems from EX3 anymore; so maybe it was for the best after all.