Today I wanted to talk a little about a slightly controversial questline in the game that is a real "love it or hate it" affair. For me, while it's a total grind, I love it, because it provides clear long-term goals to accomplish as well as pulling off something that very few RPGs have been able to do properly: the "building your own lightsaber (or equivalent)" quest.
In Final Fantasy XIV, this questline is split into several main parts: an initial quest called A Relic Reborn, which you take on after you've finished the main story from the game's original version 2.0 release, and a subsequent chain of quests called the Zodiac Weapons Saga.
A Relic Reborn is the initial "build your own lightsaber" phase, and you can complete it with each of the classes available in the game. It involves seeking out a master smith who has, since the Calamity, retreated to the countryside and now tends to spend his days at the bottom of a bottle. Upon you showing up and seeking information on one of several legendary weapons, though, he somewhat gets his muse back, though he'd never admit it.
You're sent off on a number of errands -- initially to actually find the damaged legendary weapon, which has inevitably been stolen by a band of beastmen and secured deep within their lair, and subsequently to help restore it to its former glory. In order to do this, you'll have to find a "host weapon", infuse it with materia and then collect some suitable materials to help Gerolt the smith put the weapon back together. Unfortunately, said materials can only be found by taking on some of the strongest beasties in the realm -- the Dhorme Chimera of Coerthas, the Hydra that has taken up residence in the former gladiatorial training pit of Halatali, plus the reincarnations of Ifrit, Garuda and Titan, the Primals you felled during the course of the story who simply refuse to stay dead.
Once you assemble your Relic, you have a weapon that will carry you through the early stages of endgame play without too much difficulty. But it doesn't stop there; by infusing the relic weapon with an elixir known as Thavnairian Mist -- which doesn't come cheap, so you'll have to bring ruthless collector Rowena valuable Allagan Tomestones of Mythology in great numbers to purchase it -- you can turn it into its "Zenith" incarnation, which gives it a fetching glow and makes it more powerful.
Once you've done this, you're approached by someone who has been watching your efforts to restore the Relic, who tells you the story of the Zodiac Braves and their legendary weapons. It seems that if you're willing to put in the effort, you could recreate these weapons -- but it won't be an easy process. Firstly, you'll have to gather twelve Atma crystals from around the realm -- and they're exceedingly rare. Next, you'll have to follow the "trials of the Braves" by working your way through a nine-book series of challenges to allow your weapon to drink deep of your enemies' power. Finally (for now) you'll have to infuse a Sphere Scroll with materia of sufficient power to upgrade your weapon into its (presently) ultimate form -- the Novus.
It's an extremely time-consuming process involving an, at times, frustrating amount of both grinding and relying on the random number generator. But by God is it satisfying when you eventually come to the end of one of the stages and you're rewarded with a significant upgrade. You really feel like you've been working on the weapon, shaping and refining it into something that feels natural in your hand; a true extension of yourself. This is the essence of "building your own lightsaber" -- it's not a quick and easy process; it takes blood, toil and tears. It's frustrating and, at times, painful -- but when you come out of the other end of the process, you have something substantial to show for it, and this is something that very few games -- certainly not any Star Wars games I can remember -- have successfully managed to capture.
(Fortunately for those who do not wish to endure the grinding process required to build your weapon into its ultimate form, there are other means of acquiring similarly-levelled weapons, though any of these paths involve a significant amount of challenge, time or both.)