There's nothing better than sitting down and enjoying a long game—interesting characters, a complicated storyline, and more fantastic sights and monsters than you can shake a blitzball at. Final Fantasy X follows Tidus (pronounced Tee-dus) pulled seemingly out of time to go on an epic adventure with Yuna, Wakka, Lulu, and more. Over this journey, Tidus learns about the customs and people of this world and even about his own truth. When the curtain falls at the end of the game, the world has been saved, lost lives mourned for, though what is there left to do? A highly understated aspect of a lot of games is when done with the main story, what else can I do?
There are a few main goals that you can achieve in the endgame for Final Fantasy X, and I guess it's also somewhat incorrect to call it an endgame when you can be steadily working your way through a lot of these objectives as you play through the plot. The majority of the endgame really opens up once you get to the final area of the game and you have access to the airship, Fahrenheit. The big end goals that you're going to be working towards as you play the game is collecting all of the Celestial Weapons, collecting all of the optional Aeons, beating all of the super bosses, and maxing out your characters. None of these are just "Complete objective X though." The team behind Final Fantasy X has managed to combine all of their endgame activities into building blocks where exploration and completing side quests reward players with pieces of the puzzle towards completing these big objectives.
Those of you who haven't played Final Fantasy X, or just were ready to be done with the game by the final hit on the last boss might not even know the intricacy of the endgame. One of the objectives I talked about earlier was the Celestial Weapons. Each character's ultimate weapons come with the benefits of earning more experience and breaking the 9,999 damage limit cap, among other things. But what exactly does it take to get one of these Celestial Weapons? For this example, let's talk about how you might be able to get a component for Lulu's Celestial Weapon, the Onion Knight.
Before even thinking about collecting the Celestial Weapons, you need to have the Key Item the Celestial Mirror. The Celestial Mirror is located in the Remien Temple that you can gain access to after completing the Chocobo Training quest. Once at the Remien Temple, you can race against a Chocobo, and your prize for reaching the bottom of this race is the Celestial Mirror. What's amazing for Final Fantasy X is that this location, as well as many others that are included in the endgame activities, aren't ever visited during the main story, further proving the commitment to the post-story content available to players. Once you have the Celestial Mirror, you can then begin to build further. Each Celestial Weapon is powered by two components: a Crest and a Sigil. For the Onion Knight weapon, the Venus Crest is acquired by revisiting a previous location and opening a chest, but it's the Sigil that requires work. To obtain the Venus Sigil, you need to dodge 200 lightning strikes on the Thunder Plains. Ordinarily, you'd need to not only keep this combo going but also deal with random enemy encounters. However, you can also go a bit out of your way to get an item to block those. This adds even further to the quest chain. To get the weapon itself, you're required to fly the airship to a location that can only be found using a clue, then fighting a boss. Once you have the weapon, sigil, and crest, you can combine them all to get your final result.
For those of you not keeping track, to get one of the seven Celestial Weapons requires you to complete four quest lines, discover a new location and revisit an old location, and defeat a boss. If we were to continue this chain, we could almost add that you're going to want all of these weapons for the super bosses. The final bosses are the Dark Aeons that now reside in various locations in the world. These Aeons are dark shadows of the summons that Yuna earns along her pilgrimage. To put into perspective just how "super" these super bosses are, the final (difficult) boss of Final Fantasy X is Braska's Final Aeon, Jecht. This monster of a boss has 60,000 HP and more than one way to take you out. The 'weakest' of the Dark Aeons is Valefor and it has 800,000 HP, and if you approach unprepared, you'll likely be swept in one move. The final super boss has 7,000,000 HP and requires you first beat all of the other super bosses. Needless to say, it's going to take some work to get to this point.
Where Final Fantasy X also succeeds is by layering these quests over one another. In the example given above the Baaj Temple where you get the Onion Knight is also where you get the Ultima Aeon. There's a number of objectives that you need to clear to gain access to Ultima though. This is just one of the many points of convergence that you'll find when completing these end game quests. Players will continually find themselves in search of one item while stumbling upon another. It's from this kind of subquest and reward layering that you'll get drawn into the endgame. It's in this way that the end game isn't a long off goal but a series of small steps. If you're someone like me who enjoys incremental rewards instead of a long grind to a final result then this endgame might be right for you. You may start the game thinking that you'll only get one or two celestial weapons but that you won't go for the full completion but after completing one goal you might be closer to other goals than you previously thought. What seemed like a far away goal is now within your grasps.
This cascade of events, one achievement leading to another, compels the player to continue. While you might not go into these side quests thinking, "I'm going to be the strongest in all the land!" as you do a little bit of collecting over here and grind up some battles in the monster arena over there, you find natural growth in your characters. It's in this way that the minds behind Final Fantasy X haven't structured their endgame to be a continuation of the epic story. It's meant to be bite-sized entertainment for a player to pursue if they choose, not something that you feel you'll need to commit to after an already 30-hour campaign.