Final Fantasy 14's long-awaited expansion Endwalker is here for those who pre-ordered it (the full release is December 7), and the servers are doing fine, mostly. As is common with MMO launches where thousands of players rush to log in and see everything new, Final Fantasy 14 Endwalker's launch has players stuck in long queue times, huge crowds, and occasionally unstable servers.
On my server, Siren, the process of updating the game to Endwalker, logging in, and getting to the first quest giver was relatively smooth. I had about 400 players in queue to log in before me and the wait only lasted about five minutes. Once in, the first quest for the main story was located in an instanced area, so other players getting in the way wasn't a problem. That wasn't true for the second step, which has you talk to a character out in one of the game's main cities. In situations like this where you can't find the pixel that'll select the NPC, you can hold down the default keybind (X) to make other players unclickable or press numpad 0 to target the nearest NPC automatically.
I've been around for many expansion launches in World of Warcraft. This is my first for Final Fantasy 14, and it seems about as smooth as you could reasonably expect. Players on the game's subreddit have filled the page with images and memes about their queue times and the 2002 error code. The long queue times largely depend on how populated your server is and whether or not you're a free trial player who is placed below subscribed players in the queue. If you want to get a sense for how your own server is holding up, you can check each one's status pretty easily.
Square Enix warned players about the queue times in a post last week. "There is an ongoing global shortage and increased demand for semiconductors, and quite frankly, we are still struggling to source the required equipment," Final Fantasy 14 director Naoki Yoshida wrote. "Additionally, the resurgence of COVID-19 cases in Japan has raised major concerns regarding our ability to travel overseas for on-site implementations."
Despite the expansion not being fully released yet, it shot up to 84,000 concurrent players on Steam, surpassing Halo Infinite at 64,000. It's worth noting, however, that the game is split between Steam players and those that use the proprietary launcher, so the number of players online at the moment would be higher than it looks.
Back on my server, the crowds seem tame, in part because FF14 limits how many people you can see at once. If you want to avoid spoilers for the main story, which is said to wrap up the arc that started back with the game's original 2013 launch, you might want to go into your chat settings and disable /yell.
So far though it doesn't seem like most people have a lot to say, as they stand motionless with film strip icon above their heads, indicating they're deep in a new cutscene detailing the Warrior of Light's new mission to prevent the end of the world once again.