FFXIV’s third expansion Shadowbringers is now live, after a brief early access period. Final Fantasy XIV has been going strong since its miraculous comeback when it first launched in 2013 disastrously, and if you needed a barometer to see just how well it’s been doing since, Shadowbringers is the evidence. With over 16 million players world-wide, Shadowbringers adds more content, features and jobs to the MMORPG to keep that longevity going. Have they succeeded? Yes, and here’s why.
Shadowbringer’s Main Scenario Quests Will Blow You Away
For an MMORPG, Square Enix knows all too well that the end-game content is king. The game has a generous selection of dungeons, trials and raids to accommodate players, but equally and arguably more important, is the game’s main story content. Shadowbringers will answer plenty of player’s questions, especially those who have been following the journey that their characters, and the story characters (The Scions) have been going through. I’d even say that completion of Heavensward and Stormblood is a must for new players to fully grasp what’s going on narrative wise. If you skip all of that with a potion (level and MSQ skip), then you’ll be missing out on some serious mind-blowing story. In Shadowbringers, our heroes goes to the First, a world very much like ours, the Source. This is where the Warriors of Darkness came from, and now we’ll be looking to set their world right in order to prevent another calamity back on ours.
Simply put without spoiling anything, the writing is amazing here, and the story payoff at the end will give you goosebumps. Expect to unravel new civilizations, meet new characters and all the while, further fleshing out the characters we already have and it all comes together in the latter half of the MSQs. The story will take you through numerous new zones, there’s plenty of new story dungeons to tackle in addition to trials, and the entire experience melded together is a true blast. I have not felt so good about completing an expansion for a very long time, and Shadowbringers is a constant reminder that good MMORPGs know exactly what their players want, and Square Enix does. FFXIV is stronger than ever and with a third expansion this good, it’s here to stay for the long haul.
The New Features
FFXIV is also not a game that shies away from trying new things. Take for example, this expansion gives players the NPC Trust System. Trust allows you to form a party with story characters like Thancred, Urianger and Alphinaud, to tackle the dungeons in the expansion en route to the level cap of 80. Each companion has their own Job and Role, so you can play what you like and rely on them for healing and tanking if you wish. The AI is great and will not let you down, but doing dungeons with Trust takes longer than with real players, and the loot drops are scaled down. Nevertheless, it’s an optional thing for players who do not like waiting in queues and you do get dialogue banter between your companions too.
Addressing another issue in-game is the new Shared Fate system. Fates in the Shadowbringers zones have progression now, and you can earn ranks for each zone by completing the required number of Fates, which also rewards gems. Every rank will offer new goodies to grab from the new Gemstone Vendor, such as increased flying speed, crafting materials and more. It’s a great way to keep Fates relevant for longer than usual, as an alternate means to level another Job. Additionally, Quest Sync is now in-game. All side story quests in Shadowbringers uses this new sync system, and the quest scales up or down depending on the level of the Job you’re using to complete it with. Again, this is great for leveling alt Jobs, and these are the highlights of the new features this expansion.
The production level for Shadowbringers is astounding. The music and themes are magnificent to listen to, although some might find the Japanese-Rock inspired battle music to be a touch too jarring. Nevertheless, the quality hasn’t dipped and is consistent throughout, piquing at the right moments in cut-scenes, cinematics and of course, boss fights. Square Enix plays this to their advantage to heighten pivotal moments in the expansion and it’s effective. The voice-acting is as usual, on point and the cast deserves a lot of praise for bringing these characters to life. Often times you can’t help but wonder why couldn’t they just make the entire MSQ fully voice acted, the way Star Wars: the Old Republic or the Elder Scrolls Online does.
The Gunbreaker and Dancer
These are the two new Jobs in this expansion, and both are fan-favorites from the Final Fantasy franchise. In FFXIV, the Gunbreaker is a tank Job while the Dancer is a ranged physical DPS. Both start at level 60 and have their own Job quests to pursue, which unlocks new abilities. Out of the two, Dancer felt like a much welcome addition to the roster. It’s highly mobile and it’s a ton of fun to play. It utilizes dance moves to pull of heavy hitting and speedy combos, able to buff itself and others, and is generally nice to look at. The Gunbreaker requires a more sturdy play style, and like most tanking Jobs in FFXIV, has enough in its locker to keep Enmity (Aggro) and defense mitigations up for group and end-game content.