The Final Fantasy series evokes many associations, images, and memories. A true “finale” is impossible without the spirit of adventure, an epic scale, interesting characters, and drama. But can the MMORPG script give such a vivid impression? It turns out maybe.
Fresh large-scale expansion for Final Fantasy XIV – Shadowbringers – immediately throws headlong into the pool of dizzying events. In the First World, which exists in another fragment of the crystal, the heroes have to deal with the imbalance of the ether, because of which the Light almost completely absorbed the Darkness. Active roll caused serious consequences – a huge part of living things died out, and the rest are in constant fear without confidence in the future.
The blame for this is the sin-eaters – creatures born of the glut of the ether of living organisms. The fate of people is especially tragic – they turn them into peculiar zombies, or Light gradually absorbs the body. This is not just a tangible enemy, but an unknown threat that can only be stopped with extraordinary methods. Only the Warrior of Darkness is capable of this, but everything has a price.
The opening scenes of Shadowbringers amaze to the core with their depressive mood and the gloomy atmosphere of a dying world. We are gradually immersed in this oppressive hopelessness, demonstrating the transformation of a series of emotional events. Over time, things get even more complicated. The fault lies partially with the people themselves, whose base needs are exploited by one of the villains.
The game uses proven storytelling methods that have proven themselves, including in single-player adventures and RPGs. The structure of the story is harmoniously tied to the player’s acquaintance with the locations and their inhabitants. Studying each zone, we plunge into the history of the world and move closer to the destination. This is not just a biome of a different kind, but also a very developed part of the universe.
Players will visit Norrandt – the last bastion of survivors, the only lands not destroyed by the Flood. Being a reflection of the Source, the local climate and environment are similar to Dorsey but are inhabited by other peoples with their own culture.
The addon has two new cities – the pompous Elmore Palace, an analog of Lemsa Lominsa, and the giant Kristarium fortress, reminiscent of the Crystal Tower. In addition, there are five additional zones expanding – Rak’thika, Am Araeng, Ill Meg, Volusia, and Lakeland.
Moving through locations, we are expanding our understanding of the life of people and the role of various places for residents – from military garrisons to mines and ancient temples.
Among the new creatures, well-known by Ivalis from Final Fantasy XII Well Moe also flocked. Similar to a mixture of fur seals and hares, characters most closely come into contact with the human race. In addition to them, there are massive people-lions of Hrothgar and graceful rabbit-like Viera – they are represented by various secondary characters. By tradition, these heroes will help with local tasks and introduce them to the lore. Their stories are interesting and important for compiling the overall picture of the storyline.
By delving into local problems and resolving conflicts, you will open the way to the boss of the region, followed by an epic battle, the positive outcome of which gives new hope. Developers try to diversify these activities as much as possible, offering unique features for each region. It does not let you get bored.
Some heroes are dedicated to individual plot twists with references to the cult Final Fantasy IX. Epic stages with different forms of bosses look great, and even Warriors of the Light of past generations will go into battle … In the latter case, these missions are made in the form of memory battles, where we have to take on the role of one of the heroes – with unique abilities that your character. This increases the atmosphere even more and draws it into history. It will even turn out to feel in the shoes of one of the Seventh Dawn Descendants. The confrontation between Tancred and General of the forces of Ilmor turned out to be very interesting. Subsequent scenes are one of the most emotional and powerful in the addon. Character development is on top.
Graphics and Features
The so-called Role-playing quests have appeared in Shadowbringers, which have come to replace the quests of Professions. New skills are now obtained with reaching levels of pumping, and there is only one individual mission – at level 80 (useful things, such as materials, will be given for it, but they will no longer be given skills).
Each role-playing quest chain corresponds to a specific NPC and will lead you through a story that unveils the mystery of the Light Warriors of the past. At the same time, it is not just a flashback, but also a story is woven correctly into the new Lore with its bright moments – the final missions especially deliver.
The performance has reached a new level, so you completely forget that you have an MMORPG, and not a single story-based role-playing game. Developers use competent camera angles to create the effect of presence. Together with the correct transitions of musical accompaniment, they masterfully escalate the epic.
More than half of the dialogues have been voiced, and this has been done at a very high-quality level – taking into account the peculiarities of speech, the nature, and origin of certain heroes.
The story itself can be divided into several arches, where there is no place for fillers, and the intense pace of the narrative is maintained until the very end. At the same time, the plot cannot be called isolated – immersion is achieved, among other things, due to the skill of how developers interweave the events that happened earlier into the general outline of the new story.
Scriptwriters do not skimp on details, answering all sorts of accumulated questions, combining pieces of a mosaic of a narrative together – it is simply impossible to break away. Therefore, we strongly recommend refreshing the memories, as all the threads are interwoven here, starting with A Realm Reborn. It’s nice that the authors of the game even took into account such trifles as the appearance of some characters, structures and much more.
Specific humor, coupled with numerous references to Final Fantasy VII, VIII, IX, XII and XIII, also looks organically. Some are so touching that you can shed avaricious male tears – so painstakingly and with love, all this is done that you return to the precious times of the past. For fans, this is one of the best projects in the industry.
After a chic final confrontation under the most powerful musical theme of the boss battle since the “ Answers ” from A Realm Reborn, it becomes clear who the real Dark Warrior is, and the epic cliffhanger leaves no doubt – the story will continue to gain momentum with even greater force. Therefore, we look forward to a new expansion.
The addition, both in style and in narration, was made in the genre of epic fantasy, which refreshes impressions after a technological setting of past stories FFXIV and XV.
Dungeons in new locations turned out to be bright and memorable. I would like to praise the opening Holminster Switch, which leaves an indelible imprint on the horrors of the threat of the Sin-Eaters. And the final dungeons – one about the secrets of the depths of the Crystal Tower, and the other about the sad fate of the ancient race, whose representatives die right before our eyes during its passage.
Story dungeons can be played in the company of other players, as well as alone using the new Trust system . Choosing the desired AI allies to compile a party from a healer, a tank and two DPS, you go through the whole dungeon with them, but there are some limitations. They are tied at the lowest possible level of each such location. In addition, you will receive less loot, and some monsters do not leave it at all, unlike a regular race.
After completing the storyline, you will need to pump your partner bots, starting from level 71. At the same time, a certain amount of experience is given for each dungeon – the higher the required input level, the better the reward. It’s especially useful for NPC companions to use dealer damage classes who have to wait a long time for their turn in the Duty Finder to play in a co-op with random players.
Each of the main characters has a certain profession and some unique skills. AI-controlled heroes behave reasonably enough in accordance with their roles. However, if you are tanking, they will not grab stars from the sky in terms of efficiency during battles with large detachments of monsters, since they do not use AOE-rotation skills. But some of their attacks still hit the area.
The leitmotif of virtual partners is slow but true. Nevertheless, we must pay tribute that the AI tanks will take away aggro from you if you cling to an additional detachment of enemies.
They do mechanics in a coherent manner, which is commendable because coordination of the actions of the whole party is often required there. The only sediment – if your hero dies, then you have to start again. Apparently, this was done for the sake of balance, so as not to farm loot.
Speaking of farming, the game is still generous with rewards. All fresh sidequests are taken already from level 70 and are now synchronized on it. If you wish, you can take the mission on one level, but go on another – even with a change of class. Of course, except in cases where a particular class is a prerequisite.
It’s nice that if you go through the story with your main class and do at least a few basic daily tasks, then you have enough experience to keep up with the levels of quests. And it’s convenient that now instead of a specific thing, you get a special item as a reward – a chest for a certain part of the equipment. Having opened his chosen profession, it is on her that you will receive part of the equipment.
The developers reworked and random events on locations – Faith. Now they receive special tokens that can be exchanged for various useful items from NPCs in settlements. And by completing a certain amount in each of the zones, you can open access to more valuable rewards.
The combat system has been seriously updated in order to overall optimize the gameplay – with the abolition of TP technology points. From now on, MP is responsible for using magic skills. The amount of mana for all is set at 10,000. An important parameter for doctors, Piety, now does not affect the amount of mana but is tied to the speed of its recovery.
There was an opportunity to accumulate some skills instead of waiting for a rollback. So, Ninjas can save two uses of Kassatsu, which changes the approach to rotation and makes the gameplay for this class more comfortable when you need to adjust the time for applying certain skills.
It was also important to create conditions under which the efficiency of your class does not fall if you do not fight, for example, when the boss leaves to perform mechanics. A number of skills have been redesigned for ease of use. So, some skills gained instant castes, some can now be used more and more often, others were combined with others. Thus, there are more situations where you can fully deploy with your class tools. It’s nice that the influence of external factors is lower and now you have more complete control of the battle.
Most of all of the old professions, the Engineer was redone, which now feels completely different. During the battle, the heating scales and batteries are filled, which, when fully charged, open access to the call of the combat robot.
The roles themselves are now differentiated into Tanks, Healers, Magic DPS and Physical DPS of ranged and melee, respectively. Major changes to some basic gameplay rules.
Now you do not need to select and configure role-playing skills. The whole set of skills is unified and always available within the chosen role. You can immediately put everything on the Hotbar.
Now all tanks can be equally effective both in the role of the main and in the role of support – this is achieved, among other things, due to the skills that help other tanks, such as the Black Knight of the Dark Knight.
The attacking racks of the tanks disappeared – instead of them now only a defensive one, acting as a buff on the accumulation of aggro. The monster aggression parameter in itself is equally obtained for striking, regardless of the conditions of combo chains and other aspects.
All tank professions were equalized in terms of a set of working “tools”. Each one has skills that make AOE, attract to the target, strike a lot of blows in a row, heal and protect (skills with quick rollback and the ultimate defense skill). Of course, exclusive abilities have not gone anywhere.
The healers said goodbye to Protect’s defensive skill and now focus more on immediate healing, although, of course, the attacking spells are still in order. Like the tanks, the healers were optimized in such a way as to narrow the gap between them. Therefore, now any of them can be equally treated in large quantities, individually protected and maintained.
Two new professions appeared in Shadowbringers – Dancer, and Gunbricker. Their starting level is 60th, which saves you from prolonged leveling, and with numerous bonuses and new sidequests, you can very quickly pump to the maximum 80th.
The dancer uses a pair of chakras as a weapon and is a physical ranged DPS. Its trump card is an increase in damage to the party members. Compared with others, then his individual damage is not high, but he improves his comrades’ parameters well, adding about 1600 units of additional damage, according to the measurements of the players.
The whole point of rotation of the Dancer’s skills is to get into the rhythm to achieve the best effect, reinforcing your partner with special actions between ordinary skills. This is a completely unique experience for the game – there were no similar mechanics before.
Ganbriker uses fan blade and created in the image of Squall Leonhart from Final Fantasy VIII. Even the names of skills will make the heart of the fan tremble – some are in tune with the names of the Squall limit bricks and have similar animations. Finishing your combo chain with Solid Barrel, cartridges accumulate that are wasted on the Gunpowder scale, which opens up Burst Strike, Gnashing Fang and Fated Circle for use. All of them are very powerful, and according to damage statistics, at the moment, the newcomer is the strongest among the tanks. Along with the Warrior, he will be a good choice for those who want to try tanking.
The developers managed to make the game more friendly, the entry threshold has decreased, but this does not mean that numerous trifles should be omitted. Still, you will have to painstakingly study the features of tanking, treatment and how best to maximize DPS. But on the other hand, it became more comfortable to perform familiar things and concentrate on the main goals of your profession.
FF XIV is constantly evolving like a living organism. Developers monitor the situation, listen to the fans, analyze the pros and cons of solutions and the timing of the implementation of a particular idea. Therefore, the balance is constantly changing.
The authors of the game did not forget about complex cooperative missions. Eden, a new series of raids, tells of the Wasteland, lands beyond Norrandt, completely absorbed by the Flood disaster. Deprived of ether, this place seems to contain nothing but the original Sin-Eater. Heroes have to plunge into the depths of a gigantic creation in order to recreate the territory and open the veil of secrets of its existence. Eden looks painfully similar to the ultimatum summit from FFVIII, memorable for the long animation of the challenge that is here in one of the battles. In the Wastelands themselves, an arranged version of “Blue Fields” plays, and there are many references ahead of us. Character design and bosses were answered by veteran Tetsuya Nomura.
A significant change affected the distribution system of loot in the raid – there is still a limit on the unit per week for each trip, but now any parts of the equipment randomly drop out regardless of the chosen stage. Therefore, you can immediately pick up four tokens on the body and get the armor in one week.
The first set of raids has been released, which means we are fighting four different bosses. The first two are completely new, but they use a number of old mechanics from battles with Shinryu and other original gods in previous addons. The last two are unexpected enemies from the previous FFXIV content, enemies with a new original design and revised mechanics. The reason for borrowing lies in the plot twist, where the hero has to use his own imagination to breathe life into the wasteland.
The battles were tense and exciting. I would like to especially note the fourth battle – going for the first time to the tank or to heal this raid will be truly unforgettable. It’s even scary to imagine what awaits the players in the later complicated Savage version …
The developers also promise to release a special raid for 24 people – YoRHA: Dark Apocalypse, created in collaboration with Yoko Taro. By Nier: Automata is sure to offer something unusual and truly fascinating.
Music in FFXIV is very important – it greatly affects the rest of the project. The new soundtrack was a success. Tracks pervade to nerve endings. The compositions are dominated by symphonic sound, a choir, and powerful female vocals. The ambient dedicated to the Sin-Eaters turned out very well. The atmosphere at the locations envelops and does not let go. For example, in Am Araeng, a sad melody as if mourns all those who died from the epidemic and makes you think when the character passes by the graves …
Masayoshi Soken catches the smallest fluctuations in the mood of locations and game moments, uses and enhances these emotions with music. A carefree melody in the style of “Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy” in Ill Meg, while we are safe; Lakeland’s warlike theme prepares for a clash; a dreamy composition in Volusia motivates you to move forward; the calming mood of the final zone recalls the value of time in life. The unusually beautiful melody of the ancient forests of Rak’Thiki takes you out of your comfort zone. Listening to her, the life of ancient civilization flashes before my eyes.
They approached the new remixes very creatively – having a similar structure, the sound is completely different. This applies to compositions from Final Fantasy VIII and IX, as well as early works from FFXIV. The music is really diverse in the genre basis – here you can find a symphonic epic, soft keyboards, jazz, and techno rave.