Final Fantasy XIV is already a huge game for the MMO crowd with its large world or Eorzea and barrage of new updates and fresh content. After two previous expansions, Heavensward and Stormblood, that gave new additions like extra quests and job classes, the game continues to give its robust online community even more new things to do. It’s latest expansion Shadowbringers adds two new classes, a new story to follow, new tweaks to gameplay, and a number of other changes that once again add another layer of game that will keep even the most devoted Final Fantasy XIV players busy for a long while.
Shadowbringers has themes that revolve around Warriors of Darkness, which is a fun spin on the series’ focus on having its players become Warriors of Light throughout the original main storyline. Without spoiling anything important, the plot of Shadowbringers will not only test the mettle of players who have put in a lot of time into their characters but will also provide a story that mimics a lot of classic elements from other Final Fantasy games.
If you’ve followed a lot of what was done in the previous two expansions for the game, you’ll definitely like what Shadowbringers does with its story. But if you find yourself needing to grind out more EXP to prepare for the new scenarios, or just need to catch up on a lot of story stuff beforehand, you can now replay the entirety of Final Fantasy XIV’s main story.
Outside of story, Shadowbringers also brings a lot of other changes to gameplay in the form of new job classes, new raids and dungeons, brand new locations (Eulmore, The Crystarium, Rak’tika, Amh Araeng, Il Mheg, Kholusia, Lakeland) to visit, as well as a new gameplay system called the Trust System. If you found it annoying or difficult to get friends together for dungeon runs, then you can worry a little less by utilizing the Trust System and teaming up with various computer-controlled story characters. You can do this only for dungeons you’ve already completed and you can’t do so if there’s already another player with you in a party.
Whether this might change later on to allow a mixture of player and NPC parties is unknown, but if you join up with NPCs in a party you’ll have to do it alone. The main downside to this is if the leading player of the party is downed, then the whole group is wiped and you’ll have to return to the starting point.
Some of the more interesting changes for veteran players will be the new job classes and new races to choose from when making a character. The Dancer and Gunbreaker classes have various abilities that distinguish them from the rest of the jobs in Final Fantasy XIV, with Dancer being a very solid ranged DPS class and Gunbreaker being a great Tank class that has combo attacks. Many players might find themselves gravitating towards Dancer because of its great range in combat and ability to boost up fellow players in the party while dealing damage.
Gunbreaker has its uses, but many might find it more of a vanity addition to their collection rather than the more useful of the two new classes. Getting either or is pretty simple and just requires finishing one related quest for each, which yields a new weapon and equipment that changes up your character’s look and adds new gauges to the HUD on screen. Learning the ins & outs of each new class won’t take a long time but once you get a feel of them in combat and dungeons, they can be pretty effective.
The new races are probably the most limited part of Shadowbringers new content. The Viera is a female only race that has similarities to the race seen in Final Fantasy XII, while the Hrothgar is a male only race that has lion-like physical qualities to them. Both have lore explanations about their appearance, as well as a deep backstory for those following all of Eorzea’s history. Their options in the character creation menus however are limited, as you’re not able to change certain characteristics or reverse the genders of either one.
If you’re not too concerned about the limitations of these new races, then you’ll be happy to know that along with this comes a new level cap to 80, as well as a revision to TP and MP during battle, which combines both of them into one resource on the HUD. This change drastically changes up the flow of combat and may impact how players utilize certain classes in both dungeons and in story quests.
A helpful new feature with that also comes with Shadowbringers is the World Visit System, which allows players to visit other servers in the game that are on the same data center. This is great for connecting to more new players, as well as rounding up your friends who may have chosen different servers to place their characters within, allowing you to gather parties a bit more efficiently. This doesn’t however allow players of different data centers to interact, which is a shame but understandable.
It’s very hard to ignore just how much there is to do within Final Fantasy XIV, but Shadowbringers provides even more to dive into. There’s a ton of new things that will eat up a lot of your time but give you a lot to enjoy if you’re into MMO styled games. The new story and abundant quests will provide a nearly endless amount of hours adventuring around the new locations within Eorzea, with changes to the combat and new classes and races making that time dynamic and interesting throughout. The more specific changes to the gameplay and Trust System will definitely have long-time players tinkering around with many aspects of the game, as well as replaying a lot of areas with all of the new stuff now available to them. Is now a great time to get involved with Final Fantasy XIV with everything out there? Yes, but you’ll be very wise to make plans for spending a lot of time within its growing world, either catching up or discovering something new.
These impressions were based on a digital review code for Shadowbringers: Final Fantasy XIV on the PlayStation 4, provided by Square Enix.