Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood
Stormblood is the second expansion pack release for the popular MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV. Two new jobs, a whole new storyline, and revamped character actions promise to make this expansion the most exciting release in some time. The level cap has also been raised to 70, so there’s much more work to be done! If it’s been a while since you have logged back in, definitely check out the new class mechanics.
Job actions have been optimized and some actions were deleted altogether. With some play styles being changed considerably, even returning to the game to explore your previous classes can be new and refreshing. Two new classes, Samurai and Red Mage, have made their debut into the game both being oriented as damage dealers. In addition to class changes, a myriad of new zones have been introduced with a far eastern design feel, and both swimming and diving have been added to many of the 4.0 zones after certain requirements have been met. Flying mounts are still around, but now you can dive underwater free from monsters and swim or ride your mounts around to access new areas. To further capitalize on the diving, Fishing has a new spearfishing skill to gather fish and items while underwater. Pvp has also been revamped, with a new take on combos and actions. Most classes are reduced to around 10-12 buttons, and a single button can be pressed to progress through combo actions that changes your weapon skill from one to the next automatically for you. This is an interesting development, and it is likely to test the waters for future implementations.
Without spoiling any of the later Heavensward content, Stormblood follows our heroes to the far eastern continent of Gyr Abania. Under Empire control, Ala Mhigo and its citizens are suffering under the reign of a new foe. You are tasked with gaining entry into the city, and foiling the Empire’s plans within Gyr Abania. New and old friends alike surface, and of course new enemies arrive for some spectacular battles. Some of the storyline pacing felt slow at first, but picked up with later chapters and there are amazing boss battles and dungeon content to tackle sprinkled throughout. These are some of the best fights seen as of yet in Final Fantasy XIV, with new and busy fights keeping you on your toes as you struggle to stop the Empire. The town of Kugane is an Asian-themed port town with side quests and stories around every corner and spread throughout the surrounding zones. The dungeons are also similarly themed and as usual follow the mold of being beautiful, memorable, and fun! A piece of unobtained dungeon loot is guaranteed to drop directly into player’s inventories for the completion of dungeon used for leveling, so the task of getting strong enough gear to keep you moving up has been made easier.
Final Fantasy XIV has always been one of the prettiest MMOs on the market, and Stormblood is no exception. Vast, detailed zones coupled with creative and beautifully animated monsters make for quite the journey. An impressive soundtrack also follows this expansion, and some classic Final Fantasy tracks are reintroduced for some of the content. Yojimbo is introduced from FF-X, and two new primals, Susano and Lakshmi, are pitted against you as well. New armor, weapons, effects, abilities, mounts, minions, and even the new Kugane-themed housing district offer much in the way of visuals for Stormblood. The effects, animations, and environments for FFXIV have always been top tier, and Stormblood does a great job of pushing the envelope even further. Your adventure throughout the rather lengthy new storyline will be one of awe and wonder as you traverse the massive zones on your journey to the new level cap. The new job gauges as discussed below that are unique to each job are also a welcome addition. New boss mechanics mixed with plenty of old make for the most fun battles I’ve had yet in the game, many being on-par with Binding Coil of Bahamut, and the visuals therein are no exception.
With new classes, a new level cap, and revamped ability lists for every single job, it’s no wonder that Stormblood feels incredibly refreshing. Even content that feels similar or content you have done before feels somewhat new, as now you have some new skills to test out while many of the old, less utilized skills have been deleted or changed completely. Each job now has a gauge that depicts your various new class mechanic in a simple manner. For instance, Warrior gets a gauge for their fury build up, Bard gets a gauge designed for each song that they use against the boss and so on. These gauges help assist you with visual aids to determine what actions have been or need to be performed. As stated there are plenty of new mechanics to get a feel for, with the Extreme versions of the new primals and the just released four-stage raid boss battles having plenty for you to learn and do as you try to topple the various foes. Samurai and Red Mage are both damage classes, with Samurai having three combos that lead into one big built up skill, and the ability to combo attack an area and Red Mage uses both melee and magic damage to build their specialty gauge up. Swimming and diving feel somewhat underdeveloped; you can sprint while swimming to swim faster, you can dive under Stormblood zones water to get to a separate instance for maps and you can complete some quests as well as gather while swimming underwater as well. While it sounds impressive, it seems more tacked on as an added idea than a core design. There is no diving in any dungeons, you cannot go into battle underwater as there are no monsters, and only a few key emotes can be performed while swimming. While it may have a feeling of being an afterthought, Stormblood in no way suffers for its implementation. It’s simply one of the many, many things you can be doing within the game to have fun, explore, and certainly show off some new impressive visuals and area design.
Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood feels to be a great new revamp of prior content. Job’s will not feel completely new, but some welcome additions and abilities certainly manage to keep things refreshing. The content itself is not particularly difficult if you are a veteran to FFXIV, yet new mechanics and bosses will definitely add a challenge. Stats have been moved around a bit, with some more focus on a simpler approach to things and some balancing has occurred much to the boon or anger of many players.
Plenty of new content, new leveling throughout new zones with new jobs and new things to do. There is definitely something for everyone in this expansion, be it gathering, crafting, or adventuring. The story is strong, the classes feel more balanced, and there is still plenty of content to go through their frequent updates and patches. With Stormblood easily being their strongest expansion yet, and with at least two more expansions to go, there is seemingly nowhere for the already immensely popular MMO to go but up from here! Free trials can be found rather easily online, so if you have never played FFXIV or if you haven’t played it in quite some time, now is definitely the time to return!