Review: Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood (PS4).
“Stormblood” was awaited by the owners Final Fantasy XIV extremely hard. After a great addition “Heavensward” the appetite was awakened by mere announcements – abandonment PS3, larger locations and thanks to this movement also opportunities, the return of the Samurai class and the Red Magician and oriental atmosphere. Have these high expectations been met? For the most part – yes. Although it’s not as good as the previous expansion pack.
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward it allowed us to take a break from the thread of the Eorzea Alliance’s struggle with the Empire and took us to the frosty lands of Ishgard, where the city’s people, in conflict with the dragons for a thousand years, struggled daily for survival. The story in the first expansion pack was full of ambiguities, understatements, and threads developed slowly throughout the expansion from the very beginning. The updates released after the expansion’s debut slowly closed the threads of the Dragonsong War, opening the way for us to return to the war front in Eorzea. Patch 3.55 opened the front in Ala Mhigo, introduced us to Shinryu and Omega, but most of all – it outlined the direction we would go in. We are abandoning the climate inspired by the European Middle Ages and taking a 180-degree turn towards the Middle Eastern and Far Eastern climates.
“Stormblood” returns to the conflict with the Empire, introducing us for a good day the Legatus of the 12th Legion – Zenos yae Galvus. Zenos is a character whose characteristics are taken directly from the comic book archetype of the main antagonist. His motivation is extremely simple, devoid of any complexity. We have a guy who is simply incredibly strong and wants to have even more strength while looking for a challenge. The entire storyline “Stormblood” it is definitely simpler than what we have been served so far. The scriptwriters avoided flooding us with unnecessary information or side stories that were interrupted after a few tasks. Of course, each of the main characters we meet has a role, but the script does not provide for a deeper complexity of the plot. This simplified approach has its advantages – the pace of the story is good and we do not feel the material fatigue for a moment if we follow the path of subsequent story missions. Unfortunately, it was not possible to escape the minuses. This one is one in total and it’s hard to miss. The threads happening in Ala Mhigo (i.e. the very beginning and the end) are simply too tight, which you can see at the end of the game when we come back to defeat Zenos. As before, for a few hours we were laboriously learning about the meanders of history set in Othard, so here is the slogan “cool you’re here, we are storming the capital of Ala Mhigo”, and a few tasks later the game ends. It’s good that the last duel is amazing and not too overcomplicated in terms of mechanics.
Okay, but does that mean history is ailing? No. The weaker and hastily finished Ala Mhigo makes up for the incredibly engaging and well-crafted plot in Othard. I have the impression that if on “Stormblood” it was just that, the plot of the expansion would have been received much better. We get to a distant land at the beginning of the game and we will spend 3/4 of the time there, liberating the land of Dom from occupation. If you are fans of the series, this name may suggest something for you. Yes, Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood as a base for nostalgic references Final Fantasy VIor more precisely – the figure of Cyan (here she was transplanted into a Hyena) and the Far Eastern climate. Beautiful views of huge locations are complemented by even better music. IN “Heavensward” I melted when the Matoya’s Cave arrangement appeared. Here I reacted similarly every time Cyan’s Theme from FF VI. If someone is not enough, then “Stormblood” uses equally heavily Final Fantasy Vand Update 4.05, which introduced the Omega raid, strongly suggests that Exdeath won’t be the only one to make a guest appearance.
Putting the plot aside, let me just add that the two fights with the Primalami leave a bit of a dissatisfaction. They both forgo overkill techniques and strategies, opting for pure DPS burning – especially the fight against Susano excels in this. The duel with Lakshmi is a bit better, making an additional requirement for us, but I like this match because of the phenomenal track and climate of the fight. It is a pity that in “Stormblood” both Primals have virtually zero plot. They appear out of nowhere, we defeat them and that’s it. The same is true of Shinryu, who are scaring us by others. Primal stronger than Bahamut, and so far he has been treated like a regular .
Okay, but still Final Fantasy XIV is an MMO game, no matter how heavily it is story-driven. Expectations for the second expansion pack were high. Square announced the rebuilding of the combat and skill system. It was also noted that the abandonment of support for PS3 it will allow you to do impossible things early. And here the game fails a bit, because the novelty is the possibility of swimming and diving (here, however, you have to give back – the underwater worlds are big) and faster movement on our mounts. What about the combat system? Well, it’s actually the same. Only the cross-class system has been abandoned, which will be appreciated by people changing classes or just starting the game. No more tedious hunt for additional classes to unlock 2-3 important skills for the main class. Now we have the selected pool available immediately, which resulted in the discarding of unnecessary skills. In addition, there is a bar loaded with various attacks, depending on the class, which allows you to fire special attacks after filling. But basically the only change I made was learning the new rotations. And that’s it.
However, the two new classes are much better. The Red Mage and the Samurai are DPS classes, meaning to put it simply – they focus on dealing damage. Naoki Yoshida explains this move by observing that people playing healing classes and tanks are reluctant to switch to other players, mainly because of habits. DPS players are rotated much more often (which is always caused by nerfs in subsequent updates, but Yoshida doesn’t want to mention that anymore). The red magician tries to combine Black Mage with White Mage and Fencer, which he has been doing extremely well so far – so much that the first nerfs in skills are already announced. Playing this class does not currently require combining for attacks, which will be changed by skill balancing updates. And the Samurai? Personally, I fell in love with this elegant class, strongly focusing on various rotations and loading the appropriate bar, thanks to which we can fire additional attacks. I play the Dragoona class on a daily basis, so I welcomed more variety for the Samurai with open arms. The samurai is good against both one and a group of enemies, which will often be important in dungeons. It is also worth praising here Squarethat went to your head and this time each class can be unlocked immediately after buying “Stormblood”regardless of our progress – the quest givers are waiting in Ul’dah, and the missions last a few minutes.
Along with the add-on output, FF XIV there was support under PS4 Pro, but this leaves a lot to be desired – only those who have 4K TVs will benefit. Then the game can be run in better resolution, which of course translates into better graphics, but do not count on new bells and whistles – these are simply not there. Technically, I made more promises to myself, especially after I left PS3. Of course, I am aware of the limitations of the genre and console, but still – I think I have unnecessarily aroused my appetite with a few statements from the development team. I was a bit disappointed with the soundtrack that in the series Final Fantasy for me is an important point. This v “Stormblood” it is simply good, sometimes even very good, but unfortunately it has to compete with the music composed for the previous expansion, where it was a level higher. Halfway through the game, I was complaining under my breath that, apart from the songs from Othard, I didn’t like anything. Later, luckily it gets better, which is determined by the fight with Lakshmi, during which we have the best theme since the fight with Thordan. And the tip itself offers delicious compositions that saved the soundtrack in my eyes.
I must mark one at the end – Square learns from mistakes. Even though he commits other, smaller bloopers, Final Fantasy XIV it becomes a game more and more friendly to new players, without harming seasoned veterans. The entry threshold has been lowered. There are items in the game that allow you to bypass the requirement of tediously driving through the next levels of the character class – of course, payable in real cash. The less patient ones can also skip entire story segments, which I understand to some extent – missions from A Realm Reborn they can tire many MMO veterans.
“Stormblood” is a successful addition, even though some aspects in my opinion are slightly weaker than what it served “Heavensward”. The improved pace of story-building and the abandonment of a series of tiring quests turned out to be a good thing for the game. The land of Othard, including individual locations, is beautiful and combines the culture of Japan, China and the Mongols living on the steppes very well. Even the simplicity of the plot does not bother me, because such a comic-book approach to the roles of protagonists and antagonists is a breath of fresh air. The content planned after the premiere also promises to be excellent. Not only can the raid with Omega be amazing, but also the return to Ivalice, which is to be the beginning of a larger series of tasks written by the founder of this land – Yasumi Matsuno.
The game was reviewed on PS4 Pro