Stormblood is the second expansion to the critically-acclaimed Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. The newly released expansion further explores the lore of Eorzea and the land of the Far East while adding a bunch of new content like new jobs, new scenario quests, and new raids. Compared to the last expansion released, which was Heavensward, Stormblood offers much more enjoyable content and jobs that adds more variety to those who play as a damage dealer, while staying true to what fans have loved in Final Fantasy XIV. The story of Stormblood starts off where Patch 3.57 ended. With the Scions of the Seventh Dawn now facing the threat of Omega and with the increased tension between the Empire and the Ala Mhigans, the Warrior of Light sets on an adventure with Lyse, and the rest of the Scions to liberate the city-state of Ala Mhigo while finding ways to take down Omega. The theme this time is much different as aside from the conflicted-war plot, there are a lot of emotions to be felt in the story and It’s much better than Heavensward. A lot of the stories told in the expansion tell more of the Ala Mhigan people and the people of the Kugane in the Far East and their customs. To date, Final Fantasy XIV still has that spot for the best well-told story in an MMO game, thanks to the well developed plot of Stormblood.
Aside from the new story, there are two new jobs as well introduced in Stormblood. For those who are getting tired of the DPS jobs that they currently are using, the two new jobs; Red Mage and Samurai are available when you buy the expansion. From the two new jobs available, I enjoyed playing Red Mage more. While the rotation is much more bearable than Samurai, the Red Mage deals massive damage and conveys them in a stylish way. As for the Samurai, it’s currently one of the most strongest DPS class as of this moment, but sadly, I find it very hard to play as you have to build bunch of combos before dealing massive damage to an enemy. It takes time but if you are really looking to provide raw damage in FFXIV, consider leveling a Samurai up. Not to mention, the Samurai job quests has currently the most interesting story.
In terms of main quests and reaching to the new level cap of 70, it can take you a long time, especially if you are doing sidequests that can be dull at times, though there are ways to speed things up liking running the dungeons over and over again or play through the Palace of the Dead, an instanced dungeon released in Heavensward. The end-game content like raids and extreme modes of the primal will not be playable until you do scenario quests, so regardless if you rushed yourself to 70, you still have to beat the story to see the end-game content. For those who have been playing Final Fantasy XIV, the end-game is still the same in Stormblood, you still do dailies, group up with friends to clear dungeons, and do the same things you’ve been doing like grinding for tomestones, except you are doing new content and not the older ones. As for the new patch, Square Enix still sticks to its cadence where new contents will be released every 2 to 3 months.
With the release of the new expansion, Square Enix has decided to do a little tweak to the battle system of the game. Every class available now has a Job Gauge that allows each class to perform unique action after filling it up while doing a specific action. In terms of the Red Mage that I am now currently using, the job gauge measures how much Black and White magic I am using and depending on the amount that I stack up, I can perform powerful magic like Flare or Holy. As for the Samurai, there are two gauge that you are trying to fill up; the SEN and Kenki gauge that gets filled up when you perform specific combos. This new Gauge system can be weird at first but once you get used to it, you’ll enjoy the battle system, especially job gauge-specific actions are unique and will most likely deal massive damage to an enemy. Though, out of all the jobs available, White Mage (my main class) currently has the most useless job gauge function and I hope Square Enix will fix it in the future.
As far as other content goes, the game offers two primal fights; Susano and Lakshimi, with of course an option to take them down in Extreme mode. Also, there are bunch of new dungeons that you will get to play and as always, they are well designed and fun to run with groups. At the time of writing, the Savage mode of Omega is fun and it is indeed very challenging. Unlike other raids in Heavensward where the game puts you through winded paths, the raid puts you immediately on the boss. There are four raids available and the last boss that you get to fight currently pays homage to the boss found in Final Fantasy V.
Visually, the game looks fantastic. Those who have a PlayStation 4 Pro will now be able to play the game in 4K resolution. If there’s one thing that I wish Square Enix added to the PS4 Pro version, it would be HDR as the game’s world would seriously pop-up even more. Though regardless whether you play, the game plays the same. Not to mention that those on the PS4 can use their keyboard and mouse, while also arranging the HUD based on your own personal preference.
For newcomers to this well-received MMO, it’s not too late to play with your friends as Square Enix is finally offering level boost for a price. Those who immediately want to play Stormblood without playing any of the A Realm Reborn and Heavensward content, paying a fee of $25 will get you to skip it. Also, you will have an opportunity to buy one class boost that allows you to pick any of the older class and level them up to 60. Pretty much, the game is now more open to newcomers with this option. Sure you have to pay, but the prices are pretty decent compared to other MMOs who do the same service.
With the release of Stormblood, Final Fantasy XIV continues to prove why it’s considered one of the best MMORPGs to date. Considering it’s the second highest played MMO, it shouldn’t come as a surprise Square Enix continues to deliver content subscribers love. With changes to the battle system, two additional classes and an emotional story that I personally consider among the best Final Fantasy has offered, there is more than enough to keep veterans and newcomers busy.
[Editor’s Note: Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood was reviewed on PS4 Pro and PC platform. The game was provided to us by the publisher for review purposes.]Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood Review,