Gameplay: 8 / 10
Graphics: 9 / 10
Replay Value: 10 / 10
Sound and Music: 10 / 10
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward is an Expansion Pack for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Please find the review for the original game at: http://www.fortressofsolitude.co.za/os_game/final-fantasy-xiv-realm-reborn-review/
I’ve never been a big online gamer. This is partially because of my not so great internet connection, and also partially the way the average person online tends to annoy me when they’re not sitting right across from me. However, last time I logged onto my FFXIV account, I was sitting at a grand total of 13 days spent playing this game. Now I know that’s small potatoes for many juggernauts of nerdom amongst us, but for me, it really is something special. FFXIV is the only MMORPG I’ve kept coming back to over and over again with each content patch. And the first official expansion has been well worth the additional investment.
Here are the basic details of what’s new from Heavensward: a new playable race, the dragon-like humanoids the Au-Ra, three new classes, one for each of the holy trinity, massive new areas, new dungeons, raids, flying mounts, direct X11 support and an extensive new addition to the story in the northern lands of Ishgard. All of these are what should be expected from an expansion, and they provide plenty hours of activity and a new surge of life on all the servers. The community is rocking at the moment, and there’s never been a better time to jump right in.
For those who played at launched and then stopped, over the last year and a half there’s been several massive content patches that brought the game up to version 2.55. The jump of free content from 2.0 to 2.55 was almost as much again as the base game. Heavensward now makes the leap to 3.0. The good news is that there are hundreds of hours of content available. The bad news is that the expansion content is mostly locked behind the story wall, so if you’re a new player, you’ll have to play for quite a long time before you get to the new areas. However, in my opinion any complaint about too much content is usually a bit of a cop-out.
As for story, I think it’s getting better and better. MMO’s usually have fairly basic stories but FFXIV is building up a rich mythos that keeps hitting you hard with a great series of twists, turns and awesome cut scenes, characters, and worlds to explore. In this expansion, the focus is mostly on the conflict between an ancient theocracy and a race of sentient dragons, and the way those groups are handled at time may not always be incredibly original, but it still is done with a great deal of heart and charm at all times.
Gameplay is great too: classes have been well balanced over the last few patches; dungeons have great content, and new raids keep on being added at all times. Even though Heavensward is recently out, already a few free content patches have added a new raid series, the goblin primal Alexander. Graphics and sound are icing on the cake. The visuals mostly look great and the sound is fantastic, with many memorable tracks.
In my opinion as a committed but not extremely hardcore MMO player, I think FFXIV also has a good balance of gear treadmills. The best equipment takes commitment and effort to earn, and is shown as a mark of honour in how it lets you access the top tier content. As each new patch comes out, and new gear is released, the older stuff is cycled back to being easier for newer players to access, as new high tier gear is released. So the hardcores keep their sense of success, and the more casual players can also keep up at their own pace, and the two get rewarded fairly.
As you may have noticed, I feel somewhat positively about Heavensward. Doubtless, if you dislike the MMO genre completely, this is still an MMO and probably won’t convince you. However, if you found that FFXIV was a little bit flawed, but you still liked it, or you haven’t logged in for a while, or you’re looking for a new MMO, there’s never been a better time to try this one out. The game is often packaged in stores at the moment as “Final Fantasy XIV: Complete Edition” or something to that affect. That labelling means that the game contains both the base edition and the expansion. It runs great on either PC or on PS4, but be warned especially in South Africa that a PS4 will need a pretty decent internet speed if you want to keep up. If you want, the game also has a free trial version available to be access online.
By the way, I’m on EU server Phoenix. Look up Argathus Rhalgatosh and we can go exploring sometime together.