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Review: Final Fantasy XIV: a Realm Reborn – Stormblood

Final Fantasy XIV: a Realm Reborn has had its fair share of highs and lows. The first time the game was released to the public, was a dark day for the developers. People were flaming the game with different problems: no content past level 20, crappy dungeons, jobs were poorly balanced, crafting was too complex, … and many other bugs: technical and graphical. The developers took a step back and remade Final Fantasy XIV into Final Fantasy XIV: a Realm Reborn and it was a huge success. The first expansion expanded the realm even more with a new area to explore, new jobs and a revitalized combat system! This time, it’s no different and the changes in Stormblood will fuel the players with content juice for many years to come.

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Stormblood takes the players to the eastern parts of the universe where suppressed kingdoms seek the salvation of an uncommon empire. With a great set of voice actors, cinematic videos and an interesting “single player” story will empower the player to fasten his way to the end game content in a heartbeat.

“If you haven’t already, now is the time to start up your adventure in Final Fantasy XIV”

Let’s start at the beginning of why this expansion will be a great addition to the current realm. There are 2 new jobs that you’re able to play: the Red Mage and Samurai. The Red Mage is something different but very pleasant to play. As a Red Mage, you’re set of skills is balanced between ranged spells and close combat skills. To be effective in battle, you’ll have to consider 2 different bars. There’s a white mana bar and a blue one, you’ll have to cast different abilities to build up both mana bars. You also have to make sure that these bars are balanced, if not… a penalty will occur. Once both of these bars are fully charged, it’ll offer you an amazing set of mana spending skills that’ll obliterate most foes. The Red Mage is also a very skilled mage that’ll be able to spend each second spell without any mana cost. This makes it possible to fire off different heavy attacks as quickly as you can towards the enemy or revive a teammate in a blink of an eye. It’s an amazing addition to the game but you’ll quickly start to notice that the class is quite “simple”. A couple of hours with this class and you’ll swing out these rotations without any thoughtful moment. Once you get the hang out of your rotation, the class begins to feel like an over the top mini game.

 

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The Samurai class is definitely a step up when it comes to “experienced classes”. It has the same standard attack rotation as the Ninja or the Dragoon but with some nice tweaks. For example, your standard attack rotation will let you gather 3 symbols that are used for special skills in the heat of the moment. It’s totally up to you if you want to use more skills with DOT or burst out your heavy attack skills ASAP. Players will appreciate both of these jobs, there’s something here for each player out there that’s still looking for a decent DPS character.

Let’s talk a bit about the “revitalized” combat system. Every other “already existing” job within the game has been overhauled by the developers. Every job has a bar that works differently than any other job but the core mechanics are pretty much the same. Each class has several skills that build up this special bar and from the moment this bar is fully charged, it can be used to activate special abilities. Also, existing skills have been simplified or even removed to create a better overview of all the skills you have listed, to focus the players more on the basic combat-mechanics in a combination of this “special bar” instead of focusing on all these different basic icons that overwhelm your interface.

 

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It’s a great change for players who are looking for an action packed game with the RPG elements of a classic MMORPG and for some jobs, this has been an excellent overhaul because some jobs become more interesting to play. However, it has a downside as well. Some of the “class based mechanics” have been changed, that made the job a bit more boring to play, for example, the Ninja has been simplified and not everyone will like the change. Then again, if the developers don’t innovate, players will leave and they’ll try to find other games that can fulfill their thirst for “challenging” classes. Square Enix took a risk and for the most part, it’s appreciated but they still will have some patching to do, to make it a bit more balanced and interesting for some.

 

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The “real” endgame is present after you’ve reached level 70 and even though the story is been told there are still a lot of things to do. Just like any other MMORPG, it’s all about defeating new bosses (Primals in FFXIV) and looting some new gear. The two Primals Lakshmi and Susano deliver an excellent and exciting battle but they aren’t the toughest bosses around. A gathering of some focused players will be enough to take them down and reward yourselves with some decent loot. Although these battles seem simple enough to complete, it’s still better than the Primals in the first FFXIV. Those Primals took hours to take them down fluently but times have changed. If your thirst for content still lingers, there’s a new raid called the Omega which is a great follow-up on your list of achievements. The raid Omega has different difficulty settings that’ll challenge the casual and even the most veteran players. Omega offers some interesting mechanics during the battle: you’ll have to focus your attacks on different levels to be successful. In the beginning, it seems impossible but once you’ve got the hang of it, the feeling of success is just overwhelming. The one thing that’s noticeable, is the fact that there’s a lot of damage dealers within the “search community” of the game. It takes quite some time to get a decent group since there are fewer healers/ tanks than damage dealers. This is a problem that has been present from the beginning, so it would be great if they could figure something out to make this “group searching” feature a lot more fluently.

 

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Each MMORPG has PVP gameplay HUB’s and it’s no different for FFXIV. The game had a lot of patching going on when it comes to balancing PVP but this is the same for many other MMORPG’s. WOW and GW2 are being patched monthly to make the PVP section a lot more balancing but it’s impossible to satisfy most of the players. FFXIV did make an interesting change on the PVP section which makes the game one of the most balancing PVP’s out there. The developers released a patch in which “armor” doesn’t influence a player’s ability to become victorious during a PVP battle. A level 1 job player can take on any other level 70 player fully equipped with the best gear available. Honest PVP is the main goal here because not everyone has the time to raid each night, get the best gear and win every single battle.

There are also macros in the game that offers the player to perform a rotation with the touch of a single button which made PVP a bit more simplistic. This changes the whole “skill” aspect as one rotation can be linked to another rotation, this creates a more “strategic approach” that’ll take players hours to develop. What works best for you? Think it, create it and use it to your advantage. This is a big step forward when it comes to PVP. You’re also able to level up your character through PVP, so level up your character the way you want it to be.

 

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Conclusion:

Stormblood is a great addition to the FFXIV realm and it has been undergoing some interesting changes when it comes to the MMORPG genre. New jobs are always a plus when it comes to “keeping the players interested” and these 2 jobs help the players find a class that suits them best. The raid at the end is a great way to gear up your character as it’s exhilarating to play with those new levels of difficulty and rewarding loot. The developers took a risk to overhaul all the jobs to make them more interesting to play and it was a good decision, although it does need some patching it’s a fact that it’ll keep the game “vivid”. The single-player story has a great cast of voice actors and has been written greatly. The PVP overhaul will keep its player base stable for many months to come. If you haven’t already, now is the time to start up your adventure in Final Fantasy XIV.

8.5/10

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