Since 2013, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn has allowed fans of the veteran RPG series to journey together across the land of Eorzea. The game is a retooling of the original Final Fantasy XIV massively multiplayer online game, which shuttered in 2012 due to lacklustre gameplay. A Realm Reborn relaunched the game with a new engine and a new story set five years after the cataclysm the ended the original iteration.
Since the relaunch, Final Fantasy XIV has gone from strength to strength, preserving the quirky narrative, gameplay and graphical design of the solo games, as a deep MMO experience.
Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood is the game’s second premium expansion following 2015’s Heavensward. The expansion raises the level cap to 70 and introduces, new jobs, zones, dungeons and, of course a new story.
The new Stormblood quests take players on a journey through Gyr Abania to the expansion’s new city, Kugane. For twenty years the region of Ala Mhingo has been occupied by the Garlean Empire. To the east, Doma has suffered a similar fate under the. It is the players job to united a downtrodden people and liberating them from the invaders. The story is epic and almost as good as a standalone Final Fantasy game in its own right.
Stormblood also adds two new careers to the game, with players now able take the path of a samurai or red mage. The new content also introduces swimming and diving missions into some of the later missions.
Despite being almost five years old, FFXIV still looks fantastic. The new areas of Stormblood have a bit more polish, with an art direction reflecting their far eastern inspiration, but still in keeping with the beautiful visual style with which Final Fantasy in renown.
The new Stormblood quests cater for characters level 60 and above. If you are planning to start your FFXIV adventures now, you’ve a lot of questing to do until your character is ready for the new expansion.
There are alternatives to the hours of play to get to level 60 and to enjoy the new content. Publishers, Square Enix offer Tales of Adventure: One Hero's Journey boosts for sale on their website. With these players get and instant boost to level 60, in a career of their choice and a set of high-level armour. In game, this is achieved by your character coming a across a journal detailing the path they took to become a hero. It is the purchase of another perk, Tales of Adventure: A Realm Reborn and Heavensward, that allows you to bypass all the previous quests and start at the start of either Heavensward or Stormblood.
Unless you are joining friends with well journeyed characters, I wouldn't recommend buying either of these perks. Not only are they expensive, you are also going to miss out on a lot of really good content and be far too inexperience to get the most out of the high-level game. You are going to need friends to give you a crash course, or work your way through some of the newbie missions before levelling up.
Compared to The Elder Scrolls Online, Final Fantasy XIV is a complicated beast. The menu design and general functionality is a bit jumbled. For new users, it’s not very intuitive. In time, of course, the gameplay systems become second nature. But even an extended break from play slides you down the learning curve.
It’s not just lack of familiarity that make returning to the game a bit tricky. The developers are continuously reinvigorating the game. Whilst Stormblood is only the second expansion, there have been seven significant game updates since the launch of A Realm Reborn.
Unlike The Elder Scrolls Online, Final Fantasy XIV has stuck with its subscription model. This means that in order to get the best value from the game you need to invest the time. Unfortunately, most of us just don’t have the time to play MMOs to justify the 11 Euros/month.
Despite the subscription costs, the large number of players that you meet in the game, after five years – even in the newbie areas, is a testament to the game’s longevity. It’s easy to get yourself into a group and head off into adventure with other players.
With Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, Heavensward and now Stormblood, Square Enix pulled the game from the ashes of defeat and rebuilt it into one of the most popular MMORPGs of all time. Final Fantasy XIV is perhaps the ultimate version of the game series, with continuously evolving, persistent world. Its requires hours of investment, but overs a rewarding and satisfying game experience to those that do.