Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood Preview - Should You Buy or Not Buy It

Expected for June 20th on PlayStation 4 and PC, the second extension of Final Fantasy XIV, Stormblood, will be bringing a huge amount of content to an already large game. I was lucky enough to be invited by a colleague during a week enough to accompany them with a quick preview of this extension.
Final Fantasy XIV, MMORPG of Square Enix, no longer needs an introduction at this point, although not many will remember its catastrophic launch a few years ago. Now in good shape, the title is set to welcome its second extension, Stormblood, almost 2 years after the release of the first, Heavensward. With an already particularly rich content, the game will be expanded with new areas to explore - some on a whole new continent - the imposing city of Kugane, inspired by the Far East, or the city-state of Ala Mhigo, a place that will have a major importance in the scenario of this new extension.

But we can also mention two new jobs - Samurai and Red Mage - the possibility of swimming and diving, new dungeons and raids, a new residential zone, a redesign of the combat system and a maximum level raised to 70. Obviously, these are just some of the novelties of Stormblood: difficult to list everything, especially since we have only been able to preview it for half an hour.

Our stroll through the Stormblood environment first led us through the streets of Kugane, a port city on Hingashi Island, known for its very isolationist policy - understand that it is rather enclosed in itself, and (theoretically) prohibits violence, which could be interesting in terms of the welcome dialogues that its inhabitants could give to the players.

Unfortunately, we were not able to take any quests during our preview, so our contact with the locals was limited. Having explored the corners of the city and discovered it's refreshing inspirations coming straight from Japan during the Edo period, we decided to look at another of the intriguing novelties of the extension, namely swimming and diving. To do this, head for a new explorable area, named The Ruby Sea, the occasion to test swimsuits that have been in the game for ages without any real use.
At first, we have fun trying the different frames under water, while trying to reach the limits of our diving area: concretely, the surface to be explored is consistent, but apart from swimming there is not much to do. But there is an interest in this because, in the seabed, there are villages, as well as several areas for quests. And this leads to another important point to note: the aquatic environments are instantiated. If swimming on the surface of the water is an experience that lives on the main map, a transition of a few seconds is necessary when diving. Same when you go into an underwater village. For me personally, this somewhat killed the immersion a bit.
As for what this novelty reserves, Naoki Yoshida confirmed that we should not expect Blitzball games anytime soon. This game of water ball, immortalized in Final Fantasy X, seems too complicated to develop to find a consistent place in the MMORPG. Developers seem rather cautious about spending time on an add-on gameplay that could potentially be shunned by players.

Wandering in the accessible areas leads us to meet the new creatures of the bestiary - including humanoid tortoises reminiscent of the Ninja Turtles - allowed us to test out the two new jobs, namely the Samurai and the Red Mage. Both are DPS, the first being melee and the second being ranged.

DPS enthusiasts will find here two frankly enjoyable jobs to play with, on one side, the Samurai, a melee attacker with fast combos and a katana capable of loading energy to trigger special attacks. Meanwhile , the Red Mage, like the Black Mage, casts spells at a distance through a magical crystal. It also has a rapier to defend itself in close combat. This makes it a particularly interesting hybrid DPS to play with since it is possible to combine spells cast at a distance with melee attacks in combos.
Finally, these two new jobs will not be associated with any class and will be accessible directly at level 50. The Red Mage should even be accessible from the content of A Realm Reborn, which means that it should be possible to play well before you reach the content of Stormblood.
Our Stormblood tour ended with a visit to one of the upcoming dungeons, namely Shisui of the Violet Tides, an underwater leveling instance accessible from level 63. On the program, some new mechanics of gameplay taking advantage of teamwork, and three AOE bosses focused on water spells or debuffs. Without spoiling what awaits the players in this instance, it can be said that the visit is not without some poetry, Naoki Yoshida having explained that the team was inspired by Japanese legends to built the path of the dungeon.

Knowing that the lifetime of Stormblood should be equivalent to that of Heavensward, the substantial content of this new extension should extend the experience of dozens more hours of play, not to mention the future updates. The massive addition of content thus pushes the endgame significantly.

These additions are complemented by multiple gameplay adjustments designed to make the gaming experience more comfortable for both regulars and newcomers through less restrictions. All battle jobs will also benefit from a facelift on the side of the skills: concretely, the skills rarely used by players or those tending to make certain classes too powerful compared to others will simply be suppressed. Naoki Yoshida explained that this was done on a statistical basis, but also by consulting the feedback from the community: in all, between 30 and 40 actions will disappear with the arrival of Stormblood. Similarly, the talent system will also be replaced by actions specific to the five roles proposed in the game - melee DPS, ranged DPS, Tank, Healer and Mage - rather than jobs, to make this mechanism easier to grasp.

Finally, it would be lying to say that the arrival of paying shortcuts in Final Fantasy XIV left us indifferent. To summarize , Square Enix will offer, on the sidelines of the release of Stormblood, the possibility of acquiring scenario shortcuts allowing players to completely phase through the basic game and the first extension to directly access the content of Stormblood. In essence, it's like dodging hundreds of hours of gameplay to go directly to 4.0 version of the title. This proposal, clearly intended for new players who want to join their friends beyond A Realm Reborn or Heavensward, will of course not be free and you'll have to spend between $18 and $25 to skip the content up to Stormblood, plus an extra $25 to get a job up to level 60.

Stormblood will definitely push back the endgame of Final Fantasy XIV, and bring a lot of optimization to both veterans and newcomers. However, it is questionable whether the regulars of the title will not be overwhelmed by the suppression of actions or the simplification of the fighting, and whether these same veteran players will not be too penalized by the facilities granted to the new players.

SPECIAL THANKS TO Stephanie for letting me tag along









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