expansions

Wisdom of Nym: Why does Final Fantasy XIV feel so much better now?

It took me a very long time to cap out everything in Final Fantasy XIV when Heavensward was current. Until the moogle questline was introduced, my crafting jobs languished pretty badly. I could have gotten more materials and worked on them, but some of that required leather, and since my options were farming that myself or sending out retainers on ventures… well, that meant leveling Warrior, I didn’t want to bother, it didn’t happen. It took a long time.

By contrast, right now with Stormblood, I’m already halfway done with the leveling of combat jobs. My overall goal of leveling everything to 70 plus all of my alts should be done by mid-November. I know that later today, I’m going to be getting at least two more levels, maybe more, and I’m well on my way to my goals. And I’m not bored or putting in the time, I’m excited.

I’ve seen this sentiment going around from other people, too. There’s a general sense that leveling and just playing is much more fun with Stormblood. So what’s the difference? Why is it that now leveling up seems like less of a chore, when the usual methods of leveling quickly (FATE trains) have basically dried up to nothing?

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Path of Exile thanks everyone for the Fall of Oriath

Fans of Path of Exile are enjoying The Fall of Oriath expansion now. Anecdotal evidence might not be admissible in court, but fans seem happy. And so the next step for the development team is… not to roll around in piles of money, but to thank people. To thank everyone involved with the game, in fact.

Did you work on the game’s customer support or development teams? You deserve thanks. Responsible for back-end server maintenance or external processing services? You also deserve thanks. Heck, even if you’re just a fan eagerly clamoring for the expansion and looking forward to playing it, you deserve thanks. It’s a nice message to see, a hearty “thank you” to everyone who’s made this expansion successful in their own ways. Feel free to check out MJ’s stream below if you’d like to see how it plays before jumping in yourself.

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Mike O’Brien announces Mike Zadorojny as lead designer for the second Guild Wars 2 expansion

We’ve reached the end of the third season of Guild Wars 2’s story, and now… what comes next? A new expansion, we all know that. If you’ve forgotten, that’s being announced on August 1st, so you have a bit longer until you find out about it; until then, you can rest with some assurance knowing that Mike Zadorojny is the lead designer on the second expansion. This was announced as part of a lengthy letter from current director Mike O’Brien recapping the game up to this point and where the studio sees it heading in the future.

O’Brien’s letter is largely positive, expressing a sentiment that the game has hit a good balance with this season of the Living World and its content releases. Others are slightly less positive, pointing to Heart of Thorns as something of a blunder and the game subsequently struggling to find its footing and deliver the sort of content players were expecting. So it remains to be seen what sort of reveal will be coming on August 1st, but we can bet money that it’ll be significant. (And will probably line up perfectly with the mountain of leaks about masteries, areas, titles, and everything else, but we’ll just pretend those don’t exist.)

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Lord of the Rings Online explains the Allegiance system in Mordor

We’re probably not going to blow your mind by saying this, but here it is anyway: Mordor in Lord of the Rings Online is not a friendly place. You’re shocked, obviously. But the point is that you’ll need to have some allies to deal with the problems of that land, and those allies need to know you’re their ally. Hence, the upcoming Allegiances system, a chance for players to improve reputation and standing with one of four factions for cosmetic rewards and unique storylines.

It’s important to note that the four factions (the Hobbits of the Company, Durin’s Folk, the Court of Lothlorien, and the Kingdom of Gondor) will not affect your access to endgame gear, even though the Allegiance system will be tied into the endgame. But your choice is mostly between the four stories you wish to follow and which cosmetic gear you want to access first. Still, much like Merry and Pippin’s oaths of service (which formed the initial concept for this system), it’s going to be important from a narrative standpoint to consider whom your character will bend a knee for.

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Take a look at Path of Exile’s new Charged Dash skill in action

Charged Dash is a new skill coming to Path of Exile, and when you read about how it works it probably seems a little counter-intuitive. See, when you use it, you don’t actually dash; you project a mirage of yourself forward for as long as you channel the ability. The mirage movement is based on your movement speed, only slightly faster, but you still only actually dash when you stop channeling. Then you deal damage to everything along your path and explode in electricity.

Of course, when you see it in action, it all makes perfect sense, and the designers helpfully point out how the skill can be used as both a movement tool and a damage skill with varying aspects. Check out the video just below to see it in action. It’s a bit like watching a lightning bolt find its destination, which seems appropriate.

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Neverwinter shows off the exotic monsters to be found in Tomb of Annihilation

One of the big selling points of Neverwinter’s upcoming Tomb of Annihilation is the presence of dinosaurs to fight. You would think that after fighting a huge toothy lizard that breathes fire and flies that a T-Rex would seem like a step down, but somehow that’s not the case. But you will be fighting other menaces there, as detailed in the latest development update; players will also be facing off against uncontrolled undead and the savage yuan-ti alongside dinosaurs of all shapes and sizes.

Still, the tyrannosaurus is an obvious set piece to fight, to the point that it gets a whole article explaining just how this massive lizard moves in combat. What it lacks in spellcasting prowess it makes up for in sheer, brutal efficiency; you can check out the monstrous creature’s animations in the video just below. It’s big, it’s deadly, and it moves with an almost tangible sense of weight; you’ll probably have an easier time watching it now than when you’re fighting it.

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Path of Exile updates fans on the state of Fall of Oriath’s beta

The sixth week of beta testing of Path of Exile’s next expansion is kicking off, and the good news is that the developers still aren’t planning any wipes for the beta. It’s humming right along, and the wave three patch is right around the corner. This patch brings changes such as the previously discussed Pierce/Chance to Pierce shifts, along with several under-the-hood performance improvements that ought to help in the future. Game balance in general continues to be closely watched and addressed.

More work is also being done on early tutorials as well as the Labyrinth, which has fairly little time to be tested and thus is something the development team is very interested in hearing feedback on. The next wave of beta is currently slated to take place within 10-15 days, so if you’re invested in doing the work to test the expansion beta, you should get in there and offer some feedback sooner rather than later.

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Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood has launched today

The time is finally here. While pre-ordered players were able to play from Friday onward, Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood officially launches today. Players of all sorts can log in and start fighting for the liberation of Ala Mhigo and Doma beneath the heel of Imperial occupation; the developers have even officially confirmed that the instance issues hitting the game at the start of Early Access have been largely resolved. (Most players were able to solve those issues on Sunday, but the official statement is still nice.)

Not currently a subscriber? You can take part in the game’s Welcome Back campaign to take a trip in and see what all of the fuss over Red Mage and Samurai is about. Planning to remain a subscriber? You can take part in the game’s first subscription loyalty campaign to pick up a mount based off of the Falcon in Final Fantasy VI. Just want to catch a roundup and the launch trailer again? Jump on down below, friends.

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Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood early access is live

The time has come, everyone. Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood is now available for play on PlayStation 4 and PC, assuming you pre-ordered and registered your early access code. You can log in right now and explore everything! Or you can sit at work and know there will be a queue and everyone will have Red Mage to 70 by the time you get home. One or the other.

And yes, there is a queue. At the time of this writing, an issue is also affecting instanced content, preventing certain job quests or content in the Duty Finder from being accessed, but the development team is hard at work correcting the issues. So expect issues, but also expect work on them. It’s almost like an expansion launch or something.

Of course, if you are stuck at work, you can enjoy a video tour of the expansion dungeons just past the break. And don’t worry, it’ll still be here in a little bit. There are only, like, five level-capped Red Mages so far. That’s hardly any.

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The Daily Grind: Do you alter your sleep schedule for major MMO releases?

Friday is when Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood comes out. It’ll be early on Friday, too, at around 5:00 a.m. EDT. And that’s not too far from when I normally wake up, which means that the temptation to wake up a few hours earlier and take part in what will no doubt be a mad rush on the servers is… significant, let’s say.

Of course, I remember when World of Warcraft would launch an expansion and my wife and I would actually stay up past midnight to take part in the launch and the first moments of live service. We’d usually try to nap the day before, rearrange our entire schedules crudely around the servers being up. It was only for a couple of days, but it was notable.

At this point, I won’t do that, but I could live with getting up a couple of hours early. What about you, dear readers? Do you alter your sleep schedule for major MMO releases? And if so, what do you consider “major” enough to qualify?

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Take a tour through the eastern zones coming with Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood

Yesterday was a big preview for Final Fantasy XIV fans about the upcoming Stormblood, full of details on the abilities of every single job, one of the dungeons, and so forth. Did you miss it? You can catch up on the whole thing from our landing post right here. But it didn’t include a real look at the areas where you’ll be using all of these new abilites. What’s the actual landscape going to be like?

Good news: the new Tour of the East video can be watched just below, and it should give you an idea of the regions you’ll be exploring around Ala Mhigo and in Othard alike. At six minutes long, it’s a quick watch, but it should help whet your appetite for the expansion’s early access launch on June 16th. Consider it a look into your future of exploration.

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Final Fantasy XIV Stormblood preview: The dungeon

Don’t miss the rest of our Stormblood preview coverage!
One of the core parts of Final Fantasy XIV is dungeon crawling. I’m reluctant as heck to say that it lies at the very heart of the game – after all, there’s acres of content and gameplay which never involves setting foot in a dungeon, and that’s even if you count the other instanced content which is technically not a dungeon under the same header – but it’s sure somewhere near the heart. One of the lungs, perhaps. Or the aorta. It’s important, that’s the real takeaway.

So it only makes sense that as part of our hands-on look at Stormblood, we would get to dive into a dungeon. I can’t tell you the story behind Shisui of the Violet Tides here, but I can tell you it was synced to level 63 and it was very visibly part of the aesthetics of Othard. It was time to take on the challenge of the dungeon with nothing more than pluck, determination, and a large number of role skills and class changes pretty much none of us had yet acclimated to!

And thus I took Red Mage as my job in the dungeon, because I hadn’t made it hard enough on myself yet.

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Final Fantasy XIV Stormblood preview: The healers

Don’t miss the rest of our Stormblood preview coverage!
Healers! You need them in Final Fantasy XIV. Seriously, they’re vital, and not just to make sure the tank doesn’t enjoy a new experience with several new unscheduled puncture holes. Everyone needs healers, and the three existing healer jobs will have to work overtime in Stormblood to be as flashy and fun as the new DPS jobs. Even though Square-Enix is pretty certain that anyone who has signed up to be a healer at this point is pretty well committed.

The healer role is also the hardest one to test out and get a feel for without a group, which means that my impressions of the healers is also perhaps the least in-depth out of all three. This isn’t because I don’t love healers, just because there’s only so much you can glean from not playing a healer in dungeons. But I did still get a chance to play around with the relevant tools, and I think it’s safe to say that if you’re already fond of playing a healer, it’s going to be both easier and more engaging in Stormblood.

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