The letter also revealed that PvP will be changed to have specific job layouts for PvP, with a small selection of traits and abilities replacing the existing system of PvP ranks and improvements. Players will also have access to jumping potions starting on June 16th, with one potion allowing you to level a specific job to 60 instantly and another allowing you to flag all of the MSQ as cleared up through Heavensward. Both will cost $25, so you can use them to speed your way to being ready for all of the new tricks shown below in Stormblood.
Heavensward is an expansion for Final Fantasy XIV.
All right, the answer to the last question there is pretty transparently a “no,” but let’s not derail the opening preamble here too badly. We’re considering here.
The biggest problem with evaluating any expansion at this point is that until Stormblood releases, we don’t really have a great deal of context, just the base game and what came afterward. Context matters a great deal, but it’s easy to speculate about whether Heavensward will go down as being one of the best or one of the worst expansions. But we can at least look at it in relation to the base game, and what it changed.
We’ve covered the majority of the game’s battle content, but there’s still a bit more stuff to cover, and I could probably go into more depth on a few areas if I wanted this to be even longer. But let’s start by covering the content that, arguably, flopped pretty badly on launch, to the point where the whole system got yanked, revised, and returned in a much more tolerable form. Which has its own problems, but hopefully provides a good template moving forward.
If you’re worried about the overall health of Square-Enix, a glance at the company’s most recent financials should assuage any concerns, since the past financial year was quite good for the company. That’s with an extraordinary loss in the company’s yearly evaluation, even. But if you’re worried about the company’s health when it comes just to online games, that’s… also just fine, according to the same report. It’s not as good as it could be, but it’s fine.
The report states that ongoing revenue from the company’s online titles (Final Fantasy XI, Final Fantasy XIV, and Dragon Quest X in Japan) was steady and reliable, although actual sales and operating income were lower due to the lack of an expansion disk during the year. Considering that the point of comparison was the previous financial year and the release of Heavensward, this would fall under the “unsurprising” header. With Stormblood on the way later this year, it’s good for fans to see that the company continues to post solid results for its various online offerings.
I’ve also gone back through and re-titled some portions of this series simply because numbering wasn’t doing any favors to the overall structure. So if you’re looking through the roundup, it should be easier to tell what each installment is all about.
The “trials” category is, of course, pretty broad; it covers Alexander, the full alliance content, and the Primal fights. It’s also where we start running into some content where I personally just sort of nod and opt out… but we’ll get to that in the column itself. Onward! We can see the endpoint!
Seriously, if I haven’t mentioned this lately, I really like Palace of the Dead and I can’t wait for our next deep dungeon. It’s a really cool addition.
We’ve also got a roundup of all of these columns at the end, if you need to catch up, because fitting in a rundown of everything was getting increasingly difficult as I’d been doing these in-review columns for more than a month now. Last week, I talked chiefly about leveling dungeons and the zones we ran through along the way; this week, it’s time to start talking about things at the top. Start, naturally, with the expert-level dungeons.
Also, we’re reaching the point where I know I’m going to forget to mention at least one or two things that were really keen from the expansion, but that’s a different discussion.
In terms of sheer volume, of course, Heavensward nearly matched what we got from the base game in terms of patches, and arguably surpassed it in some categories; sure, we only got 10 dungeons from patches rather than 15, but if you didn’t have any interest in Coil in 2.x, you got the entirety of Alexander, which was new. But volume alone isn’t the determinant of how good that content was. So let’s start in on that, albeit not with the dungeons.
Of course, it also had other stuff in it, so this time around we can start going into other useful stuff like new jobs and class design. Which is a good thing, since, again, we’ve got a little while longer until Stormblood arrives, but not forever. So enough preamble; let’s finish up talking about the stories in Heavensward, especially as we’re moving into the parts that just unambiguously did not land well.
Unfortunately for the overall evaluation, that leaves us today diving into the side stories… which is a much less positive tale. Because some of these were just weak, some of them were mildly engaging, and several were flat-out bad. But there were a lot of them, so I can’t be too harsh to the conceptual level, even if the execution was… lacking. Severely, in some places.
So let’s start in with the part of the stories that almost everyone seems to have forgot existed.
Here’s your solid deal for the day: Humble Bundle is selling both the core Final Fantasy XIV game and its first expansion, Heavensward, for a mere $19.79. Even though this is a subscription game, that price should save you some dough to spend on your second and third month of play.
Keep in mind that FFXIV’s second expansion, Stormblood, is coming out this June. If you haven’t gotten into this game yet, this would be an excellent price point for entry. The deal will expire sometime next Monday, so you have a few days to decide.
Take a look at Eliot’s Heavensward retrospective to help you make up your mind!
Of course, it’s also difficult to evaluate expansions as they’re live, simply because you lack a certain degree of perspective. Still, Heavensward is over, and while I can’t put it in the context of the game’s overall history, I can look at it as it stands as a whole. With five major patches and a whole lot of storytelling, how was the expansion? Didi it start strong and then falter? Did it deliver what it promised? Was it fun all the way through?
The answers to those questions are complex. Fortunately, we’ve got a couple of months to examine the expansion before the next one comes out. So let’s get started with the story.
But maybe you haven’t actually bought the game yet. Does the patch still hold something of interest for you? The answer is yes; this patch marks the abolition of the 14-day free trial’s time limitations. So the free trial is now unlimited, although you can’t get higher than level 35 and you’re limited to the base game without Heavensward content. You can check out some screenshots for the patch just below if that’s what you need as an eventual motivator, at that.
I’d say “all according to plan” if I remembered actually planning it this way.
As with previous installments, I’d advise you to take a look back through past articles in this series; the first one has tanks and the general philosophy, while the second column tackles melee damage and the third tackles ranged damage of all flavors. Today, we’re finishing things off with healers. That’s kind of a tangled mess with every option other than White Mage, but we’ll plot a course.