ffxiv stormblood media tour 2017

Final Fantasy XIV Stormblood preview: Our interview with Naoki Yoshida

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It would be wrong to say that Final Fantasy XIV is the work of Naoki Yoshida alone, but it’s sure easy to make the mistake. The director and producer of the game has a near-legendary status among fans due to his intense personality, his friendly demeanor, and the single-minded dedication to the game. In the time since the game’s relaunch, he’s become the face of the entire development team, and that seems unlikely to change any time soon with the release of Stormblood.

Obviously, my focus during the media event was finding out as much as I could about what was going on with the actual mechanics of the expansion, but I also got a chance to pick Yoshi-P’s brain a bit regarding more specific reasoning behind existing changes and what changes were yet to come. But as someone who played Machinist extensively, my first question was both obvious and straightforward: Why the big change to castbars just to revert it in the very next expansion?

Yoshida laughed and said he was quite familiar with the associated “Bard Mage” jokes, lest anyone be unsure.

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Final Fantasy XIV Stormblood preview: The dungeon

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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

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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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Final Fantasy XIV Stormblood preview: Ranged DPS jobs

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I have to say that the Live Letter was a wee bit frustrating in places. How great would it have been to reveal that there are no more cast bars for ranged DPS in the expansion? I mean, probably about as great as it actually was for Final Fantasy XIV players, but I would have been the one to do it. Ah, well.

Much like melee DPS, ranged DPS is near and dear to my heart simply because one of my main jobs is ranged DPS. I play a lot of Machinist, although part of that admittedly derives from the period when no one could tell the difference between a good Machinist and a bad one. I was looking forward to Stormblood just because I wanted to see what was coming next.

The answer, in short, is that ranged DPS has probably received the biggest overhaul of all the roles in the game. Rather than having its support role kind of cobbled together based on what players should want, it now has a whole lot of abilities players actually will want to use. And all of the fun gun-or-bow action you’ve come to love regardless.

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Final Fantasy XIV Stormblood preview: Caster DPS jobs

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If there’s one field of jobs that’s never really locked me in during previous Final Fantasy XIV content, it’s caster DPS. I can understand the appeal on an academic level, but the reality is that I just never felt like it was all that cool. It didn’t help that our options were Black Mage or Summoner only for quite some time, and since roleplaying hadn’t dictated that those particular jobs matched any of my characters… well, that made it easier to step away from the role altogether.

Things are changing in Stormblood, though. For one thing, there’s obviously the simple fact that caster DPS options are getting expanded to include Red Mage, although I detail that in another piece as part of this same series. The extant caster jobs have also undergone some pretty significant changes, though, so even veteran players of Summoner and Black Mage should see their jobs feel… similar, but not quite the same. And, mercifully, far less reliant on being trigger-happy and rushing through everything.

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Final Fantasy XIV Stormblood preview: Melee DPS jobs

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Oh, melee DPS, you matter to me. You matter to a lot of people, in fact. There is something fundamentally satisfying to the human brain inherent in running up to things and smacking them with sharp weaponry. And this expansion continues making melee the bulkiest category of the DPS options, with four different jobs dealing damage in the paint and another job lunging in and out of melee range. Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood is not a game about snipers.

Considering that one of my main jobs in the game is a melee DPS (Ninja), I was rather interested to see how this role shook out. I was also at least a little bit anxious, as the abilities that we saw didn’t exactly light me on fire just yet. However, I’m happy to say that the overall impression I walked away with was a positive one. There are changes here, yes, but they’re good all around.

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Final Fantasy XIV Stormblood preview: Tank jobs

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I really wanted Samurai to be a tank. There’s not a lot of specific reasoning for this; I can point to reasons why Samurai could have been a tank in Stormblood, but I suppose some of it just comes down to wanting a new healer and a new tank in the latest Final Fantasy XIV expansion. However, that’s the last I want to talk about it, unlike the legion of people still complaining about the fact that Dark Knight is a tank.

Instead of new tanks, we get a refinement of the existing tanks in the game’s second expansion. By and large, they should feel pretty familiar to players, but the subtle changes made here and there definitely up the jobs in my estimation. I already play these jobs on various characters, but I’m looking forward to the new tools they’re getting in the expansion. Even if none of them get to include a katana; I’ve moved past that now.

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Final Fantasy XIV Stormblood preview: Samurai and Red Mage impressions

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It should come as pretty much no surprise that one of my first focal points when getting hands-on time with Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood was learning the new jobs. For one thing, I have characters who I want to use these as main jobs; for another thing, these are new jobs, and thus they’ve got new mechanics and all sorts of new stuff. Refinement and a quintet of new abilities just can’t compare to a whole 70 levels of new abilities, after all.

Beyond that, I was curious about how they were going to manage the mechanics in general. Red Mage needed to feel like a hybrid melee and caster damage dealer that didn’t exactly mirror anything in the game but still felt related to Black Mage and White Mage both, and Samurai needed to carve a distinct space for itself in the niche of melee damage. So there were question marks.

I’m happy to say that I walked away from both eager to play more, however. Both of the new jobs feel like responsive damage dealers with very different tricks, feeling no more powerful than existing jobs but definitely feeling very unique. They fill niches which heretofore had not been filled, and while they may not be exactly what you’re looking for, they deliver on the promise of their names.

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