Final Fantasy XIV – Heavensward (DLC) Review

It is finally upon us.

Final Fantasy XIV Heavensward.

June 23rd marks the first expansion to a highly successful re-release of a once failed MMO. Now, let’s call this expansion what it really is just to simplify things – a really, really, really big patch, already known to us fans and fellow Eorzeans as 3.0. In this review, I will go over just about anything you can think of – the new story, dungeons and raids, how fast the increased level cap goes (though understand it will vary based on the player), and most importantly, the new playable jobs – Dark Knight, Machinist, and Astrologian. Now, before you read all about the expansion, if you haven’t played A Realm Reborn, I would definitely recommend going back and reading that review first so you understand what changes have taken place between then and now.

*** This review is likely to contain spoilers being it’s for an expansion. Perhaps not of the story, per se, but maybe of content/classes/etc. All images you see within were screenshots of my own experiences ***

Picking up immediately where Patch 2.55 leaves us, the Scions of the Seventh Dawn are trying to piece themselves and their world back together after the surprising, traumatic, and dramatic events that took place. With the help of your new allies, you are granted access to Ishgard and promised sanctuary by the Lord there, who welcomes your presence. After a tour of the capital, Alphinaud and Tataru find themselves in a little bit of trouble and you must come to their rescue (which is one of my favorite parts of this expansion’s story!). Not long after coming to their aid, you are summoned to the chapel to speak with the man I will refer to as “The Pope” due to his looks, and he gives you a formal apology for what took place before dismissing everyone else in the room and speaking to you privately. He informs you that he has had several encounters with the Ascians, who are apparently still at large and plotting. You return to Alphinaud and friends, inform them of what’s new, and word gets back from other sources that the bells have sounded and Nidhogg and his dragon army are coming. Ishgard must prepare for war.

Being one of many who pre-ordered the game and got early access on June 19th, everyone went headstrong into this expansion either starting a new job or taking their favorite one and attacking the Main Scenario Quest (MSQ) on the long grind to lv60. Now, as I said, “long” can be a varied and stretched definition as you have those uber-insane players who it seems do not ever eat, sleep, or sh*t because I was seeing lv60s within 48 hours – that’s starting at lv50. I have a friend in my Free Company who already has a lv60 Astrologian, which (as the other two new jobs) started at lv30. For myself, a person with two jobs and ADHD, either of those scenarios are impossible because I like dabbling a little bit into everything and enjoying it. The journey from lv50 to lv60 grants a new, quested ability every two levels from your job’s NPC. This changes the job ability quests from every 5 levels to every 2 being that more xp is required between levels. 50-53 ranges up to 1.5 million required, 54-56 ranges up to 2.2 mil and from there to 60, it can get as high as 3.8, almost 4 million experience to reach level cap. That’s PER LEVEL folks, the struggle is real! I suspect it’ll be the same for crafting classes.

Another aspect of this expansion pack which many have been waiting for is the ability to fly. During the MSQ, the player receives 3 different flying mounts, the first being a black chocobo obtained after you rescue Alpinaud and Tataru in the part I just mentioned above. After the lv55 story dungeon, you get a personal airship, and finally, after you finish the MSQ at lv60, your reward is a dragon mount! Now, flying isn’t what it is in World of Warcraft (lame) in this game. Before you can actually fly, you must attune yourself to various aether currents in a zone to learn its suggested wind patterns, etc. It can feel stupid to be required to do, however it forces you to earn the ability to fly, not just unlock it and “Up, Up, and Away” which is something I am glad for. It also makes exploring the new zones fun. Unlocking aether currents doesn’t only happen via ground exploration, you can unlock also via some quests. Flying isn’t always going to be easy though, as you may end up in a zone where it’s dangerous due to storms. The controls while flying are quite simple. As you can imagine, once you can fly, you don’t want to be in an area you can’t! Also, upon completion of the (side) quest, “I Believe I Can Fly”, you can use your legacy, company/companion, and fat chocobos as flying mounts as well. Don’t forget that if you purchase the Collector’s Edition, you will receive a flying Griffin mount too!

Before I go to the new jobs, I’ll just touch on the topic of the new dungeons and raids. I can tell you that they are all beautiful and well designed for what each represents either in story and/or its origins. Though some of them seem to be a mixture of previous dungeons both in terms of appearance and inner mechanics. For example, the first one you unlock via side quests is Dusk Vigil, on the outside a cross between Snowcloak and Stone Vigil with a Heavensward twist for the boss fight at the end. The major raid, Alexander, would not be available right at launch to give players a chance to cap their levels and gear, so there isn’t much to be said on raiding – for now. Moving right along to what most are anxious for, new jobs!

The Astrologian is proving to be a new favorite of many, including myself, for its supportive versatility with the “Draw” ability being its biggest focal point. The Astrologian uses one of six different random “tarot cards” so to say, that have different benefits. Draw will select a card at random and your job is to know what other player will most benefit from the card’s benefit. It’s only a 20 second buff, but the cooldown on Draw is only 30 seconds. Other abilities later on allow you to shuffle, put cards back into the deck for later use, etc. The six cards are:

  • The Balance = + 10% Attack Damage Bonus
  • The Arrow = + 10% Attack Speed Bonus
  • The Bole = – 10% Damage Reduction
  • The Ewer = – 20% MP Cost Reduction
  • The Spire = – 20% TP Cost Reduction
  • The Spear = – 20% Recast Reduction (reduces cooldown)

Some people think the Machinist early on feels like a Bard, I can see why, but I disagree. I think there is a profound difference in some of the abilities, which very much differentiate the two. Reload puts five special ammunition in your chamber, giving the next weaponskill you use 20 additional potency for each execution. Quick Reload replenishes ammunition by 1 and restores 50 TP. Reassemble causes your next weaponskill used to be a critical hit, however if used in an AOE skill, only the first enemy hit is guaranteed a critical. I main DPS Bard, and I don’t have anything like that in my arsenal that gives me special arrows (I’ve been wanting a shot that slows down enemy movement), restores TP (unless you want to be technical and use Invigorate, but that isn’t a Bard ability from the get-go), or guarantee a critical hit (Straight Shot increases critical hit chance, but only by 10% not 100%). Then, you have the turrets. Your first given to you at lv40, followed by an AOE turret given at lv50. Again, nothing like that on Bard.  The main similarities that I see are that both Machinist and Bard can move in combat, are ranged and not magic, and both have an ability later on that increases DMG, but adds a cast.

Dark Knight… possibly the most wanted/anticipated class announced for Heavensward. Back in FFXI, this class was a DPS. In FFXIV, it’s a tanking class which focuses more on MP usage for enmity (hate) increasing abilities, which is opposite what Paladin and Warrior do, being TP focused jobs. I, personally, see this job as a hybrid between Paladin and Warrior. Scourge is your damage over time (DoT) ability (like Warrior’s Fracture). Unleash is your area of effect (AoE) enmity generation ability (like a Paladin’s Flash). Low Blow is the stun ability, which both other tank jobs have (though each a different name). Then you have Grit, which when activated (like Paladin’s Shield Oath or Warrior’s Defiance) grants you 20% attack damage reduction and 20% damage taken reduction while increasing enmity generation. Now, the few Dark Knight abilities I would say are something new would include; Blood Weapon (increases attack speed by 10% and converts physical damage dealt into MP), Darkside (drains your MP slowly while increasing damage dealt by 15%), and Souleater (absorbs 50% of damage dealt into HP while Grit is active) – a self-heal, like Bloodbath (WAR), but I feel more effective.

Being someone that likes to tank, heal, and move while in DPS mode, I can assure you I will end up eventually taking all three of these new jobs to the now-increased lv60 cap. Currently, it is my Bard that is making that journey first, and then possibly my White Mage or Black Mage, I am currently indecisive on the matter. After Bard, I may very well end up just doing one of the new jobs next. Time will tell.

In addition to Free Company rooms and personal housing (given to us prior to 3.0), Free Companies are now given the ability to build a company airship (unboardable) which can be sent out on its own set of ventures for random goodies upon successful completion. I believe it is 100 FC credits for 1 cruelan tank (fuel) and each airship venture requires a different amount of tanks in order to begin the mission. I’ll be honest, this will be something I let the rest of my FC members play around with. I have more than enough that I’m trying to do for my character to worry about learning how to play with this! Maybe once all of my jobs are lv60 – all 12 of them… but then I have to work on crafting and gathering, sooooo yeah. Doubtful.

Party finder hasn’t changed. It still has the usual crap to be found in the sea of actually useful things like people looking for groups for learning and clearing content, not just trying to sell you things or recruit you into their Free Company. Duty Finder, however, has changed very much. The first thing I will say is that each major section has now been split into two – one for A Realm Reborn (2.0) and another for Heavensward (3.0). What do I mean by major sections? I’m talking about Dungeons, Trials, and Raids. Guildhests and PvP are still only one section. A reason they may have done this is so that it is easier to separate (and find) the older instances and the newer ones as I’m sure more of each will be added in all of the upcoming Heavensward patches (3.1, 3.2, 3.3, 3.4, 3.5 – just speculation). There is no longer experience to be gained while in a lv50 duty, it is now only granted at the very end with the DF bonus (assuming it is your first time undergoing the daily). This would be to prevent people from spamming a room and actually force them to complete the dungeon now.

The Duty Finder menu now has a “settings” tab. You can queue for “Undersized” or “Minimum ll” duties and each has its own challenge(s). Undersized parties are obvious – less than the normal amount of players required. Minimum II parties require the normal amount, however it will item-level sync you down to its lowest requirement, so, per example, imagine doing Titan Ex at item-level 67 instead of the usual item-level 130 (maximum pre-3.0) that you have gotten accustomed to. Talk about a challenge! Loot rules for gear distribution have also been added and are “Normal”, “Greed Only”, and “Lootmaster” changeable pre-commencement.

As with any previous patch point (3.0 being no different), Allagan Tomestones of Soldiery are now replaced with Poetics as the primary source and Allagan Tomestones of Law are the new currency type, only attainable at level 60. Expert, Low Level, and Trial roulettes will give Law, while MSQ and Frontline roulettes give only Poetics. High Level roulettes will provide BOTH. This makes it easy to focus on what to do for gearing your main job (and secondary), while giving plenty of Poetics for all other jobs you want to “decently” gear and I say decently to stretch the use of the term.

I am almost finished and have yet to mention the new playable race, Au Ra, a dragonkin-like folk complete with horns and tails. The males are quite tall, while the females are generally a foot or two (possibly 3) shorter. I’m not going to say most, but a lot of the player-base that I have noticed seem to have changed to this and a great number of the Lalafell population has seen a decline as well. I, personally, am forever-keeping my Hyur Highlander. If you purchase the collector’s edition of Heavensward, a free vial of Fantasia is included, allowing you to join the Au Ra race (or any other), should you be tired of whatever you currently are.

Wrapping up, Heavensward is a fantastic first expansion to A Real Reborn with loads of new content, new jobs, new abilities for current jobs, 10 additional levels, flying mounts!, and the continuation of an epic storyline. THE MOST IMPORTANT THING I CAN SAY IS YOU SHOULD COMPLETE THE 2.55 A REALM REBORN STORY’S PRIOR TO PURCHASING HEAVENSWARD AS NONE OF THE NEW CONTENT IS AVAILIABLE – THAT INCLUDES THE NEW JOBS! The only thing that is avail upon purchasing the expansion is the Au Ra race. Some people are upset about this, but all in all, get over it folks – we had to go through the content, and so should you.

 

If you wish to read more about 3.0 and the things I did not cover (seeing as this review is already long enough), please feel free to read the patch notes on the Lodestone at – http://na.finalfantasyxiv.com/lodestone/topics/detail/464263b3ce6026cdf98a49bf8f98c204c6199e5a

Thank you. I hope to see you at Ishgard! /salute.

/mandervilledance.

 

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