The latest expansion of the acclaimed Square Enix MMO comes with great new features, new classes, systems and new areas. An absolute wonder.
Stormblood’s latest patches created a perfect context for what is now coming with Shadowbringers. The fight against the Empire, the Eorzea Alliance and the terrain gained in this war are nothing when the Scions of the Seven Daw begin to disappear one by one. That’s where we meet the Crystal Exarch, who will explain what’s going on. And it is with this preamble that Shadowbringers begins a journey to The First, where we will have to stop the tyranny of light, which wants to create the next Threshold era in Eorzea in order to generate a catastrophe that eliminates all life. But this is what we are here for. To enjoy the best story of the fourteenth instalment and to explore a brilliant expansion.
A developing world
As soon as we arrive at The First, we can already see the consequences of the tyranny of Light, a world that does not know the night. A space immersed in fear and struggling to survive waiting for the legend of the Warrior of Darkness to free them. Shadowbringers manages to create stories in their areas that mark like no other, generating an incredible development of characters that is reinforced with a construction of world that in addition to a charismatic villain, who has it, allows us to know a new vision on the main conflict of Final Fantasy XIV that will affect the future of the game. All this makes even the most mundane tasks feel totally humanized, and although the structure can become repetitive in the first levels, it is compensated when we are told more and more about this world, about its people and about colleagues who are no longer mere NPCs: they have gone on to form a family.
The main story is still the biggest attraction, with class missions being replaced by role-playing missions that have a strong role in the main plot, as with them we’ll discover more about the original Warriors of Light from The First, the group we already fought once in their respective Heavensward patch, and whose whereabouts we didn’t know after all that. Even the missions for the other disciplines not inclined in combat have received their own sequences of missions inspired by the restoration of The First, giving much background to how society is composed in this world.
The level rise structure has been changed with the new Fates systems and synchronization with the optional missions. The central plot of the story currently does not give enough experience to just devote to it, so the new Fates system keeps the experience bonuses set in Stormblood, expanding with a new reputation system by zones that rises the more fates we do in the area. In this way we obtain by means of the reputation all type of materials for crafting, pets, etc. that are bought with stones and that are obtained with these same missions. They are optional, but they are synchronized with the level of our character and that allows us to always have a good source of extra experience.
A massive improvment
The most talked about aspects of the expansion are the classes, especially with certain changes questioned by the community itself at the time they were announced. At the moment the changes cannot be well appreciated until the arrival of the new raid savage “Eden”, but we can say that some classes have suffered a complete rework to their abilities, like the Machinists, while other classes have only seen their repertoire improved like Dragoons and Astrologians, simplifying the tasks of the cards but giving new methods so that it is not so easy to handle them. As a Scholar, the repertoire has been simplified to the same as the other healers had at the time, but has gained total control of the fairies, while improving the repertoire of cures. The new classes bring a breath of fresh air to the game: a Gunbreaker, who is focused on combos, having several variations for some of these, and a Dancer that feels very different from all those established in the game. The tanks have seen their stances changed to new ones that only increase the enmity generated by their abilities, since now the new passive acquired from level 1 gives a damage reduction, hp increase and damage depending on our statistics.
As for pvp the changes have been quite noticeable improving classes and giving new skills to the few that had, giving more variety to the set and providing a much more important options balancing very well all his proposal while giving new tools, such as the positions of the monk that now work as in PVE. In addition, a quite fruitful solution has been given to an error that many melee suffered at the time of chasing enemies, giving a greater range to their attacks. The healers have become more offensive and that translates into new attack skills and in general a greater survival to all classes.
A controversial point are the new races, since both the Vieras and the Hrothgar have the disadvantage that they are races with only one available sex, in addition that they have some problems related to several helmets in the game and lack of more varied customization, such as the hairstyles of the Vieras.
A noticeable change is seen in the dungeons of Shadowbringers, as there is a need for AoE damage to complete them, something that comes very hand-in-hand with the decision that all classes except healers have high-powered AOE combos. In addition, TP has completely disappeared from the game. At the moment it is the only significant change in the design of these, as they follow the same pattern established years ago with the small difference that the team has been testing with new mechanics, making the fights today feel quite different has already seen in other expansions.
The new novelty called “Trust” is a perfect experience for players who do not want to play with other players or who want to practice before entering to know the mechanics. It is a system that allows us to complete the dungeons with NPCs. It’s an AI that responds well but has a small problem: when doing DPS they don’t respond the same as a real player, so it takes much longer to overcome certain challenges, something that is compensated at least with extra dialogues from the NPC to the events of the dungeon, making the whole a fairly competent system for those who do not want to wait for long queues.
An extraordinary journey
As an MMO you can’t expect big graphic changes, but all the artistic direction of the game now has some of the most beautiful cities that could be created. The Crystarium is a living example that does not require great potential to create wonders for the view, and the new areas reflect very well this devastated world because even in the greenest places you can see the sky submerged by light. The design of the enemies, many borrowed from Final Fantasy XII, and the spectacular design of the Sin Eater, the great challenges of this expansion, give greater emphasis to the plague that represents the light with angelic designs.
Regarding the music, Soken continues to excel in every melody: the whole experience of Shadowbringers increases when listening to their compositions, every time we visit an area imbued by light and every time we free an area of this, in every dungeon, every boss we face, in the saddest moments … Everything has an endless number of nuances thanks to the fact that they have been able to take the atmosphere, the history and the combats to another level with the musical notes. The last dungeon of the story wins a superlative atmosphere thanks to a melancholic melody, sad and those that mark.
Something to applaud about Square Enix is the release of Early Access which compared to Stromblood has launched very well with almost no release problems. What’s more, the problems intensified in the following days by DDoS attacks that affected all players. A great Early Access with very few problems.