Ought to know
What’s it? A bleak and story-heavy enlargement to Sq. Enix’s good MMO.
Anticipate to pay: $40 + $15/mo subscription charge
Developer: Sq. Enix
Writer: Sq. Enix
Reviewed on: Residence house home windows 10, Core i7-8700, 32GB RAM, GeForce RTX 2070
Practically a month beforehand I wrote that Last Fantasy 14 was my favourite MMO that I hate to advocate. Collaborating in it requires an unlimited funding of time—on the very least only some hundred hours—and although I am keen on it, I nervous that others could in the long term uncover that extended journey boring and unsatisfying. Nonetheless after beating Shadowbringers, Last Fantasy 14’s newest enlargement, these worries are gone.
Shadowbringers is the Avengers: Endgame of Last Fantasy 14, an emotionally stirring climax that attracts on six years of character growth, storytelling, and worldbuilding to weave an epic, dimension-spanning story rooted all through the relationships of its chief characters.
Paint it black
Within the occasion you happen to’re not accustomed to Last Fantasy 14’s story, it is troublesome to make clear Shadowbringers’ premise with out spoiling the entire objects that comes before. With three expansions and tons of of hours of story beneath its belt, the world of Last Fantasy 14 is so refined and nuanced it is best to have the facility to get a stage in its historic earlier. It is intimidating to newcomers—notably due to the primary a part of Last Fantasy 14’s overarching story is a sluggish burn—nonetheless as a long-time participant I truly like how wealthy and enormous the world and its characters have flip into.
The gist is that, after the occasions of Stormblood, the world of Hydaelyn is on the precipice of an apocalyptic battle orchestrated by the evil Ascians, immortal beings who wish to see the world plunged into chaos as a way to revive their darkish god. To assist tip the primary domino, the Ascians are hoping to set off an apocalypse in an alternate dimension that’ll cascade into Hydaelyn itself. My companions and I’ve to journey to this alternate dimension, often called The First, to position it aside and in flip save Hydaelyn. It is precisely the type of plot you’d depend on from Brainiac, Dr. Doom, or Thanos, solely wrapped up in an anime-inspired high-fantasy aesthetic.
Nonetheless in distinction to Hydaelyn, the place I am continuously combating the forces of darkness, The First has the other draw again: A century earlier darkness was defeated, giving rise to an abundance of primordial delicate that has virtually worn out your entire planet and spawned a navy of divine monsters often called Sin Eaters. To stay away from dropping The First, I’ve to swap sides and switch into the Warrior of Darkness, a quest that explores the powers of sunshine and darkness earlier whether or not or not or not they’re merely good or evil.
Shadowbringers’ success is, partially, owed to the easiest way throughout which Sq. Enix has fastidiously constructed the world of Last Fantasy 14 over these earlier six years. Although earlier expansions have frequently been a direct continuation of the primary story, the scope of Shadowbringers is nearly dizzying by comparability. Characters, lore, and story beats which had been left to simmer for years immediately boil over in dramatic narrative twists and turns that make this 50-hour journey an absolute rollercoaster.
When the hero Arbert first appeared all the easiest way throughout which as soon as extra in Heavensward as a minor character, for instance, I not at all may want imagined the pivotal place he would develop to have in Shadowbringers. It is these extended and meandering character arcs that make my adventures truly actually really feel MMO-sized, like if Recreation of Thrones was a high-fantasy anime.
Regardless of being an MMO, Shadowbringers does a particular job of emulating that golden interval of JRPGs by well-written dialogue and evocative cutscenes. Within the occasion you happen to hate fetch quests in MMOs, Shadowbringers sadly has these in spades nonetheless I hardly cared due to the context of these quests—and the cutscenes that always adopted—have been so participating.
The writing and voice performing has been steadily bettering since A Realm Reborn, nonetheless the bleakness of Shadowbringers casts the drama in a much more mature, and at circumstances disturbing, new delicate. One early quest led me to a sanitorium stuffed with those that had been contaminated with the sunshine and, in time, would flip into Sin Eaters. And by no means using a remedy, the caretakers’ solely various was to delay the inevitable after which euthanize them. Elsewhere, town Eulmore is stuffed with upper-class elite dwelling in further as they await the approaching apocalypse whereas, merely out of doors the partitions, the poor, sick, and ravenous waste away.
Shadowbringers addresses these heavy topics appropriately all through the face of Last Fantasy’s intensive melodrama, nonetheless my favourite a part of the story is how tons depth it offers to my solid of longtime companions. Thancred’s story is very gut-wrenching and brings a bittersweet finish to one among FF14’s longest character arcs.
Even larger was Shadowbringers’ ploy to have the MMO’s grand villain, Emet Selch, tag alongside for many the journey. Few tales ever take care of to make me sympathize with a villain whereas nonetheless retaining what makes them detestable, nonetheless Emet Selch may very well be the correct Last Fantasy nemesis since FF6’s Kekfa. He is batshit loopy nonetheless so charismatic and likeable that I would really like we did not must be enemies.
Black in motion
Although its story is the correct purpose to play, Shadowbringers offers quite a few utterly totally different neat decisions. The mannequin new Gunbreaker and Dancer are each nice new jobs (FF14 parlance for courses) that every have a specific playstyle and the mannequin new bunny-like Vi and tiger-esque Hrothgar character races are pure additions to the world (although I hate what number of bikini-clad Vi I am seeing everywhere now).
These decisions are so much a lot much less thrilling solely due to they so fastidiously regulate to the an equivalent template that Sq. Enix has laid out since Heavensward. As a substitute of overhauling core recreation strategies with every enlargement like World of Warcraft, Last Fantasy 14 tends to play it secure. Whereas that makes the addition of present jobs, raids, and utterly totally different decisions truly actually really feel considerably predictable, I do not concepts since the entire objects is persistently good and nice—notably the mannequin new dungeons, that are only a few of my favourite out of any enlargement thus far.
The story tees up every dungeon and single-boss raid (often called Trials) so appropriately, turning each correct proper right into a climactic finale for every zone-specific questline. After spending so extended all through the barren, gritty deserts of Stormblood’s areas, the dungeons and zones of Shadowbringers are a visible feast. Il Mheg and its accompanying dungeon of Dohn Mheg are my two favorites.
The sooner is a complete home stripped straight out of The Darkish Crystal, a charming land stuffed with playful fairies and a colony of speaking dog-birds dominated over by a fairy king who furthermore occurs to be a Sin Eater. To supplant her, I wished to full the dungeon of Dohn Mheg, a vibrant underwater dreamland dominated over by a top-hat sporting frog spirit.
It is in distinction to one thing in Last Fantasy 14, nonetheless as a replacement of clashing with the horrible story of Shadowbringers’ utterly totally different areas, it finally ends up being a welcome reprieve capped off with a grueling battle in opposition to the fairy king herself. Shadowbringers continues FF14’s legacy for astounding music and flashy spell outcomes that make every boss battle memorable and thrilling.
If there’s one home that Last Fantasy 14 is battling, it is in job steadiness and design, although. Shadowbringers reworked practically each job, pruning outdated skills whereas furthermore along with some new ones. A great deal of the damage-dealing jobs are improved by these modifications, nonetheless as a White Mage it is disappointing to see only a few of my favourite spells taken away and adjusted with a mannequin new therapeutic system that does not add any complexity to battle. As a substitute, I am merely ready for a meter to slowly fill so I can solid the related spell.
That is to not say battle in Shadowbringers should not be nice. Shadowbringers’ new raid bosses are nonetheless the correct out of any MMO—demanding nice group coordination whereas delivering an explosive spectacle that makes every battle truly actually really feel tense and thrilling.
Since Last Fantasy 14 relaunched six years beforehand, Sq. Enix has furthermore saved up an unbelievable tempo of most essential updates each three or 4 months. Assuming Shadowbringers continues that template I am excited to see the place it goes subsequent. Nonetheless its elementary story is already so good that Shadowbringers is price having enjoyable with even when in case you haven’t any intention of committing tons of of further hours grinding raid bosses for loot drops. Last Fantasy 14 is quietly among the many many best video video video games all through the assortment, nonetheless Shadowbringers elevates it even additional by telling a bleak and heartfelt story that generously rewards the funding made by its most hardcore followers.