Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood – an epic adventure awaits
The latest expansion pack for Square Enix’s MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, Stormblood has landed. Available for the PlayStation 4 and PC, Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood adds new jobs, underwater exploration, a revamped battle system, a new storyline, PvP updates, and more.
Rather than reinventing the wheel, Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood continues the successful formula of telling charismatic stories that Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn established. In a genre that mostly focuses on content, Stormblood expands and builds upon the game’s world that fans will absolutely adore.
Platform: PlayStation 4, PC
Developer: Square Enix
Publisher: Square Enix
ESRB Rating: T (Teen)
Embark on an epic story with a vibrant cast of characters
In true Square Enix fashion, unlike other MMORPGs, Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood focuses on the game’s narrative first and foremost. In what is compelling enough to stand on its own, Stormblood’s story follows the rebellion efforts of, Ala Mhigo and Doma, two nations who have been occupied by the Garlean Empire.
The game’s story spans across three major acts, which are split between both nations. After being under control of the Garlean Empire for well over 20 years, Lyse, the Warrior of Light, and her allies begin a quest to inspire a rebellion of the people of Ala Mhigo and Doma.
In what is one of the most memorable Final Fantasy stories in recent memory, the characters in Stormblood are rich with personality that develops throughout the game’s many cutscenes. As a villain, I grew fond of Zenos, the Garlean Empire’s heartless leader. He is one of the best FFXIV antagonists to date, and thrusts himself into the forefront of the game with his desire to see Lyse succeed in hopes for a more challenging opponent.
It was nice to see Stormblood’s narrative move away from the anti-war and relativism, which was the mainstay of Heavensward. Square Enix did a fantastic job throughout the story, it always felt like the story was moving forward. Consequently, this change in narrative has made Stormblood’s timeless tale of good versus evil a breath of fresh air.
New jobs, battle system changes, and the ability to swim and dive
Gameplay in Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood has undergone some changes and make you wonder how you ever played before without them. The level cap has increased from level 60 to 70 and all jobs now have a Job Gauge. Which, now allows you to track things such as status effects much easier.
Stormblood contains two new jobs, Red Mage and Samurai—which come with their own unique mechanics to master. Once you get a handle of the Red Mage’s Balance Gauge, which allows you to carefully balance your light and dark spell types, you can dish out a substantial amount of damage to your enemies—enchanté.
On the other hand, the Samurai’s Sen Gauge has three different effects that are built via various combos. In turn, these will unlock three different weapon skills. Just like with the Red Mage, once you have mastered the correct rotation, you can put a serious hurting on your enemies.
The ability to swim and dive is another new gameplay mechanic that is introduced in Stormblood. It allows you to explore both above and below water in certain areas such as rivers, lakes, and seas. There are NPCs to interact with, underwater cities, and dungeons that you can explore.
PvP and FATEs get enhancements
PvP has been updated and now is quite an enjoyable part of the game. Actions are now role based and any job over level 30 can participate. Unlike previous entries, PvP is about your own skill as every job stars with equal HP and role-specific stats.
Additionally, jobs now have completely different profiles in PvP. This includes specific movesets, universal statistics depending on the role, and a handful of customizable support abilities. Controls have been simplified where a job’s combos are now on one button or a hotbar slot. This makes its extremely easy to fill all of your job’s actions on one hotbar and in turn makes PvP far more accessible for newcomers.
FATEs, active events where players battle together against monsters, make a return in Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood with some new enhancements. FATEs now give you major experience points, thus making them a prime location while leveling up. Other changes include EXP bonuses on random FATEs, and a chance of getting a buff that grants 50% extra EXP on your next FATE.
Superb graphics with an enchanting soundtrack
Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood is a beautiful MMORPG in its own right. From the expansive deserts of Ala Mhigo to the bustling hub of Rhalgr’s Reach to the vast waters of the Ruby Sea—Stormblood is certainly an MMORPG to marvel at.
If you are playing on the PlayStation 4 Pro, you get two graphical options to choose from. The first being an increased frame rate at 1080p that hovers around 60fps. The second option favours an upscaled 4K resolution. Regardless which you choose, the game looks astonishing for its genre and performs very well.
You can’t play a Final Fantasy game without mentioning the soundtrack, and let me tell you Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood delivers. From the iconic theme that opens Stormblood to Masayoshi Soken’s compositions, it’s classic Final Fantasy through and through.
Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood is one of my favourite MMORPGs of all time. The game’s narrative includes some top notch writing that any Final Fantasy fan who has yet to play Final Fantasy XIV should check out. I can’t think of any other MMORPG that even comes close to what Square Enix has accomplished with Stormblood’s story telling.
Although Stormblood doesn’t change much with the Final Fantasy XIV formula, the changes such as new jobs and gameplay enhancements feel like worthy and useful upgrades. If you are a Final Fantasy XIV Online veteran, Stormblood is the next epic expansion that is worth your while. Conversely, if Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood is your first MMORPG, get ready for one heck of an adventure that you won’t soon forget.
If you are completely new to Final Fantasy XIV Online, you’ll want to pickup Final Fantasy XIV Online Complete Edition. It includes everything you need to play, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and both expansions: Heavensward and Stormblood.
+ Fantastic story with memorable characters
+ Stormblood is a MMORPG visual tour de force with richly detailed environments
+ The new jobs are great offer value to the gameplay and are fun
+ PvP update is substantial that makes this mode more enjoyable than ever
– After a while the wow factor of swimming and diving ware off
– Some of the game’s story battles can get a little frustrating
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 4.5/5