Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood preview
Right from the beginning playing Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood was a treat with the redesigned battle system offering new challenges for hardcore players and greater accessibility for those who felt that combat was too much of a jumbled mess. As someone who has played Final Fantasy XIV since A Real Reborn the redesign of the battle system made the game fresh again with the job gauge and the culling/merging of actions reducing the stagnant feeling of combat. The job gauge in my mind is the main reason why the combat feels more alive as certain key elements of each job are now in your face and not appearing as tiny and easy to miss icons on the top of the screen. In terms of the new actions, summoners will have fun utilising the job gauge to summon Bahamut and Black Mages will rejoice in the ability to teleport back to their Ley Lines after an AOE forces them to move.
When it comes to the new jobs – Samurai and Red Mage- I’m actually in two minds. Samurai felt like an easier version of the monk, with the rotation and charging of its two gauges proving to be a lot easier than I expected. For me, I felt like I could play the Samurai effectively even if I paid next to no attention. On the other hand, the Red Mage is far more interesting as combat requires you to balance your white and black mana gauges and keep an eye out for a proc called “Dualcast”, as it allows you to instant cast either “Veraero” (white mana) and “Verthunder” (black mana), if you don’t use them with Dualcast you are left with a rather long cast time. Balancing the two mana gauges is key as collect too much of one mana makes it more difficult to keep both gauges balanced. Finally, when you fill your Red Mage gauge you can perform a graceful set of actions which involves leaping in, performing an array of gauge draining melee attack, and leaping away. For those wondering about the Samurai gauge actions, they are just as flashy as the Red Mages, but they don’t feel as well earned.
Moving onto the zone I explored, which were: Kugane, Gyr Abania – The Peaks and The Ruby Sea. Each zone had their unique charm and points of interest. Kugane looks and feels like an Edo period Japanese city, even its inhabitants have that Edo period feel to them, although I will say that city does have some Garlean/ Eorzean style houses. Gyr Abania – The Peaks is a desert mountainous landscape dotted with temples that were destroyed by an occupying force. Finally, The Ruby Sea is a collection of islands with a vast ocean for players to dive into and explore what lies beneath the waves. The Ruby Sea also holds a giant Jenga-like tower that stretches high into the sky and casts a shadow that seems to stretch on forever.
Moving on to dungeons I got a chance to try out “Shisui of the Violet Tides”, a level 63 dungeon. The dungeon is located in the ocean beneath The Ruby Sea, and lore wise it is a vast temple where Raen refugees fled to escape the constant wars that raged upon the land. In this dungeon, the enemies are a mixture of aquatic and Raen opponents. The dungeon has a nice aesthetic as it takes you from ocean to temple, but the dungeon isn’t particularly challenging. The dungeon’s three bosses are mainly straightforward, apart from the final boss, which contains a challenging DPS check. However, while straightforward the second boss, “Ruby Princess” had a rather interesting mechanic. During the fight the Ruby Princess would cast “Seduce” and to counter the spell players must become an old lady by running into one of four chests in the arena, it is a mechanic that has been done many times before, but I found it a humorous way to avoid the enemy’s attack.
Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood makes Final Fantasy XIV exciting again with its impressive battle system redesign, unique environments and interesting new jobs.
*Please note Square Enix flew me out to Germany to preview Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood*
Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood will be available June 20th, for Windows PC, PlayStation 4 and Mac.