Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers – Review-in-Progress

From whence has there been a place where the night sky glows as luminous as the brightest day? From whence has there been records of angels behaving as what we have always perceived to be the acts of demons? From whence has there ever been a need for darkness to grace the lands with which we reside?

Thus is the beginning of our tale of the Shadowbringers.

FFXIV: Shadowbringers is the latest expansion of one of the world’s top MMORPGs. With Shadowbringers comes new horizons with which to explore which is literally a new world, new jobs to trifle with and eventually master, new gear to obtain, new dungeons to overcome, new lore to learn, new events that will shape the world of Eorzea, and so much more.

Shadowbringers starts out by having you the player (and Warrior of Light) go out and investigate something only for your next moment to be set in an entirely new world as you were summoned by one of the world’s leading figures in order to return balance to the light-flooded world. Yes, it’s literally isekai in a proper video game form and in an MMORPG no less. 

The lands of the new world looked great and some of the monsters were very nostalgic as they literally brought the ones found in FFVIII to FFXIV in at least one area I have been to. The new world is called the First and is one of the shattered pieces of the original world which we players hail from and in here it’s called the Source. Everywhere we look it is as bright as the brightest day as the catastrophe that hit this world a century ago was that of a flood of light and it brought about it endless days of light and the absence of the dark and beautiful starlit night sky. The denizens of the First are also in constant fear as Sin Eaters ravaged the skies and land in order to sustain themselves through living Aether.

The main story quests have us set out to get used to the new world by briefing us with what has been going for the past century then sending us out to find our allies and checking the status with the locals and what has become of them thanks to the eternal white blight of the skies. You’ll see those who are too sickly to even react, those who are trying to get just get by and live out normally as much as they can, and those who seek to join the nobility and live out there days in comfort and decadence. Probably the biggest change in the story is that the game has established for 6 years now that we, the player, is the legendary Warrior of Light, but in Shadowbringers, we must become the Legendary Hero who will save the First from the Sin Eaters and end the Perpetual Light in the Sky, the Warrior of Darkness. Becoming a savior through the dark arts is unconventional but feels so sweet and it makes it even more amazing knowing that we are both the Warrior of Light and Darkness at the same time.

The story is well-paced and really gives the players time to properly adjust to the situation at hand. The cutscenes had some great voice acting and even surprised me and my friends when we first heard a kobold spoke, made them sound like a British goblin or a greedy hobbit, however, lip-synching was an issue since there are even times where the mouths don’t even move for certain characters for some reason. One of my personal problems with the game since A Realm Reborn is that not all cutscenes are voiced. For a game that makes a ton of money, one would think that they could afford more for the voice acting department as many scenes personally annoy me since I have to read the text instead of hearing the great character voices and then the immersion I get loses its effect.

Early on in the game one quest amazed and horrified me as we were suddenly hit with an iconic moment that happened in a famous Final Fantasy game and warped by following it up with a scene that could probably only be described as Junji Itou-esque. In one cutscene alone they made the expansion much better in my personal opinion than the entire base game: A Realm Reborn and was more horrific than most of the horror movies I’ve ever seen in life especially considering that I usually just laugh whenever I watch horror nowadays.

The initial antagonist character’s introduction for this expansion was also quite something as it evoked feelings of rage and disgust and were reminiscent of the same feelings I got from a certain shield anime I had just finished watching. It was also quite something to learn about how the nobles in the First had formed their society where they, how their Eden was something that could be so horrific that could be seen in plain sight for all to see depending on the whims of their liege lord, how their fears of their enemy had turned into obedience.

The new trust system was something that was very interesting to note. How we approach dungeons have always been done as a party with other real living people who play the game. However, the trust system allows us to party with NPCs and run the instance with them which gives us a single player experience within an MMO. Having gone through the 1st dungeon of the expansion with them, I was able to bypass the queue which saved me some time, and playing with the NPCs wasn’t a bad experience in my opinion. Yes they’re slow and play it safe but at least they know the tactics, don’t yell or leave you if you ever mess up, and probably best of all, all the loot is yours for the taking! Hehehe.

I myself started this game as a level 70 Dark Knight so this is the 1st time I went tanking in this MMORPG and I haven’t since my WoW days years ago as a Death Knight and Paladin. After getting over my tanking anxiety that I’m sure most DPS and healers have who have no tanking experience but have a bit of interest in it, I went into the queue and found that tanking was actually quite easy. According to my friends, tanking has become a no brainer in Shadowbringers, all you really have to do is keep your tank buff up and then tank and spank, using AoEs on multiple enemies to keep the aggro on, making the boss face away from the party, pulling 2, 3, or even 4 groups of mobs to maximize the time, and etc. All pretty basic.

The new jobs are also quite something, with the Gunbreaker and the Dancer. While I have yet to dabble in the dancing arts, the Gunbreaker is a hell of a lot of fun. After unlocking the quest in Gridania and acquiring the job, playing around with it makes me feel almost as if I was Squall from FFVIII. The job’s damage rotation focuses on gaining cartridges which I could use to perform more powerful skills. It doesn’t have much utility except for an aura for reducing magic damage for the player and nearby party members. It’s similar to a Dark Knight but its self-healing is through regeneration rather than lifesteal. It’s do or die tank skill is also similar to the Dark Knight but it’s worse since it only leaves you with 1 hp after the duration finishes so you really need to rely on your healer to heal you ASAP or have barriers in place to prevent damage for a short time which makes Scholars probably their best partners, at least for now. While it needs tweaking, the Gunbreaker is still a fun class that looks so freaking cool.

While there’s still a lot more for me to do in Shadowbringers to fully write a proper review, what I’ve seen so far is nothing short of amazing and has me hooked. It certainly is interesting how the story will unfold as we players learn more about these Sin Eaters and how we’ll be bringing back the night for all of its people to bask in darkness once again.

DisclosureThis review is based on a review code provided by Square Enix. A score will be given in the final review. Read our review policy to know how we go with our game reviews.
Tested on: PS4 Pro