It’s looking Shadowbingeworthy.
I’ve been playing Final Fantasy XIV for almost four years now with just under 900 hours clocked on my character. I’ve slain Primals, toppled corrupt governments, taken on evil cults and gone fishing to help with my finances within Eorzea. As sad as it sounds Eorzea is like a home away from reality a place to hang out with friends from around the world and just perfect place to escape the woes of real life. As you can see I love Final Fantasy XIV and everything it has to offer so when I got the opportunity to go and play the upcoming Shadowbringers and interview a person I admire, I leapt at the chance.
A little backstory into Shadowbringers without spoiling anything for those who are considering jumping into FFXIV. You are the Warrior of Light, chosen by the crystal to save the world from the darkness that wishes to bring pain upon the world. However, you are being called to another dimension known as the First, a reflection of the Source, your world, however, the First has been flooded by the light and scales have been tipped so you must adopt the mantle Warrior of Darkness to balance the scales and restore order to the First. Simple, right?
Hands on with Final Fantasy 14 Shadowbringers
Upon arriving at the Barbican Conservatory in London, we sat down to watch a presentation hosted by the producer, Naoki Yoshida as he took us through what to expect in the upcoming Shadowbringers expansion in terms of changes to the battle system as well as various changes to the UI, those slides from the recent Live Letter from the producer can be seen here. Along with changes to battles and UI, expect to see a lot of changes with the Job Actions, a trailer which showed off the changes, as well as your actions for each of the jobs in FFXIV recently dropped and gave us a look at the Gunbreaker and Dancer classes. which you can see below.
After the presentation, we went upstairs and managed to get our little mitts on some Shadowbringers content. We were allowed to explore The Crystarium, a new player hub world, two of the field areas; Il Mheg and Lakeland Field as well as the dungeon called Dohn Mheg.
The Crystarium didn’t have much going on as the content is still in development as of right now but it looks like it’ll be a bustling city full of life come the launch of Shadowbringers especially seeing that the town is home to the gatherers and crafters of the First as mentioned in the recent Live Letter. The Crystarium is gorgeous and provided inspiration for the hands-on event venue placement with huge glass domes perched all around in front of the towering crystal.
Il Mheg and the Lakeland Field are two beautiful areas that pulse with fantasy vibes, aching to be explored. Il Mheg is a lush area filled with a variety of different colours scattered about the fields of flowers, trees and shrubbery with a tall fairy tale castle, complete with its own set of stretched out wings, towering above an endless scape of colour.
The Lakeland Field more than matched II Mheg is its appearance, with an expanse of beautiful shades of purple stretching across the fields to a large lake that houses a potential dungeon either during the Main Scenario or a post-game dungeon, we can only speculate but seeing that you can’t make it there I assume it is a dungeon of some sort.
Whilst wandering around these new fields, I got to try out a few new FATEs that put me up against some new enemies that’ll be doing the rounds in Shadowbringers, I cleared a few of the FATEs to acquire one of the new rewards found in the expansion called bicolour gemstones that are used to obtains items from a new vendor, one of these rewards are the field maps that increase the speed of your mounts on the field, these used to be acquired from vendors using centurio seals which you got by completing daily and weekly hunts and you may still be able to purchase them with seals but these vendors weren’t present in the build I played.
Both of these areas had a few small towns but being a preview build the NPCs were there though you couldn’t interact with them, except those who mended your gear and the individuals you trade the bicolour gemstones with. You had various enemies you could fight but the FATEs held the same sort of enemies, just a little more challenging. The enemies you got to fight in the FATEs were soldiers, bears, walking mushrooms and I needed a few more hands for this last enemy as the player had to face off against a Spider Witch kind of lady but she was far too powerful for just me especially being a dragoon… Could’ve done with a tank and healer class to aid me.
Finally, I got to try out the dungeon Dohn Mheg with a group of fellow attendees as well as some Square Enix reps. I went in with my usual class of Dragoon so that I could experience the dungeon to my full potential as well as trying out the new rotations with my main class on FFXIV.
Dohn Mheg is a foresty woodland area that checks all those fantasy boxes, eventually leading into a palace that sits on the water. There are portals wrapped in vines as well as fields of flowers that transform like magic in front of your eyes. It felt good to be exploring a fantasy dungeon after the recent dungeons have been industrial and Japanese castles from the Edo period, Dohn Mheg gave me back the old fantasy vibes I felt for the first time since Final Fantasy IX.
The enemies within Dohn Mheg were insects like moths, butterflies and bees, all of which were massive compared to their real-life counterparts. My protagonist met all sorts of plant life in the dungeon with treants, bears covered by plants and a dinosaur made of trees, and that’s before we met a gentlemanly frog straight of the Renaissance era along with the main boss of the dungeon composing frog (fantasy, amirite?) You check all of this out in my playthrough (which will be live soon) it is, unfortunately, missing the start but you can see all three bosses of the dungeon.
I cannot wait to see more dungeons from Shadowbringers as Dohn Mheg is likely the first dungeon of this expansion and it’s set the bar high. I also tried the dungeon using the brand new Trust system but unfortunately, the AI wasn’t helping me on the second boss as we kept wiping on the final phase because they weren’t following the mechanics of the boss correctly hopefully this is down to the game still being in development.
I played around with the brand new jobs, Gunbreaker and Dancer they both feel great to play especially the Dancer which makes the most of the DPS role in Final Fantasy XIV. I didn’t try them out too much due to mostly playing around the new Dragoon skills but the Dancer feels a lot like Dance Dance Revolution with how you use the job gauge but I may have been
However, the Dragoon feels better and even though it hasn’t changed much the job feels more streamlined and allows you to pull off your job actions a lot easier. You only need to perform two jumps to fill the job gauge in order to use the skill Nostrond which is far better than three jumps and it may not sound like much but it quickly makes all the difference. In order to pull it off now, you just need to use the new High Jump skill twice as Spineshatter Dive no longer opens the eye of the job gauge.
During my day at the event, I had the opportunity to interview Naoki Yoshida (Yoshi-P) which you can check out right here. The event had a crafting table as well for you to try out your crafting skills which
Overall, Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers is on my radar and it should be on yours. I cannot wait to see what experiences await my character Kanem Argentum and his friends in the First and what troubles they must overcome to restore the balance of light and darkness when Shadowbringers arrives in July.
I’d like to thank Square Enix and Hope and Glory teams for putting this event together and giving me the opportunity to try out the latest expansion as well as the opportunity to meet and interview Naoki Yoshida (that interview is on the way so stay tuned!)
Disclaimer: Square Enix paid for our accommodation, travel, and refreshments for the event and gave us some goodies. As always, this hasn’t affected how we report the game.