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Goodbye Ishgard, Hello Stormblood

Final Fantasy XIV Columns - By Michael O’Connell-Davidson on June 16, 2017

Goodbye Ishgard, Hello Stormblood

So, farewell then, Ishgard, and goodbye Heavensward. It’s been fun. I’ve played a hell of a lot of MMORPGs in my time, and this expansion has been one of the best.

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I thought about using my final Heavensward column to recount some of the better moments of the expansion — but where to begin? Alexander, Palace of the Dead, The Feast… Honestly, looking back on the last two years, I feel like we’ve been spoiled.

It was never going to be easy to bring FFXIV forward. The standards were really high, and A Realm Reborn was probably the most successful relaunch in the history of the genre. But I feel as though now we’re coming to the end of the expansion there’s a great deal to appreciate.

The main scenario, particularly that which came in subsequent patches, was incredible. The Warriors of Darkness storyline stood out for me as representing a huge step beyond what was in the game in A Realm Reborn. Compare the quality of voice acting and dramatic presentation we saw in patch 3.4 with the initial scenes you’re greeted with after creating your character, and there’s just no contest at all.

After a slow start, Alexander ended up being hugely impressive — with fantastic music, a time-bending story that somehow worked and some very clever raid mechanics. I think this set of Primals were excellent, too; Nidhogg must be one of the most dramatic fights in an MMO, and is a spectacular end to the Dragonsong war.

And that’s not to touch upon other things that changed along the way — we gained three jobs, all of which are genuinely useful and feel like they’ve found their place in the game. After a dodgy start for machinist and astrologian, it’s hard to imagine a world without them at this point.

There were some missteps along the way (Diadem, anyone? Verminion?), and even if the fights were great I’m pretty stoked that we’ve seen the last of Nidhogg and the Dravanian Horde after spending what feels like centuries killing dragons. Saying that, I was pretty sick of Garleans towards the end of A Realm Reborn, and now I’m ready to stick it to the empire again, so who knows how I feel towards the end of Stormblood.

Stormblood early access begins today, and with it, Heavensward is well and truly over. No doubt Aymeric and co will be still around, and we’ll be called back to Idyllshire every now and again, but everything about the expansion already feels historic. Still, I’m glad I was a part of it, and I’m going into this expansion optimistic that I’ll feel this way again in 24 months time.

Everything you need to know about the first few weeks

First off: we have patch notes! The page contains almost everything you’ll need to know to get started. A 4.0 job guide is up, too, if you want to see how classes have changed.

If you’re at work and you can’t play, feel free to gawk at the changes as you wait to be sent home. Here’s a quick-fire summary of things most people will want to know.

  • Samurai and Red Mage job quests start in Ul’dah. They can be taken by anyone who owns the expansion and is level 50.
  • The first quest of the expansion is in the Rising Stones in Mor Dhona. You can accept it from Alphinaud so long as you’re up to date.
  • Extreme Primals are available from day one. Lakshmi and Susano will award (relatively) high-level gear from the get-go.
  • Initial tomestones available on release are Allagan Tomestones of Verity. These are uncapped and available from day one, and will be offered by all roulettes in place of Heavensward tomes.
  • Omega goes live on July 4th. Omega is this expansion’s Coil / Alexander equivalent, and will give everyone a leg-up on gear.
  • Omega (Savage) goes live on July 18th, alongside the expansion’s ‘premium’ tomestones. Allagan Tomestones of Creation will enable people to purchase high-level gear, and, like previous tomestones of a similar grade, will be capped 
  • The PVP system is being overhauled, again. You’ll have a separate hotbar and entirely separate actions, as well as an all-new PVP profile.
  • The new yellow scrips are now the ‘good’ scrips. In addition, various crafting and gathering actions have changed. Spearfishing is a fishing ability rather than a separate discipline and can only be unlocked by completing a level 61 FSH quest.

If you can’t find something mentioned above in the patch notes, don’t fear! Some of the above comes from the E3 live letter that took place earlier in the week. I haven’t covered everything revealed in the preliminary patch notes, because, to be frank, they’re more than 12,000 words long.

Equally, the E3 live letter was fairly uneventful, so I’ve left that alone, too. there’s some really beautiful footage in there and a Q&A, but nothing groundbreaking — and nothing that won’t be immediately out of date the moment this gets published, anyway. Still, if you’re interested, you can watch it here (the FFXIV section starts at around 5:00:00). Yoshi responds to some of the White Mage furore and addresses the eternal question of whether or not we’ll get a glamour wardrobe (spoilers: probably not).

Anyway, that’s all from me for now. Thanks for joining me and everyone else here at MMORPG.com over the past few months — I’ll see you in Ala Mhigo. 

Michael O’Connell-Davidson / Michael O'Connell-Davidson is MMORPG.com's FFXIV columnist. Follow him on twitter @mikeocd.