Last week I talked about the lead up to actually being able to set foot into Heavensward. This week I’m going to take a look at some of the other peripheral features that surround that game as well as examine one of the new jobs that have made their way into the game. I’ll save the next two jobs for future installments of this series. I’ll still keep this review spoiler free until next week. Even then I’ll keep them to a minimum and clearly label them.
The PS4 Experience
Something I did not get a chance to touch on during the review for A Realm Reborn was the PS4 crossplay. At the time I conducted that review the game was on the PS3 but not ready for the PS4. That’s not the case for the expansion. I installed Heavensward on my PS4 a few days after I started adventuring on the PC. I spent time wandering around heavily populated towns, took part in combat, and did some gathering. The PS4 is powerful enough it can run the game in 1080p better than I am able to on my laptop but as you would suspect not as well as it runs on my primary PC. I did suffer from some areas that the NPCs didn’t load very quickly but I have that happen on my laptop as well. Square Enix did do a great job setting up the dual cross UI and it’s about as good as an experience you can expect without a mouse and keyboard. That said, I still prefer the mouse and keyboard over the gamepad.
You can play the same account from both the PlayStation and your PC. You only have to pay one sub to access the account from either the PS or the PC. You are not required to have PSN+ to play the game on your PS4 either. You are, however, required to purchase the client separately for the PC and the PS. There is also a Mac client but I have not tested that.
What’s an expansion without new content? You will get a chance to finally play as an Au Ra that was introduced in the post 2.1 during A Realm Reborn. Heavensward also expands upon the real estate in the game pushing northward on the continent of Eorzea. You’ll gain access to the new major city Ishgard, as well as the Coerthas Western Highlands in Coerthas. There is also The Sea of Clouds and Azys Lla in Abalathia’s Spine, Idyllshire, The Dravanian Hinterlands, The Dravanian Forelands, and The Churning Mists in Dravania.
In addition to the new zones the level cap has risen up to 60 and the new content is filled with 7 dungeons to explore along your journey. The Dusk Vigil, Sohm Al, The Aery, The Vault, The Great Gubal Library, The Aetherochemical Research Facility, Neverreap, and the Fractal Continuum. There is also a new raid Alexander.
Crafting has also been bolstered. New higher level crafted items to go along with the new adventure levels. SE has also added a crafting station to your free company house. This will be key to making your own personal airships that you can send out on missions.
You’ll also gain access to the skies! Flying mounts have made their way to Final Fantasy XIV. I use that exclamation point ironically because frankly in 2015 getting access to a flying mount isn’t all that exciting. Earning the ability to use your flying mount in FFXIV can feel like a chore and once you do you gain access to it for the zone you are in it’s time for you to move on to the next zone and have to start the process over again. Sure once you gain access to flying you’ll be able to keep access on return visits but a zone is never as interesting as that first time through.
The new job that really called to me in the expansion is the Dark Knight. Partially because of the concept of a fallen hero but primarily because it is the new tank. I also liked the Dark Knight in FFXI but if you are looking for a damage dealer like it was in that game you will be more than a little disappointed. The good news is that another departure from FFXI is that you will not have to complete a major series of quests to unlock this job. You basically have to talk to a few people and boom, you’re a Dark Knight at level 30. The Dark Knight wields a large two handed sword and does not rely on a shield for defense. You will be able to draw on a few cross class abilities from Marauder and Gladiator to help you with your damage mitigation. The majority of your abilities focus on dealing damage to gain enmity. Shocking, I know.
I think part of the problem I’m having with this expansion isn’t the game itself. Most everything Square Enix has done in the expansion has been of fairly high quality but overall the experience just feels lacking. This week I couldn’t help shake the nagging feeling that the game is brand new but already a relic. Tab target, hotbar combat just isn’t getting my adrenaline pumping like it would even as recently as 5 years ago. While not necessarily Final Fantasy’s problem I feel it is a greater indicator of player apathy developing for the genre and the lack of innovation.
There is no denying that Heavensward has added a good amount of content. At this point it feels like it is worth the price of admission. It just doesn’t seem to have expanded upon the systems very much, however, and I’m left wondering if the story can really carry me through the game play. I’ve also received word from Bill Murphy that he tested out the leveling from 1-50 doing only the story missions and that it is not correct. It will take you more than completing main story quests to get through the 2.0 to 2.55 content. Next week we will talk a bit more about the remaining to classes and start uncovering the story of what is going on in Heavensward.