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Heavensward Review in Progress Part 3

Robert Lashley Posted:
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Over the last two weeks we have touched on the build up to Heavensward and some of the new systems in the game. This week I want to talk about the reason we have headed north to begin with, the remaining two classes; Machinist and Astrologian, as well as the Mac brewhaha. Next week I’ll do the official review and but a bow on it.

For some players the main scenario of Final Fantasy XIV ended with A Realm Reborn. For those returning to the game for the first time since those early days you will get to experience the story that drives your character north. Throughout a Realm Awoken, Through the Maelstrom, Defenders of Eorzea, Dreams of Ice, and Before the Fall you will be exposed to a number of foreigners and learn that their is a new emperor in Garlemald.

Through your trials you are stripped of the blessings of Hydaelyn and are no longer the warrior of light. Political machinations of the Ul’dah elite have shattered the Scions of the Seventh dawn and have you pegged as the assassin of Her Royal Majesty Nanamo Ul Namo. On the run you make your way north to Ishgard. You’ve recently helped them in their war against the Dravanians and they have offered you asylum. Seeking to redeem yourself you accept their offer and continue to help them until you can return home and prove your innocence. The story that bridges the gap between A Realm Reborn and Heavensward is filled with twists and had me striving to find out what would happen next.

It wouldn’t be a MMO release without a launch controversy on how some technical aspect of the game flopped. Heavensward has proved no different. While there was a bit of server instability in the early hours of the expansion the PC client was relatively smooth. The same is true for the Playstation client though it did require a hotfix for players that were using the game off of a disc. But both of those clients pale in comparison to the issues that the Mac client suffered. Things are so bad that Square Enix has stopped selling the Mac client and offered players refunds. While some players may be frustrated at the end of the day none of the consumers will end up being out of money. Any of the additional subscription time they purchased will be refunded also.

This week I spent time playing as the machinist and astrologian. At E3 2014 when I talked to Yoshi P he hinted that the machinist would be one of the expansion classes. A few months later they confirmed it. The machinist has played a number of different ways through Final Fantasy history but it has always depended on machines. In XIV the machinist is a ranged dps that uses pistols to deal damage. You can shoot on the move unlike casters where you need to have your feet firmly planted. You are also able to make use of turrets for support abilities. Early gameplay with the machinist will require you to  manage your procs to maximize dps. The first quest class at level 30 gives you a few good hints on how best to make use of your class abilities. All three of the level 30 classes in Heavensward seemed more difficult than those in A Realm Reborn. I found the challenge a nice change of pace. If you have yet to learn the machinist role watch out for the monkeys. You’ll know what I mean when you get there.

Of the three new expansion classes astrologian was the last one I learned. I usually don’t play casters so I tend to shy away from them. I really enjoyed the astrologian compared to the thaumaturge though. The premise behind an astrologian is you channel the heaven’s aether through your body to heal or to cause harm. There are six major arcana represented by a random card you can draw with one of your abilities. These cards don’t predict the future, instead the cards hold sway over the man and influence what future they will have. I like the card concept. I played mostly as Ace in Type-0. While both used a deck of cards they play entirely different. The astrologian is designed to take on the role of a healer but they do have offensive abilities so they are not entirely inept when solo. You have powerful single target heals and a aoe heal as well. You also have a spell that lowers your enmity. Do your tank a favor and make use of it. The ability that adds the most flavor to the astrologian though is draw. When you use draw you will draw one of six cards that will have you cast a spell that will either increase your target’s damage dealt, reduce target’s damage taken, increase target’s attack speed, reduce target’s action recast time, reduce the mp cost of target’s spells, or reduce the TP cost of target’s weapon skills. There is a card for everyone.

Last week there were a handful of readers that were concerned about my comments with regards to the combat system in Final Fantasy. I’m not advocating that Square Enix change the way the game plays. At this point it is what it is. My point was for players that are tired of tab target hotbar based combat games. If you are one of those players and you are tired with that type of gameplay there isn’t really anything new in FFXIV for you. It would more or less be the same themepark combat that you are used to just in a prettier skin with an interesting story.


Robert Lashley

Rob Lashley is a Staff Writer and Online host for MMORPG.com. Rob's bald and when he isn't blinding people from the glare on his head talking in front of a camera you can chase him down on twitter @Grakulen or find him on YouTube @RobUnwraps.