• Follow us


FFXIV: Shadowbringers is a relentless barrage of emotional gut punches

Final Fantasy XIV could be one of the greatest MMO revival stories in gaming history. Initially released back in 2010 to a very muted response, Square Enix quite literally nuked the game from within when its archaic design choices threatened its reputation. But that didn’t stop it. A bit of management restructuring and a few more years of development time and Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn rose from the ashes.

Fast-forward to 2019 and we now have Shadowbringers, the game’s third major expansion since its 2013 rebirth. I didn’t stick with the initial launch of Final Fantasy XIV after the beta proved just how problematic it would be, but I’ve been an active player since the 2.0 beta. It’s one of the last subscription-based MMOs on the market, and getting millions of players to commit to that in the face of literally hundreds of free alternatives is enough to say Square Enix has created something special.

Smooth-er beginnings

Final Fantasy XIV has been plagued with server issues many times over; from instance servers breaking down and gating much of the game’s meaningful content, to full-on DDoS attacks causing days’ (and sometimes weeks) worth of flaky connections and subsequent log-in queues. Heck, I even remember the game’s producer and director, Naoki Yoshida, sobbing on stage during the game’s initial launch party. Not through joy, but because Early Access had been ruined by servers unable to handle the rush of players.

On day two of Shadowbringers Early Access, DDoS attacks and a meltdown of the dungeon servers slightly hindered progress for those on North American servers. Despite that, many players still got to enjoy those all-important first few hours of powerful storytelling before that particular ordeal, and Square Enix has since reported that players can continue to play as normal. Worlds in North America and Japan remain “Congested”, and its has led to some extended wait times for some players, though this can be easily remedied by using the World Visit System. Despite some minor turbulence, I would say that this it’s been a fairly smooth launch as far as MMOs go.

It’s heartstring warfare

The story of Shadowbringers expectedly takes place after the events of the outgoing expansion, Stormblood. But much of the story’s main narrative stems from a short-lived saga from patch 3.1 in the Heavensward expansion before it. The “Warriors of Darkness” arrived to challenge the Warriors of Light under the impression that doing so would “restore balance” to their homeworld — one of the mirrored “shards”.

After being sent packing, the Warriors of Darkness mostly fizzled from the storyline. But the effects of their crusade are just now being revealed to us. While Final Fantasy XIV borrows names and enemies from almost every Final Fantasy game to date, it has taken most of its systems and narrative direction from Final Fantasy III.This is another fine example of that.

The rich give up their wealth to live a cushioned life in the city of Eulmore, plucking slaves from the slums beneath…

A massive part of another world was utterly wiped out by light and plagued with 100 years of endless days. This should easily put your mission into perspective. The scrambling communities that still remain are haunted by Sin Eaters, pure white beasts born of light that hunt down people to finish the job. Sin Eaters add those slain into their ranks by twisting the deceased into nightmares, enlisting people’s loved ones into the same monstrosities they spend their lives running in fear of.

Life on The First is complicated, to say the least. The rich give up their wealth to live a cushioned life in the city of Eulmore, plucking slaves from the slums beneath and casting them out when they’re unable to provide entertainment. Those elsewhere, in and around the Crystarium, strive to rebuild communities and make do with what remains.

Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers review

Everything in Shadowbringers can be likened to the real world in some way. Some might attribute the flood of Light to climate change, whereas others might find it bears a striking resemblance to the aftermath of a nuclear war. Eulmore’s want to write the world off and embrace its final days while those elsewhere fight to survive stricken the world with political strife. That’s where you come in.

There are times when things slow down as you chat to the locals and learn more of long-lost civilizations, but more often than not, you’re being plunged into gargantuan battles that don’t shy away from demonstrating the nightmarish reality of the threat these people have dealt with for the last century.

Being slowly presented with these harsh realities would be enough to ignite a vendetta in any adventurer. I spent 30 minutes in a mission that should only have taken 10 just because I stopped my crusade to heal no-name NPCs who were about to meet a grisly end to a Sin Eater assault. I’ve spent 5 years in the healer role, and the grim thought of letting them die was too much to bear.

Breathing life into fiction

The relatable story of Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers is only accentuated its generous voice acting. It’s not only more prolific but there’s a noticeable increase to the quality of each delivered line. Each Final Fantasy XIV expansion (before patches) is about as long as your typical JRPG. Creating something substantial like that every two years while simultaneously developing and publishing major updates every few months usually meant full voice-acting got the cut.

It’s too soon to tell whether the trend with continue here, but we can at least hope they’ll bring the cast back for the scripted playable scenarios they’ve really come to embrace this time around. There’s an Indiana Jones moment with Y’shtola that’s great fun, and what came after is a scene I expect fanart to immortalize in all sorts of weird and wonderful ways.

I’m no stranger to the frisson this game’s music often instils during a tense battle or chilling scene, and there’s been no shortage of that this week.

Main characters have always been voiced in bigger cutscenes, but Shadowbringers has made an effort to voice even the most minor character so long as they have something important to say — be it a guard questioning your reason to enter their city, or a displaced refugee cautiously welcoming you to their camp. And they’re fairly diverse, too. Final Fantasy XIV started with most characters rattling off lines of Shakespearean-style early modern English, but as we’ve ventured around the world in subsequent expansions, the diversity of accents has increased as more races have been introduced.

The current cast all do a great job of navigating these difficult combinations of distant accents and classical language, and there’s no doubt in my mind that the recording sessions were a trying time for everyone involved. I’m a firm believer in what a good voice-over can add to a game, and the increased scope of what Shadowbringers offers on that front brings a smile to my face. All that’s left is for end-game raid bosses to get the same treatment for the same kind of dramatic brawls World of Warcraft players have enjoyed for years.

Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers review

For most, Final Fantasy XIV is all about the sights and sounds, and we’ve been spoiled by composer Masayoshi Soken’s gorgeous orchestral scores since the very beginning. Judging from his work in Shadowbringers thus far, he hasn’t slowed down at all. I’m no stranger to the frisson this game’s music often instils during a tense battle or chilling scene, and there’s been no shortage of that this week. My spine won’t stop tingling in key battles.

There are a few reused tracks here and there, mostly found in settlements, but it seems we’ve been treated to another master-class of catchy tunes. I was whistling along within minutes of reaching each new zone. I haven’t had the full tour of The First just yet, but having pushed through the Rak’Tika Greatwood, all I can say is I look forward to chopping trees to its wind ensemble and drum beats. Well, once the political friction calms down. Civilizations is one hell of a zone track, and there’s many more examples of that kind of quality sound production throughout.


On the exploration side of things, that’s where Shadowbringers might divide the masses over time. As a mirrored shard of our own world, what remains of The First mirrors that of Eorzea. In shape, at least. While you won’t find copy and pasted versions of its key cities, forests, and seafronts, the similarities are plain to see. Lorekeepers will be kept busy explaining the reasons behind the differences of each zone, while those less inclined to follow the world’s history might pass it off as mere recycled content.

I found The First to be a gorgeous alternate vision of a world I’ve lost myself in over the years.

I found The First to be a gorgeous alternate vision of a world I’ve lost myself in over the years. It’s stuffed full of beautiful vistas and somber ruins the game’s many avid photographers will put to good use in time. With two new playable races tossed in for good measure, the incredibly vocal roleplaying community will continue to do what they do best. The continuation of the curated Sightseeing Log turns these sights into collectibles. You won’t need to hunt them down to appreciate this new-found world and its wonders, but it’s a reason to really take them in.

We’re still a few weeks away from seeing how Shadowbringers handles end-game content, but impressions are lavishly high as they stand. Some of the class changes haven’t been quite as drastic as they sounded many months ago, but they all feel faster and more fluid than before. Even the longer cooldowns added to skills like Surecast are sure to shake up high-end battle content the same way eliminating the cost of Sprint did in the past.

Having only toyed with my main class, White Mage, I can’t say for certain how each class rework has affected its devotees. But the mumblings I’ve heard seem relatively happy save for some potential oversimplification of classes like Warrior and Astrologian. Gathering and Crafting classes are now easier than ever to level up, which could diminish the appeal of them even further.

Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers review

Skill charges allow a bit more freedom from strict rotations, which should allow the developers to craft fights that aren’t held back by the limitations of a specific movepool, as well. It’s too soon to say whether the predictable post-release content cycle will return, but between it’s most powerful storyline yet and the changes to the core system, there’s enough here to say Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers is a solid step in the right direction.

Backed up by terrific voice-acting and improved camera techniques the team have honed over the years, Shadowbringers is finally able to deliver some truly impressive scenes that constantly have my heart racing and mind churning with theories and dread. Shadowbringers, as it stands, is a non-stop barrage of emotional gut-punches. If you thought Stormblood struggled to match the tear-jerking story of Heavensward, Shadowbringers looks set to be a real contender for the throne.


For those yet to jump into Final Fantasy XIV, level boost potions and story skips are available — but at a cost. I would say that microtransactions used in this way aren’t inherently bad, but can thrust newcomers into playing with the grown-ups before they’re even fully aware of how to do their jobs.

Some might argue that level boost potions and story skips aren’t a rewarding way to play, but these can ease the transition into a new job or expansion for those that don’t have as much time to play as others.

Old and new costumes are available for the wholly devoted in Mog Station — Square’s FFXIV account management website and store  — and has been known to upset the player base, but nothing found in the store will make you more skillful at your job or help you clear the game’s most challenging content. Luckily, you don’t even need to fear intrusive ads, as the store can’t even be accessed through the game itself, but only via a browser.

Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers review

It would be more fair to devoted players if Square kept new costumes and mounts unlockable through gameplay, but the community (and myself) are starting to see this tactic as a necessary evil to maintain the quality content in the pipeline.

Our Take

It’s hard to say how things will feel as the main story continues in smaller updates over the next few years, but what’s on offer right now suggests Shadowbringers is the finest storyline we’ve had yet. The only thing holding it back now is a truly seamless world – and that’s more a consequence of early design limitations that can’t be undone. If you haven’t played Final Fantasy XIV yet, you’re really missing out on something special.

Is there a better alternative?

Better? No. Different? Sure. MMOs come in all kinds of flavors, and only by trying them will you find what works for you. World of Warcraft, Elder Scrolls Online, TERA; the list goes on.

How long will it last?

Final Fantasy XIV just keeps growing. It’s predecessor, Final Fantasy XI is alive and kicking almost 20 years on. This isn’t going anywhere, and updates keep new content trickling in all the time.

Should you buy it?

Yes. Final Fantasy XIV offers thousands of hours of meaningful gameplay. Shadowbringers is just the best part of it.

Read More

Leave A Comment

More News

Digital Trends

Capture life in 360 degrees for under $300 2019-07-03 18:56:28The GoPro Fusion is the 360 camera with the most potential, but the price typically reflects those high-end features. With a steep price cut at B&

Tech manufacturing is moving out of China, but 2019-07-03 18:41:41A new wave of U.S. tech companies has committed to pulling manufacturing out of China amid continuing trade uncertainty. Odds are they will not be mov

The best dating sites for 2019 2019-07-03 18:38:49Finding love is anything but easy. Luckily, there are dozens of dating services with complex algorithms designed to spit out your soulmate on the firs

Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers review 2019-07-03 18:32:49With a FFXIV expansion on the horizon, we dove into Early Access to get a taste of what to expect. With a shift in the story and tons of new content,

Amazon 4th of July deals: Apple Watch, iPad, 2019-07-03 18:22:10Amazon has loads of great deals in all categories leading to the 4th of July and the holiday weekend. Amazon dropped prices on Apple Watches, the late

A new MacBook Pro without a Touch Bar? 2019-07-03 18:20:20After having been neglected by Apple since 2017, the MacBook Pro without Touch Bar is due for an upgrade, and Apple could bring some modern additions

Marvel Games panel at San Diego Comic Con 2019-07-03 18:19:55In the latest update on the upcoming San Diego Comic-Con, we learn the Marvel Games panel will include updates on games like Marvel’s Avengers a

The best helmet cameras for 2019 2019-07-03 18:00:23Want to record the action, without taking your eyes off the action? Helmet cameras allow you to capture your adventures hands-free -- but the best hel

MIT’s tiny walking robot could eventually build other, 2019-07-03 18:00:12A mobile motor created by a team at MIT could change the way we view and build robots. The robot consists of five tiny fundamental parts that have the

It’s not just you: Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp 2019-07-03 17:19:30It's not just you: Facebook, Instagram, and WhatsApp users have been reporting outages and problems with images since around 5:45 a.m. PT on Wednesda

The Pentagon wants to build an itsy-bitsy outpost 2019-07-03 17:02:40The U.S. military’s Defense Innovation Unit (DIU) is asking for submissions for a small, free-flying Orbital Outpost that the Department of Defe

XPS 13 laptops get big price cuts during 2019-07-03 16:51:33Amazon Prime Day may still be the marquee summer savings event for electronics, but July 4th weekend is a great warmup. Now ahead of Independence Day,

Engadget RSS Feed

Google Photos will let you manually tag faces 2019-07-03 19:11:00Google Photos' product lead David Lieb took advantage of some downtime this week to start a surprisingly open dialogue on Twitter. Yesterday, he aske

Superhuman email client turns off location tracking after 2019-07-03 18:26:00The email app Superhuman was profiled by the New York Times just a week ago as a buzzworthy startup with big names from Silicon Valley lining up to pa

Lotus' electric hypercar is named 'Evija' 2019-07-03 17:44:00No, Lotus isn't ready to spill the beans on its Type 130 electric hypercar. It is, however, ready to give the car a name: meet the Evija (pronounced

Netflix releases 'Always Be My Maybe' director's commentary 2019-07-03 17:02:00Always Be My Maybe has been one of the most-discussed Netflix projects over the last month or so, with the charming romcom seemingly picking up a legi

Regal Cinemas movie subscriptions are reportedly coming this 2019-07-03 16:28:00Regal Cinemas is reportedly preparing to join the unlimited movie ticket subscription fray. It's said to be revealing its plans later this month. Acc

Netflix says its originals will kick their smoking 2019-07-03 15:55:00Future Netflix original shows rated TV-14 or lower and movies rated PG-13 or below will no longer include depictions of smoking or e-cigarette use, ex

'Hitman 2' music-themed update weaponizes a violin 2019-07-03 15:32:00Hitman 2 has had its share of unusual updates and events, but its latest may be particularly appealing if you're music-minded. IO Interactive has ou

Jurassic World's J.A. Bayona to direct Amazon's Lord 2019-07-03 15:01:00Amazon's highly anticipated TV rendition of Middle-earth has secured some directing talent. Spanish director J.A. Bayona will direct the first two ep

Social media is revolutionizing how scientists interact with 2019-07-03 14:42:00The field of science communication -- the practice of informing and educating people about science-related topics -- arose just after the start of the

Are headphones 'made for women' really necessary? 2019-07-03 14:20:00Five years ago, Nicole Rose Stillings wanted a better pair of headphones. As a full-time professional DJ, she thought that most of the ones she wore w

Good luck sliding into anyone's Twitter DMs right 2019-07-03 14:02:00Facebook isn't the only internet behemoth suffering from serious downtime. As of mid-day on July 3rd, Twitter is experiencing "some issues" with d

Mobile game streaming service Hatch is available in 2019-07-03 13:03:00When it comes to game streaming, it's not just the likes of Microsoft, Google and Sony who are trying to capture players' attention. There's a mobi


REI 4th of July Sale: 13 Summer Outdoors 2019-07-03 07:00:00If you need a water bottle, tent, or a really cool hoodie, it's all on sale at REI's 4th of July Sale on outdoor apparel, accessories, and gear.

Caroline Criado Perez Explains the 'Gender Data Gap' 2019-07-02 13:54:57In this WIRED Q&A, author Caroline Criado Perez explains how elements of the modern world were designed more for men than women.

How to Take Photos of Fireworks With Your 2019-07-02 09:00:00Use these battle-tested tips and camera settings to capture dramatic photos of those explosions in the sky.

Microsoft’s Ebook Apocalypse, Facebook Drug Ads, and More 2019-07-01 18:22:00Catch up on the most important news from today in two minutes or less.

Why You Still Can’t Buy Fireworks on Amazon 2019-07-01 16:36:00The “everything store” might not cover all your Fourth of July celebration needs.

Fujifilm Instax Mini LiPlay Review: A Cam and 2019-07-01 08:00:00Fujifilm's latest instant camera offers the best of both Instax worlds: It's an instant camera and printer in one.

The Second Coming of the Robot Pet 2019-07-01 07:00:00Man's best friend isn't a dog—it's a doglike robot, designed to perform tricks and tug at your heartstrings.

From Cameras to Kayaks, All the Stuff We 2019-06-30 10:00:00Plus: The all-new Mac Pro, Instant Pot's ace blender, and even a bidet.

Microsoft's Ebook Apocalypse Shows the Dark Side of 2019-06-30 07:00:00Microsoft has closed its ebook store—and will soon make its customers' libraries disappear along with it.

All ThinkGeek Items Are 75% Off, Google Speakers 2019-06-29 07:00:00From a wood burning stove to the Bob Ross blanket, we scoured the web for the best deals this weekend.

How the iPhone Helped Save the Planet 2019-06-29 07:00:00Over the last 12 years, smartphones have helped dematerialize our consumption of countless other products.

Gadget Lab Podcast: Rebalancing Our Relationship With Tech 2019-06-28 17:20:00A conversation with Aza Raskin of the Center for Humane Technology. Also, we discuss Jony Ive’s departure from Apple.

Gadgets | Popular Science

How to find the best Spotify playlists when 2019-07-02 13:56:44Spotify serves up a host of auto-generated playlists you can take advantage of to hear new music and old favorites.

Could you run a moon mission from your 2019-07-01 22:11:07Here is how our mobile phones compare with the computer that landed humans on the moon in 1969.

After the dinosaurs died, lichens found a way 2019-07-01 19:49:40A new study shows three families of lichens—co-dependent organisms made of fungi and algae or cyanobacteria—rapidly took hold and diversif

Feral pigs are ruining ecosystems across 35 states 2019-07-01 18:46:00Feral pigs are running rampant. There are an estimated nearly seven million and have established themselves in 35 states. According to the USDA, they

How your smartphone can help you travel light 2019-07-01 17:37:13Whether you're heading out of town for Independence Day, Thanksgiving, or any other occasion, traveling light has its advantages. Let your phone repl

Best towels to bring to the beach 2019-07-01 17:30:00For your next beach trip, bring a towel that keeps you dry, keeps you from becoming a sandy mess, and feels nice against your skin.

Scientists are making progress with better plastic-eating bacteria 2019-07-01 16:00:00The team that accidentally created a plastic-eating enzyme pushes to make it more efficient.

Treating depression takes much more than serotonin 2019-07-01 12:00:25We're told depression is no longer a mysterious, devastating specter: It’s nothing more than a shortage of serotonin. Unfortunately for those w

How one Bluetooth adapter can change the way 2019-06-30 13:30:00If your car is less than 24 years old, it has a small white diagnostics port that mechanics use to analyze problems and gather data about your vehicle

4 things laptop buyers waste money on 2019-06-29 14:37:23Experts agree that the average lifespan of a laptop is somewhere in the neighborhood of three to four years. If you’re due for an upgrade, you&r

The Atlantic cod’s migratory supergene comes at a 2019-06-28 21:59:00No species embodies the ravages of our appetite like the Atlantic cod. In the early 1990s Atlantic cod populations that had sustained maritime cities

Last week in tech: Jony Ive left Apple, 2019-06-28 21:12:50Find out about news you missed in the tech world and waste time at work all in one handy article.

Ars Technica » Gear

Nvidia refreshes RTX line: “Super” GPUs add performance 2019-07-02 09:00:332060 Super, 2070 Super launch July 9; 2080 Super launches July 23.

The Galaxy Note 10 launches August 7 2019-07-01 21:00:26Samsung's next big phone launch happens next month.

Report describing Jony Ive’s Apple exit gains a 2019-07-01 19:07:20The report claimed Ive was frustrated with the company's leadership.

PlayStation Vue applies a $5-a-month increase to all 2019-07-01 17:41:33The stage is set for messiness as more channels launch streaming options.

Samsung CEO calls Galaxy Fold launch failure “embarrassing” 2019-07-01 15:28:19"I pushed it through before it was ready," CEO says of the Galaxy Fold.

Catalyst deep dive: The future of Mac software 2019-07-01 07:30:51The people already using Catalyst tell Ars what Mac users and devs should expect.

Jony Ive will depart Apple to start his 2019-06-27 17:34:54Apple will be one of his new business' key clients, however.

Gmail’s API lockdown will kill some third-party app 2019-06-27 12:49:17Google emails users: "the following apps may no longer be able to access your data."

WireGuard on Windows early preview 2019-06-27 12:17:34WireGuard for Windows is still in pre-alpha, but it's looking very good.

Apple bolsters its chip team by hiring architect 2019-06-26 18:57:03The CPU-for-Macs rumor is bound to resurface, but nothing’s for sure still.

Oppo’s first under-display camera demo looks decidedly first-generation 2019-06-26 13:25:17Taking a picture through a display requires a "redesigned pixel structure."

Microsoft OneDrive gets a more secure Personal Vault, 2019-06-25 18:37:21Microsoft is adding a protected section to its cloud storage.

TechCrunch » Gadgets

Security flaws in a popular smart home hub 2019-07-02 10:00:10When is a smart home not so smart? When it can be hacked. That’s exactly what security researchers Chase Dardaman and Jason Wheeler did with one

Team studies drone strikes on airplanes by firing 2019-07-01 17:52:58Bird strikes are a very real danger to planes in flight, and consequently aircraft are required to undergo bird strike testing — but what about

Startups at the speed of light: Lidar CEOs 2019-06-29 11:41:04As autonomous cars and robots loom over the landscapes of cities and jobs alike, the technologies that empower them are forming sub-industries of thei

Apple’s Sidecar just really *gets* me, you know? 2019-06-28 09:40:24With the rollout of Apple’s public beta software previews of macOS and the new iPadOS, I’ve finally been able to experience first-hand Sid

Police body-cam maker Axon says no to facial 2019-06-27 18:01:35Facial recognition is a controversial enough topic without bringing in everyday policing and the body cameras many (but not enough) officers wear thes

NASA’s Dragonfly will fly across the surface of 2019-06-27 17:20:37NASA has just announced its next big interplanetary mission: Dragonfly, which will deliver a Mars Rover-sized flying vehicle to the surface of Titan,

Tiny Robobee X-Wing powers its flight with light 2019-06-27 14:52:26We've seen Harvard's Robobee flying robot evolve for years: After first learning to fly, it learned to swim in 2015, then to jump out of the water a

Oppo shows first under-screen camera in bid to 2019-06-26 13:32:33Ever since the notch was first added to smartphones, everyone in the world except the deeply deluded and my editor have wished it gone. Oppo has done

This robot crawls along wind turbine blades looking 2019-06-24 16:17:51Wind turbines are a great source of clean power, but their apparent simplicity — just a big thing that spins — belie complex systems that

Apple just released the first iOS and iPadOS 2019-06-24 13:46:15This is your opportunity to get a glimpse of the future of iOS — and iPadOS. Apple just released the first public beta of iOS 13 and iPadOS

The Raspberry Pi Foundation unveils the Raspberry Pi 2019-06-24 02:01:51The Raspberry Pi 4 is here — and it’s an awesome upgrade. Earlier rumors said that it would take a while before a major Raspberry Pi upgra

Crowdfunded spacecraft LightSail 2 prepares to go sailing 2019-06-21 13:47:30Among the many spacecraft and satellites ascending to space on Monday's Falcon Heavy launch, the Planetary Society's LightSail 2 may be the most int

Disclaimer and Notice:WorldProNews.com is not responsible of these news or any information published on this website.