After stumbling by way of its launch, Last Fantasy 14 has been made anew by director Naoki Yoshida. It has advanced from a punchline to a fan favourite to one of many largest MMOs available on the market. The most recent growth, Shadowbringers, seems like its overdue victory lap.
Last Fantasy 14 has grow to be among the best tales within the franchise. It’s additionally one of many longest. Whereas the newest growth is a feast for all Last Fantasy followers, its twists, turns, and character development will resonate greatest with those that’ve performed all the sooner expansions.
And but, that is nonetheless the very best time for newcomers to leap onboard. Whether or not they need to skip to the newest growth or work by way of the tons of quests and story that construct to this second is a difficult query to reply. It’ll rely upon what you’re keen to sacrifice: time or story.
Shadowbringers lastly brings the Scions into the highlight, somewhat than shoving the main target of the growth onto new characters. We be taught in regards to the new Minfilia. And if this seems like nonsense, then I suggest, on the very least, a deep dive by way of fan wikis.
Natsuko Ishikawa dealt with the writing on Shadowbringers, following her extremely praised work on the Darkish Knight job quests, Rogue class quests, and the Azim Steppe arc of the Stormblood growth. Shadowbringers’ story is slightly predictable, however no much less affecting. Our heroes’ longtime allies, the Scions of the Seventh Daybreak, are all bedridden, mysteriously unresponsive. Because the Warrior of Gentle, we’re summoned to a different world, The First, as our associates are spiritually caught there. On this new world, it’s not the standard darkness that destroys life, however an abundance of sunshine. Now we should struggle towards light-powered seraphic creatures plaguing the world.
To get into extra particular would danger spoiling the plot for followers and completely dropping newcomers.
The brand new areas of this planet are stunning, with some standing out greater than others. Il Mheg is flowery and kooky, and doesn’t appear like the rest we’ve seen in Last Fantasy 14. One of many new cities, Eulmore, is a enjoyable model of Last Fantasy 7’s Midgar, with an identical dynamic. The town is gorgeous, and its residents appear to be having fun with themselves feasting on good meals, spending time at burlesque golf equipment, or simply hanging out round plentiful sources. However the colourful metropolis contrasts with the barren wasteland beneath it, which is full of folks dwelling in scrappy homes, hoping to in the future be let into town above them.
Shadowbringers’ composer, Masayoshi Soken, has managed to make my coronary heart swell with every tune within the recreation, the identical manner that legendary Last Fantasy composer Nobuo Uematsu did when I heard the primary few notes of the Last Fantasy 7 opening as a child. Each time I loaded into a brand new dungeon — together with the 2 which might be outdoors of the principle situation quests — I’d take a second to understand its distinctive theme.
The whole lot appears to be like, sounds, and feels fastidiously thought of, and appropriately spectacular for such a giant replace. The previous two expansions felt like mere extensions of the unique recreation. However one thing about Shadowbringers’ story seems like a real sequel. It’s grander and extra formidable, taking the characters and concepts in new instructions.
The one bit that throws a wrench into the stream of the sport is the necessity to full fights as NPCs, forcing you to sit down and press one or two buttons for 10 to 15 minutes. These battles are designed to remind gamers how sturdy they’re compared to their NPC allies, however they all the time appear to tug on for manner too lengthy.
Shadowbringers additionally contains vital adjustments that make for a extra polished and accommodating expertise. My favourite new characteristic of the growth is the Belief System, which permits gamers to finish most important story dungeons with NPCs as their occasion members, as a substitute of random gamers. The thought of working dungeons or story factors with NPCs isn’t utterly new to Last Fantasy 14; gamers had their beloved NPC associates participate in dungeons in the course of the Stormblood growth. Nevertheless, finishing a whole dungeon for the primary time whereas your allies discuss in regards to the varied bosses they see, together with the environments, creates a magical feeling.
It feels pure and acquainted, as if I’m enjoying an everyday JRPG when I’m working the dungeons with the remainder of the Scions. They transfer like skilled gamers, dodging huge assaults and casting their skills pretty nicely. (However I’m squinting in any respect the DPS choices, who refuse to make use of any area-of-effect skills.) Whereas this technique is slower than working with actual folks, I positively suggest it on your first run of every dungeon.
The flavour textual content between the characters in every dungeon is small, however significant. As any person who thirsts for character interplay, particularly in informal settings outdoors of inflexible cutscenes, I wish to run every dungeon with each character I probably can, simply to see what they’ll say. Every NPC has their very own set play model, to an extent. Alisae will all the time blow Restrict Break when it’s up, even on a single goal. Y’shtola won’t ever forged hers, as she thinks it’s a DPS loss. Minfilia gained’t forged hers, both; she’s a lot too shy.
In the event you’re a Last Fantasy 14 fan, the selection right here is straightforward: Sure, play this recreation when you someway haven’t already dived in.
As for newcomers: Moving into Last Fantasy 14 with no stage or story skips is a frightening job. My co-workers have given me facet eye every time I convey up the truth that they need to play the sport, and I don’t blame them for it. Anybody trying to get into Last Fantasy 14: Shadowbringers is predicted to take a position nicely over 100 hours, and that’s with out getting sidetracked by all the fantastic non-obligatory content material. However these hours aren’t spent in a depressing grind. The bottom recreation is sweet, even when it does take a while to get going. Enjoying by way of the entire journey, you may really feel the sport’s creators uncover what makes this recreation particular, you may sense them discovering its rhythm.
Skipping straight to Shadowbringers will save time, however on the expense of having fun with the story. You probably have the time, resist the urge to start out with the shiny, new stuff. Expertise this journey in full. Shadowbringers is an exhilarating expertise, however one which advantages from all of the adventures that got here earlier than it.
Last Fantasy 14: Shadowbringers is now accessible on Mac, PlayStation 4, and Home windows PC. The sport growth was reviewed utilizing a “final” pre-release PC obtain code supplied by Sq. Enix. You’ll find extra details about Polygon’s ethics coverage right here.