Wednesday, July 15, 2015

FFXIV: Heavensward Review

This post contains minor spoilers for the Heavensward storyline.

I've finished the main story in Heavensward, and am in the gearing up for endgame phase. So I thought it's a good point to review the expansion so far.

The main story quest is solid. It's pretty much what you want from a fantasy story. It's ironic, but it's the Japanese MMO known for catgirls which has given us a more classic western fantasy story about knights and dragons than any of the western MMOs. There are twists and turns, and the mythos of FFXIV is expanded on. It's very much a story for the fan of FFXIV, and builds on the story previously introduced.

Overall, I don't think I am a fan of the way the Ul'dah story was wrapped up, though. It's okay, but I think it was a missed opportunity. The main Ishgard story was much better.

The new zones are all good. Flying is well implemented, with a general principle of explore the zone and complete the main quests in the zone before you unlock it. FFXIV also has plenty of areas which are only accessible with flying. As well, once you have flying, quests are happy to make you wander all across the map.

There are three new classes introduced: dark knight (tank), astrologian (healer), and machinist (ranged support dps). Overall they seem interesting. However, it feels like SE erred on the side of caution, and started them off under-powered. Seeing two of the new classes in a dungeon run always makes me wince.

The dungeons and primals so far are fun and well done. I do think there should have been some minor changes in how the dungeons are distributed at endgame. Right now there are only two "expert" dungeons, but there is a third 60 story dungeon which does not have loot. It would be nice if that third dungeon was added to the expert category. On the other hand, this may be deliberate so that people can watch the cutscenes without pressure, in an attempt to avoid some of the mistakes of the original 2.0 release.

All classes got new abilities. I like the new Paladin abilities, which include two new combos for DPS, a heal, and an off-gcd move to force an automatic block

However, the paladin class story was very weak. It started off well, but then got really weird. One of the NPCs says, "This is the stupidest thing ever," and you really have to agree with him.

Heavensward is almost entirely for the max level player. The only thing a new player would get is access to the new Aura race. I would recommend that a new player wait until they hit level 50 before getting the expansion. Once you're level 50, you can get the expansion and it will allow you to earn experience and level while doing the 2.0-2.5 story.

All in all, Heavensward is "more of the same". It doesn't really make any major changes to how one plays FFXIV, just adds more of what the players like. If you liked FFXIV before, you'll like Heavensward. If you don't like FFXIV, well, it's highly unlikely you would have even gotten to the point where you can start the expansion.

I'm enjoying the expansion, and am looking forward to the next patch and continuation of the story.


  1. Yeah, overall I agree with your assessment, though I will also throw out that the game still falls into the trap of having situations that don't properly take your class into account. I can't BLAME S-E for it, and I can't knock them too hard over it, but it still makes some scenes hit a little less hard when you reach them as a healer or a tank, let's just say...!

    Also, talking about the class stories, the Scholar one was kind of ok, though it had some interesting effects on the overall story. The Summoner one, on the other hand, is amazing and has some really fascinating reveals regarding the way that some of the things in 2.0 worked.

    If I was to have a complaint about Heavensward, is that it exemplifies more then any other game the problem inherent with the traditional MMO design of adding more actions as you add more levels. That's not to say that all the classes were perfect, because from what I've heard they ALL got much better with the new skills. But it still caused issues where players had already "solved" their keybinds, and now need to find new setups for the handful of new actions. I need to finally sit down and reconfigure my bars to better work with my n52 to make best use of my new actions.

    1. I agree with you about the new abilities. I had to make an extra bar and macros to switch bars to get things to work reasonably well. It's still not optimal. But I use all the new abilities a fair amount, so they were good for the class.

    2. Yeah, I'm running into that problem as well. Which is amplified by the macro scripting not letting you add macros to hotbars, when they can add actions to hotbars.

      I just want to have a macro for Dreadwyrm Trance that replaces Ruin with Ruin 3, and replaces the macro with a macro for Deathflare that reverses this! But instead I'm probably going to have to use up 2 spaces on my bars, and still push my AoE skills off to the next "page", once I finally configure my bars to work that way.

    3. I used to have serious issues with jumbled bars until an FC-mate told me that you can keybind a hotbar to "Shift +" and then put abilities there. Now my 3rd hotbar is set up with all my "Shift+R" and "CTRL + R" etc binds.

      So, for example, my Warrior works like this:
      E - Combo starter
      Q - Enmity builder step
      Shift Q - Dps/debuff builder step
      R - Enmity finisher
      Shift R - Damage debuff 1
      Ctrl R - Damage debuff 2

      The ui is a bit more cluttered with an additional bar, but I've shrunk them down since I don't need the visual confirmation anymore, and it's really cleaned up my rotation.

      Also I've been able to just add the new abilities for other classes into this system (see: Paladin) so it's not too bad.

  2. Hey Rohan, I recently started playing a bit of FFRR. What server are you one? Also, what do you think is the best tank. I am working towards the Warrior class, but have heard that Paladin is a better tank overall, just lower dps.

    1. I'm on Leviathan. It's a good server, but somewhat full. If you want to join, you'll have to make a character early in the morning, or transfer over. If you do, my character is 'Coriel Ravenstar'.

      As for tanks, they're pretty well balanced. The paladin has a few more defensive cooldowns, and the warrior has a touch more offense. However, you should level both to a reasonably high level, as you need cross-class skills from each class. For example, the "taunt" skill, Provoke, is a mid-20s Gladiator skill.

      Dark Knight is a touch buggy at the moment, but it's being sorted out. It's looking like the Paladin will have a slight advantage against physical attacks (blocks with shield), the Dark Knight a slight advantage against magical attacks, and Warrior will be in-between the two.

  3. As a newbie to FFXIV (and coming off some disappointment about WoD's handling), I'm finding it to be a remarkable palate-cleanser. Thanks for your fair and honest review; most stuff I've seen is just gushing and gushing about Heavensward ... like, it can't be that good right?

    1. Well, it is pretty good. I tried to avoid spoilers for the main story, but it was really enjoyable. Not Imperial Agent level, but solidly in that second tier.

      There are small things here and there that could be better, but overall, it is an excellent expansion.