This is the big expansion that people was waiting for in Final Fantasy XIV, putting emphasis on the Holy See of Ishgard, the frozen city in the fear of constant attacks from dragonkin. Under the hateful eye of Nigghog, the region is under constant thread from dragons as what’s left of the Scions make their way to the closed city in refuge after being deemed as criminals within the alliance of Eorzea.
You as the Warrior of Light, do what you can to change the fate of the Scions, Dragonkind, Ishgard and Eorzea as a whole while still keeping the threat of primals and the Garlean Empire at bay. However the prerequisite to play this expansion is to complete Final Fantasy A Realm Reborn Patch 2.55 (Beyond the Fall Part 2). So a lot of people jumping into this game from the news of the expansion would need to play through the entire story driven content before they can reach any of the content that is advertised on the expansion. While a few people think the gating is not right, as a long term player of FFXIV: ARR, I think it’s needed in the context of what’s available and needed for the new content.
In the expansion, Square-Enix brings you 3 new combat jobs, 6 new expansive areas, new dungeons (8 in Patch 3.0), a new raid (The Ambition of the Father: Alexander) and a ton of quality of life changes to the game for both 3.0 and 2.0 users. All current combat, gathering and crafting classes all get new toys and changes with some enemies and areas getting the same. Also the level cap has been increased from 50 to 60.
My journey into the uncharted areas of Ishgard actually took an unusual turn, I went in with a level 50 Bard (Archer’s combat Job) and as soon as I entered Ishgard I automatically threw away my allegiance to the discipline of the bow and the art of music and studied under the craft of machines and the power of firearms. In other words I switched to Machinist which is one of the new Jobs, then started levelling to 30 with the need to make it my main class. So until I got this new class to 50, my story didn’t start until a few days later.
One of the major things you notice right away with the expansion is that a majority of the VA have been changed. For better or for worse, it gives the expansion a new feel right off the bat then the questing begins. Without dropping any spoilers, the story quest structure is similar to what was in 2.0 onwards, so a lot of cut scenes, mini instanced fights and a lot of fetch quests. Within the story line you will fight old foes, new ones and take on two primals, Ravana the 4-armed, 4-sword lord of combat and the Lord of Skies and Weather, Bismarck. Each fight has their unique theme and music.
The new dungeons which start at level 51 with Dusk Vigil all carry different themes related to where they are and how you unlock them. Outside of Dusk Vigil, all of the non-level 60 new dungeons are all story driven content. While particular dungeons like The Vault and the Great Gubal Library stand out all of them are generally liked outside of Neverreap (One of two current level 60 expert level dungeons). Overall the combat from them is fulfilling in a FFXIV sort of way with them having varying looking loot which can ban used as progression as you are going through them and glamour once you hit 60. Hopefully they make it so it can be dyed later on.
As for the new combat classes, they have introduced one job for each class type. Tanks got the Great Sword wielding Dark Knight which uses MP to manage itself and mitigate damage. They are very good at absorbing magic based attacks and large groups of enemies. For the healing class, they got Astrologian, the star calling, deck shuffling healer which uses stances. They can jump between the pre-emptive healing ability of Scholar and the healing potency of White Mage. They also use cards in a deck of 6 to buff party members with different effects. They are known to be quite RNG heavy but when played well, any party buffs can be extended for a massive amount of time. The damage dealer Job goes to the Machinist. Machinist is the gunner class that has been teased since before 2.0 was developed (Formally known as Musketeer). With heavy emphasis of the proc effects, ammunition stack management and turrets, they are an all-round class that can take on many different scenarios.
The quality of life changes across the board for all platforms and content have made everyone’s life easier. While the new content maybe challenging for combat, gathering and crafting classes alike and people get to grips with the new system mechanics and gameplay, the server has really held it up quite well. One of the biggest things that overshadowed the A Realm Reborn release was the sheer amount of traffic brought the amount of server to its knees. Nothing much they could do about it, but with the release of Heavensward, it’s done quite well. It has the occasional hiccup but overall I had a much easier time playing and logging in now than in the release of ARR.