FFXIV: Version 4.3 Update

Real life got me again! It’s been almost a month since patch 4.3 for Final Fantasy XIV was released. I’ve finally found enough time to dive into the new content and I’m ready to share my thoughts.  First, I’m pleased to say that this update is actually quite substantial! There’s a good bit of new content to explore along with the usual enhancements. There’s a little something for everyone this time around.

First off, players who were hoping to wrap up the “Yotsuyu storyline” in the main scenario will be very happy to see this chapter come to a very satisfying close. This plot took a direction I was not expecting, but rest assured it was concluded in a way that you’ll only find in a Final Fantasy game. There’s also a number of little new sidequests peppered into this update as well. This means there’s plenty of stuff for lore-nuts to enjoy in 4.3. Taking a closer look at all of the additions to the game in this patch, we have the list below:

  • New main scenario and sidequests
  • New Dungeons
  • New raids
  • New Beast Tribe quests
  • “Doman Enclave Construction” activity
  • “Message Book” for housing
  • New Treasure Hunt content
  • Various refinements, balancing changes, items, and Q.O.L tweaks

Sadly, there are a number of features that have been delayed until patch 4.35 and 4.36. This includes new Eureka content (something I have yet to fully experience), and the new Deep Dungeon content. Now that I’m finally caught up with all of the new main scenario and quest storyline, I expect to have the time to fully explore Eureka in time for the new updates to that system. Despite my own delay in checking out all of the new activities available in game, SE has really been on a roll with all these new additions. They finally seem to have the update schedule down to a perfect science.

It seems every time you turn around there’s some new system or activity being added to FFXIV. The one thing I’m looking most forward to is the upcoming FFXIV Companion mobile app that is scheduled for release at the end of next month. This app will finally bring some in-game functionality to players outside of the game. This is something that is LONG OVERDUE. I plan on posting a full review of this app once it is available.

In closing, 4.3 brings more welcome enhancements to an already thriving game. SE continues to do a wonderful job with the storytelling in this title. The new battle content is fresh and innovative. Players couldn’t ask for anything more than what we are seeing with these updates. Even the pacing of these patches seems pretty on-point with the needs of the community. They are spaced out just enough to hold players interest, while also giving players time to consume them at their own pace. There’s a little something for everyone in this update. Raiders will find a lot to enjoy here, as will fans who only play for the story content. Excellent stuff.

I give this patch a rating of:  A

 

FFXIV: Version 4.2 Update

I’m little late getting this post in, but I’ve finally had time to dive into the latest update for Final Fantasy XIV. Like most point releases, this patch adds several new things to the game. But sadly, one of the biggest pieces of content will have to wait a little while longer. The addition of the Eureka battle system has been pushed back to 4.25. I won’t be reviewing that update separately, but I will throw a little sidebar discussion into my 4.3 post at a later date.

So, what is included here?  Well, the BIG focus on this patch are some new main scenario quests. (Including the introduction of a new character). These are very story-focused. And, I LOVE where the story is headed! This new storyline sucked me right in and really got me excited to see what’s coming down the pike. I hope SE can maintain this momentum. Of course, there is more packed into this update. So let’s take a look in detail:

  • New main scenario and side quests
  • A new Aetheryte
  • New Dungeons
  • New Raid content
  • New Omega content
  • A new trial (The Jade Stoa)
  • An update to the glamour system and the addition of a glamour-related minigame
  • New beast tribe quests
  • New Treasure Hunt content
  • A new Submarine option for Free Companies
  • New PVP content
  • Various refinements, balancing changes, items, and Q.O.L tweaks.

I was really bummed to see the Eureka content and the new Hildibrand quests pushed back for a future update, but I was quite pleased with many of the surprise changes that were included. By far, one of the most welcome is the revamp to the glamour system. Glamours have been redesigned from the ground up. As a result, the system is much more useful and also helps alleviate inventory woes by converting a large chunk of vanity gear into “glamour plates” that are stored outside your character’s inventory. This change has also resulted in SE again making an update the inventory UI. Many people are complaining about this, but personally – I’ve have no issues with the change. What inventory space is seemingly “lost” by the update, is regained in the form of a saddlebag.

Another interesting new feature is the ability to now record duties for later playback. This is an interesting concept. The idea here is to be able to playback battles and other group content for review and learning purposes. You can switch between the perspective of various players, pause, and slow down/speed up playback, etc. A very handy feature!

In a nutshell, 4.2 is a pretty typical but solid update. Final Fantasy XIV continues to grow and expand, and this patch really gives a glimpse into what type of changes might lie in store. This game has come extremely far since the rough days of 1.0. I can’t wait to see what’s on the horizon.

I give this patch a rating of:  A

 

It Came From Netflix: Final Fantasy XIV – Dad of Light

Welcome to the very first “It Came From Netflix…” post! If you’re not sure what this is all about, you can read my announcement here: “It Came From Netflix…” – In my first review for this new feature, I will be discussing an interesting Japanese drama; Final Fantasy XIV – Dad of Light.  Since Final Fantasy games are a big part of this site, I thought this show would make a perfect segue into this new series of articles.

Netflix has recently introduced a number of foreign films and television shows. Dad of Light is one of them. Now, let me state of up front that this show does not chronicle the events of a particular Final Fantasy game, nor does it feature characters from the series. Instead, it’s a show about the game. More specifically, it’s a story about a father and son who bond through the online world of Final Fantasy XIV.

The plot is simple, it revolves around a young adult named Akio and his father. Akio works a full time job but still lives at home with his family. When he was a little boy, Akio and his father used to spend time together playing old Final Fantasy games. These days, they have drifted apart. One day, Akio’s father suddenly announces his retirement with no explanation. In an effort to rekindle the relationship with his dad, Akio purchases a Playstation 4 and a copy of the online game Final Fantasy XIV and presents them as a gift to his father. His plan is to secretly meet up with his father in the game and befriend him. Then, eventually reveal his identity in hopes of forging a stronger bond through the experience.

The series takes place largely in the real world. But occasionally, certain scenes are shown from an in-game perspective. A large part of the comic relief comes from the interactions between the father’s character and Akio’s in-game persona. The show itself is presented in Japanese with English subtitles. As is the case with most Japanese dramas, it can be oddly quirky at times. But is overall, very charming. There are a few adult situations but for the most part, the show is largely family friendly.

When the series was originally announced in Japan, it went by the rather unflattering name “Daddy of Light”. Yuck… I’m glad to see that Netflix took some artistic privilege when bringing the title to US viewers. I first heard about the series online, shortly after it’s Japanese release. It was no secret that the production company was shopping the series around to American distributors. I was nearly certain that it would be snapped up by Crunchyroll, a company that specializes in Asian media. But, much to my surprise, Netflix got the exclusive rights to the show.

The good thing about this series is  that even viewers who have no interest or knowledge of Final Fantasy XIV will be able to watch and enjoy this show. Of course, players of the game will certainly recognize certain elements and may get a bit more out of the experience. I watched this series with my entire family, and it was enjoyed by all.

All in all, Dad of Light is a heartwarming series. The storyline is very self-contained and there’s pretty much no chance of a second season. Many Japanese television dramas typically only last for one run. In a way, they could be compared to what US viewers know as a “mini-series”. So there’s very little time investment if you simply want to try something new.

If you’re new to foreign media, this series is a pretty good starting point. It’s familiar enough to comfortable, but it still has just a touch of foreign “strangeness” to stand out on its own.

Target Audience: This show is aimed towards a general audience, but fans of Japanese culture, anime, and Final Fantasy are likely to be more drawn to it than others.  It’s a good launching point for Western audiences who are not familiar with the Asian Drama genre.

Number of Episodes: 8

Netflix Exclusive?:  YES

Score (1 out of 4): 3

 

FFXIV: Version 4.1 Update

The first update to Stormblood is here! I apologize for taking so long to write about this update, but real life events really cut into my playtime for FFXIV. But, I’ve finally finished all of the content included in this patch and I’m here to share my thoughts.

Like most incremental patches for FFXIV, this one includes a number of quality of life improvements, a few new dungeons, a new raid, and several side quests. This patch also saw the release of a whole new housing area. This is something fans have been clamoring for. (Although, the new plots were snatched up pretty quickly as expected… this has become a recurring problem).

Breaking down the contents of the patch into a list, we have the following additions to the game:

New Main Scenario quests and side quests

New Dungeons

New Raid Content (Rabanastre)

New Beast Tribe content

New Treasure Hunt content

New Grand Company Squadron content (Command Missions)

Shirogane Housing and housing enhancements (relocations, etc)

A slew of refinements, big fixes, new items, materials, mounts, minions, etc

I was little disappointed to see only one quest in the Hildibrand quest line in this patch. Hildi is one of my favorite characters in the game, and I was really hoping to see his full return in this update, but sadly all we got was a set up to his reintroduction. But, I don’t mind waiting a bit longer.

For me, the most enjoyable change has been the new Squadron content. I really enjoy the squadron “mini-game” and SE is doing a great job expanding this content. Players are now able to run instanced dungeons with their AI squadron members. It reminds me a bit of the Trust System from FFXI, and I’m very curious to see just where this is headed in the long run.

I’m a bit on the fence when it comes to the new raid. I’m torn on seeing the introduction of something as specific as Rabanastre brought into Final Fantasy XIV. For those that might not know, Rabanastre is a city from Final Fantasy XII. It seems that the world of FFXII and FF Tactics is bleeding into Eorzea a bit. This seemed a bit confusing to me at first, but the in-game lore does a decent job of smoothing over this merge. While I can certainly see the value in plucking out imagery and lore from other games in the series and inserting them into FFXIV, I feel this should be done with care or the game could easily end up being an unrecognizable mish-mashed mess.

The first incremental patch after an MMO expansion is usually iffy. It tends to contain more fixes than content, and that’s certainly true with this patch. But considering the amount of new stuff introduced in 4.1, I have to praise Square Enix. Stormblood was a boon for Final Fantasy XIV and they don’t show any sign of slowing their momentum.

All things considered, I am giving this patch a solid:  A

 

Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood

It’s been two years since the release of Heavensward and SE has spent that time working on the next chapter in the Final Fantasy XIV saga: Stormblood. Well, it’s finally here! I’ve spent the last two weeks playing the new content and I’ve finally completed the expansion. So, as expected, I’m here with a full review!

Stormblood brings Final Fantasy XIV up to version 4.0. With that version bump comes a ton of new content. Stormblood adds two new (long awaited) jobs to the game: Red Mage and Samurai. It also raises the level cap to 70 and adds an entire new continent to explore. The focus of the expansion is the retaking of the nations of Ala Mhigo and Doma from Imperial control. The occupation of Ala Mhigo has long been a part of the game’s lore, reaching back as early as 1.0. In this way, Stormblood finally brings a capstone to nearly every loose-end that is left from the original version of the game.

Whereas Heavensward introduced flying to the world of FFXIV, Stormblood brings about the ability to dive and swim. Even some areas of the original game have been updated to allow players to swim in shallow waters. For many of the new zones, players are able to dive down and explore areas of the deep. Flying mounts are also able to traverse the underwater zones as well.  Currently, this ability is pretty novel and really only comes into play for the new scenario missions. But SE has hinted that more content might be coming that incorporates swimming/diving.

I have to go on record and state that the storyline for Stormblood is absolutely fantastic. At worst, it is on par with A Realm Reborn, but I daresay it even exceeds it. To me, Heavensward was a decent expansion. But, at times it became very repetitive and downright boring. This was not the case with Stormblood. Everything about this expansion felt fresh and interesting to me.  From the storyline, the new cities and zones, the innovative dungeons and even the boss fights, the whole of Stormblood was just spot on for me.

Aside from all the new content, Final Fantasy XIV version 4.0 also marked a major revamp to the core game itself. The whole job system received an overhaul of sorts. Skills and abilities were streamlined, with several actions being revamped or even eliminated. The pointless concept of customizing character ability scores (an old mechanic from the now defunct 1.0 version) has finally been removed from the game. 4.0 also introduces the “Job Gauge”, a job-specific on-screen graphic that is unique to each job and related to that job’s special abilities.

A major theme of Stormblood is that of the Far East. Pretty much any type of Asian flair is represented in the new zones. From the Japanese-inspired city of Kugane, to the Chinese-like landscape of Doma. There are even elements of ancient Mongolia, Turkey, and Slavic inspiration found in the new zones.

At the time of this writing, Stormblood has received one minor content patch, bringing the game up to version 4.01. This patch added the highly awaited Omega raid to the game.

All in all, I cannot say enough great things about Stormblood. If I had to find a complaint, it would not be with the expansion itself, but rather with SE’s recent decision to sell level boosting potions on the Mog Station store. For cold hard cash, players can now purchase an item that will level their characters to either level 50 or 60, and even one that will clear the main scenario content for A Realm Reborn and Heavensward.  I understand the concept behind such items: they allow new players to jump right in and join their friends on new adventures. But at the same time, I feel they cheapen the game play experience somewhat. As a player who has stuck with FFXIV since the early (and often dismal) days of 1.0, I couldn’t imagine spending money to purchase a game, then spending more money so that I don’t have to actually play it. But, to each their own I suppose.

I’m going to continue my tradition of reviewing each major patch as they are released. So stay tuned and as they say in the FFXIV community; “Please look forward to it!”

Patch 4.1    Patch 4.2   Patch 4.3

FFXIV Hub

** Final Fantasy XIV  (1.x)  –    A Realm Reborn  –    Heavensward   –  Stormblood **

FFXIV: Version 3.5 Update

The latest update for Final Fantasy XIV has finally arrived. Version 3.5 (The Far Edge of Fate) is here and with it, we see the final winding down of the Heavensward story and the slow build up to the recently announced version 4.0. Playing through the new main scenario quests included in this patch make it clear that the narrative of the game is about to change. It’s being handled very similar to the way the transition from 2,x to 3,0 was presented. As always, Square Enix has proved themselves to be master storytellers.

As the 3.x storyline winds down, this patch provides two new dungeons and one new raid to hold fans over until the big update to 4.0 this summer. Along with this new major content, there are also a number of new sidequests and other activities for players to enjoy.

Breaking down to contents of the patch, we have the following:

New Main Scenario quests and side quests

New Trials

New Raid content:  (Dun Scaith)

New Dungeons

New Limited Time Cross-over Event  (GARO! Anime  PVP-gear content)

New Anima Weapon tiers

New Player Housing options:  (Portrait/Picture frame system, new house servants)

The Triple Triad card tournament refinements  (FINALLY NO MORE CHEATING)

UI Updates

Cross-Server Party finder!

A slew of refinements, big fixes, new items, materials, mounts, minions, etc.

As you see, there’s a lot going on with this patch. One of the biggest core changes to the game involves the new cross-server party finder. This change allows players to seek out party members with players from other servers. This is certainly a welcome change. However, at the time of this writing, (and maybe its just a coincidence) it seems to have affected the overall server stability. I had experienced a number of crashes and connection issues since this patch was released. Something that I’ve never encountered before.

Along with everything this patch has brought to the game, I want to take a moment to mention something that it’s taken away. With the release of this patch, the content known as “Exploratory Missions” is no longer accessible. Exploratory Missions (aka: The Diadem) is essentially a large-scale battleground system. This content was extremely popular in the early days of 3.X,  but it soon fell out of favor with players and became a largely forgotten system. With Patch 3.5, SE has removed the content from the game as they work to refine it and make it more attractive to players. The current plan is for it to reintroduced in an upcoming “3.5 part 2” patch. As a fan of Exploratory Missions, I look forward to see what changes are made to this area. I hope that SE can make it relevant again.

All in all, patch 3.5 is a welcome update to the game. It serves as the last MAJOR patch in the 3.x line before the release of Final Fantasy XIV 4.0.

Filled with content, fixes, and refinements, I give this patch the following score:  A

 

Review: Final Fantasy XV

It is finally here! My full review of the long-awaited Final Fantasy XV! And in record time, might I add.  This review took me less than a month, but unlike those other day-one reviews you’ll find on the web, all of my playthrough reviews are only written after I’ve completed a game from start to finish and poked through every nook and cranny. (Don’t believe me – check my PSN trophies).

As you most likely know, the hype train behind this game was running at a fever pitch. So, let’s start off by talking about about what made this game one of the most anticipated titles in years. Final Fantasy XV began development almost a decade ago. That’s a long time for a single game. Originally announced under the title “Final Fantasy Versus XIII” – it was initially intended to be part of the Final Fantasy: Nova Fabula Crystallis sub-series. (A spin-off of FFXIII) But after several years and management changes, it was re-announced as the next major entry into the main series. Since that time, teasers, leaked footage and interviews caused the game to develop a huge following. Now it is finally here.

So, before we dive into the game itself, let’s do something I dread and take a moment to discuss the various editions and incentives.  For FFXV you basically have three (realistically two) choices; The Standard Version, The Deluxe Edition, and the Ultimate Collectors Edition.  The latter was available directly through Square Enix only and is no longer available for purchase.

  • The standard “day one” edition comes with the game only and a DLC sword.
  • Both the Deluxe and the Collectors editions come with the following DLC perks: A stat boosting costume, the sword from the standard edition and a vanity skin for the in-game vehicle. Both the deluxe and collectors editions also come with a Blu-Ray copy of the FFXV: Kingsglaive motion picture.  – I purchased the Deluxe Edition.
  • The Ultimate Collectors edition also comes with a few exclusive DLC perks that includes in-game discounts, uncommon and exclusive items, etc. But in all honesty, these do not prove to be very valuable. This edition also comes with a playart statue, art book, Blu-Ray copies of FFXV: Brotherhood / Kingsglaive and a special soundtrack.

So now, *Sigh* – let’s talk about the pre-order perks.  Basically, there’s really only three that you need to know about.

  • If you preordered the game from PSN or Xbox Live, you get the Angler set (some fishing-based items from the Collectors Edition), and an exclusive vanity skin for the car… Meh.
  • If you preordered the game from Amazon, you get three exclusive mid-level weapons and three of the four DLC item sets from the Collectors edition. Nice!
  • Finally, if you preordered the game from Gamestop, you get a second Final Fantasy XV mini-game called “A King’s Tale” for free!! … WOW!!!  – I preordered my copy from Gamestop, but I managed to snag an extra copy of the Amazon DLC codes from a friend who received two in error.   

There’s a few other random skins and other worthless freebies given out through contests and promos, but nothing really worth mentioning.

I’ve included a handy-chart below that provides details for every single possible purchase option for the game. (Because this is way more confusing than it needs to be).

*Click to enlarge*

*In a nutshell: If you have the Deluxe Edition and preordered from Amazon to have 99% of the digital perks from the Collectors Edition – If you missed out on any of this, please don’t worry. None of these perks are particularly game-breaking or game-boosting in the overall scope of things, and knowing SE – it wouldn’t surprise me if these don’t appear for sale in the future as individual DLC.

Speaking of downloadable content, the game has a handful of DLC planned in the coming months. These will be available individually for purchase or you can pay the reasonable price of $25.00 for a season pass. At the time of this writing, only the Holiday Pack is available for download. (More on this later).

So. Now that you’ve figured out which version of the game is right for you, I would like to make suggestion. Before playing the actual game itself, I highly recommend installing and completing the free Final Fantasy XV Platinum Demo. The demo is a unique scenario that does not exist in the game itself. Not only does it do a great job of teaching you the combat mechanics of the real game, but upon completion it unlocks a special perk within the retail copy of the game. (A special summon).

FFXV Platinum Demo

So… you’ve watched the Brotherhood anime and the Kingsglaive Motion Picture, you’ve played the demo… you’re finally ready to play Final Fantasy XV. Here’s what to expect from the storyline.

The story of Final Fantasy XV takes place in a world called Eos. The majority of this world is ruled by the militaristic Empire of Niflheim. However, to the north, the small Kingdom of Lucis remains free from Imperial rule. Lucis, protected by a magical barrier, has been able to ward off the Empire for generations. Recently, peacetalks between the Empire and Lucis have manifested. One of the conditions in the peace treaty requires that Noctis, Prince of Lucis is to marry his childhood friend Lunafreya, the oracle of Tenebrae (an area under Imperial control). The game itself mainly focuses on the character of Prince Noctis and his three companions as they journey to the nearby nation on Tenebrae, for the Prince’s wedding. However, shortly after leaving the Crown City of Insomnia, their car breaks down – halting their journey temporarily. While awaiting repairs on their vehicle, the news reaches Noctis that the peacetalks were nothing more than an elaborate ruse. The Empire has occupied the kingdom. The King, Noctis’s father, is said to have been slain. Now, last of his line, Noctis undertakes a journey across Eos to claim the magic powers of his birthright and retake the kingdom from the Empire.

Despite having a backstory this epic, a large focus of Final Fantasy XV is actually on the relationship between Noctis and his three friends. The first half of the game can appropriately be described as the ultimate Bro Roadtrip. Three guys, hanging out.. being guys. The banter between Noctis and his companions really does a great job of making you care about all of the characters on a very personal level.  In the entourage we have; Noctis – the Prince. Gladiolus – Noctis’ bodyguard. Prompto – Noctis’ childhood friend. And finally, Ignis – Noctis’ personal adviser and attendant.  Each character has their own personality and quirks that you’ll grow very familiar with throughout the game. Gladio is a bit rough around the edges, Prompto is easily excitable and obsessed with photography, Ignis is the straight-man and an accomplished chef, often preparing meals for the party when they camp out in the field.

The game is split into fifteen chapters. To be quite honest, the main scenario of the game can be completed in just over twenty hours by most players. This is actually a fairly short time for these types of games nowadays. However, there’s way more content in Final Fantasy XV than just what is found in the main storyline. There’s tons of sidequests littered throughout the game. Most of these can be discovered pretty easily by playing the game normally. But there are a handful that can only be uncovered by venturing a bit off the beaten path. With a few exceptions, you have free reign to explore the entire world at your leisure. You can do so on foot, via car, and after a certain point in the game by Chocobo. Most the time, the car will be your main mode for transportation.

When cruising the roads in the Regalia (the model name for the car), you can instruct Ignis to drive to various destinations on the map. After a certain point in the game you will also unlock the ability to drive manually. Driving the Regalia is fun at first, but it does get tiresome after a while. During your time on the road you will treated to banter between the guys and occasionally some important exposition. One neat little feature during these roadtrips is the car stereo. Just like in games such as Grand Theft Auto and Sleeping Dogs, you can scroll through the channels and listen to cool music. Expect in FFXV the track selection can include soundtracks from other games in the series! Tracks can be purchased throughout the game when visiting gas stations and rest areas. I thought this was a nice touch.

The downside to these drives is the time it takes to get from place to place. Thankfully, once you’ve arrived at a particular area, you can fast warp there in the future for a small price. This certainly saves time, but to be honest – the loading times when warping from place to place, or even when loading new chapters and cutscenes in the game seem unusually long. Sometimes, I found myself sitting on a loading screen for well over a minute. (This was my experience playing on the original Playstation 4. Perhaps this is not an issue on the Xbox One or on the new PS4 models… I dunno). But, it’s long enough to be an issue.

Sadly, I was not as impressed with the soundtrack for this game as I usually am with Final Fantasy titles. There are a good number of great tracks in FFXV, don’t misunderstand. But overall, the background music just feels “off”. Even when the songs are catchy… to me they just seem a little out of place. But this could just be me being quirky. My eight-year old son absolutely loves the music. He likes it so much, I had to make a CD of game tunes at his request so he can listen to it when he goes to bed at night… So, take my opinion with a grain of salt here.

Graphically, the game is gorgeous. To date, it’s the best looking console game I’ve played. If you have one of the newer model PS4s, FFXV will take full advantage of the hardware as well. The game can also be tweaked even further for HDR televisions and home theater audio.

Progression in the game is tallied as you complete sidequests and battle monsters. Experience points earned by your characters are paid out whenever you rest in camp or at an inn-room. This serves to level your characters up. Your party also earns AP during their adventures. These points are spent unlocking new abilities.

Combat in the game is a bit of a mixed bag. Especially at first. Starting out, I had a hard time grasping it. The combat controls felt awkward and not very intuitive. But, as you continue to play and unlock more combat skills, it starts to come together. By the end of the game, it felt like second nature.  My biggest complaint has to be not with the control scheme, but with the in-game camera during combat. More often then not, battles take place in dense outdoor areas or in confined dungeon spaces. The camera tends to go haywire and it can be difficult to focus on what you need to see. A prime example of this can be found during the mega-boss fight against the Adamantoise. The boss is so massive that the camera doesn’t seem to know what to do with itself. This is very long fight, and my biggest problem with it was not the battle itself, but dealing with the darn camera angles. This seems like something that might be easily fixed with a patch. Time will tell.

All in all, Final Fantasy XV is a very different type of Final Fantasy game. Square Enix has declared that this entry is intended to appeal to both veterans of the series as well as new players. When I first settled in to play this game, it wasn’t at all what I expected. I think my JRPG-mindset may have kicked in too hard at first and I misplayed the game from the get-go. Out of the eighty hours I clocked in playing FFXV, I’d say the first forty were spent in the first four chapters alone. I grinded sidequests and hunts like nobody’s business.I was hesitant to proceed with the main story until I completed absolutely every bit of optional content I came across. While this was great in terms of leveling up and getting ahead of the curve, it made for a very slow start.  Once I managed to put this aside and just enjoy the game for what it was, everything fell into place. By the end of the game, it ended up feeling very much like a Final Fantasy title.

Wrapping things up, I want to touch a bit on the game patches and DLC.  At the time of this writing, the game has received an important day-one update and a small bugfix/feature patch.  So I’m going to assume anyone playing is going to have installed these. The developers have expressed a desire to further patch the game – adding some additional cutscenes and possibly making major changes to the 13th chapter of the game itself. I’m not sure how I feel about this. Having already completed the game, I hate to think I might miss out on some crucial story elements. We’ll have to see how this manifests.

To date, only one piece of DLC has been released: The Holiday pack. This comes in both a free download and an special paid-for version. For the most part, there’s not much of value in this package currently. A few random in-game items, and a costume that will be unlocked at a later date. The real gem in this DLC is the upcoming limited-time carnival. Apparently, SE is waiting until after Christmas to open up this event. Details behind what this carnival will contain are still sketchy, and I’m not really sure how I feel about having a time-locked event as part of a DLC package… but we’ll see how it all plays out. As more downloadable content is released, I’ll review them separately on the site.   – But in regards to this carnival, don’t let this pending release stop you from playing the game to completion. Upon finishing the game, you have the ability to continue playing. So anything you may have missed and any new add-on content like this, should be available to experience.  In fact, there’s even a secret optional dungeon in Final Fantasy XV that’s only available once you have completed the game.

All in all, I found Final Fantasy XV to be a solid game and one worthy of the franchise. It’s not perfect, but it’s certainly worth a look if you’re a fan of the series. Despite experiencing a slow start, I found my enjoyment of the game to grow the longer I played it. The storyline is second to none, certainly one of the more impactful in the series, in my opinion. I feel that longtime fans will be divided on what to think of the game. But, putting nostalgia for the previous games to the side, FFXV certainly stands on it’s own.  I look forward to seeing what’s to come in terms of the upcoming add-on scenarios.

Difficulty: Variable –  Final Fantasy XV has two difficulty options: Easy and Normal. Easy mode turns down the difficulty of battles considerably. Also, when Easy Mode is enabled, if you do die and you have the Carbuncle summon unlocked from the demo, you get an instant raise. I can’t say for sure, but I suspect that Carbuncle, in fact, only appears when the game is on the easy setting – as I never saw him appear once when playing the game on Normal. I would recommend Easy Mode only for players that want to experience the game story with no challenge whatsoever. Normal mode is really not that difficult as long as you spend a little time grinding and preparing. Plus, you miss out on one of the coolest fights in the game if you play to the end using the easy setting. As usual, most the really difficult content comes in the form of optional bosses and dungeons. These are intended to played post-game.

Story: The storyline presented in FFXV is simply amazing. It stands just fine on it’s own, but backed up with Kingsglaive and Brotherhood, the lore behind game is just fantastic. In the later part of the game, a lot of concepts are introduced at a pretty fast pace, so if you’re not paying attention it will be easy to miss some key elements.

Originality: For a series with no less than fifteen installments, it can be difficult to keep things feeling fresh. But Square Enix always seems to manage to pull something new out their hat, while keeping the elements that make a Final Fantasy game a “Final Fantasy game”.  This is certainly true here for XV where we have a game that is both somewhat hub-based, yet also very open world. Many of the concepts in this game are indeed recycled from previous entries; Hunts are a prime example. Yet, the setting that encompasses the game manages to keep things feeling new. One shining feature here is the social media integration. SE has flirted with this before, but never got it right until now.  Throughout that game, Prompto will randomly take photographs. Every time you rest, you have are able to review the pictures he’s taken and share them on social media… pointless, yes. But fun.

Soundtrack: Don’t misunderstand what I said above. The music in this game is very good. It’s beautiful and well composed when it needs to be, and quirky and playful when appropriate. But, when compared to other games in the series, the bulk of it does not seem as memorable.  The exception to this gripe is the main theme “Somnus” – This is an absolutely lovely track. When it comes to voice acting, the game has it’s ups and downs. Noctis and his companions are overall, very well done, but their banter can become repetitive after a time. The side characters on the other hand… are cringe inducing. (I’m looking at you Cindy and Dino).

Fun: Final Fantasy XV, for me, was very enjoyable. RPG fans should have a field day. Heck, even my eight-year old is in love with the game. But, I feel like large portion of games just won’t “get it”. If you like RPGs that don’t hold your hand, there’s a lot to like about FFXV.

Graphics: Incredible. The scenery and most of the models in the game are absolutely excellent. There’s a few odd exceptions, but overall Final Fantasy XV is once of the prettiest games I’ve ever played.

Playcontrol: This is where the game suffers the most. But, in theory, this is something that could easily be fixed. Number one, as mentioned above, the camera during combat is big a issue. Second, the jump-button also serves as the button needed to initiate dialog or interact with objects. This often leads to you trying to select an NPC for conversation, only to end up jumping in their face for no reason. Annoying.

Downloadable Content:  Yes. Free and paid DLC.

Mature Content: Some language and scantily clad characters.

Value:  The base game retailed for $60.00 new. The Deluxe Edition sells for $80. As recent as a month after release, the standard game has been seen on sale for as low as $35. – To me, considering the amount of content the game offers, it’s well worth the $60. To be fair, considering the $80 version also comes with a Blu-Ray movie as well as additional in-game content, this amount is also justifiable.

Overall rating (out of four stars): 3 – Final Fantasy XV is a great game. But, it has it’s share of flaws. Its not a perfect title by any stretch. Considering how long the game was in development, some of the issues are quite honestly, inexcusable. But, none of them are major enough to detract from the overall enjoyment of the title.  There’s plenty to enjoy in this game, and the story presented here is absolutely breathtaking.

Available on: PS4 and Xbox One

Other Reviews In This Series:

Main Series:

I – II – III – IV – V – VI – VII – VIII – IX – X – X2 – XI – XII – XIII – XIII 2 – XIII Lightning Returns – XIV – XV 

IV: After Years – VII: Dirge of Cerberus – VII: Crisis Core – VII: Advent Children (Movie) – XII: Revenant Wings – Type-0 – XV: A King’s Tale – XV: Brotherhood (Anime) – XV: Kingsglaive (Movie)

Misc Titles:

World of Final Fantasy – Explorers – Mystic Quest – 4 Heroes of Light 

Tactics:

Tactics – Tactics Advance – Tactics A2

Dissidia:

Dissidia – Dissidia 012 – Dissidia NT

Crystal Chronicles:

Crystal Chronicles – Ring of Fates – My Life as King – My Life as Darklord – Echoes of Time – Crystal Bearers

Mobile Titles:

Dimensions – Dimensions 2 – Record Keeper – Brave Exvius – Mobius Final Fantasy  – Justice Monsters V – King’s Knight  – Dissida Final Fantasy Opera Omnia

FFXIV: Version 3.4 Update

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So, Final Fantasy XIV version 3.4 (aka: Soul Surrender) has finally arrived and I’ve had time to dive in and check it out in full. I apologize for not getting to this post sooner, but before checking out the new content, I was scrambling like mad to finish the limited-time Yo-Kai Watch crossover event. Sadly, I have to admit this event marks the first time I was unable to fully complete a “seasonal” quest line. The event consisted of participating in FATE events, from which you could collect cute Yo-Kai minions, and Yo-Kai Watch themed weapons. Collecting the minions was simple. But collecting all the weapons took quite a bit of dedication. Granted, SE allowed nearly three months to get this done, but I had a lot of real world stuff going on so I had to cram most of it into the last three days. While I did not finish the event 100% of the way, I was down to the very last weapon when the clock ran out (and only two tokens short of claiming it!) – I hope to see this event brought back at some point in the future, as SE did with some of their other limited time events. But, considering this one tied in to a third-party, I’m not counting on anything. Boo.

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But enough about Yo-Kai… Let’s talk 3.4. So, what’s new in this patch? Well, we’re getting very close now to the final wrap up of all Heavensward content. Later this week, Square Enix hosts the first of the three Fan Fests . It is during these events that fans are expecting a reveal for Final Fantasy XIV 4.0. So, the end of all 3.x content is coming quick! Here’s what’s been added in the latest patch:

New main scenario quests, new side quests.

New PVP content:  Custom matches and player duels

New Raid content:  Alexander phase 3

New Trials

New Dungeons

New Player Housing options:  Apartments, aquarium furniture/collectible game

Grand Company Content:   **FINALLY!!!*  New ranks and a new “Squadron” system

A new “Wondrous Tails” system – Essentially, this is a system that encourages and rewards players for doing older content.

A slew of refinements, new items, materials, mounts, minions, etc.

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So what do I think of the new patch? Well, as point releases go, it’s pretty solid. It balances both refinements and new content pretty well. We can see the pieces coming together for the ultimate conclusion to the 3.x storyline and I feel that breadcrumbs are also being laid for what’s coming next. I feel like SE has things down to a science at this point. The amount of new content was just right to both keep the story line moving along and to keep players busy for a while. With Final Fantasy XV on the horizon, I expect a bit of a lull in the next month or so. It seems like SE is also predicting this and planning accordingly. I feel like the next six months will provide plenty of time for new players to catch up so that they can enjoy whatever 4.0 will eventually have to offer.

The shining gem of this patch for me? The Wondrous Tails content. It’s always difficult to get veteran players to pay attention to older content. This can be frustrating for newer players that need assistance on progression. This new mechanic gives players what really amounts to a “sticker book”. By completing certain dungeons, trials, etc during the week – they earn a sticker. Once the book is full, rewards are available. I found this whole set up to be very well done.

As far as point releases go, I give this patch an:   A

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FFXIV: Version 3.3 Update

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Since completing my post on Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward, Square Enix has released the anticipated 3.3 patch. For many players, 3.3 was expected to be a much needed shot in the arm for a game that has slowly been slipping into a lull. So, what all is included in the 3.3 patch? Let’s take a brief look:

*This patch adds new content that continues the main scenario (Heavensward) story line, and makes a adjustments to previous main scenario quests.

*New misc quests added and adjustments to existing quests (Including a new category of daily Beast Tribe quests)

*New Raid added: The Weeping City

*Two new Dungeons, and new trials added.

*Adds a new tier to the Anima Weapon progression

*A new “treasure hunt dungeon” the Aquapolis.

*More Player Housing zones added, new furniture items added and a new “Flower Pot” system introduced.

*New items and mini-game adjustments, new player hairstyles and emotes.

*New “RaidFinder” system added.

*New PVP System “Shatter”

*Misc fixes, balance adjustments, and UI updates

Wow! That’s quite a lot of content. Sadly, one of the announced features that I was most looking forward to, was not included in this update (The Undead Dungeon), so I supposed I’ll have to wait a little long for 3.35 before I can sink my teeth into that one. But aside from that, this was my experience with the 3.3 update:

I played through all of the new main scenario and misc quests in about three days. This includes the new dungeons and trials. By the 5th day I had completed the new raid. Despite having cleared a majority of the new content already, the rewards provided by these new additions certainly make the very re-playable. It’s easy to see that the Heavensward story is quickly coming to a close. I expect soon that SE will make an announcement regarding the next expansion. Once that occurs, I only expect a couple more major patches for 3.x.

All in all, I give this patch a rating of:   B

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Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward

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Almost two years after the release of A Realm Reborn, Final Fantasy XIV received it’s first official expansion: Heavensward. This expansion focuses on the long talked-about, but never before accessible Kingdom of Ishgard. Ever since the earliest days of 1.x, players had been clamoring to explore and experience this area, only to have their hoped squashed by the failure of the original game.  Well, finally with release of Final Fantasy XIV 3.0 – the gates to Ishgard were thrown open.

With this new city-state was a plethora of new open-world zones to explore. Including one area that was previously accessible in FFXIV 1.x, but not seen in A Realm Reborn. Aside from new areas, there was a whole new slew of dungeons, raids, side quests, and main scenario missions to undertake. The storyline of Heavensward picks up right where main scenarios of 2.x end. In fact, none of the content from this expansion is available to players until they complete all of the 2.x storyline. (with exception of a new playable race –  but more on that later)

This expansion also increased the maximum level cap from 50 to 60 and introduced a new class of flying mounts for players to use in the Heavensward areas.

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As the name suggests, a big focus of Heavensward is the theme of flying and flight. Aside from flying mounts and open-air zones, SE also added the ability for player-owned Free Companies to build their own Airships. Ships can be sent off on exploratory missions, or used to reach a new large-scale battlefield zone known as: The Diadem.

Also, an MMO expansion just wouldn’t be complete without the addition of new playable classes… or more specifically jobs. That’s right, Heavensward introduces three new jobs, but unlike all other jobs in the game so far, these are not directly tied to character class. The new jobs are: Dark Knight (tank class), Astrologian (healer class), and Machinist (ranged-dps class). Also, interestingly enough, these jobs start at level 30 instead of level one. (A move seen in other games such as World of Warcraft)

As mentioned earlier, there is also a new playable race in Heavensward: The Au Ra. This is a race of scaled, horned humanoids, that some believe to share ancestry with dragons. A player who owns the expansion can create an Au Ra character from the beginning, while current players wishing to keep their current progress can use a “Fantasia potion” to change their existing character.

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I have to admit, that I was initially VERY excited for this expansion. I plowed through the 3.0 content in a matter of days. Only to find myself, at the end of it, feeling somewhat shorted. Yes, there was a great amount of new storyline content to be had – but once it was all said and done, it felt like I had hit a brick wall. There was really nothing new to explore at that point. The 3.1 patch that came out a few months later did little to rekindle my excitement. In fact, around December of 2015, I actually found myself canceling my FFXIV subscription for the very first time. It seemed that while Heavensward did deliver on everything it promised, it turned out that it’s promises were not really all that exciting to begin with. At least, that’s how I felt after conquering all of it. The post-expansion lull hit HARD.

At the time of this writing, Heavensward has reached version 3.2. This most recent version update added a new tier to the Heavensward-exclusive raid “Alexander”, as well as some of large quality of life improvements for new players. I resubbed to check out this patch and I’m happy to report that I’ve been more than pleased. I can’t quite put my finger on it… maybe it’s some of the new content or maybe I just needed a break – but coming back I’ve found myself engaged and having a wonderful time. I’m anxiously awaiting the new upcoming PVP content and looking forward to seeing where the game goes from here.

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Now, for the first time ever since I started this blog, I have to decide how I’m going to handle reporting on future updates to FFXIV… You see, up until now, I’ve always been playing catch up. reviewing things after the fact. But with the publication of this overview, I find myself actually current in a living, breathing game world.  Waiting for each new expansion, than playing for six months before reporting on it is not very exciting…

So, after giving this a little thought, I’ve decided that I’ll be making a post for each content patch that the game receives. Then adding a link to these posts to the FFXIV Hub article. That way, I can stay up to date with the game – yet still keep a link to all the information in a single place. So… stay tuned to future updates.

Patch 3.3      Patch 3.4    Patch 3.5

FFXIV Hub

** Final Fantasy XIV  (1.x)  –    A Realm Reborn  –    Heavensward   –  Stormblood **