I “finished” FFXIV Stormblood this morning. By that I mean I got far enough through the MSQ to see the credits. This is a pretty leisurely leveling time for me, clocking in at 9 days to 70 and 10 days ’til the credits rolled. Part of that was due to the launch difficulties and part was simply being willing to take my time more than I usually do in a new MMO expansion. Now that I’m 70 and through the main story, there are expert dungeons and primal fights to tackle, along with the sacred ancient rite of grinding bookrocks for gear upgrades.
The story, for the most part, has been some of their best so far. There is one villain whose writing I really disliked, but otherwise I’ve been impressed. They even got away with sticking me with Alphinaud again after letting me enjoy hanging out with his much cooler sister. They also managed to make me care about the fight for independence from the empire on two fronts. I know that “fighting the evil empire” is a solid FF mainstay but in FFXIV I’ve never cared about them that much. To be honest they’re still my least favorite type of enemy in the game, but at least this time around they’ve been a clear and constant threat instead of just popping in for inopportune plot points. I’m looking forward to seeing what happens in the aftermath of the 4.0 MSQ and how all the still-loose ends get woven together over the life of the expansion.
Stormblood’s group content has set a very high bar. FFXIV has some of the most interesting, beautiful, and complex dungeons and raids I’ve ever seen and this expansion does not disappoint on that front. The dungeons start off fairly simple but ramp up very quickly in complexity. There are 6 total that unlock while leveling, and only one of them is not tied directly to the MSQ. The theme of the first dungeon is my favorite, a haunted shipyard. The second dungeon is the optional one, and is the most beautiful in my opinion. I’d love to live there once we clear out all the creatures who are trying to kill us. The third dungeon has the most flimsy story premise (“go face this challenge before we’ll let you get to the real fight”), but it has my absolute favorite boss fight in any of the Stormblood dungeons so far. This game is absolutely making sure that by the time you get through the story, you’re also prepared for the challenges you’ll face at endgame. Dungeons 4, 5, and 6 are so deeply tied to the MSQ that I’m afraid to talk about them much for fear of massive spoilers. Of those three I think dungeon 5 is my favorite, but I haven’t run them as many times as I have the early dungeons, so I’ll reserve judgement a bit.
There are also three trials in the Stormblood MSQ. They are each very distinct and challenging in their own way, but the final trial is the most difficult by far. It took me 4 different pug groups to finally clear it. The start of the expansion is probably making this more difficult than it should be, since many folks (like me) are still in leveling gear and don’t know the fight yet. It is also a very long fight, with a truly ridiculous number of moving parts to keep track of. This is the one I’m most looking forward to the EX version of, when I’m safely in a group full of my friends and we can take the time to learn whatever nonsense amount of dancing will be required to win.
If you’re playing Stormblood, I hope you’re enjoying it as much as I am, and if you’re not, now’s a great time to hop in and try FFXIV for yourself!