Toward the end of Games Com this past week in Germany, there was a cosplay contest for Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Naoki Yoshida, the game’s director, helped judge it. “Step on me, please,” he told the winner.
Let me explain.
Stormblood was released earlier this summer. The expansion included new job types, locales, and characters, one of whom was Yotsuyu, the imperial viceroy of Doma. She’s a villain who interrogates perceived enemies of the state and plays to the dominatrix archetype. The below clip is part of the marketing Square Enix used to introduce her character prior to release and it soon went viral in the FFXIV community.
The best part of all this though is Yoshida deploying the meme in an fan cosplay contest in Germany. Square Enix had a whole stream dedicated to the game and its new content, but those three simple words definitely stole the show.
The game director was extremely impressed by the Yotsuyu costume. “Everything has been recreated so close to what’s in game,” the translator said on his behalf, before he topped the commendation off by saying “Step on me, please” in English.
Here stands Clan Destine, level 70 red mage, ready to take on the ultimate story battle in Final Fantasy XIV’s latest expansion. She’ll get to it eventually, but there’s a lot more to Stormblood than epic battles and new job classes.
While I’ve spent a lot of time over the past week working my way through the expansion’s new jobs and fiction, I’ve also dedicated quite a lot of time to visiting some of the older content and classes I’ve missed. Sweeping changes to the way the various job classes unlock new skills and abilities coupled with extreme experience bonuses have led to me fiddling around with jobs and roles I’ve never played.
When the expansion launched I quickly swapped from level 60 black mage to red mage, one of the expansion’s two new classes. Over the long July 4th weekend I reached the new level 70 level cap, completing the expansion’s final dungeon but not progressing to the massive battle that occurs afterwards. No spoilers here, but damn. Just damn.
When not working through the story, I’ve been leveling all the jobs: white mage, bard, summoner and gladiator (which transitions to paladin at level 30).
My renewed interest in other jobs (including those involving tanking and healing, which I generally avoid) is largely thanks to the game’s new skill progression. No longer do players have to level up multiple starting jobs in order to progress to the more advanced ones at level 30. Crossover abilities from multiple jobs have been replaced with a pool of role-specific generic skills that unlock as players progress. The overall effect of the skill changes is that it’s much easier to understand how to each job is meant to be played.
So Clan Destine is all the mages, a couple of different DPS ( jobs focused on dealing damage) classes and one tank. I’ve healed in multiple dungeons. I am not a healer. I cannot handle the responsibility and stress. Playing a white mage still stresses me out, but the job feels much more approachable to me now than it did prior to Stormblood’s release.
Now I don’t know if fishing, one of the game’s three gathering classes (along with miner and herbalist), has seen significant changes in Stormblood, but damned if I didn’t spend two days casting a line and filling my inventory with all sorts of marine life. It’s partly because the expansion has made Final Fantasy XIV so entertaining that I want to experience all the things.
It’s also because I needed a little break. One of the few issues I have with the expansion so far is the pacing of the story and how events play out. The story opens with players helping the resistance against the evil empire in the city-state of Ala Mhigo. Ala Mhigo is a vast rocky desert, one of many vast, rocky desert areas in the game.
After a few levels’ worth of questing and story we are then transported across the world to the Asian-inspired lands of Doma. These areas are filled with gorgeous, colorful architecture, vast sweeping plains and bizarre new creatures. It’s such a breath of fresh air, accompanied by a very pleasing story arc.
After Doma, however, we go right back to the desert. Also some mountains. It’s still all rocks.
The story is still compelling at this point, but the quests in-between the major plot points can be a real drag, especially when set against such a drab backdrop. Or maybe it’s because the game’s made my character such an amazing hero at this point that delivering letters or helping a random non-player character with chores on the eve of one of the most pivotal battles in the game’s extended story feels below me. Look at me, taking on hero airs.
But hey, that’s what other jobs and professions are for, right? After a couple of days leveling up another combat job and getting my fishing up to level 48 (it was just so relaxing), I was ready to fight my way through to the very end of Stormblood.
Here is Clan Destine, standing before the gates leading to the expansion’s biggest battle. Will evil be banished from Ala Mhigo for good, or will she retire to the shores of Costa Del Sol and spend the rest of her life angling off the pier? Find out next week, in our full review of Final Fantasy XIV’s Stormblood.
Everybody Bring Your Blood Umbrellas
It's A Great Time To Level Up A New Job In Final Fantasy XIV
Frustration over Final Fantasy XIV’s housing shortage has come to a head after two players angered a lot of others by buying up 28 homes in the land-strapped massively multiplayer online game. Now, players are questioning whether virtual housing is an equal right or a privilege meant for the rich and over-dedicated.
The two players bought their homes in a formerly vacant corner of the game, a server called Mateus, where they could pursue dual ambitions of opulence and privacy. Their critics say they’ve hoarded land from dozens of FFXIV citizens, who feel they deserve a chance at housing. That criticism has gotten ugly as players hotly debate whether their elitism—or desire for mass amounts of property—has any place in a game where everybody pays the same fee.
“Given we both came to Mateus for the quiet, it’s distinctly uncomfortable to have others come in and insult us,” one of the bulk home-owners, a player who goes by the name Martyr Igeyorhm, told me during a tour of their two-occupant neighborhood today. “We’ve had to report people for harassment a few times.” Her housing partner Seraph Altima agreed, adding, “I think it’s wrong that people ignore the work and just see themselves being deprived.”
FFXIV has had housing drama as long as it’s had houses. When producer Naoki Yoshida introduced housing to FFXIV in 2011, he emphasized fair land distribution. But in the intervening years, housing has become a contentious topic in the game as speculators and thick-pocketed players monopolized property on big servers. Other times, players didn’t even use the houses they buy; it’s just a status symbol.
About 2,500 houses are available for each of FFXIV’s servers, which on average host over twice that amount of players. Houses aren’t a necessity in FFXIV, but owning one means having your own space to invite new raiding friends, host parties and, most importantly, decorate. Players paste ornate wallpaper to their walls, fill rooms with carved wood chests and candles and decorate with garlands and gold trimming. They cost several million FFXIV gil, unfurnished. Fur rugs, wall-to-wall bookshelves, portraits and hot tubs garnish the homes of more thick-pocketed players who choose to sink their resources in home decor. Smaller apartments remain available too, but without the grandeur of a garden or street entrance (and on some servers, houses are still available.)
Out of this design frenzy, an FFXIV adaptation of Cribs has even emerged. A year ago, it featured the player Seraph Altima and her “sanctuary,” complete with a lush garden, an attended full bar and stone partitions.
Altima had carved out sanctuaries on two of FFXIV’s most populous servers. There, not even apartments, the less sought-after housing option, remain on the market. Publisher Square Enix has been adding more plots to keep up with demand, and will add more in the future, but right now, there’s not enough to go around. Over e-mail, a Square Enix representative told Kotaku that players are only able to purchase one house per character. But because both individual players and Free Companies—FFXIV’s guilds—can own property, players break that mandate a lot.
Last year, Altima fled the game’s more populous servers and established her new home on the quaint Mateus. At that point, it was one of the only servers with a wealth of land. She and Igeyorhm claimed 28 plots and thought they’d have that space to themselves. Likely, their land avarice wouldn’t have become a problem if thousands of refugees hadn’t recently fled booked-up servers searching for fresh housing frontiers.
Square Enix started offering free server transfers prior to FFXIV’s June Stormblood expansion, so players who wanted to avoid the influx of returning fans could game in peace. Mateus, which was unofficially designated a new role-playing server and was still a pristine (and cheap) housing frontier, was quickly full of home-scouters. Eventually, the housing options in that server filled up, too. When incoming transfers realized that they could no longer purchase plots on Mateus, of all places, and noticed that two players owned a plush 28 plots, accusations of greed and unfeeling avarice spread. Over Facebook and Reddit, hundreds of players had angry words for the alleged gentrifiers who felt “entitled” to own all that property when so many recent transfers (and players still saving up) never had a chance to carve out a home on Mateus.
Altima estimates that their 28 homes, the majority of an entire ward, cost around 150 million gil. If they had bought that gil, it’d have cost $375. On FFXIV this morning, Igeyorhm described themselves as “omnicrafters,” or players who “make all of our own items and sell other items for profit.” (To save a few bucks, most of their decor was made using FFXIV’s crafting system, too.) It took a lot of time. And she doesn’t feel sorry for players who put in less effort, or got to Mateus later along with the crowds. On a now-viral Tumblr post in response to public outcry, Altima wrote, “Many people feel entitled to own a house. They feel that even knowing there are only 2,160 plots (soon to be 2,880) on any given server, they can and should be allowed to go at their own pace and have free access to any content they like, including housing. They want a house of their own, but they don’t want to accept that lots of other people want it badly enough to work harder for it than they did.”
“Good lord,” a Redditor wrote. “People who aren’t rich enough to afford houses just aren’t TRYING hard enough? Not wanting neighbors putting up ‘ugly’ Paissa houses in ‘MY neighborhood?’ It’s like the most stereotypical rich snob attitude I’ve ever seen, except it’s apparently REAL (other than being in a video game).” Another described their actions as “selfishness because this person wanted to make a bastion of single-player content in a multiplayer game.”
I met Altima and Igeyorhm at the entrance of Goblet Ward 12 on FFXIV’s Mateus server. There, they fielded my questions while we toured through their saccharine two-floor cake shop, picture-perfect schoolyard, somber church to the FFXIV deity Zodiark and many, many gardens. Igeyorhm excitedly pointed out ice crystal formations and bubbling fountains between dives into hand-designed underground libraries and the like. I asked whether home construction was something she pursued in other games.
“Not really,” she said. “A lot of people like to ask us, ‘Why not play the Sims?’ Because we do so much other stuff!” Igyorhm said that, after her husband died, she hasn’t decorated much in real life. A few months later, she met Altima, and together they’ve spent an estimated thousand hours curating their 28 plots.
Neither thinks they’re unfairly eating up FFXIV’s limited housing resources. They blame Square Enix for not accommodating players’ passion for home-ownership—at least with houses. Although more cramped apartments are available on some servers and more housing will be added soon, the problem is more of philosophy than accessibility: Are players entitled to property in FFXIV—any more than they’re entitled to raiding mounts or veteran rewards? Is it the richer players, or the ones with more free time to grind out crafting exp, who are more entitled to take up space?
I asked Altima and Igeyorhm whether they’d give up any one of their plots for a new transfer desperate for a home. They paused. “These are our memories. Our precious time spent together,” Igeyorhm said.
Of course, some players still think they should be able to get those houses. “Not everyone needs everything in-game,” counters Altima. She argues that she’s not depriving anyone of housing; the plots were empty for years before they took them. “For example, not everyone deserves the Savage raiding mounts if they don’t do Alexander.”
I haven’t completed the final battle in the Final Fantasy XIV Stormbloodexpansions’ main story line. The titular quest has been sitting in the top left corner of my screen for a week, and I’ve been doing everything I can to ignore it. I don’t want it to end.
Being a highly successful massively multiplayer online role-playing game, Final Fantasy XIV isn’t going to end any time soon. The story of Stormblood, in which the forces of good in the world of Hydaelyn attempt to liberate two city-states from the oppressive grip of the Garlean Empire, will continue in some form or another until the next Final Fantasy XIV expansion arrives.
I just fear that once the final boss falls and the credits roll it’ll be all over. No more late nights spent tackling a seemingly endless string of “one last” quests. No more shuffling off in the middle of the workday to play a little more “for review purposes.” Hours played per day will become hours played per week.
Stormblood’s fast-paced story doesn’t help. After a failed attempt at rebellion against the Garleans in the city-state of Ala Mhigo, the Warrior of Light (the player) and their contingent of non-player character allies hatch a plan. They travel to the other side of the planet, to the Asian-inspired lands of Doma, and help that city-state liberate itself from decades of Garlean rule. Then, with the Empire’s resources stretched thin, the Eorzean alliance returns to Ala Mhigo to finish the job.
Reading over it now, it doesn’t seem like the sort of thing that can be accomplished in the span of a few weeks, even with the ridiculously powerful (when the plot calls for it at least) Warrior of Light on the good guys’ team. Alliances are formed, tribes are united and massive battles are pitched with a speed that would make a Game of Thrones fan’s head spin.
It’s not all epic battles and monumental feats of diplomacy. Between story quests the Warrior of Light, champion of Eorzea, killer of gods, spends time fetching people’s food, weeding their gardens, handing out flyers—you know, side quest stuff. Square Enix does its best this time around to keep the menial labor somewhat exciting, with longer, more story-rich quest lines trumping one-off “kill X of Y” types.
This time side quests aren’t limited to the land. The expansion introduces swimming to Final Fantasy XIV, allowing players to dive into select areas to explore the briny deep. It’s an impressive means of travel with some very cool special effects. It’s also woefully underutilized. With no underwater combat, the watery depths of Eorzea are home to simple fetch quests. Of the handful I encountered, two involved fetching a dropped fishing pole. Epic adventure, right there.
The side quests are mainly a chance to explore the expansion’s beautiful new environments and outstanding soundtrack between rapid-fire rebellions and revolutions. Shit goes down fast in Stormblood. It’s silly, but it’s a welcome change of pace from the meandering side story that was Final Fantasy XIV’s previous expansion, Heavensward. The narrative that began when the game relaunched in 2013 as A Realm Reborn kicks into high gear here, setting the stage for the updates to come and, according to game director Naoki Yoshida in a recent interview with Kotaku, at least two more expansions.
In my quest to avoid the ending of Stormblood, I’ve spent a lot of time exploring the streamlined job progression system introduced in the expansion. Previously a player who wanted to be a Paladin, for example, would have to level two lower-tier jobs, Marauder and Conjurer, to 30 and 15 respectively. That job-juggling’s been done away with, and now all one has to do to become a Paladin is level the Gladiator job to 30 and undertake a simple quest.
Rather than have players level up extraneous jobs in order to unlock borrow-able skills for their main, each job role now gets a pool of role-specific abilities that unlock as they level. Again it’s less job-juggling, plus the role-specific abilities help give newer players a sense of what their place is an a party.
Coupled with experience percentage bonuses introduced for the expansion’s launch, these changes make leveling up new job classes a joy. I started my new character, Clan Destine, as a level 60 Black Mage (thanks to a job potion purchased for $25 from Square Enix’s Mog Station store). Now I am a level 53 Bard, level 30 White Mage, level 30 Summoner, level 30 Astrologian, level 20 Gladiator and level 8 Lancer. On top of that I’ve also dabbled in the game’s two new jobs, Red Mage and Samurai.
In a game with essentially three roles—damage, healing and tanking—adding two more damage jobs to the mix was an odd choice. The addition of Red Mage and Saurai bring the total damage jobs in Final Fantasy XIV to nine, compared to three each healer and tank.
The new additions are a blast to play with some very cool mechanics. The Red Mage, which I’ve leveled all the way up to the new cap of 70, has a mechanic where the player builds up a balance of white and black magic and then unleashes them in a flurry of powerful sword strokes. It’s so satisfying. Not as satisfying as it must be for a healer or a tank to hop into the “duty finder” and get matched with a team immediately while damage jobs wait in half-hour queues, but pretty good.
With two new job classes to master and more enjoyable ways to level up the previous thirteen, there’s plenty for me to enjoy in Stormblood without having to pull the trigger on that final battle. Now that the initial new and returning player rush, server issues and frequent DDOS attacks have subsided, I’ve got all the time in the world to fish, forage, craft and fight my way around the liberation of Ala Mhigo. They’ve been oppressed for a while. A few more weeks won’t kill many of them.
Final Fantasy XIV is one of the best massively multiplayer online role-playing games going, one of the few able to maintain a monthly subscription model in a day when even an Elder Scrolls MMO has to go free-to-play. Stormblood’s epic narrative, gorgeous new locales, spectacular battles and some fresh gameplay mechanics make a great game even better.
I am never going to finish it and no one can make me.
Final Fantasy XIV Forever
How To Unlock Swimming In
How To Take Down Susano,
It's A Great Time To Level Up A New Job In
FFXIV Stormblood Feels Like Its Own Final Fantasy Game
Now that our Final Fantasy XIV Stormblood review is up, there are only four things left to do. Beat the final boss battle and dance, dance, dance. YouTube video creator Denmo has those last three covered with an outstanding musical journey through the expansion. Mind the spoilers.
Fans have been creating music videos in their massively multiplayer online role-playing games since MMORPGs have been a thing. Hell, even I dabbled in my own clumsy fashion. But what Denmo has done here in his “Find Your Dance, Eorzea” video is on another level.
The transitions between areas are seamless. The music, a tune by Mondo Grosso, fits perfectly. I can only imagine how much editing went on here, but it sure paid off.
As for the beating the final boss bit, not happening any time soon. I’m all about prolonging the magic. Now dance.
The biggest threat to Eorza isn’t the Garleans, or some other villain that I don’t want to look up because I haven’t even finished Heavensward yet. It’s Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks, which have been hitting Final Fantasy XIV since June and show no sign of stopping, according to the developers at Square Enix.
Square says that the DDoS attacks have grown more difficult to thwart over time, moving from Final Fantasy XIV’s servers to “upper-tier internet service providers” and leading to all sorts of server issues.
“Since mid-June, a third party has been targeting the Final Fantasy XIV game servers on the NA data center,” writes Square Enix today on the company’s website. “Until now, we have been implementing defensive measures at our own facilities to combat DDoS attacks against our Final Fantasy XIV game servers, and have been able to keep the impact to services at a minimum. However, since July the attacks have shifted away from the Final Fantasy XIV game servers and the target has changed to focus on the upper-tier internet service providers (ISPs) that are required to connect to the data center. These attacks to the upper-tier ISP network are causing lapses in communication to the game servers, giving rise to instant disconnects during logins.
“Because we can no longer combat the situation on our own, we have been in contact with the upper-tier ISPs, who have then been taking defensive measures sequentially on their end. This implementation has already been effective; however, there is the possibility that the attacks could occur again. Therefore, we will seek to strengthen our cooperation with the upper-tier ISPs and continue observing our defenses.”
DDoS attacks, which involve firing enormous amounts of data at a target in an attempt to clog its servers, are easy to perform and nearly impossible to stop. They also suck for just about everyone. More reading:
One of the coolest new features introduced in Final Fantasy XIV’s Stormblood expansion is the ability to swim and dive, exploring exotic underwater locales. Anyone can tread water, but to go deep you’ve got to talk to some turtles.
Just like learning to fly in the Heavensward expansion, gaining the ability to survive underwater environments without drowning in Stormblood takes a bit of work. The quest to unlock the ability is located in the game’s new Ruby Sea zone, which is only accessed after players complete the opening Ala Mhigo quests and take their first steps into the Far Eastern land of Doma.
Initially landing in the island city of Kugane, players eventually find passage to the mainland with a lengthy layover in the Ruby Sea, an area featuring small settlements, volcanic islands and the underground city of Tamamizu, home of the turtle people.
In order to end an age-old feud between the green turtle people and the red turtle people (they have a name, but they are turtle people), the player must be granted the ability to breathe and move underwater.
A quick fetch quest later, and the ritual begins. You can see how it all plays out in the video atop the post. Players can now breathe and swim underwater. Also, they get to ride giant manta rays.
It’s quite relaxing, swimming in the ocean depths. And for those players who might feel a bit anxious surrounded by massive amounts of water on all sides, the surface is never far away.
The transition between the surface and underwater environments is very cool. Check it out in the video below.
Aside from playing a Red Mage (now level 63), this is what I was waiting for in Stormblood. The only downside is that it only works in specific areas. It’s better down where it’s wetter. Take it from me.
Naoki Yoshida just wouldn’t stop looking at his computer. The beloved producer, credited with transforming Final Fantasy XIV from disaster to dream MMORPG, kept typing and clicking as I spoke to him last week in a private room at E3, frowning occasionally. So I asked what he was looking at.
“Because we’re under maintenance right now, any sort of issues that happen at this timing could potentially delay the start of early access,” Yoshida said, speaking through a translator. “If my response is not fast enough, that could delay the opening of the service to players.” Then he laughed. “And plus for myself I’m downloading the patch.”
That was Thursday, June 15, a day before the early access launch of Final Fantasy XIV’s newest expansion, Stormblood. In the days following our chat, Stormblood would run into a series of server issues that undoubtedly led to much more frantic clicking, typing, and frowning. The servers have settled now—and fans are loving Stormblood’s new quests and dungeons—but it was a rocky first week.
Yet Naoki Yoshida is still having a blast. He’s been director and producer of Final Fantasy XIV for nearly five years, ushering it from the disastrous 1.0 launch to the well-received A Realm Reborn and its stellar first expansion, Heavensward. And all the while, he’s interacted directly with fans, speaking to hundreds of thousands of Final Fantasy XIV devotees through weekly streams and Q&As. It’s been a long, grueling journey—but Yoshida’s not interested in retiring.
“I haven’t gotten sick of it yet,” Yoshida said. “There’s still a lot of things I want to accomplish inside of Final Fantasy XIV. Also, I’m not making the game for myself. It’s not like this is a project that I’m doing for my own ego. It’s more about: how do we satisfy our customers, our players, who have paid to play this game, and that payment is actually going into my salary.”
Yoshida, whose light red hair and extensive collection of jewelry make him instantly recognizable to Final Fantasy XIV fans, says he loves listening to fans and changing the game based on what they say. “That’s what I want to pay attention to, rather than being selfish about ‘Oh I want to make this, or if I can’t make this I’m going to leave the company’—I wouldn’t think of it that way,” he said. “And I do have the personality to be able to be frank, even when talking with corporate. I don’t hesitate in letting them know what’s on my mind. That allows there to be trust between Square Enix and myself. Square Enix has given me liberty to be able to do things in my style.”
When I asked what else Yoshida had left to accomplish, he pointed to the story, a highlight of Final Fantasy XIV. The intricate, ongoing plot is the main reason the fourteenth Final Fantasy is so appealing to those of us who don’t love MMOs, and it’s one thing that Yoshida wants to complete before he ever thinks about retiring. “There’s this overarching story, and I’ve actually set a goal or endpoint for that arc,” said Yoshida. “That’s one of the things I want to accomplish is to be able to finish that narrative.”
“How long will that be?” I asked.
“I think we’d need at least another two more expansions,” Yoshida said.
More from our interview, which has been lightly edited for clarity:
On whether Final Fantasy XIV will ever change its old areas the way World of Warcraft has:
Yoshida: This is my personal thought and not anything that’s set in stone. Looking at some of the areas in A Realm Reborn, our [original] 2.0 areas, that was when we were making updates to the original 1.0 and rebuilding the world from scratch in such a short time. So if you look back at it now, we can’t enable flying, a lot of the side quests have been so accumulated that it’s become a hassle.
Now that the development team has game experience of running the MMO, I do notice a lot of points that could be improved upon, and to be quite honest, it would be nice if I could rebuild the areas of A Realm Reborn.
On what class Yoshida plays:
Yoshida: Black Mage.
Schreier: So is Black Mage going to be overpowered in Stormblood?
Yoshida: I don’t think so. The Black Mage has never been overpowered at all. It’s really funny because a lot of players out there who do main as a Black Mage make comments like, ‘Yoshida, stop using the Black Mage,’ because I have a relatively high player skill level, and I’m very careful in making the adjustments to that particular job, so they don’t become overpowered at all. People actually complain about it.
On what they can do now that they’ve ditched the PlayStation 3 version of Final Fantasy XIV:
Yoshida: One of the biggest challenges we had was the hardware trying to access files—the IO, or in and out… The speed at which some of the files are being read on the [PS3] hardware and then transferred into memory was slower compared to some of the other platforms. This is a 10-year-old-plus piece of equipment.
Where that caused an issue for Final Fantasy XIV was that for example if the player is moving across the field at a relatively fast speed, some of the NPCs or the other characters would not show up as smoothly as on other platforms. Because the speed at which the files were being read was slow, you did see a difference in the way it’s being displayed on screen. So there always had to be a cap so we could accommodate for that hardware capabilities.
But now that we are phasing out of that platform, not having that bottleneck anymore, we have made improvements on usabilities. One example is, as of 4.0 Stormblood, your ground mounts can travel faster now.
On the inevitable Final Fantasy XV crossover:
Yoshida: Plans for these are moving forward. The Final Fantasy XV team has settled down on their end. We feel that it’s going to be rather hefty in volume in terms of this crossover. Once we are able to get some visual references, some graphics available, and when we decide on timing, we’ll make sure to make an official announcement.
On bringing Final Fantasy XIV to Xbox and Switch:
Yoshida: I’ve said this on several occasions, but it hasn’t changed. We would love for as many players to be on FFXIV as possible.
Conversations have been had with Mr. Phil Spencer of Microsoft, and the upper management teams of Nintendo. But I have proposed a condition every time I speak with any platform manufacturers. It’s that the game has to have the capability of cross-platform play.
Of course with an MMORPG, once it launches and starts going into live services and operations, there will be a community. No matter how small it dwindles down to, we have to be responsible for taking care of those communities. It would become an obstacle if the first-party or manufacturer changed how patches are being implemented or online regulations. Some of our external parties’ regulations don’t have MMORPGs in mind in terms of how they’re regulating their online activities. Those can become a hurdle when we consider operating FFXIV for an extended period of time, and so when I talk to those first-party companies, I ask them, ‘Do you have the capability to prepare for that, do you have the resolve that you’re going to make sure to take responsibility and take care of those, do you have that willingness?’
If we are able to come to some sort of agreement, a handshake so to speak, or if it does end up being that unfortunately we can’t do a handshake with Final Fantasy XIV, either way we’ll make sure to communicate with our players. But we have been tenacious—we’ve been trying to keep at it and be persistent about our conversations.
Primal battles in Final Fantasy XIV are massive spectacles that pit a group of players against powerful creatures that usually show up in the series as summons. Stormblood’s first primal, Susano, gets more massive than most, but a well-coordinated group can take him down pretty easy.
Susano is a take on Susanoo, the Shinto god of storms, making him a fitting first primal fight in an expansion that explores new areas inspired by ancient Japan. His appearance at the end of a lengthy quest line in the Ruby Sea area of the Doma region came as a surprise. I was not expecting a primal to show up at that particular time. Judging by the looks on their faces, neither were my non-player character companions.
He looks intimidating, but there’s something infectious about his enthusiasm. He revels in battle, and the prospect of an epic fight against me and my fellow players genuinely seems to make him happy. It’s infectious.
Like many Final Fantasy boss fights, the Susano battle is split into three phases. I’ll timestamp them so you can skip around in the video above. Our party, assembled at random via the game’s Duty Finder, consists of two tanks, two healers and four damage dealers. As a red mage, I’m on hurting the demigod duty.
Phase 1 – 01.35
The battle begins! Positioning is very important in the first phase. The main tank grabs Susano’s attention and faces him away from the party. The rest of the group gets behind him and blasts away with everything they’ve got. During the battle the circular play area will occasionally be filled with either orange area-of-affect damage spells or purple lasers.
Run like hell to avoid them. Note that sprinting no longer drains tactical points (used to power some skills and abilities), so use it to get the hell out of the way.
When not dodging lasers and explosions, players need to stick together. Susano will knock back a random character and then tag them with the flashing “group up” arrows. The rest of the group has to form up on that to avoid taking a lot of damage. This is followed up by a large area-of-effect spell with a safe zone that’s only a single straight line.
Phase 2- 04.30
Phase two begins with Susano walking to the middle of the arena and then, I guess, ascending? He’s the god of the sea and storms, so this is his sea form.
Now looming over the battlefield, Susano lifts his gianormous sword and brings it crashing down on the party. Here the tank of the group gets to participate in a quick time event, catching the blow.
After the blow is struck, it’s up to the party to do as much damage as possible. Three glowing orbs will spawn during this portion. Designated players (generally the tanks and a random damage class) need to run into the orbs, taking a large amount of damage and saving the group in the process.
After two rounds of swords and orbs, it’s on to phase three.
Phase Three – 05:57
Phase three is largely a repeat of the first, with a few additions and changes. The knockback/group up attack from phase one is immediately followed by the straight line safe zone area-of-effect attack, so players have to be even faster with their positioning. There’s a new lightning attack that hits everyone and is unavoidable, just to make sure the healers are still awake.
And there’s also the cup game.
Susano will randomly encase a player in stone, and their teammates will have to break the stone to free them. The trick here is that Susano creates two duplicates of the stone prison, and then shuffles them. Destroying the wrong one damages the group, so either the trapped player or anyone else paying attention should mark the right one.
The End – 12:34
And he’s down. Pat yourself on the back for a job well done. Time to head back out into the Ruby Sea, collect your quest rewards and continue on the slow march towards level 70.
Optional Pro Strats
05:35: Get overexcited and accidentally switch around your hot bars in mid battle.
How To Unlock Red Mage And Samurai Jobs In
Final Fantasy XIV's Director Says There's Still So Much More To Do
Stormblood isn’t just a huge chunk of new content for Final Fantasy XIV. It’s the third game in an ongoing series, one that happens to share the same space as its predecessors.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn told the story of the rise of the Warrior of Light (AKA the player character) and established the conflict between the realm of Eorzea and the evil Garlean Empire. 2015's Heavensward saw the hero and their friends embroiled in the conflict between humanity and dragons in the Northern reaches of Eorzea. These aren’t short stories, like the chapters in a book. Each tells its own contained epic within the same story line. The heroes stay the same, but the villains and settings change.
Now Stormblood sees our heroes’ attention turn once more to the Garleans, seeking to free the city-state of Ala Mhigo and Eastern state of Doma from the empire’s oppression. The player character has a new nemesis, Zenos yae Galvus, son of emperor Varis zos Galvus of Garlemald.
I’m only halfway through the story of Stormblood, and already I’ve battled Zenos twice on two different sides of the world. I’m used to having the big baddies of my MMO expansions hidden behind some end-game raid battle. It’s refreshing to have such immediate (and painful) access to such a powerful foe.
The first encounter between the player and Zenos propels the story to the other side of the world. Styled after ancient Japan, the state of Doma has been under Garlean rule for decades. The Warrior of Light and company aim to end that rule and recruit the Domans to their side. It’s a task that might go a little faster if the new lands weren’t so damn picturesque.
I’d be much further along in the story with my level 65 Red Mage if I wasn’t stopping every five minutes to take screenshots. I am not exaggerating.
One of the most beautiful massively multiplayer RPGs has gotten even more beautiful with its Eastern expansion, ramping up atmospheric effects while delivering gorgeous locations filled with strange new creatures.
It’s not just the story that makes Stormblood feel like its own game. Along with the inclusion of two new job classes, Red Mage and Samurai, Square Enix has introduced significant changes to both job progression and job abilities across the board.
Players no longer have to raise two jobs to a certain point in order to unlock an advanced class. It used to be in order to play a Bard one had to level up the Archer job to 30 and Pugilist to 15. Now it’s straight from 30 Archer to 30 Bard. Instead of leveling other jobs in order to access their special abilities, players now have a set of role-specific abilities that unlock as they level up.
Each job also gets a new ability mechanic of some sort, represented by a special on-screen meter. My Machinist, pictured above, now has an indicator of how much special ammo his rifle is loaded with, along with a heat gauge that ramps up damage the more fired up it gets.
But my poor Machinist is being sadly neglected since Stormblood launched, thanks to my Red Mage. I love this job. Filling a meter with white and black magic and then unleashing it in a series of powerful sword attacks? So good.
Heavensward was my Machinist’s story. This is my Red Mage’s. Final Fantasy XIV continues to do an excellent job at making the player feel like they are the center of the story, and the thousands of other players going on their own journey are just the surrounding stars.
So far she’s been through two dungeons, battled a primal, learned to swim underwater and helped urge a seafaring organization to take up arms against the oppressive empire. When last I left my beloved Clan, she was poised at the gates of a challenging trial on the road to uniting the people of Doma’s steppes. It’s just what she does.
She also does a whole lot of questing in order to reach those story beats. Stormblood tries to keep its questing fresh. There’s still a lot of “kill X number of Y creatures” type stuff, but there’s also “mind my store while I’m out and guess what the customers who show up would like to buy” and “find the location shown in this sketch.”
Quests aren’t always exciting, but they sure beat grinding experience points by killing random creatures in order to reach the next story beat. Besides, what kind of Warrior of Light would I be if I weren’t up for doing everyone’s basic chores in between bouts of saving the world? I certainly wouldn’t be one worthy of starring in the third-installment of one of the best massively multiplayer role-playing games going.
We’ll have one more progress report next week, followed by our review of Final Fantasy XIV’s third installment. It’s looking pretty good so far.