Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers – a phenomenal Expansion. (Spoiler free reaction)

Fantasy fiction writer, reviewer, reader and Gamer

Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers – a phenomenal Expansion. (Spoiler free reaction)

My Character Rihan Nurarihyon on Phoenix, Light Datacentre.

For me, Shadowbringers is an expansion that, in many ways is of a higher standard than some Single player games. Already I find myself impatient for the next patch, to discover what happens next. Though this is by no means unusual for me with Final Fantasy XIV, this time, I find myself much more impatient.

For around six years now, I have been a regular player of Final Fantasy XIV originally picking up the game following the open beta for the PlayStation 3 back in 2013, I have continuously, enjoying A Realm Reborn, Heavensward and Stormblood to the extent I have yet to unsubscribe for a single month. Like a lot of longtime players, the latter part of Stormblood had begun to feel stale and I found myself approaching the new expansion, not with the unbridled enthusiasm of previous years, but with trepidation. Shadowbringers, for me, was the expansion that would make or break my love for the franchise.

I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that it was never the story that felt stale, for an MMO I have always considered the story to be exemplary and have for a long time delved headfirst into every scrap of World Lore I could find. What I found stale was the repetitive grind of content that had persisted in the same formula for six years, and though it is true, the fights were different, the dungeons aesthetically pleasing, at its core the game had not changed much since I took those first tentative steps into the endgame of A Realm Reborn.
From the moment I stepped into Shadowbingers, I was swept away by the beats of its narrative. Shadowbringers is a bleak, visceral expansion that centres around loss and tragedy. It suffers little delay in throwing you into a world that is on its last legs and the cast of characters and the stories surrounding them only heighten the sense of tragedy that permeates its setting and is only enhanced by the diverse and impactful musical score that accompanies it. As I played through the first few zones, I felt almost overwhelmed by the humanity of its denizens. These are people who have been pushed to the brink and not a single character, no matter how minor is spared from the relentless onslaught of the tragedy that promises their end.

From the moment I stepped into Shadowbingers, I was swept away by the beats of its narrative. Shadowbringers is a bleak, visceral expansion that centres around loss and tragedy. It suffers little delay in throwing you into a world that is on its last legs and the cast of characters and the stories surrounding them only heighten the sense of tragedy that permeates its setting and is only enhanced by the diverse and impactful musical score that accompanies it. As I played through the first few zones, I felt almost overwhelmed by the humanity of its denizens. These are people who have been pushed to the brink and not a single character, no matter how minor is spared from the relentless onslaught of the tragedy that promises their end.

I think the greatest success in the story is in the expert way it evokes emotions. Often with games, it feels that the protagonists cannot lose. The many challenges that the narrative force you to endure are all but guaranteed to be overcome. It is impossible to think that our character will die, or that we will fall. We may lose a battle in the constructs of the narrative, but there is never really any danger of death or far-reaching ramifications for our character – through failure will often have some hard ramifications for the allies who stand with us. This is not the case in Shadowbringers. As we play though, there is a point where the direct aftermath of our victories suggests that by the end we may win the battle, but ultimately lose. The tension rises as characters around us notice the elephant in the room and bicker among themselves, a tension that culminates in a scene where one of our closest allies vent their frustration in a monologue filled with frustration and anger, recalling a similar outburst during the Stormblood patch cycle. I think what is so impactful with this exchange, is that it sums up perfectly the price of what we are doing on the first and the irony of a fate that we cannot avoid, can only delay and coming from a cast of characters who usually find a solution to our problems makes it ever more impactful.

Slideshow contains concept art which may be considered spoilers for some.

In the coming weeks, plan to write on the story, characters, lore and jobs of Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers.

If you would like more information on Final Fantasy XIV please see below links.

Final Fantasy XIV Lodestone
Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers

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