Hands-On With Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood

A couple weeks ago, we here at Gamer Escape had a chance to sit down with a build of Final Fantasy XIV’s upcoming Stormblood expansion to check out the new additions coming to the game. 

We also had a chance to sit down with Naoki Yoshida- you can read that interview here.

We had a chance to explore the new far-eastern city of Kugane, battle in The Peaks region of Gyr Abania, dive under the water of The Ruby Sea, and take on the challenges of the Shisui of the Violet Tides dungeon.

In addition to roaming around some of the new areas, we also had a chance to jump onto various Job classes to try out the new actions that they’ll be given in Stormblood.

Areas

Kugane

I started my hands-on time in Kugane, walking around and taking in the sights and sounds of this far-eastern city.

One of the more noticeable changes with Kugane is that the city itself isn’t divided into two separate zones like the other city-states. Instead, Kugane is a single zone, not quite the total size of other city-states that are a total of 2 zones, but maybe closer to 1.5 or 1.75. The aesthetic of the city is very heavy on far-eastern design, complete with pagoda-style buildings, gardens and even a hot spring. While the city was void of any other players while we explored, I found myself impressed with the number of NPCs walking the streets of Kugane. You can get a small taste of what it’s like in the video above.While walking around town, I also came across Garlean and Thavnairian Consulates (pictured below).

The Peaks

After I was done exploring Kugane, I teleported out to Ala Gannha in The Peaks. While we were able to jump onto a mount in this area, we weren’t yet able to fly so we spent our time more on battle than exploration (more on that later). We did manage to get some cool screenshots though!

Ala Gannha is located at the top of the zone in the center. Opening up our map, which wasn’t fully compete, we could see that if we went west, there was an entrance for Rhalgr’s Reach, the first player hub of sorts that was announced and revealed in the first trailer for Stormblood.

The Ruby Sea

The last, and probably largest zone we explored during our time was The Ruby Sea. We were equipped with aether currents in this zone so that meant that we could fly around and explore a bit more. Of course, the first thing I did was try to go to the top of the “Jenga Tower” that we’ve been seeing in some of the preview images.

Fact: You cannot fly to the top of the tower (see the first image below).

Fact: I was also never able to see the top of the tower. It’s tall.

In addition to the tower, there’s also a a volcanic island in the area. This mountain, which seems to have horns at its peak, is a nod to the Momotaro/Peach Boy legend. There are sharks on the shore of the mountain, and various lava-based enemies as you go further in-land. I also found a new hunt target on the shore so if you were wondering if we would be seeing new hunts in Stormblood, the answer is yes!

The Ruby Sea is also an area that allows swimming and diving- features which are new to Stormblood. We took our Syldra mount, and aimed into the water. A smooth transition takes place when diving into the water. The screen fills with water and bubbles as the game loads you into the water below, sometimes taking a few seconds to load. While diving, you can look up at the waters surface, sometimes seeing things such as boats, or NPCs in the water. There are also bubbles underwater, similar to what we saw in the full Stormblood trailer. These bubbles house small outposts, full of various NPCs like the new Koga Beast Tribe. (I really hope there is a Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles reference somewhere with these guys).

Diving underwater for the first time is a great feeling, but I found that, for myself, it didn’t take long for that feeling to die down. Effectively, diving is just like flying, only you can dismount under the water if you so wish. The underwater space, while filled with some schools of fish, coral etc felt lack luster to me. It’s simply a space to navigate through when going to one of these small bubble outposts. We know that players will be able to gather underwater once the expansion lands so I’m hoping that makes diving feel a bit more exciting than it did in the time I spent with it.

 

Also during our hands on time, we discovered that all the jobs have new animations when sprinting if they have their weapon drawn. We’ve gone ahead and made up a short video below showing it off!

Dungeon

 

Shisui of the Violet Tides is a level 63 dungeon in Stormblood. You may also remember it as the underwater temple from the Stormblood trailer.

The dungeon environment was beautiful, part seafloor, part far-eastern architecture. As we made our way through the dungeon a few things stuck out to me- using geysers to navigate up ledges, and jumping from a ledge into a shallow body of water, swimming to shore in order to keep progressing. During one of the boss fights, there were chests around the arena. Making contact with one of these would give you the status “old”, preventing you from being charmed by the boss.

You can see more of the dungeon in the video and screenshots above.

 

Battle

During our hands-on time we had the opportunity to switch to any class we wanted in order to check out the new actions that Jobs will be getting, as well as to see the adjustments being made to existing actions.

The biggest change across the board is that cross class abilities have now been replaced with role actions. Role actions are split up into five different categories: Tank, Healer, Melee DPS, Ranged DPS and Caster. Depending on what Job you use, you’ll have access to ten different role actions. Out of these ten however, you can only equip five at any given time. When considering your party set-ups before entering instances, taking a minute to talk about who wants to equip which role action is something that could possibly become the new norm in Stormblood. 

Some roles will have actions that you might expect. Melee DPS for example get Goad, Invigorate, and Bloodbath. On the opposite side of that however you have something like Palisade for Ranged DPS, that will reduce the physical damage taken by a party member for a short period of time- an action that gives the role a type of responsibility they haven’t yet had in the game.

Of course, Ranged DPS are also seeing one of the more notable changes where they’ll no longer have a casting timer required for their attacks as they did in Heavensward.

The other important change coming to the battle system are the new Job Gauges- a new UI element that will help you track the progress of the jobs’ most important timers and stances. The reasoning for the implementation of these gauges is so that players wouldn’t have to spend their time during battle staring at the tiny number next to a buff icon. While the Job Gauges are certainly easier to read than the small buff icons, I worry about the screen clutter caused from these gauges. On the bright side, their size can be scaled up or down and Yoshida stated during the last  Live Letter that they’re working on more simplified gauges for the future.

For a more general understanding of the battle system changes, please see our summary of the recent Letter From The Producer Live.

Role Analysis

Overall, a lot of things are changing, and while some jobs are impacted less than others, there is still a lot of in-depth discussion to be had when it comes to combat. We’ve left it brief here in our hands-on, but we also have write ups for each of the roles where we talk about the new abilities, how things have changed, and what players should be checking out.

 

 

  • Michael Gossett

    “not quite the total size of other city-states, but maybe closer to 1.5 or 1.75 times the size.” that would be 50-75% larger. Maybe you meant to say 0.5 and 0.75 times?

    • Chrees

      No, the way they phrased it is correct.

      • Michael Gossett

        So it’s 150%-175% the size of the old zones? Just sounds weird adding “not quite the total size” which usually implies it’s smaller.

        • Chrees

          Whoops, now I misread. You are correct! My bad.

    • TFJWM

      He is talking about the 2 zone cities…The new city is 1 zone instead but not as large. As he says it is 1.5 to 1.75 the total size of the 2 zones of the cities

  • linnet

    I’m finding the underwater/surface transition really immersion breaking. But if they have to accommodate consoles I guess it has to be done.