Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers Hands-on Preview and Gameplay Footage

May 29, 2019
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Good morning everyone, this is Kai Powell from Wccftech, coming to you with a brief dungeon preview of the upcoming content in Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers. During this brief dungeon run, I’ll be playing the role of a Viera Dancer, both of which are soon to be added with the latest upcoming expansion. I just wanted to give a quick thank you to Square Enix for providing the travel and bringing me out there to see the new content firsthand and meet Yoshi-P himself last week.

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This is Final Fantasy XIV’s third expansion, to be released on July 2nd, 2019. Shadowbringers introduces a whole new world, the First, where players must fight to restore darkness to the realm with enough content to fill a complete single player RPG. Within this new world are six massive new areas as well as a new central city is known as the Crystarium.

Players will be able to explore Eorzea as two new classes, a new tanking archetype is known as the Gunbreaker as well as a melee and medium-range focused Dancer. Now, it’s about more than just playing one of the two new roles, as every existing job will see a level cap increase from Stormblood’s 70 all the way up to 80.

For all of the Disciples of the Hand and Land classes that feel like they’re given the short stick on content, new recipes and items will be added to their repertoire in addition to what Yoshida-san mentioned as ‘End-game Content’. Perhaps this will be the addition of new alternative gearsets to get item levels up high enough to tackle these new raids and alternatives to what new Artifact sets are on the way.

Shadowbringers offers two new races to play around with. The male-only Hrothgar and female-exclusive Viera. Now, it’s interesting to note that players from other Ivalice adventures like Final Fantasy XII should be well familiar with the likes of Fran and the long-legged Viera types, but what about Hrothgar? Well, much like the similar likes of Hume and Hyur differ in namesake depending on the world you’re in, so too do the Hrothgar change. I knew these beastmen best as Ronso and spent many hours with Kimahri back during my adventures in Final Fantasy X.

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For players that have some aversion to grouping together to accomplish a dungeon run, the trust system makes its return from Final Fantasy XI. Select NPC’s are summoned to the call of battle to join alongside the Warrior of Light to fill out a full party. Of course, you’ll still be forced to abide by the same party composition as every other Warrior of Light. You won’t be able to do much proper adventuring without a pair of DPS, a healer and tank to keep the party alive. In the current build, we were allowed to play during the Shadowbringers preview event, only five different characters were allowed to join. Two healers, two damage dealers, and one tank. Most curious of all was the role of Minfilia. Somehow she was permitted to join the Trust system despite never earning her advanced job class. Given her younger appearance, perhaps there is some time travel at play in the background and there will be a story explaining why this current version of Minfilia is little more than a Rogue.

System-wise, Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers will feature a number of system upgrades that may end support if you haven’t upgraded your system in quite some time. This leads to the end of 32-bit OS support on PC (PS3 support was already phased out with the Stormblood expansion) but also the addition of 64-Bit Mac support. Perhaps this can see Final Fantasy XIV make its way to other competing platforms like the Xbox One with the framework in place.

Final Fantasy XIV’s impromptu quest system will be seeing some new changes in Shadowbringers. Fates, or Full Active Time Events, will see more resources beyond EXP and the occasional seal. So far, this only applies to Shadowbringers and the 5.0 patch content at large. Performing additional requirements (these were not discussed, but I could assume exceeding a certain threshold of healing and damage dealing could be the trigger) will unlock certain rewards. Typically, these additional rewards will come by way of currencies that can then be exchanged for special items. In the brief demonstration given, high-quality crafting materials, riding maps, and even an Orchestrion Roll were among the named rewards. With the Orchestrion Roll taking five times as many tokens as the riding map, this could be quite the grind if other areas followed suit.

Side Quests will also receive similar changes in the new regions. For starters, all of the 5.0 side quests can be undertaken at level 70 with enemies scaling to player level when accepting the side quests. Yoshi-P mentioned that he was hoping that players would undertake these quests with your other jobs, giving them crucial EXP that would otherwise go to waste if you were simply playing through them on your main job.

With the realm of the First, new role quests will be added across four sets. These will retrace the journeys of the First’s fallen heroes across physical DPS, magical DPS, tank, and healer archetypes depending on your current playstyle. While all four quest lines will be available to the player, only one will be required to be completed in order to advance the main scenario. This should help cut down on the bloat of leveling alternative jobs just to progress through the campaign. Both the Dancer and Gunbreaker will see the majority of their job quests pop up between levels 60 and 70 while all jobs will see a new quest at level 80 after completing the main story campaign. It sounds as though FFXIV will be trying to shift away from individual job quests to focus upon these larger role quests instead.

Not to leave the non-combat roles behind, there will be five sets of crafting and gathering quests for the Disciples of the Land and Hand in Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers. These quests are centered upon the Crystarium and a collective of artisans that control the following Facets: Forging, Crafting, Gathering, Fishing, and Nourishment. There will be a separate storyline within a workshop known as the Crystalline Mean that’s linked to the world and lore of the First. This should be a pretty big change from previous cities in Eorzea, with the various guilds and crafting facilities separated throughout the city. With this central workshop, it should serve as a gathering hub for the various crafting types when you need to get some handmade upgrades.

While far more minor than combat and crafting changes, Shadowbringers will see a number of small UI enhancements to make adventuring easier. Cross-world Linkshells will be expanded to support eight channels beyond the single channel previously. The UI will now report HP totals in much more meaningful ways. You’ll be able to see your party members’ statuses without needing to drag out multiple life bars and boss life bars will now accurately represent down to the decimal percentage, just in case you needed to know just how close you got on your first Extreme Primal attempt before wiping. There will be an addition of an Amber-themed Light UI if you wanted to brighten up your HUD beyond the standard mix of greys and blacks. And last, but not least, players can finally preview their housing furnishings before placing them down in their mog houses.

The combat system in Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers is quite easily the most substantial combat patch since A Realm Reborn. Certain class actions will be changed to support what Yoshi-P called a ‘Charged Action System’ where actions can gain charges and get queued up for later use up to a maximum limit. I noticed this with Dancer with En Avant, a quick forward dash that I’d use to close the gap during combat. These actions that could be stacked up will gain additional charges each time the recast time cycles and be consumed at the player’s request.

Interrupting enemy casting is another change that I’ve been wanting for some time in Final Fantasy XIV. While you could previously do this in earlier patches, it wasn’t always clear just which moves could be interrupted beyond simple trial and error. Now, these actions are made to be more visible at a quick glance on the enemy casting bar, similar to when players would get struck by an enemy attack and have their own abilities interrupted. Both Tanks and Ranged DPS types will receive generic role actions that can interrupt enemy casting times.

Role actions are a strange overhaul in version 5.0 but could be the start of normalizing the content between classes. These role actions will automatically be doled out at set levels and each class type will receive differing role actions depending on the class type. Melee, ranged physical and ranged magical DPS will all receive a different set or number of role actions to promote synergy between classes and using more than just a pair of Black Mages to nuke your way through a dungeon. In my personal opinion, these standardized role actions might hinder the desire to play as unique jobs, especially if one physical DPS can do the same role actions as another. This could be one instance of seeing normalization reduce the creativity and unique appeal of each class.

Oh, I suppose I should mention that one of the three resource bars that players have struggled to juggle within Final Fantasy XIV will be flat-out removed in Shadowbringers. TP, long since the scourge of Bards and physical damage dealers, will be completely removed in version 5.0. Also, the MP system will receive a normalization change and MP will be flat-out capped at a maximum value of 10,000. With that upper limit, it should be much quicker to realize just how many casts of a given spell you can get from your remaining MP pool. The Piety attribute will be adjusted to reflect this main change, and as someone that never played a healer type, I am not too familiar with what could be changed. Perhaps Piety will serve as some form of Conserve MP?

Stats will see a similar but far less drastic overhaul in Shadowbringers. Materia that bump up your main attributes like STR and VIT will no longer be meldable and can’t be obtained in the realm of the First. This means players shouldn’t have to worry about seeking out STR gear to boost their raw damage but rather should focus on materia that could increase their skill speed or critical hit. I hope this leads to much more flexibility in gearing now that you won’t have to worry quite as much about hitting a hard cap in your primary attributes first and foremost. Certain items like savage gear and weekly token gear will have two materia slots so these should fit the role if you need a drastic boost to a particular secondary attribute.

One massive change that players probably won’t see any time soon in Final Fantasy XIV is the increase of the damage limit from 999,999 all the way up to 9,999,999. This was purely to account for future damage inflation, similar to how World of Warcraft has moved up to exponential numbers in later expansions. Though, I wouldn’t put it past the developers to throw in an otherwise unassuming Sabotender. There will also be some lesser changes to party bonuses based upon the given roles within the party and limit gauge gains that will be adjusted purely for 5.0 and future regions.

Final Fantasy XIV and I have had an extended break from one another. Since the last time I really sat down at the command center and played a Bard was still in the later patches of A Realm Reborn, I’ve missed out on so much of the content and new classes that have come in the past few years. The Machinist was one of the classes I caught in preview clips and from watching friends raid on streams. This class received one of the most drastic overhauls in Shadowbringers, transforming the class into somewhat of a summoner-type pet class with guns. The skillset of the Machinist shifted more to be like that of Final Fantasy VI’s Edgar Figaro, wielding unconventional tools like Bioblasters and Auto Crossbows into battle. All of these new tools in the Machinist skillset work towards filling one of two gauges. The Heat Gauge works very similarly to the Heavensward version of the class, unlocking the machinist gun’s full potential with damage increases and unique skills before it overheats. The other is a battery gauge, that once filled, can be used to summon a combat pet or turret to fight alongside the Machinist for a brief period of time.

So many of the new changes to Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers feel geared to streamlining the experience for new players while helping current players get into the action faster and get new gear ready for those extreme dungeons. The new Trust system should alleviate those pangs of having to find a random group to join you and worrying about whether each class can pull their weight. By focusing upon role quests rather than quests for each individual class, players should finally be able to play the classes they want to and still enjoy the story of Shadowbringers and fulfill their role as a Warrior of Darkness.

Final Fantasy XIV’s third expansion, Shadowbringers, will be available on July 2nd, 2019 for $39.99 on PC and PlayStation 4. Preorders of the new expansion will come with a Baby Gremlin minion, Aetheryte Earring to boost EXP gain by 30% until you hit level 70, and early access to Shadowbringers content beginning on June 28th, 2019.

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