Final Fantasy XIV Online: Heavensward (PC) Review

By Ian Soltes 31.12.2017

Review for Final Fantasy XIV Online: Heavensward on PC

With their MMO saved, the developers of Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn could have stopped and rested easily upon their laurels. They had pulled off a seemingly impossible feat: rescuing a failed MMO and turning it into one of the lead competitors in its field. That wasn't enough, though. They had to go higher. They had to go *pun redacted*!

Wow. Okay. That all just happened. With the events of the base game finally behind them, the Warrior of Light could be forgiven for wanting to take a quick break. However, it isn't long before the sultana of Ul'dah is found murdered in her chambers with the blame squarely on the Warrior of Light's shoulders. With the world turning against them, the Scions of the Seventh Dawn have no choice but to flee to the north to find safety. The north is having its own problems, though - ones that have been going since well before this war began. For generations, they have been embroiled in a war against the dragons with no end in sight and both sides drowning in bad blood. The arrival of the Warrior of Light may finally be the thing needed to end the eternal Dragonsong War.

Heavensward is, simply put, breath-taking. This is an example of what an expansion should actually manage to accomplish as opposed to being shovelled out with the intent of soaking in more cash. One would be easily forgiven for thinking it just the standard fair at first; new zones and classes, a new race, and a bit more story. Just as there's a huge difference between Kirk and Picard despite both being captains of a ship named "Enterprise," however, there is a huge difference between Heavensward and a garbage expansion.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy XIV Online: Heavensward on PC

Namely, quality. Firstly, the expansion offers the ability to play as the Au Ra, who currently have the cutest female characters in an MMO. Normally, this wouldn't be interesting until one sees an Au Ra girl. *cough* Anyways… Beyond that, there are three new classes in the Machinist, Astrologer, and Dark Knight. It seems pretty stock - and then it kicks into gear.

The developers took advantage of the new expansion and put a lot of effort into creating a unique world. The Sea of Clouds, for example, is a zone that is a series of islands hovering up in the air. This might not sound notable until one realizes just how easy it would have been to half-ass it. Instead of just a bunch of little bits of land interconnected over a series of white water/clouds, it's a massive place with hovering landmasses floating about, with beautiful visuals and a wonderful setting.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy XIV Online: Heavensward on PC

The new primals aren't just new bosses, but, rather, an example of developers learning from their past experiences and channelling it into improvement. While skill is still the defining trait by a long-shot, the sheer improvement in mechanics means that no primal, and often many bosses, can be approached with the expectation of just muscling through. The expansion is just flat-out littered with examples of developers showing their work to present a wonderful and unique experience without relying on rehashes.

However, the thing that kicks it up a notch to true wonder is the story. Delving into it would spoil a lot, which is a no-no, but there are two prime examples. First off, the war of the Dragonsong isn't a straightforward affair. While it would be easy to say "both sides have points," or "both sides committed atrocities," the game doesn't do that. Well, it does, but the thing it focuses on that drives home everything is the human side. How, despite being completely alien to the humanoid races of Eorzea, the dragons are capable of feeling such intense emotions such as rage and sorrow, and how they can last so long in such an understandable manner. Likewise, how the Elezen have become so defined by the war that a time without it is a struggle for them to understand. Both hope and tragedy interwoven well.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy XIV Online: Heavensward on PC

Secondly is the conclusion, which, honestly, is one of the few moments in which the feeling of the quiet yet all-encompassing rage is truly understandable to every player. How, at this point, there is only one of two possible conclusions, and it all depends on one final battle. An emotion so few games manage to capture. So few things in general.

Then the story continues, getting more involved, setting up more intrigue, and, finally, getting ready for the next expansion.

This sort of quality was neither needed nor expected. Everyone was expecting a basic expansion that added in some new zones and maybe a few new widgets, not something that drastically ticked up the quality of the gameplay and had developers showing improvement or a story entirely capable of being its own separate RPG.

Screenshot for Final Fantasy XIV Online: Heavensward on PC

Cubed3 Rating

9/10
Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

What more can really be said? Everyone was expecting a nice and self-contained story at best, a bit of a romp, and nothing exceptional. Getting a well-crafted story, developers learning how to up their game to create intense battles from their prior experiences, and so many other improvements, was simply not expected. There is a distinct rift in quality between the base game and this expansion, and considering A Realm Reborn was already very good, this new rift showcases just how great Heavensward is.

Developer

Square Enix

Publisher

Square Enix

Genre

Real Time RPG

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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