Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward – Review
“How I spent my summer vacation…”
When I was growing up it wasn’t uncommon for me to spend 40 hours a week playing video games, but since I started university I discovered I have a lot less time for gaming. I attribute this to two things: I have established a stronger definition of good media, and I have developed a new appreciation for free time.
This is why Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward is interesting to me, because not only is it “good media,” but when I’m playing Heavensward I don’t feel like I’m wasting a day. It feels constructive. But in fairness to the game, it took quite a while to get things right.
Heavensward, as the title suggests, is an expansion to the massively multiplayer online role-playing game Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn; the reboot of Final Fantasy XIV. When Final Fantasy XIV was originally released in 2010 it was considered a catastrophic failure by critics. Developer Square Enix quickly back-pedalled and began rebuilding the game from the ground up with an entirely new story. The outcome of the rebuild, A Realm Reborn, was released in mid-2013 to high acclaim.
Heavensward is a worthy successor to A Realm Reborn, as it continues to work with the strong foundation that Square Enix has built over the past few years while taking risks to give players a new, and frankly better, experience.
The biggest risk that Square Enix took is in regards to the amount of time it takes to access the new content offered in Heavensward. The world of Final Fantasy XIV is intended to be enormous, and because of this, players new to Final Fantasy XIV should expect to spend more than 75 hours in A Realm Reborn before being able to access Heavensward.
Square Enix does this for two reasons: the story in Heavensward continues from the point that A Realm Reborn ends, and the level of skill needed to be successful in the new content is quite high. At first I was quite annoyed by this, but after sinking my teeth into the new content, I’m quite pleased that I had to work for what I have.
This creates a much more valuable experience to veterans and new players alike, because both groups get to experience the game in the same way. In other games, dedication is often not rewarded because new players get a free trip.
The new content is amazing no matter how you experience it. The new regions of the world are gigantic, which creates a new sense of excitement when exploring. The new playable classes are also exciting, as they add a new sense of diversity to the game. The Machinist, for example, adds an interesting mechanic by introducing guns to the game. Previously to Heavensward only fantasy weapons like swords, arrows and magic were available to players.
At the point of writing this review I have dedicated about 50 hours to Heavensward, which combines with my A Realm Reborn play time to be about 500 hours. Despite spending so much time in the game, I still feel like there’s a lot more to do. The game has a surprisingly great story and provides an endless amount of fun.
Grade: A+ – Even if you’re not into MMO’s, I recommend this game. While it’s not perfect, it has rejuvenated my love for video games.
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward is available on PC, Mac, PlayStation 3 and PlayStation 4.