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I know this sounds like an odd thing to say, but when I think Final Fantasy, I think of a group of misfits and unlikely friends banding together through a common purpose, ultimately overcoming their differences and working together to save the world. That’s what Shadowbringers is.
Real talk: the Final Fantasy series hasn’t really capitalized on the power of friendship and love since FFX. Final Fantasy XII had great characters and a really fun plot on political intrigue, but the characters never really came together in that cliched, yet gooey way we all secretly love.
FFXV had some nice gooey moments, yes, but there were literally only four characters in your party, and they’re not all very engaging.
FFXIV: A Realm Reborn captured that friendship vibe and sense of camaraderie so perfectly, but it fell by the wayside in the following two expansions. With Shadowbringers, however, those friendship vibes are back.
After a long wait, the Scions of the Seventh Dawn are finally back together, kicking ass and taking names, all while spreading darkness to a world that’s been consumed by light.
The characters feel like genuine people, thanks largely to how the writing has improved leaps and bounds since ARR.
Despite the occasional feel-good moments when the whole team is back together, though, FFXIV: Shadowbringers isn’t afraid to get heavy either. We’ve seen some dark themes get explored in Stormblood, and that trend continues in Shadowbringers as well.
Without going into spoilers, the early hours of the game contain some of the darkest, and most unsettling scenes we’ve ever seen in the Final Fantasy series, period. It’s pretty powerful stuff, and the pacing never lets up throughout the entire opening act of the expansion. It’s a great way to set the scene for the rest of the story arc.
Shadowbringers also continues to flesh out the game’s lore by exploring different religious factions in the First, and introduces very complex and nuanced characters that really help to bring it to life.
Oh right, Shadowbringers also introduces two new jobs to Final Fantasy XIV, and they’re pretty good.
When Stormblood released two years back, I was convinced that Samurai was the coolest job ever, but it looks like that mantle has now been passed on to the unbelievably cool and stylish Gunbreaker.
Wielding the iconic gunblade weapon from Final Fantasy VIII, Gunbreaker is a tank job that just feels good to play. It’s capable of dishing out damage, and much of your rotation revolves around building up ammo cartridges in your blade and unleashing some seriously devastating combos on enemies. It’s dope.
Oh and yeah, I guess Dancer’s pretty neat too. While the Bard used to be seen as the support DPS class, it looks like Dancer is set to take over that niche.
Nobuo Uematsu will always be regarded as the legendary composer who helped shape the Final Fantasy series into what it is today, but we shouldn’t count out Masayoshi Soken either.
The music of FFXIV evolved from “okay” in A Realm Reborn to “epic” in Heavensward, and reached new heights in 2017’s Stormblood expansion. Somehow, Final Fantasy XIV has reached yet another musical peak with Shadowbringers, incorporating insane guitar riffs into its combat theme, and more experimental themes in the zone music as well.
It’s also epic as hell. I mean, listen to this ridiculousness.
Stormblood and Heavensward excelled at delivering a singular, memorable main theme, and building the rest of the extensive score around that one motif to invoke different emotions and various parts of the story. Shadowbringers does that as well, and Soken has added yet another suite of wonderfully composed music to FFXIV’s already large, impressive musical collection.
So… yeah. Why aren’t you playing this already?
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