The Detail changes in Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward
More than a year after essentially getting a redo, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn is set to launch its first major expansion. Coming June 23, the content explores the bloody thousand-year conflict between Ishgard and Dravania. The expansion will boast massive new areas and new job-specific armor. That’s on top of a new end-game raid dungeon that fans of the series will recognize: Alexander. The creature is usually a summon but in the massively multiplayer online game, it will be stage that fans explore piece by piece.
That’s a ton of fresh content but the more fascinating features were the new flying mounts, new race (the Aur Ra) and the new jobs (Dark Knight, Astrologian and Machinist). Let’s take a look at these three new additions, starting with the new dragonlike species called the Aur Ra. The group ties in nicely with the expansion’s focus, which features armored dragoons who battle flying dragons. Director Naoki Yoshida said the team looked at what characteristics were missing from the roster and found that there was a need for another demihuman-type race. The group features big burly males with horns around their faces and more diminutive and lithe females. There are scales covering parts of their skin and they have tails. They remind me of Dragon Age’s Qunari at times.
Those who want to try out the new race can do so even if they have a character they’ve been working on for months. Certain editions of the game will include a Fantasia potion that will let players change the race of an already established character.
GETTING INTO THE AIR: The flying mounts are going to be vital for exploring the massive new zones that Yoshida promised. They come in several flavors. For Final Fantasy fans, they can jump aboard the a black chocobo. The creature struggles to stay in the air but manages to stay aloft with players mounted on it. Flying creatures have some nice effects as players can swoop down and disturb the water as they hover above the surface. Players can also ride dragons and single-rider airships.
These modes of transportation will be vital in the expansion. They’re used to travel to floating continents and zones such as the Churning Mists and the Sea of Cloud. Yoshida said they had to change how they designed areas and keep a certain sense of verticality in mind. “We have content that makes players curious,” he said. “I want players to think about what they would find if they were able to fly there.” From what I saw, there was a lot of island hoping and exploration.
Unfortunately, these new areas are the only places that will take advantage of the flying mounts. Previous zones in A Realm Reborn remain untouched. If you think about it, being able to fly toward the sky fits with the Heavenward theme and the larger levels that require air transport.
A LOOK AT THE NEW JOBS: When it comes to the new jobs, community manager Matt Hilton said adding the dark knight, astrologian and machinist took a huge amount of resources. Outlining the five step process, he said the team it took one developer year to create each one. Yoshida’s group didn’t just decide on a whim. They analyzed what roles could be expanded and after determining a job they had to find the right weapon, actions and play style. Hilton said the Astrologian with its star globe and cards was especially difficult while choice between the Dark Knight and Samurai class was dilemma for the team.
With the Dark Knight, Yoshida said he wanted a different type of tank role. The class uses the power of darkness taking the life out of enemies or protecting himself and allies by sacrificing the character’s health points. And of course, players will recognize the Dark Knight from the great sword they carry around.
The Astrologian is another healer, but as the name implies, there’s a twist to the role’s magic system. It’s based on a deck of cards that can specialize in healing, support or even attack. The class requires plenty of strategy as players figure out when to use the divining cards.
The Machinist is the DPS character. The job relies on guns that can be altered with attachments, but the interesting addition is the role of turrets, which act as traps or summoned creatures (though you can’t control them). These devices can buff allies or deal direct damage. Players will gain access to stronger turrets at higher levels.
Speaking of which, with the level cap raised from 50 to 60, the game’s other disciplines will also see a host of new abilities.
Fans looking to preorder the game can do so March 16. It will come in a standard edition, a collector’s edition and an all-in-one edition (both A Realm Reborn and Heavensward). The Collector’s Edition includes a dragon figurine, an art book and digital items such as griffin flying mount, a helmet based on the design of Dark Knight Cecil of Final Fantasy IV fame and a wind-up Kain minion. The game is scheduled for release on PC and PlayStation 4. There is also a Mac version in the works.