Before the dark: My pre-Shadowbringers experience

So unfortunately, I wasn’t able to play the early access of Shadowbringers like Shane and I had planned. It’s always been something we play together, so I wasn’t very well going to go ahead and play without him when we were both so excited.

But after a very long 10 days, he has his account back, and can officially play!

Sidebar: For those of you who are familiar with NBC’s The Good Place, that is how we’ll be swearing in-game from now on if we have to after that whole debacle.

So today, I’m sharing a two-part series on the latest expansion for Final Fantasy XIV—both the experience I had in the 10 days before we could access it, and the full day and a bit I’ve had of actually playing it.

So buckle up, it’s gonna be a fun ride!

My pre-Shadowbringers experience

Obviously, there are a few parts of the game I was able to experience before we actually got to the expansion. The first bit of new content I ran into?

The new races

Full disclosure: I spent close to a week in anticipation of Shadowbringers booting the benchmark, just so I could tweak the design I’d made for a Viera version of Diana. I was that excited.

I knew from my brief, second-hand experience with Final Fantasy XII—and the fact that its matching PS4 theme is basically a bunch of bunny person bottoms—that the Viera were very likely going to be pretty heavy on the fan service. 

And in the cases of many of those who were cavorting around Limsa Lominsa within an hour of early access, that was completely true.

But what I really like about the new Viera—and why I couldn’t wait to turn my character into one—is the way they were actually designed. As Shane explained to me, the Viera are basically the Final Fantasy version of DC’s idea of Amazons; a strong, powerful, matriarchal society. And for all their femininity (including the fact that they’re the only race in the game with a halfway decent smoky eye), I really think they embody that ideal.

I would honestly not be surprised to learn that they had been modeled after Gal Gadot’s Wonder Woman, they have that same subtle strength to them.

As for the Hrothgar, I didn’t pay a whole lot of attention to them until Shane pointed out to me that they’re basically Kimahri from FFX. But even so, I think it would have been better if they’d made male Viera as well, since they are technically canon in FFX and in terms of FFXIV, Hrothgar are basically a cross of Roegadyn and Miqo’te anyway.

The new classes

Before Shadowbringers came out, I was absolutely in love with the dancer. I remember watching a video of the gameplay released after a demo a while back, and as someone who already mains the only two ranged DPS classes in the game, I was sure a third would be right up my alley.

I was a little surprised to learn that of the two, gunbreaker is my favourite so far. Maybe I just need practice with the dancer, but it seemed to be a lot lighter in damage than I was hoping, especially given the revamp machinist just got.

After leveling paladin to 70, though, I found that gunbreaker is a welcome boost in damage dealt, without sacrificing its own shielding abilities. 

As far as I’m concerned, it seems like the best of paladin’s large-scale crowd control and area of effect, with the damage and sturdiness of a warrior.

The new housing items

I know a lot of people are unhappy with the changes made to some classes and skills, as a few hours watching the Novice Network chat told me. But let me be unpopular opinion puffin for a second and say that so far, I really like the changes.

Sure, I was sad that paladin lost Flash, and has to rely on other abilities I don’t know yet. But overall, I think it’s going to make the playability of super-combo-dependent classes like dragoon a lot easier.

The class overhaul

It wouldn’t really be a blog post from me about FFXIV if it didn’t include some talk of housing. And honestly, it’s been a while since we got a big addition of housing items like we did for Shadowbringers.

My favourites by far are the new marble partition and archway, because for me they replace space-consuming stage panels and are actually the first doorway we’ve gotten that allow you to dye the whole partition.

A close second is the new simple curtains, just because they look classy as heck.

I’m still exploring everything that was added, but overall, it feels like it was all to help those of us who are far too into interior design create a realistic, modern setting for ourselves.

Now…are you ready for part 2 of this series, where I go into my experience with the actual content of the expansion? Don’t worry, I’ll do my best to avoid spoilers!

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