Biggest Changes For FFXIV Shadowbringers: New Jobs, AI Party, And Gameplay Overhauls
A New Side Of Eorzea
Square Enix has launched a third expansion for its MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV, subtitled Shadowbringers, and along with a ton of new content come several tweaks, overhauls, and additional features. The new expansion coincides with the version 5.0 update which implements many of the following changes to the base game whether or not you purchase Shadowbringers.
I had the opportunity to spend time with an early build of Shadowbringers and the 5.0 patch, and I'm currently playing the retail version of the game. So far, I've experimented with new Jobs, explored its colorful world, and tested the new Trust system. I also ran the new dungeon, Dohn Mheg, with a party of four--it's a whimsical forest-themed Duty where you fight aggressive trees and anthropomorphized frogs wearing top hats. It's pretty wild, and you can watch the boss fights of Dohn Mheg.
Here, we have a broad overview of some of the significant changes that have hit FFXIV. For in-depth details, you can watch the official Final Fantasy XIV live letter videos or check out the full list of patch notes. Many aspects discussed here are based on an in-development build and may have been tweaked for the final version. The early access period for Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers is live for PC and PlayStation 4 players who pre-ordered it; it'll be fully available on July 2.
Get A New Job: Gunbreaker
Gunbreaker is a new Tank Job that features a gunblade as your weapon a la Squall Leonhart from Final Fantasy VIII, which was the inspiration for its creation. After executing a basic attack combo ending with Solid Barrel, you'll build up Cartridges that feed into the Powder Gauge. This is used for other weaponskills like Burst Strike, which costs one Cartridge and deals 450 damage potency. And of course, Gunbreaker features many traditional Tank abilities to help draw enmity and self-heal while dealing damage.
Get A New Job Pt. 2: Dancer
Dancer is a new Ranged DPS Job, but it's built to do a lot more than just lay down damage to enemies. The Dancer's attack rotation is like a series of choreographed steps that deal damage while providing buffs to party members. You can focus buffs on a single party member, or "dance partner," which feeds into your Spirit Gauge. It's likened to playing a sort of rhythm game since steps need to performed in sequence within a certain time frame to get the most out of them.
Bunnies And Lions (Viera And Hrothgar)
Two new races come with Shadowbringers: Viera and Hrothgar. Viera are a bunny-like race that were also in Final Fantasy XII--in FFXIV, they can only be played as female. Hrothgar are burly lion-like folks who can only be played as male. They were introduced back at Fan Fest 2019 and there were concerns about how each was locked to one gender.
In a recent letter from FFXIV director Naoki Yoshida, he addressed the feedback on Viera and Hrothgar gender and mentioned the high cost of creating a new playable race. Yoshida-san said, "To put it simply, a tremendous amount of time and resources are required to develop one." He continued to explain how much work is necessary to properly incorporate animations, aesthetics, existing equippable items, and more, and stated that this limited what could reasonably be done.
Trust System: AI Teammates For Dungeons
Like the main scenario questlines throughout Final Fantasy XIV, Shadowbringers integrates dungeons. While you've always had to group up or go through matchmaking to run dungeons since they require a party of four, the expansion introduces the Trust system. It's simply the option to select AI teammates to run dungeons with. Characters from the main story (Scions of the Seventh Dawn to be exact) will accompany you and fill in the specific roles required. For example, Alphinaud can be your healer, Alisaie or Minfilia can fill a DPS role, while Thancred can take on being the Tank.
The Trust system only applies to main scenario dungeons for Shadowbringers quests, however. It's also designed to be less efficient than playing alongside real human teammates so it doesn't overshadow that aspect of the game. Regardless, this could offer an alternative to those long queue times for DPS players.
Charge Actions Keep Up The Tempo
The Charged Action System puts a new spin on certain cooldown abilities by letting you stock up on them to perform consecutive executions. Instead of doing that particular action and waiting for the cooldown to reset before using it again, that action can be charged by letting the cooldown run its course a second time.
For example, as a Ninja, I'm able to stack two executions of Kassatsu and use it twice without waiting for cooldown, which changes how I approach an opening attack rotation. It at least takes the pressure off of perfectly timing execution within your rotation since you won't be wasting time as the ability will continue building toward a second charge.
TP Eliminated And MP Capped
TP has been completely removed from FFXIV when Shadowbringers and version 5.0 roll out. Weaponskills have been subject to a TP cost which would potentially limit how many times you can execute an ability if it consumed more TP than you could recover. This is no longer the case.
Anyone who plays a magic-based Job should take note that MP is now capped at 10000 for everyone. This also means that the Piety stat has changed; it now affects the rate at which you regain MP during combat instead of increasing your overall MP.
The complex Ranged DPS Job of Machinist has been redesigned with some major overhauls to the point where it's almost like a completely new Job. Machinists now have a heat gauge and battery gauge, and once they're filled you can use a new ability that lets you summon an attack robot. This is one of the many new skills you'll get alongside other streamlined mechanics.
Tanks A Lot
Tanks as a whole went through some big changes--all Tanks are going to be viable as Main Tank (MT) and Off Tank (OT), and players only toggle the Tank stance on or off, meaning offensive stances are gone. New defensive buffs that help both the player and the whole party have also been incorporated for all Tank Jobs.
Healers Are Changing
Healers are going to be overhauled to put more emphasis on purely healing, which sort of closes a gap between Astrologian, White Mage, and Scholar. This may seem like healers are becoming homogenized, but the tweaks are intended to put less stress on specific healer Jobs and make each Job viable for supporting the party and keeping them alive. Also, Protect is removed entirely, which makes sense as this is a necessity by default anyway.
Can't Escape From Crossing FATEs
FATEs are public events that frequently pop up throughout the world of FFXIV, and they've been a convenient way to rack up EXP and Company Seals. But soon, they'll award a unique currency which you can trade in for rewards at specialty shops. There are also specific requirements and conditions to earn certain rewards during FATEs.
In addition to a new Main Scenario, there are Role Quests. Each role (Physical DPS, Magical DPS, Tank, and Healer) gets a unique questline that intends to call back to fallen heroes of the First and retrace their steps to deepen FFXIV's story. One set of Role Quests is required to complete Shadowbringers' main scenario.
(Image courtesy of the official Final Fantasy XIV Twitch account)
Level Sync For Side Quests
Side quests throughout Shadowbringers start at level 70 but they are going to be level-synced to the player with enemies scaling appropriately. This makes side quests a bit more intriguing and worthwhile, especially for leveling multiple Jobs.
(Image courtesy of the official Final Fantasy XIV Twitch account)
New Wondrous Landscapes
Despite the harrowing sound of the name Shadowbringers, the expansion introduces some new, colorful landscapes. The main city, The Crystarium, features spacious areas, trees with purple leaves, and towering architecture with the Crystal Tower in the background. Lakeland and Il Mheg are new regions made up of wide open fields bustling with vibrant vegetation. One of the new dungeons, Dohn Mheg (in the video above), features whimsical forests and a water temple. Although many dangers linger throughout Shadowbringers, the new environments are certainly a joy to be in.
Glory To Mankind
FFXIV loves itself some crossover events, and so far we've had Monster Hunter- and Final Fantasy XV-themed content. But the biggest one yet is set for Shadowbringers and comes from another Square Enix game: Nier Automata. This will be much more than just cosmetics: it's a full-on raid called YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse designed in partnership with Nier's creator Yoko Taro. Yoshida told us many of the battle mechanics will resemble those of Nier Automata, and that Yoko Taro had a significant role in its creation from designing the bosses to writing the script.