Three years ago, Square Enix's attempt on the MMORPG genre, Final Fantasy XIV, rose from the abyss it has sunk. Bearing the name, Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, it showed that a game can still improve upon given a proper direction. Reviews went a full turn with all of them praising the game with how it created solid mechanics and consistent progression on top of a beautiful story that sucked players for hours on end.
Its first expansion, Heavensward, has introduced a plethora of new features, including three new character classes, a new race and the flying mechanic through mounts and airships. It has also expanded upon the story by focusing on the Dragonsong War, a millennium-long conflict between the Holy See of Ishgard and Dravania.
The general reception of the expansion is immensely positive, as it is also in this expansion wherein Square Enix announced that the game had hit 5 million subscribers, closely trailing behind the popular MMORPG, World of Warcraft.
In respect to that, its upcoming expansion titled Stormblood will be no different. The second expansion introduces a new class, a set of new features, a number of new quests, a new beast race, new raids, and a new central antagonist to a new story set in Ala Mhigo.
The Red Mage
With that in mind, Stormblood introduces the Red Mage as a new playable class. In the recent JP Fan Fest, the developers announced that the class would be a hybrid between a Melee and Ranged class with the Rapier as its Close-Range Weapon and a Catalyst Crystal that, when combined to the Rapier, becomes a staff that can cast spells from a distance.
This hybrid mechanic would then introduce interesting combo chains called "chainspell", wherein the player could initiate a close-range attack, dodge back then cast a long-range spell. It is also important to note that "chainspells" will also have an increased cast speed on both Melee and Ranged attacks, giving the Red Mage an unwavering edge in the battlefield.
Another important detail to note in the announcement of Stormblood is the introduction of the new raid "The Bend of Time". Its central antagonist being Omega, an enemy that dates back to the original Final Fantasy.
In the recently concluded JP Fan Fest, the developers stated that Omega would be "central to the raid theme" and that the developers want Omega to have an impact to the story of Stormblood.
The addition of the Red Mage in the job roster has indeed mixed the variety of things a player can do in the game. Having a hybrid melee-range DPS can mix up the strategies that the players can cook up during their raids.
Omega, like the Red Mage, is a nice throwback to the roots of the Final Fantasy and it being more than a little easter egg and actually integrating it to the story of Final Fantasy XIV is worth noting for.
Final Fantasy XIV has indeed redeemed itself. From it being in the slumps in 2010, it has since become one of the iconic MMORPGs of its time, near rivaling World of Warcraft in subscriber count.
Its first expansion, Heavensward has continued on to that legacy of solid mechanics, consistent progression and a beautiful story. Something that the fans of the game hope to see in the upcoming expansion, Stormblood.
Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood is set to be released on June of 2017. (Tentative)