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Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers: The Kotaku Review

Shadowbringers, the latest expansion to Final Fantasy XIV, released two months ago, and I cannot begin to fathom the amount of time I have spent in the worlds of Eorzea and Norvrandt. Shadowbringers is one of Final Fantasy’s finest stories, buoyed by powerful music and sweeping gameplay changes that make job classes sleek and enjoyable. If you’re gonna expand a massive role-playing game, this is how you do it.

Final Fantasy XIV is a slow burn, having had one of the strangest redemption arcs in recent memory. Initially released in 2010, it was met with disastrous response as clumsy and slow systems failed to grab player attention. It was a ponderous beast in the vein of its predecessor Final Fantasy XI, which released eight years prior into a very different ecosystem. After World of Warcraft’s release in 2004, the pace of online role-playing games moved to something faster. Final Fantasy XIV couldn’t keep up and so, under the direction of former Dragon Quest team member Naoki Yoshida, Final Fantasy XIV was rebranded into Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Even that took time to find itself, slowly establishing an identity through its first two expansions, Heavensward and Stormblood. With the release of Shadowbringers, that growth is arguably complete. This is one of the most well-made, confident, and enjoyable Final Fantasy experiences that can be had today.

Shadowbringers takes players away from the world they’ve previously known, Eorzea. The player character is pulled into a parallel world called Norvrandt. Also called the First, Norvrandt is one of the many “reflections” of Eorzea. It takes familiar features and remixes them into a more mystical and fantastic form. Ravaged by a cataclysmic “Flood of Light” nearly a century ago, it is a world of perpetual day where creatures called Sin Eaters wander the land to feast upon the populace. The player is drawn to this world by a mysterious ally in order to slay the Sin Eaters and, in solving the plight of Norvrandt, prevent a cosmological catastrophe that threatens the multiverse. Doing so sends them on a quest to reassemble their scattered allies and face powerful beings called Lightwardens. All the while, a scheming villain accompanies them, providing insight into a grand and tragic history, the revelation of which shatters all previous beliefs about how the world of Final Fantasy XIV worked.

Thanks to the supervision and writing of scenario lead Natsuko Ishikawa, Shadowbringers is one of the most enthralling Final Fantasy stories written. Within its sweeping framework, Shadowbringers manages to tackle themes of parenthood, death, apocalypse, and more. Shadowbringers is a concept of a world after the end. Scattered pockets of civilization fight to restore life to normal. Meanwhile, the decadent city of Eulmore employs a caste system that rigidly holds on to wealth and plutocracy. It is a nation of hoarders locked behind guarded walls, led by a petulant child of a man. And while Shadowbringers stumbles with Eulmore, veering into unflattering commentaries about fat bodies as an all-too-reductive shorthand for greed, its baseline social critique remains evocative. Even after the end, the wealthy will seek to continue their comfort. Or consider the late-game revelation of a time before known history where a utopian republic of mages once ruled, crafting marvels with a powerful creation magic until the day that a strange natural force warped their creative impulses into an uncontrollable deluge of beasts and fire. In these moments, Shadowbringers’ story rises to capture very real and powerful sentiments.

From time to time, Shadowbringers’ story loses track of itself. For example, wading through the dull relationships of a mining town or spending multiple hours constructing a massive golem were painful. This padding is the narrative’s one significant flaw. The story takes place over the course of the 70-80 level range and offers a variety of dungeons and boss fights. These high-quality challenges help offset the moments where the narrative comes to a screeching halt, making it far easier to push through to the game’s spectacular finale. In those final moments, I watched strangers pause in the middle of awe-inspiring dungeons and felt my heart race as we faced the final boss before anyone knew what the fight mechanics were.

The expansion brings new systems and job classes that enrich the experience. Chief among these is the Trust System, which allows players to enter story dungeons alongside computer-controlled companions instead of other players. Your companions have unique dialogue and behaviors that bring charm to encounters, and their availability throughout the main campaign means that even solo players are able to engage with content more easily. The system falls apart in the post-game, resetting your companions’ levels and forcing you to grind out dungeons in order to power them up, but for the duration of the main story, it does exactly what it sets out to do.

The Trust System comes alongside sweeping changes to job classes that removed skills and reworked how many classes function for simplicity’s sake. The overly complex Summoner class, whose attack “rotation” took minutes to summon their most powerful minions, can bring out the big guns faster and now summon a powerful Phoenix to light foes ablaze. The White Mage, whose unique “lilly gauge” previously did little more than allow them to cast spells faster, can now be used for powerful healing and attack spells. As a result, many classes are more enjoyable to play and easier for new players to learn.

It’s not all good news, though. In removing complexity, there’s been some loss of job identity. In particular, tank classes—defensive roles focused on absorbing damage from enemies—lack some of what made each unique. The Astrologian class, whose magical cards once gave a variety of effects, now use them exclusively to increase their team’s attack power. Shadowbringers’ changes have made things easier to understand and play, but not without some sacrifices.

Breathing additional life into the play experience are the expansion’s two exclusive job classes: the Dancer and the Gunbreaker. Dancers are damage dealers who can also buff their allies with a variety of defense- and attack-boosting spells. It is a complicated class whose nuances take some time to master. Attacks trigger random “procs” that allow Dancers to execute attack combos. These combos, in turn, have a chance to grant a resource that can be spent on additional attacks. All the while, it is possible to dance and trigger a sort of rhythm game where hitting the right buttons increases the potency of your buffs. The Dancer brings a welcome complexity to Final Fantasy XIV, even if it sometimes feels at odds with Shadowbringers’ beginner-friendly mindset. It is dynamic, asking players to pay close attention, but its randomness holds it back from time to time.

Gunbreakers are a tank class. Wielding iconic gunblades, they have a furious playstyle that revolves around lengthy combo sequences. At lower levels, Gunbreakers feel woefully inadequate. They do not have the powerful healing spells of their Paladin peers or the exciting defensive mechanics of gritty Dark Knight comrades in arms. As they level, gaining access to more attacks, the class start to find itself. Playing as a Gunbreaker is a fun and aggressive process later on, but the aggression comes at a cost. This class cannot hold ground for too long, relying on healers. In spite of this, Gunbreaker is consistently exciting to play. Like Dancer, its flaws add more charm than difficulty.

Shadowbringers’ endgame content is limited at the moment, but what exists ranks among some of the most interesting encounters you can have. The expansion introduces the Eden raid tier. With four fights currently available, a team of eight players can face off against tough enemies for the highest-quality loot. The monsters are designed by Final Fantasy veteran Tetsuya Nomura, taking inspiration from Final Fantasy VIII’s various summons while also offering hardcore remixes of old Final Fantasy XIV bosses. The Eden raid fights have a playful sense of difficulty, enough to challenge skilled players and dazzle with spellbinding attacks. In addition to these raids, the dubiously named “savage” variants of story bosses bring never-before-seen mechanics and culminate in a terrific challenge that only the most organized groups will pass. Their luster has worn as the weeks have passed, but Eden started strong and will continue to grow with new fights. A larger, 24-player series of raids influenced by Nier: Automata and created in cooperation with director Yoko Taro will be arriving within the next month.

Under all of this—the story, the revamped gameplay, the difficult endgame challenges—is Shadowbringers’ secret weapon: its music. Composer Masayoshi Soken’s pieces have always run the gamut from traditional fantasy marches to intense industrial rock. Grand battles against ice gods started with powerful piano laments before breaking into pop rock. Muted battle marches exploded into operatic triumph. Shadowbringers continues this tradition but ups the ante considerably. Soken’s score is a lightning strike, bold and beautiful throughout. Releasing yesterday on iTunes, the soundtrack surpassed artists like Lana Del Rey on the popularity charts. There’s good reason for this; Soken has come into his own to stand proudly besides series composers like Nobuo Uematsu and Masashi Hamauzu. Shadowbringers’ highest highs and dramatic lows would not be the same without Soken’s powerful scores.

Shadowbringers is a fantastic experience by any metric. That it triumphs within the complicated frame of an online RPG feels almost miraculous. I spent weeks of my life immersed in Eorzea before Shadowbringers and gladly continued after its launch. I have made fantastic friends and formed connections with some of the most important people I’ve known. I’ve embarked on countless adventures, learned the intricacies of numerous jobs. I found a community, a world of vibrancy that brought renewed color to my life. Shadowbringers’ story is triumphant, the artistry inspiring. There are rough patches—pacing woes and overzealous changes to beloved jobs—but Shadowbringers rises above those stumblings. It cements Final Fantasy XIV’s place within the series alongside cherished titles like Final Fantasy VII, and it marks the absolute redemption of an initially troubled game.

Source: Kotaku.com

Final Fantasy VII Remake Continues To Look Like A Brand New Game

Blink and you’ll miss some of the brand new additions to Final Fantasy VII for the remake, as showcased in this new trailer that Square Enix put out in honor of the Tokyo Game Show this week.

Among other things, there’s a new boss fight with Reno, some sort of dart minigame, a brand new member of SOLDIER, a bike sequence with the NPC members of Avalanche, QTE pull-ups, a President Shinra hologram, and summons for Ifrit and Shiva, both of whom are obtained way after Midgar in the original version of Final Fantasy VII. (This remake, the first installment in what will be a larger series, takes place entirely in Midgar.)

FFVII Remake comes out on March 3, 2020. It will, we now know, include Cloud wearing a dress.

Source: Kotaku.com

Returning To Final Fantasy VIII After 20 Years Is Letting Me Resolve Childhood Shame

Photo: Square Enix
Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.  

I vividly remember when Final Fantasy VIII came out in February 1999. I coveted it for months but didn’t get it until October for my 11th birthday. It was my first Japanese role-playing game ever. I struggled desperately just to get through its opening moments of tutorials and text walls and Y2K CD-Rom-ass menus. I was waiting for a fight where I had to run around and throw grenades into tanks. Ultimately, I resigned to give up and just watch my older brother play, leaving JRPGs untouched for years thereafter. Revisiting Final Fantasy VIII as an adult, after years of recovering with other role-playing games, has been revitalizing: It’s actually fun this time.

When the remaster was announced, I had to prepare myself to revisit some old trauma. In addition to not being able to get through its opening hours, I accidentally deleted my older brother’s save off the memory card one night after he’d just gotten to the third of four discs. So this game is cursed not just for me but for the whole Tamayo family. He never picked up the game again.

I distinctly remember spending way too long in the first testing sequence where mercenary Squall acquires the Guardian force Ifrit, a fire beast, by successfully battling him alongside his instructor Quistis. I could not figure out how to manage the menus and the rhythm of the battle. In little-kid time, this took me days to figure out. I then moved on to the first actual field mission, where I stopped and left the original for good.

In the time since, I’ve played dozens of other role-playing games, including other games in the Final Fantasy series. I racked up a lot of experience leading up to the moment this morning when I reached the same place I gave up as a kid. I reached the field mission, put my Switch to sleep, and got off at my subway stop. I was able to complete all this in under an hour of grown-man time.

The feeling of returning to this game and actually understanding how to flow through it is incredible. It’s like I’m finally able to get a tiny bit of closure. And honestly, the fast-forward feature is helping a lot. Finally getting what used to be such an impossible game for me and finishing something I started 20 years ago is empowering. Plus, we’ve got cloud saves now, so maybe I’ll pick up a copy for my brother too.

Source: Kotaku.com

Square Enix Hit With More Death Threats, Cancels Game Tournaments

Image: Square Enix
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Starting this weekend, there were supposed to be events for mecha arcade game Starwing Paradox at four cities across Japan. Those events have been canceled due to death threats.

According to an official Square Enix statement, there have been several death threats made against Starwing Paradox’s management team. Square Enix has reported the threats and is cooperating fully with police. As a precautionary measure, the Starwing Paradox tournaments for this weekend and next weekend in Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, and Fukuoka have been canceled.

Released in Japanese arcades last November, Starwing Paradox features animation sequences done by Sunrise, the anime studio best known for Gundam.

The threats are the latest in a string of incidents. This month, a man was arrested after allegedly threatening Square Enix with a repeat of the terrible Kyoto Animation arson over mobile game displeasure. Another man was arrested earlier this year for threatening to kill Square Enix staff over a game.

Square Enix apologized to those looking forward to the now-canceled Starwing Paradox tournaments.

Source: Kotaku.com

I Helped Some Gaggling Final Fantasy XIV Newbies Best One Of the Trickiest Bosses

Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.  

There are moments in online games when leadership and authority are thrust upon us. In group-based content, like the various boss fights in Final Fantasy XIV, knowledge is power. If you’re in a group full of helpless newbies and you know the fight’s mechanics, you’re suddenly in charge. Earlier this week, I suddenly became the unwilling leader of a group of fresh-faced players. I ended up guiding us all to victory in one of the game’s tougher fights.

The “Eden” tier of raids arrived in Final Fantasy XIV some weeks ago, offering difficult fights that can still wipe some folks, even though these fights have been out for some time. There are also extreme modes for them, which increase the difficulty of these fights and require tons of coordination. When I logged into my weekly Eden normal mode runs, my groups easily defeated most foes. Then we had to fight Titan.

The Eden version of Titan is a reimagined, and much tougher, revamp of an earlier boss fight. It requires precise positioning to avoid getting hit hard, or else you could get entirely knocked off the platform you are fighting on. This particular run had another layer of difficulty: tons of players who knew nothing about the fight. That was fine; there’s an unspoken etiquette that you should tell folks if you’re new, and most of them obliged. Also, they could keep up with the pace of the fight, at least at first. I played as healer, keeping quiet and making sure folks didn’t die. But soon I found that even quality healing couldn’t carry the group. Eventually, through a process I never understood, the group decided I would be their leader and would guide them through mechanics. After all, I knew exactly where to stand and when in order to avoid massive attacks.

Much like Malvolio says in Shakespeare’s comedy Twelfth Night: “Some are born great, some achieve greatness, and some have greatness thrust upon ‘em.” Leadership may not always be a form of “greatness,” but it definitely is something that’s thrust upon folks. And for some reason, I had become Mama Bird, guiding these lovely first-timers through a difficult battle.

Responsibility, if I can be blunt, sucks. Most of the time. Despite my many attempts to enjoy life with a diet of books and companionable silence with the folks I care for, I often find myself inevitably put in charge of one thing or another in real life. As so it was in Final Fantasy XIV that I had to lead a gaggle of baby birds through a difficult fight. God bless them, they were trying, and each attempt showed further progress. But there were also the folks that felt were beyond help: the healer who seemed to be actively avoiding resurrecting their fallen comrades, the melee fighters who didn’t quite get that they needed to stand to Titan’s side for some attacks or else instantly get knocked into oblivion. The players who stood next to tanks and ate devastating damage when Titan “cleaved” and hit everyone in front of it. As healer, I had a few ways to help—healers have an amazing ability called “rescue” that can pull players right to them and out of harm’s way— but it was an uphill battle, one that was taking up almost all of the time limit the game allowed us for completing the fight.

Eventually, frustration kicked in. I, like Deus Ex’s Adam Jensen, “never asked for this.” So I made that clear: Hey goobers, I love you all and your dogged grit, but I have two more attempts in me before I gotta get out of this clusterfuck. (Okay, that’s not exactly what I said, but you get the gist.) I meant it; I had stumbled into this group as part of my “daily roulette,” a series of randomized encounters that dole out currency to buy gear. I just wanted to get my tomestones and get out.

After hearing my ultimatum, these bumbling children (all of whom, I will stress again, were good folks trying to clear content that was fresh to them) stepped it up. We added a marker above my head so they could follow me to safe spots. They pulled it off with only a few hiccups and, at last, defeated the boss. I walked away with six player commendations, which are largely meaningless kudos that mean players thought you were helpful. I passed on all the loot (I didn’t need it, after all) and then left the boss arena. It was nice to step up and lead, something that does happen to me in real life, but next time… maybe I’ll just keep my mouth shut and heal.

Source: Kotaku.com

Final Fantasy VIII Remaster Addresses A Classic Meme

Later this year, Square Enix will put out a graphical remaster of Final Fantasy VIII for modern consoles. You may be pleased to learn that, thanks to its new high-def character models, this remaster will ruin a classic Final Fantasy meme.

It’s hard to tell who came up with this one, but it’s at least five years old. It’s a brief, beautiful moment from the ballroom dance scene early in Final Fantasy VIII’s story.

Squall, our hero, meets Rinoa, our heroine, for the first time. She pays him a wonderful compliment. He appreciates it.

This morning, Square dropped this bombshell:

Unbelievable. Squall, what do you think about this whole thing?

…Oh.

Source: Kotaku.com

The Star Ocean Mobile Game Is Shutting Down

Barely a year after launching in the West, free-to-play mobile RPG Star Ocean: Anamnesis is shutting down. Players have until November 5 to finish collecting characters before Square Enix pulls the plug.

Star Ocean V was not good. Instead of Star Ocean VI, we got Star Ocean: Anamnesis, a mobile gacha game in which players collect characters and form fighting squads. Switching focus to mobile made fans sad, but the mobile game wasn’t too bad. Just not good enough to continue. Square Enix announced the impending closure today via the game’s official Twitter.

In-app purchases are now disabled. Gems, the game’s premium currency, will be usable until the end of service, after which they’ll disappear forever. Hopefully, the next time we see the Star Ocean name pop up, it’ll be a return to greatness instead of a short-lived flash in the pan.

Source: Kotaku.com

Kingdom Hearts III, Six Months Later

Kingdom Hearts III had plenty of drama before launch thanks to a massive leak of physical copies that led director Tetsuya Nomura to ask fans not to share spoilers. Square Enix also delayed the game’s epilogue until after the game’s release. When release day finally came, Sora and his pals mostly ended up okay, save for the usual shenanigans. It’s been six months since then. Here’s how it all went down.

  • The embargo for Kingdom Hearts III lifts on January 23rd. My coworker Tim Rogers determines that Kingdom Hearts III, as a super-packed and almost-a-decade-in-the-making conclusion to a popular franchise’s first major story arc, might be an unreviewable game. It’s a titan, a powerhouse of context and goofs. Little does Tim know that he will actually have to review Kingdom Hearts III for Kotaku.
  • The day before release, fans notice a strange warning on the title screen indicating that streamers should be cautious showing the game, especially if they just want to share the music. Streaming needed to be “non-commercial,” a term that Square Enix never really clarified.
  • Kingdom Hearts III officially releases, and reviews of the game, while positive, are not necessarily glowing. Kotaku’s Tim Rogers battles his inner Goofy and Donald to conclude that it’s a fun game with a great battle system that “kinda sucks and that’s why I love it.”
  • Kingdom Hearts III’s epilogue gets added to the game in a patch after the world-wide launch. It has a pretty shocking revelation about a certain laid-back Organization XIII member, but we’re not gonna tell you what it is.
  • Players start to craft a plethora of amusing gummi ships ranging from cool planes and spaceships to intergalactic Hatsune Mikus and giant dicks. Truly, these are the height of human creations.
  • By early February, Kingdom Hearts III sets a new sales record for the series as download sales and shipped copies cross over five million units.
  • Speculation runs wild as players unlock the game’s hidden ending, which we will not spoil too much here. Needless to say, it’s incredibly meta, connected to a throwaway joke, and might hint at the inclusion of more The World Ends With You characters.
  • Internet sleuths determine that there is a watermark visible during a musical sequence in the Frozen world, indicating the scene was rendered in a copy of Maya with a lapsed license. It’s only there for one frame, but gwarsh!
  • Some writers, including Beth Elderkin at our sister site io9, express disappointment in how Kairi is used (or rather, not used) in the game.
  • On April 23rd, Kingdom Hearts III is finally updated to include the “Critical Mode” difficulty. Many fans had previously felt that the game was too easy, and the mode provided a welcome challenge for fans eager for something a bit more intense.
  • Kingdom Hearts III’s Re:Mind DLC is announced and teased at E3 2019. Footage shows off the ability to play as Riku, Roxas and other beloved characters. It currently set for a Winter release.
  • Rutger Hauer, Blade Runner star and the voice of the villainous Master Xehanort in Kingdom Hearts III, passes away on July 24th. The 75-year-old actor had taken over the role following the death of Leonard Nimoy in 2015.

And that’s where things are at. Kingdom Hearts III marks the culmination of years of hard work from game makers and investment from fans. It wasn’t perfect but still held much of the charm that drew in players to begin with. Following release, there has been a shifting tide of fan speculation, production goofs, new difficulty modes, and even the tragic loss of a beloved actor. But it’s here and it’s real. After so much time, seeing the first major portion of Sora’s story wrap up was emotional. And no matter where the series goes next or whatever else might follow in the wake of this game’s release, Kingdom Hearts III remains an emotionally evocative and pretty darn good capstone to one of the most hog-bonkers crossover ideas of all time.

Source: Kotaku.com

Oninaki’s World Might Be Enough To Get Me Past The Repetitive Gameplay

Oninaki, an action role-playing game from the developers of I Am Setsuna and Lost Sphear, now has a free demo on Nintendo Switch and Playstation 4. I entered into the play experience expecting something generic, and while the combat is a bit mindless, Oninaki’s world is a fascinating place. This short tease has left me curious for more, as its tale of lost souls and strange religions makes for a moody and self-aware story.

In Oninaki, players take the role of Kagachi. Kagachi is a Watcher, a sort of shepherd of wayward souls and demon exterminator. Following the death of his parents at a young age, he and his friend Mayura became Watchers and now lead a life traveling between the world of the living and the dead. Oninaki’s world revolves around the notion of reincarnation. When you die, your soul is eventually reborn to a new life unless your spirit is weighed down by some type of grief. It’s a Watcher’s job to find ways to ease the souls unable to reincarnate and escort them into a new life. It also means beating up monsters and evil spirits.

That’s the less interesting part of Oninaki, as least in the early part of the demo. Combat is mostly a hack-and-slash affair, with a few special powers thrown in. Watchers have the ability to bond with spirits called daemons. Each daemon that players find has a different skill such as a powerful sword dash attack or a Final Fantasy-esque Dragoon jump attack with a spear. These can add a little bit flash to combat but felt limited in the demo. The ability to swap between daemons in combat might lead to interesting tactical options as players find more spirits, but these early sections were a bit one-note. Slash, slash, special attack, dodge, slash some more.

What’s far more interesting is how Oninaki presents its world’s complex spirituality and the day-to-day work of Watchers. From a nervous lover offering his girlfriend a charm that is supposed to keep them reunited in the next life to cults promising different forms of salvation, Oninaki is clearly interested in exploring the social implications of its cosmology. The earliest part of the demo focuses on Kagachi and Mayura’s efforts to help the spirit of a recently deceased child, culminating in a powerful and shocking decision by his grieving parents to allow the Watchers to kill them so that they might join their son in the spirit realm. While the plot is sure to grow beyond these moments—dialog hints at a dangerous monster who can kill so completely as to deny souls reincarnation—it’s the world-building that’s captured my attention the most.

This split between the real world and the spirit realm applies to the overworld exploration, where it’s possible to travel between the two realms Twilight Princess style. Can’t cross that gap? Hop into the spirit realm and use a portal. It’s a cohesive mixture of narrative and gameplay that’s really exciting.

My experience with this demo has left me cautiously optimistic. Kagachi is a bit of a grump as far as protagonists go, and the combat is nothing to write home about, but Oninaki has a strong concept and world. It’s a place I want to experience more of, and if that means putting with some repetitive combat in exchange for exceptional world-building? I’m more than willing to deal with the hacking and slashing.

Source: Kotaku.com

The Strange Guilt Of Changing Jobs In An MMO

Kotaku Game DiaryDaily thoughts from a Kotaku staffer about a game we’re playing.  

As I continue to lose myself in the world of Final Fantasy XIV’s latest expansion, writing guides on how new folks can get started and fighting terrifying raid bosses, I’ve also taken the time to experiment with new jobs. I followed my co-worker Mike Fahey’s lead and started the new Dancer job. And oh my god, I think I might have to give up “maining” my other damage-dealing classes. Naturally, this has caused me a lot of unnecessary guilt.

The Dancer is a new job to “Shadowbringers,” Final Fantasy XIV’s latest expansion. It’s a damage-dealing class that can attack at range and buff teammates. While I play a healer primarily, I have another character for damage jobs. Recently, I leveled my character’s Samurai and Monk jobs to the max level of 80. Monk, frankly, needs fixes. It feels way too slow and lost a lot of fun abilities in “Shadowbringers” in an effort to streamline jobs. Samurai can do a ton of big, bursty damage attacks that I enjoy a lot, but it’s a selfish class. You set up, do your big attacks, and repeat. Enjoyable, but not too dynamic. Dancer is astounding by comparison. Your attacks have a random chance of triggering combo chains that can then trigger even more abilities. It’s reactive; you need to see what abilities “proc” and react accordingly. And you need to periodically play a sort of DDR mini-game to keep your buffs up.

Even playing Dancer at early levels, I’m fairly certain I want to make it my main damage-dealing class. I’ll probably make the swap without too much guilt, but there is guilt nevertheless. I play on a role-playing server, and my regular damage character is a Monk narratively. There’s a certain strange obligation to keep that class at a high level and keep their Samurai skills sharp. I’m also already at the max level for them. Do I really want to grind out Dancer to max, suffering through the randomly generated dungeons of Heaven on High in order to get fast experience? The last time I did that, I nearly died…although that was because I was apparently developing a lung infection without realizing it. Go figure.

So this is where I stand: Dancer is amazing. It’s possibly one of the most fun and valuable classes in Final Fantasy XIV at the moment. Every second with it is a delight, but swapping means repeating a grinding process I’ve done twice already and abandoning playstyles that I’ve grown skillful at. That’s daunting, but I need to give myself the advice I’d give any Kotaku reader: “Play what is most fun for you, Heather.”

So I guess we’re back at it again in the Crystarium.

[/backflips, knocks down the nearest weapon shop sign]

Source: Kotaku.com