As of last night, I’m level 76, quickly closing in on 77, and I feel like I’m on the other side of being halfway done with the MSQ. I’ve seen all of the zones that I’m aware exist in some form or another. And I’ve been in deep when it comes to story.
What can I say about this expansion without spoiling anything? Quite a bit, actually.
I was looking forward to Shadowbringers before release. But now that I have it in my hands, I hate having to put it down for anything else. It’s been a long time since a game has captured my attention, much less a MMO, with a story line like this.
To measure it against previous expansions:
- Heavensward was pretty good
- Stormblood was mediocre
- Shadowbringers is amazing
I honestly haven’t found much at all to nit pick about anything. The story makes sense, even with the odd dimension-hopping we’re doing. I care about this world and the characters – even the side characters. The story isn’t afraid to get gritty and grim when it needs to, and it continues to unfold and entertain. I hear the ending is just as good by those who have completed it.
The story is heavily locked into this new world we’re exploring. The First feels like, to me, that the team has gone all-out embracing the freedom they have in creating lore and setting that isn’t locked to anything from 1.0 and beyond. They’ve made it their own, and it really shows.
Here, the team can draw on the familiar to create the fantastical. I adore the high fantasy feel and all the very different creatures and races we learn about. There’s just enough tension in how sin-eaters are developed to give a supernatural sense of urgency – something I didn’t feel much in previous expansions.
Heavensward had dragons. Stormblood had the Empire. But the sin-eaters are almost feral things that can’t be reasoned with, are an immediate danger in the way they kill and spread, with a nature that remains fairly unknown.
The antagonists are interesting. And then they pay the we’re-not-sure-if-we-can-trust-this-guy game with another antagonist, which I’m fully enjoying, and want to see more of.
Characters make sense. Their actions, reactions and development is logical while still being emotional. You can see how this world had changed some of them, and a lot of thought has gone into where each character stands on certain issues.
There are just as many side characters that really shine, as well. I’m quite taken by the plight of the different peoples of the First. We see how pockets of society have formed and how they deal with the apocalyptic nature in different ways. Some fight against the end times while others only look to seek worldly comfort until their end.
These cultures raise lots of moral questions and musings. I enjoy thinking things like this through, and am glad to see some of these undertones tackled in the development of the story.
Oh, and I can’t close out my first impressions without talking about the music. I immediately noticed that we’ve been getting a lot more in the way of overworld music that includes vocals. Maybe this is because the lovely chorus of the Steppe was looked upon favorably. But Shadowbringers pushes this up a notch.
For example, check out the tune for the Rak’tika Greatwood – don’t watch it if you don’t want to see a zone spoiler. Just listen!
I’m a fan of a great many of tunes I’ve heard so far – I could just chill in the desert (yeah, irony) or zone out to the EQ2-invoking sounds of the fairy lands. I also really like the boss battle theme this time around… though the overworld battle theme is a bit jarring with all its heavy 90’s pop guitars.
Oh, and one last thing before I close this ramble out. I haven’t tried the Gunbreaker, but Dancer is incredibly fun as a new job, and feels really good to play. We’ve already had one FC member who dropped Samurai for Dancer, and I don’t blame him one bit. In terms of damage output and what you bring to the party, I expect to see a lot of people playing this job going forward (hope it doesn’t get hit with nerfs).
The only other job I’ve spent time with is Red Mage. Not enough has changed for me to really notice, outside of a change in AOE rotation. So far, so good.
Now, with all that being said, I’m looking forward to diving back into this game, especially with the holiday weekend coming up. Hoping to finish off MSQ, but still have tons of things to level and explore (crafting/gathering) in the expansion.