Final Fantasy 14: Stormblood Is Coming! Details Players Should Know About The Upcoming Expansion

Stormblood Logo

The last fan festival for Final Fantasy 14 wrapped up in Frankfurt, Germany over the weekend. It was here that fans like myself were treated to the final bit of information concerning Final Fantasy 14’s Upcoming expansion. You can find more depth coverage in this article from Nova Crystallis. There is a lot of information to cover from all three fan fests so buckle up. Stormblood is coming and here are some of the details for FF14’s upcoming expansion.

Two New Jobs Coming In Stormblood

The first job announcement came from the Tokyo Fan Fest where they announced Red Mage.

Stormblood Redmage
Image Credit:http://www.siliconera.com/2016/12/23/final-fantasy-xiv-shows-off-new-stormblood-details-red-mage-job-confirmed/

Clad in it’s customary garb that would look familiar to any Final Fantasy fan dressed in a red coat, feathered hat and rapier, the crowd went wild when it appeared on screen.

RDM Battle Design
Image Credit:http://www.siliconera.com/2016/12/23/final-fantasy-xiv-shows-off-new-stormblood-details-red-mage-job-confirmed/

The battle design has Red Mage as a ranged magic dps. Yoshi admitted that they had to change how the job worked so it could fit into FF14 but we do know that it will be able to attack from melee and further away in battle. Red Mages can usually cast Black, White and Red magic so we will need to see how it plays out in FF14.

Despite a quickly deleted after the Japan Fan Fest that hinted at only two jobs being announced for the expansion. We got our confirmation Saturday as Yoshi P delivered the opening key note. Samurai, a melee dps, was going to be the second job for the expansion and it was to be the last. Red Mage and Samurai will be available in the starting ARR areas for players at level 50. While it is not stated implicitly, players will probably need to own the new expansion in order to access these jobs.

SAM battle design
Image Credit: http://imgur.com/a/X5xZD via r/ffxiv

There are concerns over the incoming que times in the aftermath of adding the Ninja job mid expansion in 2.xx but we will have to wait and see. See the Samurai job in action here and the Red Mage job trailer here.

New Locales and Story Hints

expanded eorzea map ff14 in Stormblood
Image Credit: http://imgur.com/a/X5xZD via r/ffxiv

With Isgard and Heavensward behind us, players knew that we would be traveling to Ala Migho to liberate the peoples there. At the Germany Fan Fest, Yoshi and the team had a surprise for us. We would also be traveling to Orthard to help liberate Doma which expands the map exponentially. Here area few of the areas we will see.

We will also travel to the new player city named Kugane. In the lore, it is primarily in isolation and does not deal with many outsiders so how all the warriors of light manage to get a ticket in will be worth discovering. This city is a port town so that further highlights the swimming and diving aspects revealed in the previous fan fests. I wouldn’t be surprised if ships and pirates play an active role as well.

You can find the video showcasing more shots here.

Last expansion we were introduced to the new playable race the Au’Ra. Despite their introduction we still did not see too many NPCs of them and now we now why. The Au’Ri tribes originated from Orthard and the Azim Steppe area so we will get to know the nomadic tribes of this race come the expansion.

The next area was Yanxia but Yoshi didn’t state too many lore details about this region except for this is where Doma is located. As far as we know, Doma was obliterated when the Garleans conquered the region so I am curious to see what we will be fighting over.

New Beast Tribes and Primals

Ananta Beast Tribe Stormblood
Image Credit:http://www.siliconera.com/2016/12/23/final-fantasy-xiv-shows-off-new-stormblood-details-red-mage-job-confirmed/

Two seems to be the magic number as it seems we are only getting two beast tribes so far this expansion. The new tribes are the Kojin, who reside in The Red Sea, and the Ananta located near Ala Migho. The trailer shows us an under sea village so maybe that was theirs? Time will tell.

Susano Beast Tribe FF14 in Stormblood
Image Credit: http://knowyourmeme.com/photos/1223718-final-fantasy-xiv
Lakshmi Beast Tribe FF14
Image Credit:http://www.siliconera.com/2016/12/23/final-fantasy-xiv-shows-off-new-stormblood-details-red-mage-job-confirmed/

Each beast tribe has a primal they worship so this one is no different. Meet Susano, The Lord of Revel and Lakshmi, Lady of Bliss. While Lakshmi is native to the FF series, Susano is an original Primal like Ravana was in Heavensward. I can’t wait to see their encounters.

Dungeon Preview and Raid Preview

8 man raid Omega
Image Credit: http://www.siliconera.com/2016/12/23/final-fantasy-xiv-shows-off-new-stormblood-details-red-mage-job-confirmed/

Yoshi also informed us about the new 8 main raid called The Bend of Time, Omega. This story would involve an older character named Nero from the Crystal Tower raids in the 2.xx series. SE has responded to the criticism of the Alexander raids not being tied to the MSQ with this raid so hopefully it will recreate the magic of the Coils of Bahamut.

Return to Ivalice
Image Credit: http://kotaku.com/final-fantasy-xiv-gets-a-raid-in-ivalice-1790466397

The final type of content we were introduced to was the 24 man raid currently titled Return to Ivalice. The FF14 team has consulted the expertise of Final Fantasy 12 director, Yasumi Matsuno to direct and write the story. This is the first time someone outside the FF14 team has directed content so this should infuse a new style to the game when released.

New Residential Area

You can find the video for the district here.

Other Quality Of Life Changes

FF14 Swimming
Image Credit: http://www.siliconera.com/postgallery/?p_gal=607956|8

The new expansion also brings about a few other quality of life changes. The first change will be the introduction of swimming. All mounts that fly will be able to swim and dive in the expansion. The team informs us that while they do not plan to create swimming in all the areas they do plan to implement in some of the 2.0 areas.

Players were also informed that as of Stormblood they will be dropping all PS3 support. That means that once the game updates players who use the older platform will not be able to access the game at all. There is an upgrade campaign free to current PS3 players to move to PS4 that will continue through 2017. The team is also encouraging PC players to upgrade their hardware to 64 bit in order to accommodate the upcoming expansion.

The last change announced was the increase in inventory space. The team informed players that this increase will probably occur in 2 parts throughout the expansions. Since it was a massive overhaul to the system they do not want to risk crashing the server by implementing it all at once.

That About Wraps it Up

There will be more information to satiate players in the coming months until the expansion. We still have 2 small patches before we explore the rest of Eorzea but the hype in the air is real. The game is set to release on June 20th, 2017 with early access starting on June 13th, 2017. If you’re curious about the world or waiting to rejoin now is a great time to get lost in Eorzea.

Have you played FF14? Does this news peak your interest? Have you played an MMORPG before and how was it different? Let us know in the comments below.

World of Warcraft: The Nighthold Beckons

World of Warcraft

World of Warcraft

After an astounding Legion release, World of Warcraft’s subscriber numbers surged up to one of their highest peaks. The expansion itself was one of the greatest yet in the history of World of Warcraft, adding and recreating some of the most fun and interesting things to do on Azeroth. The addition of world quests, a class hall and the next ten levels of life in World of Warcraft give players, young and old, things to do in the game daily that revitalized the drive to log in and play. Six months after the expansion’s release, it’s time for the newest raid instance to come out: The Nighthold.

The Nighthold

The Nighthold
The Nighthold

The Nighthold is the third raid instance to be released in this expansion, and will currently reign as the longest raid with eight new bosses to kill and loot. This instance will be found in Suramar, home to the once-fading Nightborne. As you progress your character to unlock the new raid, you’ll give life back to this trapped and starving race of elves, and help them thrive in the new world on the Broken Isles. You find out that the terrible Gul’dan, a fel-powered Orc who’s bent on destroying all of Azeroth with the Legion, has taken up residence in The Nighthold. The once grand structure that it was, The Nighthold was a testament to the achievements of the Nightborne. It was created around the Nightwell, the source of power for the Nightborne and the only thing that kept the race alive when their world was crumbling around them. Gul’dan means to seize that power, and only you can stop him.

It’s Time To Raid

It's Time To Raid
It’s raid time.

Well, you and 19 of your closest friends. Like all WoW raids, you’ll need your friends and guild mates to help you take down the evil that’s within this fortress of the Nightborne. Not only will you have to fight Gul’dan and those that support him, but The Nighthold’s own defenses as well. Battle a giant scorpion named Scorpyron that guards the secret entrance you’re using to get inside. Once you dispatch him, you’ll be fighting entities of the very Nightwell itself, a being made of pure leyline energy and a construct that hasn’t had a good fight in many years. After you breach the defenses and creatures of the instance, you’re on to fight those that are drunk on the power of the Nightwell and the fel-energies of the Legion. You’ll even get to fight against well known demons like Tichondrius and Krosus, the giant colossus that you fought at the entrance of the Legion expansion. This fantastic run ends with Gul’dan himself, and he’s not going to go easily.

Why We Raid

Why We Raid
Spending time with our family.

Having a new raid is a fun and exciting way to get your entire World of Warcraft family together. After you’ve dominated a previous instance and all the loot you could ever need was acquired, it’s fairly usual that players would start to dwindle, interested in other games until something new comes along. That very moment is now, and the release of The Nighthold has brought the World of Warcraft family together once more. It’s an exciting time as you head into a new place that you’ve never been before, fighting giant bosses that you’ve never killed and winning loot that takes your character’s power to new heights. An expansion release is fun, engaging and helps you get to know who you are as a player, but as the year goes on, it’s the continual addition of new content, like raids, that have kept players engaged for all these years in World of Warcraft. As they celebrated their 12th Anniversary this past November, you know that Blizzard knows what they’re doing. Here’s to another 12 years of adventure, excitement and nerdy online family.

The Sims 4: Introducing the Toddler Life State

Sims

Sims 4 by EA has been released for a little over two years now. While it is quite a magnificent game all on its own, it was missing bits and pieces from its predecessors. One of those particular pieces was rather large: a whole life cycle. When your Sims had a baby, that baby would grow (as all things do), but it would pop right from the bassinet into elementary school. Generally, those kinds of things don’t happen, as there are a lot of terrible years in between of small children doing stupid things that will unknowingly get them killed. Sims 4 didn’t allow you those “wonderful” years, but now, they have finally returned!

They Grow Up So Fast

Help them grow up to be brilliant.

While it may seem arbitrary to people who haven’t played the Sims franchise, having that toddler stage introduces a little extra time on your Sim’s lifespan to introduce some game changing elements. Enrich their minds in those Toddler years so they grow up to be brilliant, Simolean-making scientists, or make sure their emotional levels are in check and you’ll have a regular Don Juan on your hands when he becomes of age.

Surprise!

Surprise!

A great point to this update was that stayed a total secret until its release in the newest game patch. Most of the time, large secrets like these get leaked weeks or months beforehand, like what happened with The Sim’s Vampire Game Pack that was announced recently. It was leaked over a month ago, so there was no surprise when that announcement came to be, but no one saw the toddlers coming! The developers have been working on this update for over two years now, and though there was a tiny hint dropped a year ago, these small people crawled their way into our hearts without us even noticing.

The significance of this update is also pretty astounding because it was completely free to those that had already owned the game. Instead of having to receive this update in one of the many expansion packs for the game, the developers stuck this update right into the direct patch of the game, without any additional fanfare. The update was almost 2GB worth of data and included the toddler life cycle, and a range of toddler hats, hair, glasses, outfits, onesies, body accessories and shoes. There were also eight unique toddler traits and at least 19 new toddler objects like high chairs, child potties, toys and more. This was a huge amount of content for a free update.

Let’s Set The World On Fire

Someone can’t cook.

If you’ve never tried The Sims before, perhaps this is finally the time to do it. While it may not fit your genre, or the ability to control a virtual human’s life creeps you out, The Sims 4 has so much interesting gameplay and dynamics to try out that you’ll find yourself deep within the game in just a matter of moments. Hours later, you’ve got a nice sized family, that bungalow you’ve always wanted in the hills, and a soft annoyance for Sims language. Soon, you’ll be buying the add-on packs, and your family will wonder where you’ve disappeared to. Just let them know that you’ve created a family all your own. Hopefully they won’t all die in a terrible kitchen fire because one of them is a bad cook.

The League of Explorers Announced for Hearthstone, Launching Next Week

With how much The Grand Tournament expansion resembled the Argent Tournament event from World of Warcraft, everyone was expecting the next Hearthstone adventure to be based on Icecrown Citadel and the battle against Lich King Arthas.  Instead, players will be joining up with the famous Brann Bronzebeard and his Explorer’s League to trek through the untamed wilds of Azeroth in search of ancient treasures.  The League of Explorers promises a wide variety of PvE challenges as players journey to various exotic locations with the titular explorers coaching them all the way.

For the explorers, there is obviously the prestigious dwarf Brann Bronzebeard of the regal Bronzebeard brothers.  Brann is one of Azeroth’s greatest explorers and archaeologists and has done his fair share to save the world in various major events in World of Warcraft.  Joining him on this new quest are three new explorers being introduced with the expansion.  There’s the genius night elf Elise Starseeker, the brash human Reno Jackson, and the dignified murloc Sir Finley Mrrgglton.  Of course, these renowned adventures will be joining your collection of cards as new legendaries, such as Elise Starseeker being a 4 mana 3/5 that adds the Map to the Golden Monkey card to your deck.  Map to the Golden Monkey is a 2 mana spell that draws a card and adds the Golden Monkey to your deck.  Once you finally get the Golden Monkey, it is a 4 mana 6/6 with taunt and the most insane battlecry in the game to date: Replace the cards in your hand and deck with random legendary cards.  While the randomness might not make it a competitive card at the highest levels, especially for any combo deck, it’s certainly not a bad card and will be a must-have for any joke deck.

There are plenty of other cards to obtain in the new adventure, such as the new Hunter spell Explorer’s Hat.  For 2 mana, you can give a minion +1/+1 and a deathrattle effect that adds another Explorer’s Hat to your hand.  It sounds like a great deal, but that 2 mana can be a serious toll on your tempo given how little impact it makes on the board.  It will certainly be a good card for control decks, but it looks too slow to improve aggro decks.  The expansion will also add a new keyword into the game called ‘discover’, which generates three random cards following a certain condition and lets you select one to add to your hand.  For example, the Jeweled Scarab is a 1/1 beast for 2 mana that discovers a 3 mana card.  These cards aren’t taken from your deck, but can be any neutral card or any minion or spell from your class.

There are plenty more cards being spotted at demonstrations during Blizzcon, such as Brann himself being a 3 mana 2/4 that causes your battlecries to trigger twice and a new Paladin secret called Sacred Trial that destroys a minion played by your opponent if they already have three or more minions on the board.  Amazingly, The League of Explorers is right around the corner with the first wing releasing next Thursday.  What are your thoughts on Hearthstone‘s latest adventure?  Leave a comment below and let us know what you think.

Why Does Hearthstone Have Adventures?

The biggest problem with the most recent adventure-based expansion for Hearthstone, Blackrock Mountain, is that it ultimately did very little to shake up the meta game at large.  Only one new deck really emerged from the expansion, that being the infamous Patron Warrior.  Even the highly-touted dragon synergy that the expansion introduced ended up amounting to very little at the time as there just wasn’t a wide enough variety of cards to make a dragon-focused deck viable.  In contrast, the following, more traditional expansion, The Grand Tournment, added a far wider range of possibilities by virtue of simply adding a whole lot of cards.  It even brought dragon decks to the forefront with just a few additional cards.  This all made me wonder why Hearthstone even has these adventure-based expansions like Curse of Naxxramas and Blackrock Mountain in the first place rather than just going for traditional expansions in the style of Goblins Vs. Gnomes and The Grand Tournament exclusively.  Why put all of this effort into designing all of these boss challenges that players will be done with fairly quickly and only release a fraction of the cards that a traditional expansion would include?  Isn’t that sort of practice just bad for both the players and the developers?  After giving it some thought, I realized that it’s actually quite the opposite.  Not only do Hearthstone adventures offer a great deal of satisfaction for players, but they also provide an invaluable service for the developers.

For the players, there is a great deal of satisfaction to be had in the guarantee for the cards you are going to get out your purchases, especially when it comes to the legendary cards.  While legendaries aren’t necessarily the strongest cards, there is an undeniable sense of gratification that comes with obtaining cards on that highest tier.  Sorting through booster packs is great when you stumble upon something special, but it often leaves you with uninteresting cards.  It’s possible to go through dozens of packs without finding a single legendary and those playing on a budget can go months without adding one to their collection.  For those players, adventures are a major step forward for their collection.  There is also the sense of completion that comes with having all of the cards in the set fairly quickly.  If there is any deck you want to build that calls for those cards, you’ll always know that you have them.  In that sense, adventures are the Hearthstone equivalent of starter decks.  There’s a much smaller card pool than a pack expansion overall, but you are sure to have the entire set.

Along with the cards, players also get to enjoy the unique challenge of the bosses.  While there is little incentive to revisit these bosses after you’ve beaten them, that short time spent with them forces players to examine the game closely in order to find a boss’ weakness.  Highly technical bosses like Garr and Vaelastrasz force players to think outside the box and develop new tactics for the game that they haven’t considered before.  They can also inspire players to attempt similar strategies in constructed play, finding new avenues existing within the game that they never realized before.  After taking on Vaelastrasz, players will likely be in the mood to play around with milling and fatigue-focused decks, especially those who hadn’t known of the concept before.

However, the ones who gain the most from the adventures are the developers.  I don’t just mean that in a financial sense as releasing packs that players have to continuously sort through would net them more sales than wings of an adventure that anyone can grind enough gold for in a week or so per wing.  What the developers truly gain from is the room to experiment with their unique boss fights.  Balance is much less of a concern in PvE than it is in PvP as there is only one side of the fight that really needs to be accounted for.  As such, the bosses can be equipped with all manner of conceptual mechanics.  For example, Chromaggus’ ability to force cards into your hand that work against you until played is a brilliant idea that might be worked into actual cards in later expansions.  Even if the idea never works out for any collectible cards, it doesn’t go completely to waste now that it’s incorporated into this one boss fight.  Adventures are a playground of experimentation where cutting edge ideas can be put into practice rather than be left to sit on the drawing board.

That previous point can be debated with the release of the Tavern Brawl game mode that runs a different challenge every week.  While Tavern Brawl has given Blizzard another avenue to experiment with new concepts, it doesn’t offer the developers quite the same level of freedom as boss fights do.  The brawls are still PvP and, while balance isn’t as important here, there still needs to be a level of equality in place.  You can argue that one deck plays to a brawl’s strengths more, but the developers still strive to keep that gap narrow.  As such, designing conceptual cards is exceedingly more difficult for a brawl than it is for an adventure.  It’s not surprising that only two brawls have introduced conceptual cards so far, those being the Showdown at Blackrock and the Banana Brawl.  Ironically, those are two of the least popular brawls in the series, whereas the most popular brawls are the ones that put an unusual twist on the existing game, such as Too Many Portals and Double Deathrattler.  Tavern Brawl simply isn’t as viable a testing ground for new ideas as boss fights are.

Another way Blizzard can only experiment in Adventures is to introduce cards that rely on one other, specific card.  Feugen and Stalagg each have the ability to summon the mighty Thaddius upon death, but only if the other has already died at some point.  Releasing cards like these in card packs would frustrate players who manage to find one of these extremely rare cards, but now has to find the other one to make either worthwhile.  It wouldn’t be impossible to get away with these cards in packs as several physical TCGs have built themselves around collecting specific cards already.  The Pokemon TCG is built largely around evolving specific Pokemon into other specific Pokemon, while Yu-Gi-Oh has plenty of fusion cards that are useless without their specified components.  However, by releasing these cards as a set in a single adventure, it makes things far more satisfying for the players.  While there may be a precedent with other games, that shouldn’t be an excuse to hold Hearthstone back in its own design.  Bundling these interaction cards together with adventures makes them much more enticing and makes collecting much more enjoyable for players.

Blackrock Mountain may not be the best example of an adventure given how niche many of its cards were, but it should simply serve as a lesson on how future adventures should be focused rather than a signal that the idea itself is flawed.  The key to successful adventure sets lies in focusing on general mechanics for most of the cards, as seen with the more fondly received Naxxramas, rather than attempting to establish new archetypes of their own.  They also need bosses that act as mind-bending puzzles and memorable encounters rather than exploitative tricks.  While I use my Naxxramas cards much more frequently than my Blackrock ones, I vividly remember almost every boss from Blackrock while only having fond memories of a few Naxxramas bosses.  Hopefully, the developers now have a full picture of what does and doesn’t work with adventures and will be able to consistent deliver excellent adventures from here on.

Ultimately, adventures truly are a boon to Hearthstone.  While cards come out slower because of them, they do come out smarter as a result.  The developers are given the freedom to experiment with cards in ways that they can’t anywhere else by testing experimental concepts in boss fights and introducing unique interactions.  Meanwhile, players are given a fulfilling, complete set of cards to add to their collection more easily than digging through card packs in the hopes of finding the cards they’re looking for.  Blizzard simply needs to look at what works best for adventures to improve their future releases and their value towards the game won’t need to be called into question again.

Bloodborne The Old Hunters Expansion Gets Reveal Trailer, Release Date

Bloodborne

Bloodborne

Sony Computer Entertainment had their annual TGS press conference earlier today, during which they formally announced The Old Hunters expansion for Bloodborne. 

To say that I am hyped for this would be an understatement. Bloodborne is an immensely satisfying albeit horrifying adventure that needs to be revisited.

A release date and price have also been mentioned.

Here is the full trailer; I suggest a change of pants.

Wow. New weapons including a bow-blade, new bosses and enemies to laugh at you when they murder you and a new prequel story that unravels some of Yharnam’s deepest secrets… I hope.

To say that I am hyped for this would be an understatement. Bloodborne is an immensely satisfying albeit horrifying adventure that needs to be revisited.

You can expect to die a million times November 24th. The expansion will cost twenty blood echoes.

Dark Souls II Getting DLC Trilogy

Dark Souls

After Dark Souls II‘s critical success, it is no surprise that DLC is on the way. Bandai Namco announced that three pieces of DLC will be arriving over the next several months for PC, Xbox 360, and PS3.

The DLC trilogy, titled ‘The Lost Crowns’, will take place over three new locales, and offer a variety of new challenges for the most brazen of fans.

The following statement discusses the first expansion and what it entails:

“The Crown of the Sunken King sends players on a quest to reclaim the Crown that King Vendrick once owned. With an entirely new areas to explore within the Dark Souls II universe, players will find pyramids, underground caverns, and unknown foes. It is said that the Ancient Crown is buried deep below the surface, but surely it cannot sit unguarded?”

Though not much else is known outside of the press release,  we’ve been informed of the titles, their respective release dates and that each piece of content will be $9.99. If you have the utmost confidence in the quality of the DLC, or want to save a few pennies, a season pass can be purchased for $24.99.

  • The Crown of the Sunken KingJuly 22, 2014
  • The Crown of the Old Iron KingAugust 26, 2014
  • The Crown of the Ivory KingSeptember 24, 2014

What’s more, Bandai Namco included a trailer for your viewing pleasure.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ioo0ukZ6P-4