Final Fantasy XIV - Shadowbringers

I have finally done it: I have started Final Fantasy XIV‘s Shadowbringers expansion.

If that doesn’t seem like a big achievement, keep in mind that I needed to complete the MSQ (main scenario quests) for A Realm Reborn, Heavensward, and Stormblood, as well as all of the patches that came in between. There are five main patches between each title, so that’s 15 patches worth of story content, on top of the main game and first two expansions.

On top of that, I made sure I completed the Binding Coils of Bahamut, the Alexander raid series, and the Omega raid series (each of which contains 14 or 15 raids). Plus, I did the Crystal Tower, Void Ark, and Ivalice alliance raid series, and did a whole bunch of side content as well. I’ve mastered every reputation faction up to this point, for example, and I’ve managed to collect almost 50 mounts. I’ve been a busy bee.

So when I finally reached Shadowbringers, it really did feel like I earned it. I spent the past five months working toward this; it wasn’t easy.

And I have to say, the opening for Shadowbringers completely blew me away. I was skeptical. People say this is the best part of the entire game, and after falling hopelessly in love with Heavensward, I had my doubts that Shadowbringers would be able to meet my high expectations. But, holy chocobo, this is some good stuff!

When you’re first pulled into Novrandt, you’re trying to orient yourself in this strange, colorful world. It’s not long before you happen upon a familiar face.

Final Fantasy XIV - Shadowbringers

Yes, the guy who first ushered you into the game world in the opening of A Realm Reborn is here to do the same for Shadowbringers. Only it’s not him. Not exactly. I get the idea that this is his Novrandt double. He’s drunk, sitting at a campfire and rambling about how there’s been no darkness for 100 years. He offers you a swig of his drink, and you notice he’s wearing a ring. This is important.

You eventually make your way toward the Crystarium, which is the first major settlement you’ll find in Shadowbringers. On the outskirts, an aggressive Viera guard prevents you from entering. You are then attacked by a Sin Eater, one of the baddies of the Shadowbringers story, and the guard hacks it apart. She says something about how the Sin Eater didn’t even remove the ring before devouring its prey. You look and see a ring on the ground. Yes, the ring that belonged to the drunk at the campfire.

First of all, it was absolutely brilliant to introduce players to this new world with the same character (or a double thereof) who first introduced you to Eorzea. But to almost immediately kill him off in such a gruesome manner? Well, that was completely unexpected, and it’s not a twist I would have expected from a Final Fantasy game.

So I’m hooked. You got my attention, Shadowbringers.

Final Fantasy XIV - Shadowbringers

At this point, the game is trying to readjust my expectations. This is clearly going to be a darker tale (despite being told in a world without literal darkness), and this opening sequence sets that up beautifully.

I’m currently about five hours deep in the expansion, and while nothing has quite hit the level of this opening scene, the story has been really compelling so far. I can’t wait to see what’s in store for me.


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