Eorzean Evening Post: Heavensward Review Part 2

Last week, I discussed the Final Fantasy XIV Heavensward expansion from a leveling point of view. This week, I’ll finish off my review by talking about what happens after you reach level 60.


Collecting Those Tomes

The moment you hit level cap in Heavensward, something magical happens. Some of the daily roulette dungeons and trials begin to offer you the newest end game currency in the form of Allagan Tomestones of Law and Esoterics. If you played through 2.0, you know exactly what to do with these: store them up, then use them to buy your end game weapons and armor.

You can purchase the new ilvl 170 set of gear with Tomes of Law, which you can further upgrade to ilvl 180 (more info on this later). I found this set fairly accessible to earn as Law Tomes are easily won through daily dungeon runs. Not to mention the cost of Law armor and weapons is low, even compared to 2.0 Tome sets. The main idea behind this armor, I felt, is to springboard you into content such as the Alexander normal raid.

The Esoteric set, which was new as of the 3.05 patch, is a bit more demanding of your time. You can still earn these from daily dungeon runs, but these Tomes are harder to come by, the sets costs more for each piece, and the number of Tomes you can earn in a week are currently capped. However, the armor you purchase is high-end stuff at ilvl 200, and is actually the much-coveted Artifact 2 armor set that bears the iconic appearance of traditional Final Fantasy classes.


Expert Dungeons and Trials

Level 60 also unlocks two new expert-level dungeons known as Neverreap and The Fractal Continuum. Both of these have a small storyline attached to them, and one provides a cool little minion as a reward. For clarification: the following is a boss and not a minion.

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These dungeons are slightly more mechanically-challenging than the dungeons you face while leveling. But, they are quite do-able for most players, and offer an alternative way to gear up through ilvl 160 drops. This is a nice upgrade for when you’re still earning those Law Tomes. Speaking of which, these dungeons are an excellent way to earn both Law and Esoterics, especially once you unlock the daily Expert Roulette. The best thing about this roulette is that you don’t have to go solo, so drag your free company friends in and earn those Tomes and drops!

And, of course, you can always unlock and challenge yourself with the Extreme version of the new trials: The Limitless Blue and Thok Ast Thok. These trials offer Tomes, possible weapon drops and totems that you can exchange for ilvl 175 and ilvl 190 weapons.


Hunts, Hunts, Hunts

Daily and weekly hunts were also introduced back in the 2.0 content, and have carried over to Heavensward end game. You can unlock the daily clan hunts as early as level 53, and start saving up the hunt currency, Centurio Seals. You use these seals to purchase items that upgrade ilvl 170 Law armor to ilvl 180 armor, so it’s worth it. Not to mention, it gives a good chunk of experience while you’re leveling to 60, and for any alt classes you want to level later.

I can’t mention hunts without talking about the A and S rank hunts that appear throughout the world. These are larger hunt targets that normally require a party to take down. The only problem is, “normally” does not include a time-frame of just a few weeks after Heavensward has launched. These hunts get swamped. It’s pretty common that the hunt mark is dead quicker than you can arrive to fight it, unless you take part in a hunt party or a linkshell dedicated to finding hunts.

Of course, since larger marks drop more seals and Tomes, you can bet that it sometimes gets ugly with all the competition for the marks. We saw a resurgence of hunt hostility for the first few weeks, similar to what we saw when hunts were originally launched. This has been eased up a bit with the newest patch allowing you to purchase the hunt items with Tomes of Law instead of just seals alone. So, hopefully folks will calm down a bit as all the new-ness wears off.


Enter Alexander

FFXIV did a few interesting things with their newest raid, Alexander.  First, they delayed the launch of normal Alexander until two weeks after the official launch of Heavensward. The Savage version of Alexander didn’t patch in until a full month after the release.

The thought behind that was to encourage players to take their time through the content, rather than rushing to reach end game to raid. I’m not sure how well this worked – you always have rushers no matter what – but it was a neat way to handle a raid.

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As I mentioned above, Alexander released in two difficulties: a normal mode and a savage mode. This was also new to FFXIV in that the normal mode was meant for the overall average player, providing them with a window to the storyline surrounding Alexander. The savage mode was introduced for those hardcore players who enjoy pushing their limits and tackling even more of a challenge.

As a fairly mid-core player myself, I really appreciate the options provided with this raid. I’m not generally a gung-ho raider, but the Crystal Tower raids of 2.0 eased me into the more casual-friendly upper level content. I never tackled Coil (gasp, horror!), but I’m very interested in experiencing the story behind the Coil raid (one day). So, I really like the fact there’s a level of Alexander that may challenge me, but still provide me with do-able gameplay.


Crafting and Gathering

High level crafters and gatherers also get a new system from Heavensward, known as Scrips. Blue Scrips are the equivalent of Law Tomes, while the new Red Scrips are the equivalent of Esoteric Tomes. Starting at level 56, you can use them to purchase items like armor, potions, and fishing lures.

In order to earn these Scrips, crafters and gatherers must use the new collectables system. Collectability is a kind of mini-game added to items you gather or craft. You place a buff on yourself that turns the item you are crafting or gathering into a collectable, then use your collection skills to attempt to raise the rarity of that item while balancing it with item wear. Basically, make it as rare as you can without “breaking” it. It’s a neat little twist, especially for gatherers, who have traditionally had it pretty straight forward.

While I’ve yet to experience the upper level crafting scene, I’ve heard feedback that Red Scrips in particular are more difficult and time-consuming to earn than players feel are worth it. I’ve also heard that tweaks will be coming for the system based on this feedback, so crafters take heart!


Going Round Again

If hitting 60 once isn’t good enough for you, you can also always level another job to 60 when you’re done! While you may have burned through many quests with your first job, there’s a number of ways you can climb that experience ladder the second time.

The armoury bonus is back, giving you a 50% boost while leveling a second job from 50 to 60. Daily hunts provide a chunk of experience while earning seals, and there’s lots of dungeons waiting for you to grind with drops and experience to help you along. Don’t forget that you can use leves (unless you save them for crafters), and that FATES have seen a big boost in experience in patch 3.05. The FATE parties are going strong right now, which makes me a happy camper.


Summing It Up

My experiences with Heavensward have been largely positive. I feel like there’s a lot of content that spans different interests and play styles, which is a huge plus in my book. If you’re there for the story, you’ve got a good one to follow. If you’re there for challenging raids and trials, FFXIV has something to offer. The newest patch even added a new PvP map! End game provides many different options for gearing up and puts much content within reach of even more causal players.

Heavensward is not perfect and has a few rocky parts to it – namely the sharp level curve coupled with the somewhat uninspired fluff quest influx about mid-way. However, it’s a solid and very fun expansion that I highly recommend, especially to anyone who played and enjoyed the story from 2.0.

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Keep in mind that this expansion is not the end. FFXIV is known for massive patches that continue to add not just story but also raids, casual content, dungeons and other quality of life changes. Live Letters are already talking about an upcoming 24-man raid, in the style of Crystal Tower, and many other exciting things the team has in development.

The last scene of the Heavensward story has already alluded that our tale isn’t complete. In fact, if it follows in the footsteps of 2.0 updates, Heavensward may actually just be yet another beginning for the Warrior of Light.

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