Final Fantasy XIV‘s release in 2010 was a failure. Before its relaunch with A Realm Reborn in 2013, Eorzea was a fantasy world full of bugs, server errors, and Chocobo that players couldn’t ride. Today, it’s the central setting to a burgeoning MMO with a playerbase of 16 million. This is all thanks to a heavy emphasis on post-launch support from Square Enix. Spearheaded by game director Naoki Yoshida (nicknamed Yoshi-P), the content maintained a calculated balance of quality and quantity. Yoshi-P elevated from the ashes Square Enix’s reputation while also curating the MMO into one of most profitable games in the company’s history.
A major part of Final Fantasy XIV‘s success is due to a continued partnership with Sony’s PlayStation ecosystem. The series’ previous MMO Final Fantasy XI was a hit on the PlayStation 2 when it released in 2002, and maintained such a dedicated playerbase that it didn’t have its servers pulled until 2016 (well after the console ceased active production). The most unique innovation that ended up helping XIV many years later in this regard was offering cross-play between those on consoles and those on PC. By combining player-pools, it was ensured that the game would have legs on both respective platforms.
Final Fantasy XIV serves as a “Greatest Hits” compilation of everything that makes the series great. Including a vast amount of playable jobs from throughout the history of Final Fantasy for the player to adopt. Whether you choose to be a Dragoon, Red Mage, or a Gunbreaker; there’s one specifically for any fan wishing to individually explore what each of these classes have been. The main scenario of Final Fantasy XIV has also been one of its strongest pillars in how it takes from different entries.
Executing a narrative that represents a world whose burgeoning technology is clashing with the facets of mystical wizardry. The overall storyline is enhanced by the rich subtext of the series, ranging from statements on everything from nuclear warfare to immigration. The various events in-game have also been themed around entries such as Final Fantasy XV and Final Fantasy XI and provide loads of fanservice in the forms of equipment, mounts, and minions. Scenarios have included special raids themed around Final Fantasy Tactics which were written by Yasami Matsuno. While overall, the expansions differentiated themselves among this long-spanning storyline with the complex medieval epic Heavensward and the Kurosawa-inspired Stormblood.
Which brings us to the release of Final Fantasy XIV‘s latest expansion Shadowbringers, an add-on that raises the game’s level cap from 70 to 80 on top of adding new classes, races, and brings the story mode to new heights. After delving into the content during the early-access period and its release, it’s evident that this is another home-run for Yoshi-P and his team. While his involvement is now being diverted towards other projects at Square Enix, he’s curated the development team and writing talent in a way that will ensure that XIV will live on stronger than it has before. Shadowbringers is yet another concrete stone that builds out one of the most epic Final Fantasy games and MMORPGs in the medium’s existence.