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- FINAL FANTASY XIV: Heavensward
This year's E3 has a lot of cool games, but my deep interest in Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward made it a game that I wanted to get hands-on with more than any other at the show. So, the first thing I did when I stepped on the show floor was venture to Square Enix's booth, watch others play the expansion, and then play it for myself.
I spent 20 minutes playing FFXIV: Heavensward at this year's E3. Here's what I learned.
1. The new level 50 to 60 zones are amazing. I always felt that FFXIV: A Realm Reborn's small areas segmented by loading times got in the way of immersion. The zone I explored was Abalathia Sea of Cloud, a beautiful area rich with complex geometry including floating islands. It can't be overstated that the large areas offer a lot more exploration than anything in A Realm Reborn, due in-part to their verticality.
2. Dark Knight is one of my new favorite jobs. This job has an expansive toolkit that provides a ton of ways to acquire enmity and punish foes, including a ground-placed AoE called Salted Earth, and three finishers each with their own attributes. Each of its abilities are remarkably flashy and powerful, making its offense feel like an exciting DPS despite serving a tank role first and foremost. Managing MP usage is a critical component of playing the job, as its powerful Darkside ability drains mana while providing a noticeable boost to damage. It wouldn't surprise me if it becomes the most played job in the game.
3. Machinist has outstanding utility. Peering over and trying out each of its skills I found a ton of ways to counter enemies. This job has the ability to silence, stun, slow, AoE, and more. The turrets are very powerful, allowing you to place them where you want, and even enhance them in combat with cooldowns-based abilities I didn't get a good feel for how Ammunition works, and didn't see any indicator within the UI for how many I had. However, attachments are fantastic. Equipping the Gauss Barrel gives attacks a cast time, but provides a welcomed boost to damage output. It feels almost like you've swapped out your rifle for a cannon. Unlike the Dark Knight many of its abilities aren't very visually impressive, although a couple of its AoE skills are awesome.
4. Astrologian isn't for me. This job has very pretty spells, but I didn't care for its reliance on DoT for offense. The card system is powerful, but makes the job particularly reliant on RNG. It's a very complex job to play given its more varied and calculated style of play, making it a great go-to for healers looking for something new or a high risk but high reward job that will likely be unpopular statistically speaking.
5. Flying mounts handle well. Taking to the air is as easy as pressing jump while on a flight-capable mount. Using the mount while in the air makes you quickly descend. There were three flying mounts available in the E3 build, and all of them had amazing animations, both on the ground and in the air. It's worth mentioning that you can use flying mounts on the ground in the fashion you're used to in A Realm Reborn.
6. Dragoon's new skills are game-changing. Geirskogul is on a 10 second cooldown, allowing you to provide massive AoE burst as long as you have Blood of the Dragon popped. Blood of the Dragon is a 60 second cooldown, with a default duration of 30 seconds, and its effects can be kept up for a great length of time if you remain in combat and employ the new tier four combos. Both of the new finishers are great-looking, including the one that comes after Full Thrust, Fang and Claw.
7. Paladin's new skills are going to make it much more fun to play. Royal Authority and Gore Blade are gorgeous, and provide great offensive options. Sheltron is just as cool as shown in the benchmark, blocking the next physical attack. Clemency costs a lot of mana, but allows you to heal yourself or teammates mid-combat. You'll find yourself wanting to acquire MP using Riot Blade and a couple other options in order to be able to weave heals into you rotation.
8. The new armor and weapons are dazzling. The E3 build allowed me to switch to any job at level 60 equipped with a full set of rare armor. All the armors and weapons I saw were downright fantastic.
I loved what I saw and played. Those who I spoke to on the show floor were similarly ecstatic. I have every reason to believe this expansion is going to be a hit.