This might have been the smoothest expansion launch I've seem in any game. The only issue I had was on Friday where the launcher would throw an error when I tried to update the game. I tried everything I could think of and solutions I found online but none worked. Then the next day it just worked flawlessly somehow and there have been no issues since then. *knocks on wood*
Since then I have been playing the game any time I could and have been slowly making progress in the main storyline. I am currently at level 74 and just finished the second dungeon of the expansion.
In this post I will try my best to give my thoughts on the story so far, without spoilers, and some of the mechanical changes and additions to the game.
When they said we were going to become the "Warrior of Darkness" in this expansion I was almost expecting for us to become some kind of edge lord. Fortunately that isn't the case so far and there are some good reasons for us to assume this role as well more nuances that come with it.
For those who don't know what I am talking about the basic premise of this expansion is this: we are going to the First, a sort-of-but-not-quite parallel universe to the one we've been playing in all this time. The First had its own Warriors of Light that were so good in their quest that they were able to eliminate the big baddie threatening their world. Unfortunately this also triggered a catastrophic event that nearly destroyed this universe, and cast the surviving population into a cycle of eternal clear daylight and having to struggle with the appearance of a new type of monster, the Sin Eaters.
Given this history it is understandable that the people of the First are a wary of heroes and might not take a liking to anyone claiming the title of Warrior of Light.
Our job is basically to fix all of this. A task easier said than done. Fortunately we'll have some pretty good company along the way to help with it. 🙂
One thing I've felt to be different in the story so far is that this time it actually feels like we are the heroes of the story. A Realm Reborn tried to do the same thing but with everything they had to introduce at the same time it always felt to me more like we were treated as an errand boy. And both in Heavensward and Stormblood it felt more like we were co-protagonists to other people's journeys while trying to help their nations.
In Shadowbringers though it does feel like there are actual good reasons we are the only ones who can change things as well as being shown the impact of our actions. It also feels like the NPCs are giving the proper support and trying to help out on the parts they can do.
At this point I don't know who the big baddie of this expansion is, so I can't say anything about that. But I already made enemy of someone powerful that I am looking forward to dealing with and there is also someone else plotting in the background. As for the Sin Eaters, Square-Enix did a good job of making them feel monstrous. Not so much in their looks as much as in their lore.
In short, this might be the best storyline that Square-Enix produced for this game so far and I am really looking to see how it progresses. 🙂
Originally my intention was to write about the changes to Machinists and an overview of Dancers and Gunbreakers. But I don't think spending an hour with those new Jobs and doing a dungeon with each is enough to give them justice. So, all I can say is they are pretty fun. If you want to know more I will point to Larryzaur's preview videos. You can find the one for Gunbreaker here and the one for Dancer in here. Be warned that it also shows the level 80 AF gear for those jobs so if that is a spoiler for you then you might just want to avoid those videos and experiment the Jobs by yourself. 🙂
With that out of the way let me talk about Machinists. They were completely reworked for this expansion. No more fiddling with reloads or trying to keep the heat gauge at a certain number for maximum DPS. Now all the skills we had are already heated and we have two consumable resources: the heat gauge (which is now a bar) and the battery gauge.
Both increase as we use our regular skills. The heat gauge can be used with a new skill called "Hypercharge". What it does is increase the our DPS by a few seconds and allow us to use two skills: heat blast and the new one, auto-crossbow. Heat Blast changed to do some damage and decrease the recast timer of gauss rifle and ricochet. Auto-crossbow is a frontal cone AOE that is pretty fun to use.
The battery gauge is used to summon our Turret. We only have the single target turret now and it can only be summoned when our battery gauge is at least 50. It won't stay indefinitely anymore and instead stay for about 5 seconds. But it can stay up to 15 seconds if you summon it when your battery gauge is full.
The turret will just be summoned by our side and it can't be targeted anymore. Also overdrive gives it one last big shot and then immediately destroys it.
Wild Fire also changed so that now we can choose to detonate it earlier, which can be pretty useful if our target is already close to death so we can finish the fight earlier.
There are a few more things but I think these should give a good idea of the major changes to the Job. If you want to know more, including some numbers, Larryzaur also did a preview video on them. If you want to see a preview of the changes for the other Jobs, here is the playlist of all Larryzaur's videos about them.
I am pretty happy with Machinists now as they feel like they can bring out some decent DPS and have so many fun new skills. If you were ever frustrated trying to play Machinist before or are just curious to give it a try, I highly recommend to take them for a spin yourself. 🙂
Trust System and Role Quests
The Trust System is one of the new systems I was most looking forward on this expansion. Basically it is an option where we can bring some story NPCs to do the dungeons with us, instead of other human players.
I was a bit apprehensive that their AI would be just as brain dead as the ones from the Grand Company squads but after playing with them in two dungeons I can say they are so much better than that. In fact it didn't feel too different from playing with other human beings. They are not perfect and will do some mistakes. But they will still play efficiently enough that unless you are failing the boss mechanics you should be able to finish the whole dungeon without wipes.
One difference is that if you die during a fight nobody will resurrect you and you will have to go back to the start of the dungeon, just like if a human group wiped. If an NPC dies though then the others will resurrect them. I assume we might be able to do it too but since I have been playing Machinist I can't confirm that.
Now for the cons of this system is that you receive less loot or no loot at all from some bosses than with a regular group. This seems fair to me and so far I got at least one piece of loot from every boss fight.
As for group composition it still requires that the usual roles be filled: tank, two DPSers and a healer. In the two dungeons I did there were a couple choices for one of the roles. I assume that once we finish the story there will be more role options for the dungeons.
Right now the Trust System is only available for the Shadowbringers dungeons but they said that later on they will implement it for pre-Shadowbringers content.
Now for the Role Quests. They are replacing the usual Job quests for Shadowbringers. At first I was a bit sad about it but it is an understandable change. Every expansion they add new a job and if they have to make new stories for all the jobs for that expansion the work would soon become too much, if that hasn't happened already.
Their solution was instead to make a questline based on each party role. There is a questline for tanks, one for Physical DPS, one for Magical DPS and one for healers. We need to complete at least one of them as part of the MSQ. But you can do all of them if you want to.
Since I am playing a Machinist I am doing the Physical DPS questline. The writing has been pretty notch for it and it ties pretty well with the story and lore of the expansion. However I admit I have no idea how it has anything more to do with physical DPS than say... any of the other Role Quests. XD
Maybe this will change later. Or maybe the others make it feel like it has to be that specific role to deal with the conflict in the story. I have no idea and honestly I don't really mind because like I said, the writing is top notch and the story has been entertaining. That is all I ask for. 🙂
There is a lot more I could talk about this expansion but I think this is enough to give a good idea of what it brings. Even without having gotten to the end of the storyline I already feel this is the best expansion that Square-Enix made so far. There is so many good additions and changes. Even the story already captured my heart from the start and I am looking forward to see how it ends. 🙂
If you also got Shadowbringers I hope you are having fun with it. If not, I hope the changes that they made to the Jobs and other systems have been to your liking. Have fun all! 🙂