In a demo session, I had the opportunity to play a small slice of Final Fantasy XIV’s Endwalker expansion, which arrives on November 23. Obviously, demo sessions for MMORPGs and a variety of other genres are complicated beasts, but I did have plenty of time to get some nice hands-on with the new jobs and explore a dungeon, The Tower of Zot. As anyone who has played Shadowbringers probably already expects, Endwalker is shaping up to be as awesome as its predecessors in the expansion realm.
The bulk of my time was spent playing a new melee DPS class, the Reaper. This class ebbs Bloodborne aesthetic, so that pretty much sealed the deal for me. However, the Reaper doesn’t just look cool – based on the demo session, it should be a fairly challenging and dynamic damage class for those looking to stay on their toes during all phases and styles of combat. With a ton of various contextual abilities to draw from and several different resource meters, the Reaper presents savvy damage-dealers with tons of possibilities to handle any situation. While most players are familiar with the concept of filling up a resource reservoir to unleash powerful skills, the Reaper must juggle several.
Granted, it’s absolutely possible to play Reaper without mastering the timing of the multitude of skills and enjoy it too, but hey, if you want to min/max your potential, some training is needed. That said, I was far more comfortable after a few hours of play than I was staring at stacked skillbars when I picked up the character, so I do think it’s going to be doable (and fun!) for the vast majority of players. Turning into the actual Reaper after charging up and unleashing massive damage feels great. As is the case with all melee combatants, you need a way to get out of the action just as fast as you get in. Luckily, the Reaper has a cool little teleport portal you can set up, allowing you to get in or out of the thick of things as the encounter dictates. In summary, I am playing a Reaper in Endwalker, and it’s not close.
I didn’t spend much time on the Sage because, well, I don’t play healer, ever, but I’ll say this – the visual identity of the two new classes here is top-notch. Who is going to want to be a white mage after you have electro doctor Sage available? That’s a good question. Sage exudes coolness with its kit, and honestly, I almost thought about playing a healer. Okay, not really.
While I got to roam around a few levels, quests weren’t really available in the zones, and the Fates (public quests) that I completed were fairly standard – I won’t spoil the surprises there, either. However, we did get to spend some quality time in the Tower of Zot, one of Endwalker’s new dungeons. I played the dungeon both with other players and with a Trust (NPCs that are available to do group dungeon content that debuted in Shadowbringers). Immediately upon entry, you get hit with that legendary track from Final Fantasy IV. As someone that places Final Fantasy IV very high, if not the top, of the FF pyramid, that’s really all I needed.
The amount of “trash” (regular enemies) in the dungeon seemed about right, and the boss fights also felt solid for entry-tier expansion content. Yes, we had to dodge a lot of things on the ground. Yes, we had some contextual movement situations. And yes, the Magus Sisters are the bosses inside the Tower, culminating in an epic battle where you fight all three at the same time, and they unleash the Delta Attack. That particular encounter can be fairly stressful until you get the first Sister down, as the Delta Attack requires dodging many attacks in succession. It’s not a trial or raid or anything, but it definitely perked my interest levels in what lays beyond.
Obviously, a couple of hours with an MMORPG is a drop in the bucket. But everything I saw in Endwalker speaks to the greater game and its continued path of progression, where they’ve upped the quality of the title with each expansion. With Endwalker representing the grand finale of the current story arc, I expect a lot. And everything I’ve seen so far thinks that we’ll get it. See you in November!