2019 in review: FINAL FANTASY XIV Online

A year of endings and new beginnings, as Shadowbringers ushered the game into a bright new era
By Duncan Heaney
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2019 has been a good year for FINAL FANTASY XIV Online. Not only have long-time fans been rewarded with perhaps the richest, most immersive expansion yet in Shadowbringers, the tweaks and new features added to the game have made it the perfect jumping on point for new players.

Exciting jobs like Gunbreaker and Dancer gave us whole new ways to play, the Trust System provided an all new way to play, and we explored some of the most beautiful looking (and sounding) locations yet.

Oh - and I NieR-ly forgot - how could I Noctis mention some of the special guests that we’ve had this year?

So let’s take a look back some of the highlights from the last 12 months of FINAL FANTASY XIV Online and see just how far it’s come…

The beginning of the end for Stormblood

2019 was a year of endings as well as new beginnings, as FINAL FANTASY XIV: Stormblood reached it’s thrilling conclusion.

The first half of this epic wrap-up arrived in January in Patch 4.5. New main scenario quests started to wrap the main conflict with the Garlean Empire, and lay the seeds for the adventures to come in Shadowbringers.

Of course, there was much more to Patch 4.5 than that. It added a ton of new content, including (deep breath)… a new Trial that concluded the Four Lords’ quest line, new activities for crafter / gatherers, a (really good) new dungeon - the Ghimlyt Dark - updates to the gold saucer, new minions, additional emotes, some very snazzy new haircuts… the list goes on.

It also featured the end of the Return to Ivalice raid series, developed with collaboration with Yasumi Matsuno (FINAL FANTASY XII / FINAL FANTASY Tactics) and Keita Amemiya, creator of the GARO television and film series.

The Blue Mage job casts its spell

Also in January, shortly after the release of Patch 4.5, a job unlike any other was released for Stormblood: the blue mage.

This new limited job is designed for solo players, and works quite differently to other jobs in the game. The blue mage is able to mimic monster abilities, and he or she learns these actions by fighting the beasts.

The blue mage has been expanded as the year went on - just this month, it received new quests, a level cap increase and more spells to learn! All said, it’s a really fun - and fascinating - job to play around with. Give it a go if you haven’t already.

Stormblood reaches its dramatic conclusion

With March came Patch 4.56 - and the long-awaited finale to Stormblood.

We’re going to dance around spoilers, but suffice to say the climax to the tale provided a satisfactory resolution to the immediate conflict, and provided a tantalizing hint at the adventures to come in Shadowbringers.

The new scenario quests were just the tip of the iceberg though. The update added even more things to see and do around Hydaelyn including a spectacularly satisfying 8-player trial against Yojimbo, more Inspector Hildibrand adventures, new beast tribe quests and so much more.

FINAL FANTASY XIV x FINAL FANTASY XV

In April, a very familiar face found himself stranded in the world of FINAL FANTASY XIV Online… and he brought his car with him.

Noctis Lucis Caelum from FINAL FANTASY XV featured in a limited time event called ‘A Nocturne for Heroes’.

The collaboration between FINAL FANTASY XIV Online and FINAL FANTASY XV ran during April and May, and let fans team up with Noctis to take on the worst that his world has to offer - think magitek infantry, magitek armor and even his world version of Garuda.

In addition, the event added lots of FINAL FANTASY XV-themed goodies for fans to collect, including Noctis’ car, The Regalia (the first four-player mount in the game), his haircut, a new Noctis triple triad card and even some new orchestrion rolls featuring music from the game.

For a few weird and wonderful weeks, Hydaelyn was abundant with fleets of Regalias, all driven by perfectly coiffured Warriors of Light. It really was something to behold.

FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers launches!

Here we are - the big one. On 2 July (or slightly earlier for those who preordered), FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers arrived, ushering in a new era for the game.

The new expansion took players to the First and the realm of Norvrandt - a world of sights and sounds unlike any in the game so far. The surprisingly emotional storyline tasks you with becoming the Warrior of Darkness to save the world from a potential apocalypse.

The team really went all out with this expansion, bringing in an enormous amount of new content: new jobs, new quests, new dungeons, new systems, new gameplay features and more.

There was far too much added to summarize adequately here, but some of the highlights included:

  • The Gunbreaker job - A new tank role who wields a gunblade, the iconic weapon that debuted in FINAL FANTASY VIII.

  • The Dancer job - A ranged fighter who uses their slick moves to damage enemies and buff their allies

  • Two new races - The rabbit-eared Viera and the big burly Hrothgar arrived, allowing players to make new, highly customizable characters

  • New areas - Shadowbringers added some of the most beautiful locations in FINAL FANTASY XIV Online yet. From the sprawling Rak’tika Greatwood to the colorful vale of Il Mheg, every area stands out as being unique and memorable.

  • New Trust system - This brand-new feature lets players challenge dungeons with a party of non-player characters instead of other people.

  • The level cap went up - The level cap increased to 80, and a host of new actions for classes and jobs became available too

In short, it was an absolutely packed expansion. But the story of Shadowbringers was just beginning…

It’s a hit!

Shadowbringers was received positively by fans and critics alike. At the time of writing, it’s the second-highest rated PC game of 2019 on Metacritic - and one of the site’s top 50-rated games of the decade.

It goes without saying, but everybody at Square Enix who works on FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers is incredibly grateful for the response from fans and players. Here’s to making the game even better in 2020!

A savage trip to Eden’s Gate… and the Moonfire Faire

At the end of July, Patch 5.05 added even more to Shadowbringers.

The new savage difficulty version of the Eden’s Gate raid offered a tremendously fun, if intense, challenge, and the treasure hunt dungeon - ‘The Dungeons of Lyhe Ghiah’ - let up to eight players team up in search of rare loot.

The update also added new crafting recipes, mounts and minions and some balance adjustments to various jobs.

Then, in early August, the 2019 Moonfire Faire got underway. This limited time summer spectacular gave players some really fun new quests to complete, as well as new clothes and items to buy or win.

The Continental Circus returns… and things got spooky

October is traditionally the spooky season for _FINAL FANTASY XIV Onlin_e, and 2019 was no different.

The Continental Circus set up in the woods of Gridania, inviting curious adventurers to check out a somewhat… unusual Ahriman. As expected, there were plenty of in-game items to earn too, including a really cool mount.

What will next year hold we wonder…?

A new chapter and a NieR Apocalypse

At the end of October came the biggest update to Shadowbringers so far

Patch 5.1 - titled Vows of Virtue, Deeds of Cruelty, delivered a massive amount of new content, including new main scenario quests that started the next chapter in the Shadowbringers storyline.

In addition, this update included the first part of the highly-anticipated YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse raid series - developed by guest creators YOKO TARO and Yosuke Saito (the NieR series).

Titled ‘The Copied Factory’, up to 24 players battle against machine lifeforms in a brand new dungeon inspired by the world of NieR.

But even that’s only scratching the surface of what came in Patch 5.1. It also added (deep breath…) a New Game+ mode, that lets you replay previously completed quests and cutscenes, a new extreme trial, a brand new dungeon, new beast tribe quests, a new minigame for the gold saucer, balance adjustments, and loads more.

Phew! Told you it was a big one.

Crafters and Gatherers combine forces to restore glory to Ishgard

And that all brings up to the most recent significant update. Patch 5.11 released in November, and added yet more content into Shadowbringers.

Perhaps the most significant part of the update was Ishgard Restoration - a new range of tasks for Crafters and Gatherers. By working together, players are able to contribute to the rebuilding of the Holy See of Ishgard - and earn cool rewards in the process.

The patch also added a new Ultimate Difficulty raid - The Epic of Alexander. And trust me when I say, it lives up to its name - this will challenge even the most experienced players.

How to play FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers

Perhaps you’ve been reading this thinking: “Hmm… this FINAL FANTASY XIV: Shadowbringers thing sounds pretty good. I should try that.”

Well, the FINAL FANTASY XIV Online Complete Edition gives you everything - including the most recent Shadowbringers expansion. This is the best way to get the full FINAL FANTASY XIV Online experience.

If you’re already a registered player, the Shadowbringers expansion is out now:

For true fans, the Shadowbringers Collector’s Edition features cool extras, including an exclusive Grani mount, wind-up Fran minion, and an awesome weapon for gunbreakers - Squall’s iconic gunblade Revolver!


So that was 2019 - one of the biggest years so far for FINAL FANTASY XIV. Here’s to more adventures in 2020!

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