I’ve not been paying much attention to the approach of the Stormblood expansion for Final Fantasy 14 since we unsubbed for nearly two years now as the weight of content that blocked progression at level 50 to Heavensward brought our progress in the game to a shuddering halt. That was after we’d (foolishly) bought the expansion in the heady excitement of the pre-expansion build-up.
So I read with mixed feelings over at Aywren’s blog that a catchup mechanism of some kind is going to be on offer in Stormblood, that is a means to not only jump up to level 60 (the start of the next expansion) but to also skip the main scenario quests either for A Realm Reborn (up to patch 2.55) or Heavensward (up to patch 3.56). There’s a catch though, both options are a cash shop item costing real money (£13.32 and £18.50 respectively).
If I weren’t on a stricter budget now I’d possibly be tempted to unlock Heavensward to finally get to see that expansion – though with the bitter knowledge that buying Stormblood would give us access to Heavensward anyway, so the money spent nearly two years ago on the first expansion was a waste. Paying to skip that expansion entirely doesn’t tempt me even if that means being behind the bulk of the playerbase as per usual.
These options to skip forced content barriers are on top of the mandatory subscription for the game – our characters are already level 50 so, unlike Bhagpuss or any newer players under level 35, we can’t return to our characters without forking out £8+ a month on top of any catchup items. I suppose it’s not that much to pay, and I’m not against subscribing if I’m really enjoying a game. There are other factors to weighh such costs against though; for instance I can play WoW more or less for free via the WoW Token system, that is if the price doesn’t keep rocketing skywards. Likewise I can play LOTRO via my lifetime subscription as much as I desire, and equally Elder Scrolls Online is buy-to-play so no mandatory costs there either.
Despite all this I do like the stellar design and artwork of FFXIV, and have continued to follow the game in blogs and news sites casually. So I will be interested to see reactions to the class & combat changes that Stormblood is bringing once the expansion launches, there’s room for improvement based on when I last played. As to whether we ever return to the game, and whether we’d pay to unblock our characters progress, that I can’t say for now.