Exploring the open world of Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward is great and all, but just as in real life, there comes a time where you’ve got to put on your work hat, and get to the grind. The main story will eventually come to an end and all players will be left with is its new battle content and endgame, the meat and potatoes of any MMORPG. Heavensward does a lot of things right, but this is where it stumbles.
Although it’s going to feel contradictory to what I just wrote, the new battle content in Heavensward is actually well done and exciting. The problem is that Heavensward’s endgame is shaping up to be exactly the same as A Realm Reborn’s (2.X). Let me explain.
In FFXIV: A Realm Reborn’s post story mode content, you had a couple of main ways to occupy your time and advance your character further. You could grind tomestones through dungeons and content roulettes to purchase new gear. There are a number of different primal trials, which were quite challenging and usually offered decent gear at the time it was released. You could go on hunts, which tasked you with traveling around the world, looking for specific enemies and rare spawns which rewarded you with seals to buy gear and upgrade materials. And finally, there were two raids, one designed for midcore players (Crystal Tower) and another, The Binding Coil of Bahamut, meant for hardcore players which dropped the best equipment in the game.
This setup is virtually unchanged in Heavensward. Once you hit level 60 and complete the story, you’ll be grinding tomestones and chasing down hunts in preparation for the new Alexander raid or EX (extreme) primals.
The new dungeons follow the exact same format as before. Run in a straight line, kill enemies, come across three bosses, kill them, and then open some chests with equipment in them. That gear gets you ready for the harder stuff. While the new raid and EX primals are fresh challenges that feel different than the ones that preceded them, the overall routine and progression system is still the same.
The worst aspect of Heavensward’s endgame are the A and S rank hunts, which are just as chaotic and laggy as always. Huge amounts of players, probably bordering around a hundred, all rush to annihilate a single enemy in seconds that doesn’t even have an opportunity to put up a fight. If you couldn’t get there quick enough you’re out of luck and are missing out on the critically important Centurion Seals that are needed to upgrade high level equipment. These hunts do not test your skill in any way and aren’t fun. It’s just a mad rush to get to an area as fast as you can so you can get a couple laggy potshots in and receive credit.
Thankfully there are lesser hunts reminiscent of the original game’s hunting log that provide you with slow but steady amounts of Centurion Seals. As long as you don’t mind being a little more patient with the rate at which you get the seals, this method is a lot less frustrating.
It definitely isn’t all bad though. It all comes down to perspective.