MMORPGs are grindy; it’s just the nature of the genre. Expansions like Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward are meant to break up the monotony of that grind with areas and activities to keep you busy in new ways. New jobs, dungeons, and raids are exciting, but what always gets me going the most are the new areas. Despite how pretty everything in FFXIV: A Realm Reborn is, after investing hundreds of hours grinding, even those areas become trite.
One day, Heavensward’s areas and sense of adventure will also die; such is fate. But right now, everything is still beautiful and new. With the added element of flying mounts, exploring new areas has never been this fun. So let’s talk about Heavensward’s new areas and how they are introduced, while also looking at some pretty pictures.
Heavensward’s main quest will tour you through all of the new areas at one point or another. The areas are tremendously big, but luckily you’ll only have to traverse each area by land for a couple of hours. This is roughly the amount of time it takes to unlock flying access in a zone. You do this by collecting 15 Aether Currents which, once collected, give you permanent access to flying around for a particular zone. You collect these by completing quests offered within the zone alongside good old-fashioned looking around.
While it sounds like a chore, you only have to do it once, and it’s actually quite relaxing. Mostly because each of the new areas are gorgeous. And no, you won’t be exploring a bunch of snowy landscapes, either. Just because Heavensward takes place up north and there are dragons, this isn’t Final Fantasy XIV: Skyrim. The new areas keep things varied. You’ll traverse harsh snowy mountains in the Western Coerthas Highlands, the forests of Dravania, and islands high up the clouds via The Churning Mists and the Sea of Clouds. All of which feel very different than anything offered in FFXIV: A Realm Reborn.
Like a pop-up book, these zones open up and feel reborn once you can travel through the skies. The view from up high is gorgeous and it adds a whole new element to exploration. If you ever wanted to explore but just didn’t have the time, flying around gives you the ability to go sightseeing without cutting into your grinding time.
A well-done expansion should create a sense of wonder, adventure, and excitement with its new zones. I’m happy to report that Heavensward succeeds in this regard. But why tell you about it when a picture says a thousand words, right? There are too many amazing photos to choose just one or two for this article; so check out the gallery below to see some shots of the adventure so far. Oh, and because this is a review in progress, I haven’t reached every single new zone yet. The final part of this review log (which will include the score) will have screenshots of the end game zones.
Now, let’s revisit some unanswered questions from last time…