Expansions are the lifeblood of any long-running MMO. No matter how good a game may be, eventually all but the most die-hard loyalists are going to seek greener pastures if the game never offers anything new beyond the same old grind. But when the game in question suffered an ignominious launch that had some critics labeling it one of the worst games of all time, an expansion has a lot more to prove than just the MMO’s staying power.
That’s the position in which the upcoming Final Fantasy 14 expansion Heavensward finds itself. It’s been almost five years since FF 14 debuted, the first MMO in the franchise since 2002’s Final Fantasy 11.
Unfortunately, that debut was a fiasco, with a host of game-breaking glitches and a swath of negative reviews marking it as the lowest-rated game in the series. It was so bad that Square Enix apologized to Final Fantasy fans and eventually re-released an improved version as Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn in 2013.
After being pushed back from a spring release, Heavensward is finally due to arrive this June. Now Square Enix has given players an early glimpse of Heavensward‘s opening cinematic, which you can see up top.
The cinematic picks up where A Realm Reborn‘s core storyline left off before erupting into chaos and carnage thanks to the arrival of a fire-breathing dragon. Beyond just making for an epic cinematic, the presence of the airborne beast highlights one of Heavensward‘s major additions: flying mounts. The aerial implications of the expansion’s titles won’t stop there, either. Players will also be able to pilot airships and explore floating islands, most notably Final Fantasy 6‘s Floating Continent.
Heavensward will also introduce new storylines and three new jobs: the Dark Knight, the Astrologian, and the Machinist. The Dark Knight is a magic-based tank who wields one of the massive, two-handed swords that have become a franchise hallmark. The Astrologian is a healer that uses “celestial magicks” and a “divining deck” to support the party. The Machinist is a ranged DPS class that fights with guns and can use turrets to attack, buff, and debuff.
Heavensward has certainly been a long time coming. Most MMOs release a major expansion within the first year or two, but then again most MMOs don’t have to effectively reboot themselves to combat a terrible critical and popular reception. Final Fantasy 14 has made the leap to PlayStation 4 as well as PC, so there’s groundwork laid for the MMO to continue for many years to come…hopefully long enough to wipe out all those sour memories from launch.
But after all the drama surrounding the core game, Heavensward is likely to be under even more scrutiny than it otherwise would be. If it releases as a buggy mess or a general disappointment, Final Fantasy 14 would probably never live down the stink.
But if so, there’s always Final Fantasy 15 to look forward to.
Final Fantasy: Heavensward will release on June 23 for PC, PlayStation 3, and PlayStation 4. Customers who pre-order the game will get early access beginning on June 19.