Well, here we are. Before you know it, we’ve got a new expansion to Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers.
It seems only like yesterday that Stormblood released and we were storming Eorzea’s Eastern continent. And now, we stand victorious and looking up toward the northern border of the Garlean Empire, wondering what will come next.
It’s no secret that Square has been teasing a big shake-up to the established world of FFXIV. With our characters donning the title of “Warrior of Light” ever since 1.0, the upcoming Shadowbringers will look to shake things up and force our once-benevolent player characters to don the title of “Warrior of Darkness”.
Now, while we’re willing to put money on the fact that we’ll still be the good-doers of old, Square is already setting up the next expansion to be quite the memorable one.
While we currently know that Shadowbringer is set to bring only one new class – the Blue Mage – it appears that the expansion will be far more focused on shaking up the well-entrenched protagonists following their victories in Stormblood.
It’s not as if the current arc doesn’t have enough new narrative threads set up, but when has Square ever been one to let a Final Fantasy narrative progress any distance before adding every imaginable twist and turn?
The cinematic reveal somehow managed to both show a lot, and not enough when it came to just what the hell the expansion will be focused on. For whatever reason, we saw a downtrodden and exhausted Warrior of Light, stricken with memories of an ever-increasingly violent past and beset by enemies from all sides. The only thing that could save them?
Embracing the darkness.
We might be setting ourselves up for too much here, but if there’s one thing we’re truly hopeful for, is that Square pays the due diligence toward the darker elements of its storyline. So far, the only place we’ve seen the narrative espouse the ironic nature of being the “hero” again and again, is within the Dark Knight story missions. Past that, we’ve always been the right person in the right place doing the right thing.
While that ticks many boxes on the “adventurer fantasy” checklist, it doesn’t do much in the way of colouring the world in more than one colour.
Now, Shadowbringers could very well turn out to be another “hurr durr we’re good again” arc, but something tells us that the setup has already arrived. Stormblood closed out a lot of the arcs that it set up in its first act, but if there’s one thing it did more than its predecessor expansion Heavensward, it’s that it gave far more clues into the hidden nature of some well-established characters.
Genocidal murderers coming to terms with their actions, and national heroes turning against their own for unexplained motives, Stormblood questioned the nature of motivation far more than ever before.
With any of our hopes coming to bear, Shadowbringers might be exactly what FFXIV needs to continue growing the game and ensuring that new players arrive, excited to try what they see. MMOs are weird and tough to keep alive. It should come as no surprise that Square is looking for a way to revivify the narrative than now.
Whether or not Shadowbringers manages that remains to be seen, but the drip-feed of info so far has been more than promising