So I have taken time to organize my thought on how I feel about Shadowbringers, as a continuation of the FFXIV story and the changes it brought to the game both the good and the bad. I've taken this long to actually get my thoughts in order as I wanted to give the expansion time to sit on my mind and also to re-watch some of the cutscenes from the MSQ.
So to start off I'm going to go over the changes to my main DRK and the way that they have changed combat in general. Overall I love where DRK at the moment it feels much better to play than it did during Stormblood, I sadly had not fully picked up tanking during Heavensward to give an opinion on how it compares to that rendition of the class. The changing of how Darkside works making it a buff that is maintained with skills is more interesting than just turning it on and off when needed, in addition the resource management introduced for DRK and MP adds a layer of learning how to pace out the use of The Blackest Knight in conjunction with both Edge and Flood of Shadow. The changes to tank stances making them simple turn on and build enmity as well as the removal of the damage debuff is another welcome fix to the tank role I feel as the concept of stance dancing to maintain aggro and dps was a frustration of mine during the entirety of Stormblood. The changes to Plunge giving it charges is also great for when fights require me to be much more mobile than just parking in front of the boss till the fight is over and makes it so I no longer feel as slow as I did during some of the more mobile fights of Stormblood. The level 80 ability Living Shadow is an interested thematic inclusion that ties into the concept of the shadow lurking in the DRK soul crystal as well as adding some more damage to the DRK's kit I personally love the skill and look forward to see how some of the other jobs may have similar skills. I, to my shame have never used the role skills much before this expansion but in efforts to improve my play style I have been working on using them when appropriately needed the changes to the cast bars showing when something is interrupt-able is another great quality of life that I feel was needed. While I have not experiamented with some of the other classes I play more regularly I feel that for the most part the class changes have been for the better, however I will acknowledge that from what I have seen healers are in a very rough spot at the time of writing this post and I hope that they see some love in the near future to help bring them back to a better spot than they are now.
The main story questline for Shadowbringers is probably one of my favorite expansion storylines so far I honestly feel it ties with Heavensward for favorite main scenario questline. To start off the world of the First nailed the feeling of a world out of hope and time, teetering towards the spiral of despair that their world is doomed. I loved the feeling of dread and hopelessness that was fairly present in most of the zones, which in turn helped the feeling of accomplishment when you defeat each Lightwarden and bring back the night. Each area felt fairly distinct and helped show us the differences between the two worlds, going an extra mile to establish the names of the races in the first as well as set up their own mythology around the events such as the halting of the flood of light. The Scions in this expansion are probably in some of the best spots they have been character wise, Alphinaud has a reinforcement of his character arc from Heavensward as he sees the terrible corruption of Eulmore and his rejection of the cities ideas. Thancred has a great growth in the way of learning to move on from Minfillia's death and accepting that Ryne is her own person and even becoming a father figure to her, helping move him from his path incarnations that made him almost seem a bit overly edgy. Y'shtola remains a consistent character for me, I feel that out of most of the Scions her character serves as a devil's advocate in most scenarios such as her mistrust of the Exarch and growing concern over the Warrior of Light's potential corruption from consuming too much of the primordial light. Alisaie also remains fairly in line with how she was in Stormblood remaining the passionate heart of the group and ever ready to dive into a problem headfirst. Urianger as well remains mostly the same outside of we see some more of his quirks this expansion such as his fear of water and inability to swim as well as just seeing him without his cowl for once which is a welcome change. Ryne is probably the star of this group as she struggles to get out of the shadow of her namesake, which over the whole course of the expansion she manages to do, fully coming into her own as a person and making me eager to see more of her in the coming content patches. The other favorite of mine is The Exarch the whole reason we are in the First to begin with, he is a mystery for most of the expansion but once his motivations were a bit suspicious at best but by the story's end I found myself fully liking him.
As for our antagonists roster this expansion we have from the first, we have Vauthry who was a good despicable villain who made no apologies for anything he did, his fight in Crown of the Immaculate was an interesting fight with a great remix of the regular boss battle theme. Ran'jit who serves to harass you throughout most of the story while I liked him he felt a bit lacking in development I would of liked to see more expansion into who he is which we may eventually see in future patches but overall he helps sell some urgency in doing most of the story as he remains ever on your heels. Another minor antagonist we have comes in the form of Titania the King of the Fairies, who while minor, has one of my favorite trials both mechanically and musically. However the star of the antagonist hour of me is Emet-Selch, one of the most interesting members of the Ascians we have seen in a long time. He helps to paint a picture of what the Ascians goal actually are other than the summoning of Zodiarc he also helps to almost paint them in a sympathetic light as you see from the delivery of his lines that he is pained with the state of the world in its current state. I really hope they cane help bring Elidibus up to par to help send off the Ascians in a good final hurrah.
While I have not covered everything here I feel like I touched on the biggest points of the expansion for me. Closing thoughts, I look forward to seeing how the patch storylines continue for Shadowbringers as I am currently eagerly awaiting the continuation of both the main story and the Eden raid story as well. So until next time, Lali-ho brave Warriors of Darkness. o/