Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward

Game review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward Game Poster Image
Combat-focused expansion deep with gameplay, new features.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this game.

Positive Messages

Players create characters that are meaningful to them, work together with others to defeat enemies, and save the world, but heavy focus on combat limits positive messaging.

Positive Role Models & Representations

You create a character from scratch, inherently a "good" person fighting evil, but heavy focus on combat instead of diplomacy limits positive role modeling.

Ease of Play

Simple controls, easy to learn.

Violence

Plenty of combat but not too graphic. Players use melee weapons (such as long swords), projectiles (including spears), magic attacks to defeat enemies, who call out in pain. Enemies can be human, animals, or fantasy creatures. Little to no blood in battle; some blood visible in non-interactive cut scenes.

Sex

Some suggestive imagery; female characters in revealing outfits show a lot of flesh, including cleavage. Some dialogue refers to contracting an STD.

Language

The word "s--te" can be heard in dialogue once or twice. Unmoderated multiplayer leaves players vulnerable to profanity, inappropriate comments.

Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Players can run into characters who've consumed large amounts of alcohol and slur their speech.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward is an online-only massively multiplayer role-playing game expansion that lets you create a character, venture into a fantasy world, interact with other human players, accept missions, and engage in combat. There's violence, as players use swords and other weapons along with magic, to defeat enemies. There's some blood, but it's mostly in cut scenes. The game has some suggestive imagery and dialogue, as well as references to a sexually transmitted disease. There's mild profanity during in-game dialogue, but parents should be aware that the multiplayer experience is unmoderated, potentially exposing kids to inappropriate content. There are alcohol references, and characters may slur their speech after consuming lots of alcohol. Gamers also will have to pay a monthly fee to play the game.

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What's it about?

The long-awaited FINAL FANTASY XIV: HEAVENSWARD is an expansion pack to Square Enix’s popular massively multiplayer online role-playing game Final Fantasy XIV. Gamers can engage in cross-platform play with other console or PC users in a vast universe, and the expansion features improved graphics, an updated soundtrack, and a new story. Much of the focus in Heavensward is the ongoing Dragonsong War, a bloody thousand-year battle between the knights of Ishgard and the dragons of Dravania. The expansion drops you into the middle of this epic conflict and lets you engage in with a new playable race (the scaly and horned Au Ra), bonus dungeons and raids, three new jobs, an increased level cap from 50 to 60, the ability to mount on the back of flying black chocobos and dragons for aerial battles, and more.

Is it any good?

For the four million-odd people who've played Final Fantasy XIV and are looking to expand their adventures, this multi-platform add-on pack offers a lot of value to the core experience, just as 2013's Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn reboot delivered an enhanced version of the original 2010 game. Along with the very well-written story and dialogue, as well as a lot of new characters, Heavensward adds many missions and side quests. Some of the quests are typical MMO fare, but most prove fun and fresh. The upgrade in the graphical and audio presentation (music, sound effects, and voice actors) really helps to draw gamers in, letting them appreciate some of the new set pieces (even the subterranean dungeons are worth noting). Be aware that some of these new zones are huge, at about twice the size of those found in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, so it's a good thing there are alternate ways to travel from one place to another. Combat also is as intense as before, with some new races, weapons, and items to punch up the fun in battle.

There's so much to this expansion -- the guild workshops with high-tech workshops, new Primals (epic battles between your party and mighty demigods), new recipes for crafters (and a boost to level 60), collaborating to build giant airships, and an integrated card game -- that there's no doubt this expansion was well conceived and painstakingly executed. In short, if you liked Final Fantasy XIV  or Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn, you'll love Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the impact of violence in online MMORPGs. Is the violence in games such as FInal Fantasy XIV: Heavensward a problem because you frequently commit it with groups of other players? Should there be a non-violent play option in MMOs?

  • Talk about the inherent benefits of online role-playing games. Is there a sense of community among players? Do you need to work together to achieve goals?

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