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Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers

Game review by
Marc Saltzman, Common Sense Media
Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers Game Poster Image
Excellent, darker expansion to online adventure.

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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 defeat enemies, and save the world, but heavy focus on combat weakens some of the positive messaging.

Positive Role Models & Representations

You create a character from scratch that's inherently a "good" person fighting evil, but the heavy focus on combat instead of diplomacy lessens your character's positive role modeling.

Ease of Play

As with its predecessors in this MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online role-playing game), the game starts off with basic controls and tasks and helps you along the way. It's not too difficult, but you'll progress your party over time and gain experience to fight more difficult battles.

Violence

There's a strong focus on combat, but it's not overly graphic. Players use melee weapons (like long swords), projectiles (including spears), and magic attacks to defeat enemies, who call out in pain. Enemies can be human, animals, or fantasy creatures. There's little to no blood shown in battle, but some blood is visible in non-interactive cut-scenes.

Sex

There's some suggestive imagery here, including female characters with revealing outfits who show a lot of flesh (including cleavage and partial buttocks). Some dialog refers to sleeping around (calling a woman a "whore"), along with contracting a sexually transmitted disease (in a separate instance).

Language

The game has some moderate profanity, including the word "s--t," but it's not often. Also, unmoderated multiplayer leaves players exposed to potential profanity and inappropriate comments.

Consumerism

The game's based on the popular Final Fantasy XIV game. This is an expansion to the core game, which is purchased separately but requires the original. The main game has a monthly subscription fee.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Players can run into characters who've consumed large amounts of alcohol, slurring their speech. There are also dialog references to wine and grog.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers is an online-only massively multiplayer role-playing game (MMORPG) expansion for the PlayStation 4 and Windows PCs. Players create a character, venture out into a fantasy world, interact with other human players, accept missions, and engage in combat. The game focuses heavily -- but not exclusively -- on animated violence, as players use swords and other weapons, along with magic, to defeat enemies. There's some blood but it's mostly in cut-scene sequences. The game also has some suggestive imagery and dialog, as well as references to a woman being sexually active and in another scene, a reference to contracting a sexually transmitted disease. There's some swearing during in-game dialogue, including the word "s--t," but parents should be aware that the multiplayer experience is unmoderated, potentially exposing kids to inappropriate conversation or comments. There are also alcohol references, and characters may slur their speech after consuming lots of alcohol. Gamers will also have to pay a monthly fee to play the game.

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What's it about?

The next chapter in the Final Fantasy XIV saga is now available in FINAL FANTASY XIV: SHADOWBRINGERS, which is an expansion pack to the popular MMORPG -- a massively multiplayer online role-playing game. The game adds plenty of new content including fresh story elements, environments (such as several new dungeons), races (including beast tribes), jobs, and more. In fact, this new add-on includes previous games Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward and Final Fantasy XIV: Stormblood -- but be aware this expansion requires Final Fantasy XIV Online Starter Edition (A Realm Reborn) to play the game (which costs about $15 a month for the subscription). Without giving away too much -- especially as the plot becomes much thicker in this new chapter -- the story follows the ominous threat of war that has blanketed the fictional world of Hydaelyn, as six nations now stand allied against the Garlean Empire and its imperial armies. The Warrior of Light comes face-to-face with Zenos -- an old and long-forgotten enemy -- which might prompt a transformation into the Warrior of Darkness. Players will need to deal with the evil Ascians, creatures called Sin Eaters, and an alternate dimension called The First. Along with the option to tackle dungeons solo while fighting alongside prominent characters with the new Trust system, other features of Shadowbringers include a level cap increase from 70 to 80, new 8-player raids and alliance raids, as well as new items, achievements, and music.

Is it any good?

To call this MMORPG a meaty undertaking would be a serious understatement. Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers is a darker climactic end to this dramatic adventure, which caps it all off with a deep, compelling narrative and tons of new content. It's certainly worth the investment, especially if you don't have the other expansion packs. Players will eat up the story, which is tied to traveling to an alternate dimension to become the Warrior of Darkness to right the wrongs in the regular world. You'll be reintroduced to players who've debuted years ago, but now play a much more substantial role. You'll also unlock new areas and races (like the bunny-like Vi) -- all tied to the story -- so it really does feel like this thought-out plot is tightly woven into the gameplay. To compliment the strong dialog (and better voice acting than in past expansions) are cut-scene anime sequences you actually want to watch and not skip through.

New jobs (classes) include Dancer and Gunbreaker, which are fun to explore, and quite different from one another. The new dungeons are also worth calling out (including an underwater area), so players will easily enjoy solving these quests. The combat remains rewarding, using might and magic, with new raid bosses to fight, requiring good cooperative play with your party. The game does suffer a little from some balancing issues with the battle system that might frustrate some players. For instance, strong party members tended to lose to weaker foes, but most of these issues (tied mostly to spellcasting) were addressed a recent update. Overall, this Final Fantasy XIV expansion is the best yet. Fans of this game should most assuredly pick up Shadowbringers for an explosive continuation of this popular MMO.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about violence in video games. Is the impact of the violence in Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers affected by the lack of blood shown in battle sequences? Would the violence be intensified if the combat was more graphic and realistic?

  • Why is it healthy to have a good online and offline balance? Is it easy to set screen time limits with a game that has so much content to keep you playing for hours?

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