Ever wondered what it would be like if we ranked all FFXIV Expansions before the next one gets announced? No? Here is it anyways.
Final Fantasy XIV is pretty great. After 10 (or 13 depending on who you ask) years of active service, the game has amassed a full relaunch, 4 Expansions, and many, many, many patches the game has amassed a very devoted fandom.
So let's rile up this fandom a little by ranking all the Expansions of their favorite critically acclaimed MMORPG with unrestricted playtime up to level 60.
Before we get started, let's throw down some basic rules. We're not gonna rank the Expansions based on Main Story content alone, because that would be boring. Luckily, the fool writing this has been with FFXIV since the 1.0 days and can give you slightly inaccurate insights into what the Expansions were like during their heyday.
We're rating them on Main Story, long-lasting impact, gameplay, and wealth of content. Feel free to disagree.
6. Final Fantasy XIV 1.0
Putting the dreaded 1.0 version here is a no-brainer. At launch the game was borderline unfunctional on the best of days, on others, you'd disconnect for 5 minutes while trying to master the cryptic crafting system. 1.0 is today remembered as Final Fantasy XI but kinda bad with fancy cutscenes. But we've gotta give credit where it's due.
Patching the game, and adding new content while making a new one is to this day a bonkers move and 1.0 had some of the most unique stories and content we've ever seen. Witnessing Dalamuds decent in-game is a memory we will always treasure and the Hamlet Defenses were really cool, I'd like to see them again.
Probably did not expect to find it this far up the list didn't you? Heavensward was FFXIV's first expansion after the successful relaunch with A Realm Reborn and from the moment you step into Ishgard for the first time, you feel the higher budget and confident presentation.
But it wasn't without its flaws. The story was great, even if it dragged its feet a little until 3.3 dropped. The content however was a little, well the raids almost killed the raiding scene, the cross-world party finder wasn't a thing until 5.5 and the Diadem was just awful.
It felt like A Realm Reborn 2.0 in many ways. But instead of evolving, crafting and job design just honed in on needlessly complicated dumb mechanics. Wandering Triad was cool though and it did introduce the DRK Questline which might tie it with 4th place.
4. A Realm Reborn
The pure Final Fantasy XIV experience. Back when the game was just leveling jobs, gearing, raiding, and crafting for those other three. The story was alright, it only started to pick up during the arguably very slow patches which tried to make the game even playable.
That said, the content and raiding were really good at the time. Sure it was busted to hell and back at times but fights were unique and engaging even with the abysmal net code. The only reason this is above Heavensward is that T9S didn't make most raiders quit the game.
The most recent Expansion, Endwalker is an insane leap in both production value, scale, and content when looking back to A Realm Reborn. One of the very few downsides is that the 6.0 MSQ feels like it is still riding the waves of Shadowbringers instead of carving out its own identity. Post 6.0 content did a lot to fix that, some of the Sidequests are some of the best stories in the entire game.
Raids are universally great, even if the 2 Minute buff time rotation feels very jarring and boring by now. All the jobs are in a great place gameplay-wise, the dungeons are fun and the trails have been amazing. The Island Sanctuary and Variant Dungeons have been great additions to XIVs content as we seem to shift into a more casual type of game.
The expansion also did loads to make FFXIV more accessible, especially the extensive reworks done to older dungeons and content. But because Endwalkers 6.x content has been so laid back it doesn't quite stack up to the other two. Unless the third Alliance Raid pulls out the big guns.
Shadowbringers is everyones favorite Final Fantasy XIV Expansion for a good reason. Its story was amazing and it is arguably the MMORPG equivalent of hitting a Homerun. We can talk forever about how all the jobs were improved and crafting got a massive overhaul that wasn't just a jumbled mess of cross-class abilities.
Critically and in the wider gaming community, Shadowbringers solidified the MMORPG as the game to play. The few things we could complain about is that the Eden Raids were a mixed bag of some great and some not-so-great encounters. Only one Ultimate due to Covid and a Crossover Alliance Raid that honestly felt really lackluster in its execution compared to what we got in the previous expansion.
But still, Bozja was cool and the Ishgardian Restoration effort was just the right amount of torture and grind to be enjoyable. The Expansion will go down as FFXIV's crowning achievement. The magnum opus. But it isn't the best.
Yes, story-wise we can argue all day that Stormblood doesn't stack up to most entries of this list in the MSQ. But that does undersell the quality of XIV's second expansion. If Shadowbringers was the Homerun, Stormblood was the Instruction Manual. It was during this time when the MMORPG really figured out what kind of game it wanted to be.
Job design was still a little messy but it was a far cry from the overcomplicated mess it was in the previous expansion. The Omega Raid series still holds up today and the Return to Ivalice Alliance Raids are some of the game's best content. Side activities were also expanded upon, crafting was no longer cryptic, and gearing up was made straightforward and simple to understand.
We also got to enjoy luxuries like cross-world party finder and later cross-world travel. Eureka still is the best version of the instanced open-zone content and let's face it, the story of the 4.x patches and the lead-up to Shadowbringers was amazing. And Shinryu's Domain is still the best Extreme Trial in the entire game.
And that wraps up our Ranking, for more on FFXIV and the latest in esports stick with us here on ESTNN