Four years into its life, one of the biggest criticisms against Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn is that it’s a very difficult game to catch up in. Leveling from 1 to the current level cap of 60 takes dozens of hours, and you also need to work through dozens of hours of post-level-cap story quest content. Before the first expansion, Heavensward, launched in 2015, I spent 30-plus hours at level 50 just finishing out the main plot so I could move along into the new story.
With the upcoming release of the MMO’s second expansion set, Stormblood, Square Enix is finally addressing this issue. Sort of.
Beginning on June 16, along with the expansion’s early access start, players will be able to purchase a job level boost for $25. This item will boost a single job’s level to 60, and players will only be able to purchase one per account until patch 4.1 is released some time later this year.
However, just getting to level 60 isn’t enough to get you into Stormblood’s new content and zones. That will require a separate “scenario shortcut item.” One that allows you to skip just the main story quests from the original game will cost $18, while a $25 version will get your character through all the quests from the Heavensward expansion as well.
In all, a player starting from scratch and wanting to get right into Stormblood will have to pay an extra $50 on top of $39.99 for the expansion itself (or $59.99 for a bundle of FF14 and both of its expansions) and $12.99 monthly subscription fee. Yikes.
While the pricing is steep, Square Enix is adamant that it is by design and not a money grab.
“The concept was that those two items [the level boost and the scenario shortcut] combined would equal to the cost of one full game,” Final Fantasy 14 director Naoki Yoshida told Polygon. “We wanted to give the impression that it’s a little bit more pricey. We didn’t want people to freely obtain these items and just skip over content willy-nilly.”
According to Yoshida, the team believed that if they priced these items lower, they would be seen as more mandatory by a large portion of players, something they could more readily pressure new players into spending money on.
“If it were too cheap, I’m sure players who have spent the time to level their characters and go through all the main scenario quests would complain,” said Yoshida. “They would ask, ‘Is my effort equivalent to that dollar amount?’ It’s intentionally set a little bit pricey, but it’s not about the revenue.
“We wanted to provide this as a choice but not make it something that’s mandatory for all of our players to pick up. We don’t want to give the impression that it’s cheap, and everyone should go buy it.”
Final Fantasy 14: Stormblood will launch on Windows PC, Mac and PlayStation 4 on June 20. You can read more about it in our full pre-review feature, or check out footage from some of the expansion’s new zones and job classes in the video below.