Final Fantasy 14’s second expansion pack, Stormblood, technically doesn’t go live until tomorrow, June 20. But any subscribers who preordered the expansion were actually able to jump in for early access beginning last Friday. Unfortunately, that extra time to play the game was a little more full of frustration than players hoped.
The most common thing players have seen while trying to play Stormblood the last few days is a login screen. Because of huge server loads, players attempting to go online have been placed in queues — at one point on Saturday our queue was over 6,000 people, which took approximately 20 to 25 minutes for us to get to the front of the line.
Even upon logging in, however, the problems didn’t stop. Players moving along Stormblood’s main story quest path ran into several walls where progress was blocked, generally whenever the main scenario involved loading up an instanced area for the quest. These blocking points quickly became memes in the community, with many players discussing “Raubahn’s wall,” in reference to the name of an NPC whose quest they could not progress past.
Some of these issues went past the expansion content as well. Some players still in early game content, or catching up on the last expansion, Heavensward, also found themselves stuck on story quests or unable to enter instanced dungeons. At multiple points throughout the weekend, certain zones or servers were brought down entirely as the Final Fantasy 14 dev team attempted to fix problems.
Players’ frustrations with the Stormblood early access event were echoed across the internet, from the Final Fantasy 14 forums to Reddit to hundreds of tweets.
For its part, Square Enix has attempted to address these issues in a number of ways, including increasing server loads and putting a limit on the number of players that can enter particularly problematic and congested areas at any one time.
In a post yesterday on the official Final Fantasy 14 website, The Lodestone, game director Naoki Yoshida addressed the problems and urged players to consider moving their characters to less busy servers:
“We are continuing to assess and work on ways we can increase the number of players that are able to log in without the World crashing. However, as this requires extremely precise adjustments, we currently need a bit more time.
“I am terribly sorry, but since we also have New World and World Population Balancing incentives at the moment, we would appreciate if you would please consider using the World Transfer service.”
On the one hand, the Stormblood early access problems just prove a well-known reality of massively multiplayer games: Playing on launch week is basically like rolling dice. These games are so huge and complex that problems are inevitable, especially when the full game’s population of long-time, new and returning players are all rushing toward one destination.
On the other hand, those kind of problems haven’t been a major factor in either Final Fantasy 14: A Realm Reborn’s 2013 launch, nor Heavensward’s 2015 launch. The same goes for other MMOs as well; last year’s launch of the World of Warcraft: Legion add-on was one of the smoothest in the game’s history.
If nothing else, these problems are a sign of growing pains for FF14, a game that reportedly topped six million total players in 2016. A noteworthy percentage of those players have likely returned to the game to check out the new expansion, which introduces a bunch of fresh zones and dungeons as well as two new job classes, the red mage and the samurai.
For more information on Final Fantasy 14: Stormblood, you can check out our full pre-review coverage. For those who didn’t preorder and spend the weekend banging their head against the walls of early access, the expansion will be available for Windows PC, Mac and PlayStation 4 tomorrow, June 20.