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Stormblood: The MMO as Musical Theatre

“Video games aren’t movies.” That’s a line of criticism that those who prioritise mechanics over narrative like to level at cutscene-heavy games, particularly those by creators such as Hideo Kojima and David Cage.

And while it’s true that making effective use of games as a form of interactive media tends to emphasise actual interaction over passively watching cutscenes, one can hardly deny the spectacle offered by strongly movie-inspired titles, and the flexibility that entirely computer-generated scenes and characters can provide creators.

Which makes it all the more unusual that so many games focus on movies as their primary inspiration rather than other forms of media. Sure, some role-playing games might be rather operatic in tone, visual novels are effectively “Books Plus” and rhythm games provide a new way of experiencing pieces of music, but video games have never embraced the idea, of, say, musical theatre.

Or so you thought…

This article is also a video! Hit the jump to watch it, or catch it on YouTube.

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Stormblood: It’s a Great MMO, Too

We’ve already discussed how, despite its massively multiplayer online nature, Final Fantasy XIV as a whole is very much an authentic Final Fantasy experience in its own right. But is the opposite true?

If you’ve read the headline you’ll already know that yes, of course it is. But one of the most interesting things about the game as a whole as it has developed from its disastrous 1.0 incarnation through A Realm Reborn and Heavensward into Stormblood is how well it has managed to balance these two seemingly disparate aspects: the strong narrative of the Final Fantasy series, and the sheer amount of things to do and quality of life features that a hardcore MMO player expects from a game like this.

Today we’re going to examine that latter aspect in detail.

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Stormblood: Yes, It’s a Great Final Fantasy

Final Fantasy XIV and its long-running spiritual predecessor Final Fantasy XI are in an interesting and slightly awkward position.

They’re numbered mainline installments of the long-running Final Fantasy series, which, in theory, should attract series veterans, but they’re also massively multiplayer online role-playing games. The latter is a genre typically (and not necessarily correctly or fairly) associated with being time-consuming, challenging and dependent on playing alongside other people — and thus not especially attractive to those who prefer to play games solo, concentrate on story or take things at their own pace.

What we’re going to talk about today is how Final Fantasy XIV is as much a good Final Fantasy as it is a good MMO — and why you shouldn’t sleep on it if you’re a Final Fantasy fan who doesn’t typically go in for online games.

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