FINAL FANTASY XI: WINGS OF THE GODDESS
Let’s kick this off by saying, none of the expansions for either of the Final Fantasy MMORPGs are objectively terrible. Obviously, some are better than others which is why we’re ranking them, but even the last place entry on this list isn’t an offensively bad expansion.
Speaking of which, that leads us to our first entry. Final Fantasy XI: Wings of the Goddess. The Crystal War is one of the most pivotal moments in recent Vana’diel history and many fans were looking forward to seeing what the middle lands were like prior to the events of the war. Sadly, in a lot of ways it was quite underwhelming.
Zones in Wings of the Goddess were a nightmare to traverse (Jugner Forest anyone?) and in reality didn’t really add much visual flair. The few actual new zones that were added weren’t anything special either. Previous expansions added content that became staples for years to come but unfortunately that wasn’t the case with this expansion.
It’s not all bad though. Dancer and Scholar are both excellent jobs that turned out well in both the immediate aftermath and beyond. And although the pacing of the story was a mess (large gaps in-between updates, and having to work through your own nation’s line in addition to the primary story), all-in-all the story scenario was memorable and enjoyable.
FINAL FANTASY XI: SEEKERS OF ADOULIN
Unless you’re a very hardcore fan of Final Fantasy XI, it’s likely you never made it this far into FFXI’s lifespan to enjoy Seekers of Adoulin. Wings of the Goddess, the Abyssea battle packs, and the release of Final Fantasy XIV, was a gut shot to the game’s player base and effectively moved it out from its prime and into the back nine of its life. That said, the Seekers of Adoulin meta actually achieved a lot to bring FFXI up to modern day standards. The addition of trusts made it so anyone can reach the level cap without having to wait for party invites anymore. Home points and field manuals were updated to provide useful transportation across Vana’diel’s massive landmass, and the addition of Job Points finally helped many jobs that had been struggling for years and made them relevant and fun again.
Speaking of jobs, both of the new jobs in Seekers of Adoulin were fantastic. Geomancer, one of the most requested jobs in FFXI’s lifespan, became arguably the most powerful and critical job in the game, even bumping staple support job Bard from its throne. Rune Fencer eventually became a very unique and useful tank, and a respectable DPS in certain situations as well, after some experimenting from players. This is especially true in the game’s current content meta where it is equally as useful as Paladin depending on the situation.
Seekers of Adoulin was great because it shook up FFXI dramatically but not in a way that changed the game’s identity that players had grown to love from its heyday. Abyssea unfortunately did that, but SoA (alongside the Rhapsodies of Vana’diel final scenario) was able to right those wrongs over the course of its run.
FINAL FANTASY XI: CHAINS OF PROMATHIA
Chains of Promathia was initially controversial because of its lack of new jobs and how much of the new areas were gated behind difficult story content. However, over time, those sins were forgiven as the CoP story line wound up being one of the most memorable in Final Fantasy XI’s history. Featuring memorable characters such as Tenzen and Prishe, the CoP story line was full of twists, turns, and memorable battles and moments. It was also really freaking hard, but it at least had a huge payoff for players that stuck with it: entry into the gorgeous (and important) AlTaieu area known as “Sea.”
Sea, like Sky before it, was a massive collection of zones that featured loads of end game content such as the Jailer NM tree and Limbus. Combined with the still very relevant Sky events, Final Fantasy XI was put in a very diverse and enjoyable state thanks to Chains of Promathia as long as you could tough it out through the story missions. CoP was memorable because it didn’t hand the player anything just for participating with minimal effort/knowledge like many MMORPGs do. The story content was the meat of this expansion and like other video games that are difficult, you had to earn the credits that rolled at the end.
That said, it wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea and the difficulty turned off many players. Others that come up with a similar list might put Chains of Promathia toward the bottom for the very same reasons we have it high up on ours.
Finally, although not necessarily a highlight or lowlight, Chains of Promathia added the legendary enemy, Absolute Virtue, whose strategy for defeat remained a mystery for years.
FINAL FANTASY XIV: STORMBLOOD
Finally we’re back to Final Fantasy XIV. Stormblood, the game’s most recent expansion has already achieved a lot. Not even a month after its release, we feel pretty confident in saying that Stormblood will be remembered as one of the best expansions in Final Fantasy MMORPG history. We recently reviewed Stormblood, so you can check out our full detailed impressions on it if you wish, but there’s still plenty we can gush about here.
Its main scenario quest line is one of the most memorable RPG stories in recent history, and is among the best in all of Final Fantasy, not just the MMORPGs. Unlike Heavensward, the two new jobs it added, Red Mage and Samurai, are powerful, unique, and fun to play right out of the gates. The host of job action changes added on its launch dramatically improves the quality of life for all of FFXIV’s jobs, making gameplay more streamlined and creates more recognizable and appreciated differences between each job’s styles. Kugane is a gorgeous new city that players can explore and field areas such as the Azim Steppes, channels positive vibes from both Final Fantasy X and Final Fantasy XIII. Zenos is an amazing primary antagonist whose actions will have you rooting hard for yourself to take him down.
We could go on and on. Stormblood is great and pushes Final Fantasy XIV into its prime like the next and final entry in this list did for Final Fantasy XI.
FINAL FANTASY XI: TREASURES OF AHT URGHAN
Treasures of Aht Urghan tops our list of the best Final Fantasy MMORPG expansions. For many players, it was the last expansion that they would fully experience. Unlike the previous two Final Fantasy XI expansions (Chains and Zilart) which took place primarily on the mainland, ToAU sent players to a new area of the world, to a city that would be the game’s main hub for years to come, Aht Urghan.
ToAU added a TON of brand new content including new field HNMs, the Zeni NM system, Einherjar, Assaults, Mythic Weapon quests etc. It also added three new and very unique jobs that played like nothing else before it. A fully fledged Blue Mage job that was true to the series roots, requiring players to learn skills from enemies (and there was a ton), a gambler-like support/DPS class, Corsair, and the customizable pet class, Puppetmaster. Yeah it took a very long time for Puppetmaster to ever get accepted and suffered a fate similar to Dragoon (although nowadays it’s one of the better jobs for both DPS, soloing, and even tanking in certain fights), but credit the FFXI development team for taking a stab at trying something very different.
And of course, as is a running theme in this list, the quest line for Treasures of Aht Urghan was fantastic. Perhaps not as memorable as Chains of Promathia, but still definitely up there. The fact that it had a great story, and added lots of new areas, and had fun new jobs is what made Treasures of Urghan so great. It was a well put together coherent package of content that was expansive and for the most part, incredibly successful and it’s why it tops our list of the best Final Fantasy MMORPG expansions.
What does your list look like? Let us know in the comments.