We’re now a couple months away from the release of Final Fantasy XIV’s third expansion, Shadowbringers, but before that we’ll have the end of its second, Stormblood. The final minor patch of the expansion is now live, paving the way for the game’s next major version in 5.0. As I did before at the end of Heavensward, I’m taking this time before the expansion to look back at some aspects of Stormblood, with emphasis on the ways Stormblood built (or didn’t build) on the solidified foundation provided by Heavensward. So far, I’ve covered Eureka (in two parts) and the Main Scenario. Glamour, arguably the most important facet of FFXIV for this site, comes next, with a look at some of the overall trends seen in the expansion.
The glamour game of FFXIV has changed in significant ways since the beginning of Fashion Ninjutsu, with welcome improvements coming from the consolidation of glamour prisms and the addition of the glamour dresser and glamour plates (both of which will be getting bigger and better with the launch of Shadowbringers). Over the course of Stormblood, community sites like Eorzea Collection have grown, offering a way for players to both share their glamours and browse for ideas. All the while, a growing modding community for the PC version of FFXIV has allowed for a degree of customization limited only by the time and dedication of individual modders. While mods of this sort have a long history in PC gaming, it wasn’t until Stormblood that they gained visible popularity in FFXIV, spreading through social media and birthing multiple mod archives and Discord channels. At the same time, Stormblood’s glamour options have often felt underwhelming, perhaps paving the way for mods to grow as much as they have.
Heavensward offered gear in a variety of styles for most roles, spread liberally throughout its many dungeons, raids, and crafted sets. Many of these proved so popular that player requests for dyeable versions and versions for other roles began almost as soon as the sets were added to the game. As with Heavensward before it, many of Stormblood’s initial gear offerings take the form of new versions of existing models such as these, including dyeable versions of popular gear from dungeons like The Aery, Fractal Continuum, and Sohr Khai among others. Throughout the expansion, popular sets from the past would continue to be brought forward to the modern era, with high end crafted gear offering dyeable versions of gear from the World of Darkness and the Void Ark. Side content like Eureka offered vanity, all-classes versions of other favorites, too, like the Pagos Shirt and Pagos Culottes from A Realm Reborn, as well as other popular pieces from Heavensward (like the Anemos Jacket) and even from earlier in Stormblood itself (such as the Anemos Suspenders). Though many of these pieces first graced the game years ago now, they remain popular even as Stormblood draws to a close.
Like any expansion, though, Stormblood provided potentially fertile ground for new styles, especially so in this case with Stormblood centering on multiple nations and peoples, all of which have their own cultural styles and fashion trends. Strangely, though, Stormblood’s additions to the glamour catalogue draw from a narrow band of possibilities. Few instances of Ala Mhigan gear exist in the expansion at all, despite the expansion’s endgame hub being Rhalgr’s Reach, with only one round of distinctly Ala Mhigan battle gear added all the way back in 4.0 and some other prominent options available only to crafting and gathering classes. Meanwhile, “eastern” sets, though more common, have a strong focus on heavy armor, with multiple sets of traditional samurai armor available for almost every role (with even casters and healers getting some!). Lighter fare, such as that favored for some martial arts styles (something like Final Fantasy XI’s Jujitsu Gi, for example), is almost wholly absent for Disciple of War classes, while there are several heavy options fit for a “wandering swordsman” look. Disciples of Magic received few uniquely eastern set of their own (outside of the sets from Shisui of the Violet Tides, which is shared across all roles).
Instead of more gear stylistically inspired by the cultures at the center of Stormblood, two dungeons (and one tier of Allagan Tomestones) in the expansion offer gear inspired by the winning designs in three design contests (with the winning design from a fourth contest likely showing up somewhere in Shadowbringers): the Skallic gear from the Drowned City of Skalla, Bonewicca gear from Swallow’s Compass, and Lost Allagan gear from Allagan Tomestones of Creation. Including some of the expansion’s most interesting designs, all three sets are dyeable (which is somewhat rare for dungeon gear in particular), making them highly sought after for glamour. None of the sets fit thematically with the places they are acquired from (with Drowned City serving as a vault for Ala Mhigo’s Mad King and Swallow’s Compass having ties to the geomancers of Doma), and had they better homes more room might have existed for more Doman or Ala Mhigan gear, but they are still excellent glamour pieces all around.
Other areas where Stormblood draws inspiration from outside of FFXIV have more middling results than these contest sets, with the three rounds of gear for the Return to Ivalice Alliance raid series feeling like a mixed bag. While the Ivalician gear styled after characters from Final Fantasy XII translates well into the world of FFXIV, the sets from Final Fantasy Tactics largely do not. FFT’s art style was quite stylized, featuring somewhat exaggerated proportions for its characters that translated naturally over to the design of the world’s clothing and armor. In adapting the garb of FFT’s Ivalice to the world of FFXIV, the art team made the strange decision to maintain this more exaggerated style, particularly in the area of arm and footwear. As a result, some of the sets, simply look too bulky on the more normally proportioned character models of FFXIV, and they sometimes fit awkwardly on FFXIV’s much wide range of body types, too.
Some of the best new gear in Stormblood doesn’t come from the game proper at all, but rather from the Mog Station (or from special events in the Chinese and Korean versions of the game). Popular additions to the cash shop include the Nezha Attire (split into two sets, for Lords and Ladies), Lyse’s original Stormblood outfit, and Lord Hien’s gear, among others. Numerous “far eastern” sets also made their debut on the Mog Station during Stormblood, including sets for Far Eastern Beauties, Gentlemen, and Nobles, as well as the Mun’gaek set for males and the Eastern Socialite’s set for females. These sets make up somewhat for the lack of eastern styled gear in Stormblood itself, but their being Mog Station exclusive is unfortunate (as is the gender-locking on several of them, which is frustrating for anyone who decides to change a character’s gender via Fantasia). It should be noted, however, that there may have been limitations on the inclusions of these sets anywhere except the Mog Station, given their original status as exclusive to other regional versions of FFXIV for China and Korea—we might never have gotten them at all had they not been added to the Mog Station as they were.
Strangely, a handful of Stormblood era Mog Station outfits also display one of FFXIV’s long-running gear issues when it comes to glamour: model clipping. Tail clipping and hair clipping have been issues for years now, but more egregious examples of model clipping have been comparatively rare in the game. Some of the expansion’s cash shop offerings are designed such that even character hands and arms clip through them, with the Faerie Tale Princess’s Dress being the mot extreme example. In the game itself, even high-profile sets like job-specific Artifact Armor have tail clipping issues (such as with Paladin’s Chivalrous Surcoat) with others (like Warrior’s new Brutal Lorica) have issues with hands clipping through things like belts and pouches on body pieces. There are far too many examples to catalog them all here, but Stormblood overall has made the clipping problem worse, rather than better—a real shame for the state of glamour in the game.
That is not to say that all is woe, however. Stormblood has excelled in the realm of vanity glamour items and sets, whether they come from rare crafted materials, side content like PvP, or seasonal events. The expansion’s rare crafted glamour items covered a wide range of styles, from more modern casual attire including a sweater, a warm winter coat, a frilly dress (for female characters—though it’s not without some clipping issues) and a stylish vest (for male ones), and some of the expansion’s rare Ala Mhigan and eastern pieces, like the Ala Mhigan Gown and Ao Dai. PvP rewards also offered up some thematic sets taking inspiration from Japanese mythology and classical Roman attire, with bits and pieces from all the sets finding their way into glamours even at the expansion’s end. Even the Main Scenario offered some gems, like the Scion Rogue’s Bandana and the Scion Traveler’s Jacket. Gear from seasonal and limited time events was also top notch throughout the expansion, offering excellent sets like Noctis’ Lucian Prince’s Attire and even seasonal pieces, like the Endless Summer Top or Werewolf Bottoms, that can see more general use outside of their holiday contexts. These pieces and others like them are likely to be the ones that carry forward from Stormblood into the future.
But even with these in mind, Stormblood has often felt like it’s had more glamour misses than glamour hits. With some of the expansion’s best glamour options coming from Heavensward and A Realm Reborn originally and many of Stormblood’s new options suffering from modeling issues or focusing on a narrow band of styles despite all the potential for gear from its myriad cultures, things have felt unfortunately lacking on the fashion front throughout FFXIV’s second expansion. The future looks bright, however. The otherworldly nature of Norvrandt—the version of Hydaelyn that serves as central focus of the upcoming Shadowbringers expansion—could provide fertile ground for exciting new designs, and the NieR-inspired Alliance raid should offer some great designs as well (with the hope that they’re better translated than the gear from FFT, of course!). The glamour possibilities could (and hopefully will) be endless!
Thanks to the support of Fashion Ninjutsu’s patrons, I’ve been able to put more time and care into this expansion retrospective, with special thanks going to current $5 patrons David Haig, Francisco Galicia, and Nomolun. If you’ve enjoyed this retrospective and would like to support future ones or other content like Mog Station Reviews, you can offer support of your own on Fashion Ninjutsu’s Patreon.