Heavensward is regarded as one of Final Fantasy XIV’s best expansions. While there’s not much competition with only three with a fourth on the way, it’s certainly up there with Shadowbringers in terms of fan favorites. I remember this as the time when I really got into the game and the story started grabbing me more than the base game or 1.0. It was a nice change of pace aesthetically as well, moving from slightly technological fantasy into dark fantasy. This expansion introduced a new race, the dragon-like Au’Ra, and a whopping three new jobs, Dark Knight, Astrologian, and Machinist. While I may have missed out on the artbooks for this expansion, thanks to a recent reprint we’ve got the chance to check out both Heavensward books covering the expansion and it’s patches. Let’s dive right in.
Stone & Steel is up first, opening it up you’ll see several pieces of key art for the expansion which are absolutely gorgeous. Several artists contributed to these concepts and, while you can tell slight differences, they’re great at keeping a consistent style. I really enjoyed reading their commentary on some pieces to get to know how they interpret directions they’re given and their personal styles.
A highlight of this book was the Au’Ra concept art and seeing how the race went from something inspired by the Viera (who would eventually be added) to the dragon inspired race we know and love today. I really like some of the more beastly designs as well and almost wish those could be added as a variant; the muscular female designs and more beastly Viera look very cool.
There’s also a lot of gear in this book, everything from Job gear to equipment found in dungeons or crafted. I’ve seen some of these pieces in game and, not to knock the work of the modelers, some of them look great in 2D even if I’m not a fan of how they look in game. For example, the Falconer’s set just looks more interesting on the page.
Some art you may recognize from the game’s loading screens are concepts of the city of Ishgard, but there are more pieces here showing individual locations and dungeons too. I may sound like a broken record at this point, but they all look fantastic and getting to see the finer details is a joy.
The second book in the set is The Scars of War, which has less developer commentary but in turn allows the art to take up more space. While I would have preferred even more insight into each piece, there’s a surprising amount of lore added here in the patches leading up to Stormblood. Although if you are looking for more on the process of conceptualizing and creating places, people, and things for the game there is a small section dedicated to that in the back of the book.
As always, the art on offer here is absolutely stunning and having it be larger allows you to appreciate every stroke of the pen. The art for the Alexander raid series is incredibly cool and has a lot of detail. The gear feature here isn’t always individually labeled, but some outfits put the subjects in some nice, dynamic poses.
Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward Stone & Steel
The Heavensward Stone & Steel and The Scars of War art books are a must have for any Final Fantasy XIV fanatics. The art is gorgeous and detailed, and while the latter book doesn’t have as much artist commentary as I would like, both give detail into each artist’s process.