FFXIV – Raids, Patch 5.5, Extended Vacation

It’s been awhile but I’m inspired by Recent Events to talk about Final Fantasy XIV again. I’ve been raiding for almost two months, Patch 5.5 released yesterday (4/13/21) and I’ve spent a day or two as a Wanderer on another server, unable to get home to my Free Company and retainers.

I have, of course, also taken lots of screenshots.

Some of them might contain spoilers for 5.5, alongside Bara Cat Dad, Shadow Mountain.

Eden’s Promise – Savage Raid Tier

A few weeks ago, I was invited to help fill for a static that a friend was playing with. I ended up dropping into E9S, and trying to Main Tank. I didn’t do… awful, but still generally made a fool of myself, but that was kind of the point – The static group is a mix of people new to raiding, some more serious than others, and members of other statics stopping by to help with clears. I’d done some on-level EX content (Mainly Titania Extreme and Memoria Misera EX) but not savage raids.

To unpack that, Raids are FFXIV’s “Full Party” or 8-player boss fights. Normal mode raids are considered part of main story and sidequest content just about anyone can do when they reach the appropriate level. A “Raid Tier” is usually 3-5 connected raids. Savage mode is the more hard-core version, usually with better gear and dyeable versions of existing raid gear as rewards; With some effort even casual players can return to the savage modes of previous raid tiers and clear them, but for current or “On-Content” or “On-Level” raids, you usually want to practice making progress – AKA Progging – with the same people each week, which leads to Statics – Groups of players who meet repeatedly to practice and advance through the tiers.

My initial Exharchic gear; Various Raid night themed glamours (March Hare from Alice in Wonderland, a verdant summoner for Spring Attire, and a moon-called werewolf for Cults & Occult)

High-end raiding in Final Fantasy 14 isn’t something I have a lot of experience with, so it’s been something of an adjustment. I tell myself that I never stick with one job long enough to get great at it and to continue that trend, I volunteered after filling as a tank in Week 1 to play Summoner. I played Dancer and Samurai mostly before in high-end content (My Dancer was full Augmented Crystarium in 5.3, I did Memoria and Titania a few times as Samurai) so it’s been an adjustment to get up to par with a new class. But despite my own doubts, I’ve had a good time, and have a few pieces of gear to show for it. One of the more enjoyable parts of this static has been “Themes” for glamours each week; I may have spent more time hunting around for good clothes than practicing my rotations or learning fights.

Each week, you need reclears in order to get to the fight you’re actually practicing and trying to clear. We’re currently up to Eden’s Promise 11 Savage, with our progression on that fight hopefully starting on Friday, where we’ll have to clear the previous two fights, Umbra and Litany, before we can start on the new one. Hopefully things are pretty smooth, since there’s a few pieces of gear that I’ll be able to upgrade before then, thanks to Yesterday’s patch.

FFXIV Patch 5.5, Death Unto Dawn

Every patch brings a pile of new changes, but the highlights of Patch 5.5 are

  1. Tower at Paradigm’s Breach, The third YoRHa – Dark Apocalypse Alliance Raid
  2. Continuing the post-Shadowbringers Main Story Quest fighting the Telephoroi in the new Paglth’an dungeon
  3. The Sorrow of Werlyt – The Cloud Deck, A new Trial in the morose-mecha side story.

I went back and forth, but ended up waking up early on Tuedsday in order to get a head start. I’d normally do MSQ first, but since I ended up on Discord with seven friends, I opted to do those quests and unlock the raid first.

Uhm, What? The Alliance Discovers Mechanics, More Mechanics, Glams in the Copied Factory

I’m not as big a NieR nerd as many of my associates, but I enjoyed the raid’s absurd mechanics as much as their reactions; Despite my unfamiliarity I’m excited by a lot of the *ideas* that are thrown out. For example, lots of the Shadowbringers endgame dungeon, Mt Gulg, share some aesthetics with the Dungeon, nudging at deeper connections. There’s a few weeks of post-patch follow-up, so hopefully we’ll get to see a little more of this, but I expect to run this Alliance Raid a lot and enjoy myself.

However, wanting to hang out on the same server (Balmung) as my friends also led to another issue, later. (Servers on the same Data Center, like Crystal, allow travel between them pretty easily, with some limits on what you can do away from home server – Brynhildr, in my case)

I foolishly decided that I wasn’t going to take the day off from work, and ended up coming back in the evening to finish the MSQ. There’s an hour or two of new quests and story, exploring our new antagonists headed into the next expac, and also a Dungeon. My friend noted that the X.5 patch dungeons have, historically, been big assaults on the Garleans, Final Fantasy’s staple oppressive regime.

Patch 2.5 – Keeper of the Lake
Patch 3.5 – Baelsar’s Wall
PAtch 4.5 – Ghimlyt Dark

While the Empire has waxed and waned, it’s definitely in a low point here – yet no less dangerous, hollowed out and weaponized by our new antagonists. That leads to obvious parallels with Patch 4.5’s big dungeon, the Magitek ass-kicking that is The Ghimlyt Dark, and Paglth’an shares that triumphant tone, thanks to some bad-ass allies bolstered by a massive palette of orange plains and sunsets.

Serious Scholar Cat, Like everything else the plains of the Amalj’aa are huge, Dragons and Magitek, Dungeon glams

Finally, I jumped in to finish up The Sorrow of Werlyt quests. Each of these is a big fight with a big magitek baddie modeled after the eponymous Weapons from FF7 fame, and they are full of new fun ways to die alot. I am considering running the EX versions of all of them in the future, though.

I am especially fond of the setpieces for this fight. FFXIV has a history of boring round and square arenas, within which all of the dancing in and out of AoEs generally takes place. Recent content shakes this up more often than not, and this time, not only do we avoid having a fight on a square – but we decided to bring our own rectangle.

Extended Vacation

Remember how I mentioned that I world-traveled to Balmung to raid with people?

Nothing stopped me from joining a cross-world party; In theory, I didn’t actually have to travel to play with folks, but without crossing servers, we wouldn’t see or interact with each other, outside the raid.

But I intended to be social while hanging out with people on patch day, and spent a fair amount of time running around in Kholousia, showing off glamours and mount collections with other players, before running the YoRHa raid.

Not too long after, maybe while were in the raid, Square shut down World transfers due to some unforseen bug – which was apparently a big enough deal that it had rendered the Odin, Aegis, and Carbuncle servers inaccessible.

Being stuck off your homeworld has a few consequences. Perhaps most notable for me is that I was in a different server’s instances of my starting city, Ul’dah. On Brynhildr, Ul’dah is fairly quiet and, while not empty, at least rarely crowded.

Ul’dah on Balmung, however, is one of the most densely populated cities in Final Fantasy XIV, both because it’s a densely populated server in general, Balmung is known as an RP server, and perhaps most notably, because several locations in Ul’dah have a reputation as hubs for mature roleplaying of various sorts.

This though is mostly a funny anecdote next to the real annoyances; While traveling, I don’t have access to my retainers (who sell things on the Marketboard and hold a lot of my crafting items) and I don’t have access to my Free Company. The latter means I’m not notified when my friends in the FC log in, I can’t activate Free Company buffs, or the Company Chest where we store many of our valuable resources to share.

The biggest loss though is that I can’t run certain instanced content. In practice, this is two problems – I can’t go and participate in Treasure Maps, which are one of our Free Company’s staple activities, and is all the more lucrative because new materials which can only be found in these special dungeons are most expensive immediately after a patch. Secondly, It’s locked me out of the Ishgardian Restoration fetes. These are ongoing crafter-challenges in The Firmament in Ishgard, a zone inaccessible to world visiting players so that Restoration rewards didn’t go to visitors.

Thankfully, it does seem like this is getting fixed tonight – Emergency All-Worlds maintenance was announced earlier today. I’m curious to hear if there’s much of a postmortem on this, and it sounds like there’s an interesting developer story behind this bug, but no way to know if Square will share the details. Still, even with a fix scheduled, that means missing out on returning tonight

I haven’t decided whether I’ll try to find something to do on Balmung tonight, or just sit tight and wait until tomorrow to play substantially, but I’ve tried to take it in stride. I’m looking forward to catching friends who weren’t silly enough to wake up at 3 AM through this content, and I’m excited to tackle E11S on Friday. I noted last night that I have an unfortunate number of hours in FFXIV since starting nearly two years ago, but honestly, big days like yesterday – even with hiccups – remind me of what’s kept me playing this game for so long.


There’s more Shadow Mountain on the web at the links below:
Shadow Mountain @ Eorzea Collection
Shadow Mountain @ The Lodestone

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