Greetings, fellow Eorzeans—oh, where are my manners? My name is Sena, and I will be your new columnist for the Eorzean Evening Post, running alongside the ongoing Echoes of Eorzea. Starting today, I will humbly place myself at your service, delivering my thoughts on current content as much as the Twelve would allow. Before we scurry over to content, please allow me to give a brief introduction, as well as a short tale as to how the game has earned my love as a player.
Final Fantasy was never a title I would associate with my youth, and while I have enjoyed the likes of Chrono Trigger and other games associated with what was then known as Squaresoft, Final Fantasy was not one of them. My journey started as early as 2.0, which was more of an impulse buy after getting burned out on World of Warcraft. With no level of familiarity towards the franchise, I found myself dropping it moments after reaching the first Ifrit fight. I am more inclined to play fighting games than other genres, but there was something about FFXIV that constantly badgered me to renew my subscription, almost like it’s calling me—and no, it wasn’t cat girls.
I made my way back shortly after the implementation of the Dreams of Ice patch (2.4), starting fresh and embracing the story and fight mechanics more. Sure enough, I couldn’t stop playing after taking it all in, jumping straight into Eorzea and looking for more things to do after a long day’s work. Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn was more than just a great MMO for me, it was the catalyst that sparked my love for a franchise I hadn’t paid attention to since its conception. Soon, I found myself playing a myriad of Final Fantasy games, further familiarizing myself with its colorful set of characters and the job system which I so adored in XIV. Eorzea is perhaps the most immersive world I’ve come across in my entire gaming life, tugging at my heart with its rich lore and endearing characters. Like you, I have faced numerous foes, bested powerful Primals, and yet was still the most useless person in the Sultana’s banquet. ‘Sloppy’! I love this game, and consider it a great honor to be able to write about it.
The Land Is Alive, So Believe
We are currently in the third week of patch 4.2, Rise of A New Sun, and it has yet to disappoint with its rich content that most players have barely covered. It’s almost comforting to hear the hustle and bustle echoing from the walls of Rhalgr’s Reach, as well as the houses of inactive Free Companies that had laid dormant during the drought. It’s these updates that really breathe life back into their respective MMO worlds, providing us with the satisfying feeling of having to climb a new tower of content. I easily become overwhelmed by new content, as I tend to get as excited as a kid with a free-pass to all theme park rides. You just don’t know where to start. Luckily, the patch’s trailer set my priorities straight, sending me floating down to Gyr Abania for a shot at Sigmascape. Sadly, the transition wasn’t seamless with players getting booted out of mandatory cutscenes, denying them access to the new raid.
Omega: Deltascrapped (Few Fight Spoilers Ahead)
Just as Deltascape’s lineup consisted of bosses from Final Fantasy V, Sigmascape encounters hailed from the much-loved Final Fantasy VI. It did a fine job of recycling old mechanics while keeping things fresh by weaving twists and new abilities in between. This, of course, made us all the more excited about their Savage counterpart because, I feel that, the former lost its appeal far too early. The first week was not very fruitful, with a series of server maintenances and connection issues on top of having to learn each fight. Luckily, we were able to beat V3.0S in the first week and have begun progression on 4.0S on the last few days of the second one. The experience Sigmascape brought was exquisitely superior to its tiered predecessor from a learning standpoint, mostly because of how different it felt on the whole. One thing that often bugs me at the start of each raid is how the game reuses most of its mechanics from older fights, be it through markers or concepts. There will always be an eye to look away from, a stack marker to run in, and a tether to break; luckily, Sigmascape showcases new things more than it recycles.
Sigmascape V1.0 Savage was definitely the best way to kickstart the tier, with the encounter loosely contained on a single platform. Being able to jump on top of the train and getting kidnapped by ghosts was a nice touch, brushing off the trend of fights taking place within a fixed arena. The fight encouraged an entry level of team coordination, with ghosts that must be led into puddles of light to prevent them from taking allies inside the passenger cart. The Phantom train’s presentation was top notch, with its gimmicks akin to recoverable setbacks instead of outright killing you. It succeeds in portraying the speedy theme of the encounter, emphasizing the illusion of being pressed for time while the boss tries its best to stall you. Looking back, I can say for certain that Alte Roite had nothing on this fight. The only thing I disliked about it is the fact that you can’t suplex the damn thing.
I remember being both dumbfounded and entertained when Deltascape’s Halicarnassus used “The Game” in one of her phases. It was fourth-wall breaking but greatly cemented how different Stormblood’s raids are compared with Alexander. Sigmascape continues this creative streak by bringing us more activated mechanics and another instance-specific button. V2.0S was pretty fun in its own right, even though it was a little bit easier than the previous fight. In addition to the paintings already present on normal mode, the Savage version adds paint and a Siren painting into the mix. The fight was more like a simple dance with highly manageable RNG, which was a tad disappointing. The normal version gave me the impression that we’d be dealing with some intense RNG paint combinations; sadly, the fight was pretty straightforward, with most party members having little interaction with said paintings outside of activating the water buff. Still, what it lacked in difficulty it surely made up for with creativity. Timing the brushes for mechanics and flying around in mini planes was a treat, and I don’t think we’ve had someone ride a contraption that pushes or pulls bombs away from the party since Alexander’s second fight. I had a lot of fun learning V2.0S, and hope they continue adding more interactable arenas like this in the future.
If there’s anything Sigmascape shares with the previous tier, it’s how the difficulty spikes from 2S to 3S. The Guardian fight teaches us that humanity is not ready for such breakneck speeds. I’m of course referring to the missiles, which becomes frustratingly forgettable when paired with a couple of mechanics. Hell hath no fury like a raid group wiping to missiles at around three percent. It was this fight that shattered the glass on what the patch brought more than anything else—BULLET HELL. It’s almost as if Yoshi P was playing Touhou one day and immediately jotted down “active dodging” on his patch planner. This is made even more evident by the Byakko fight, which gave off a Nier Automata vibe. Admittedly, I enjoyed having to dodge these projectiles. It was a fine way to test a group’s attentiveness and greatly increases the tension of having to perform the simple tasks sandwiched in between. The copy/paste part also gave us a bit of trouble, making us store a certain mechanic at the back of our heads whilst watching out for its other gimmicky moves. From a difficulty standpoint, I would say that the Guardian gave us a harder time than Deltascape’s Halicarnassus, though it’s a fight I definitely liked more.
Moving on to 4.0S, Kefka played with our senses early on, with him bombarding us with a series of AOE/stack markers that could be either fake or real, similar to his Normal counterpart. Think of it as a harder version of the “Truth and Lie” mechanic from Rabanastre. I’m quite fond of how Stormblood cuts these final encounters into two segments instead of it being one long fight. While it reduces the difficulty expected from a savage fight, it does make for a more seamless raiding experience when it comes to cooldowns and resources. It’s not like these guys hit you with pillows, so some leeway is always welcome. We’ve been able to reach the enrage timer a couple of times and will hopefully see God Kefka in the next few days. It’s too bad both Omega bosses didn’t have voiceovers seeing as Dissidia NT (PS4) featured a modern take on both of the character’s voices. Oh well, at least they kept the original SNES laugh.
I will be sure to update everyone on our progress, as well as more information on future content. Cheers and a big ‘thank you’ to 8-Wonders (Tonberry) for the fun raiding experience.Related: Column, Eorzean Evening Post, Final Fantasy XIV, MMORPG, PvE, Raids, Square Enix, Stormblood