You all know by now that it’s tradition for me to run my dungeon in these Final Fantasy XIV preview events as a new job. Yes, the precedent was established for exactly one preview event before this one, but I consider it to be an entirely relevant and necessary precedent that shall not be broken. So it was that I found myself running this dungeon on Gunbreaker, getting to try out the tank changes myself while also learning how to play the dang job.
Odds are that you aren’t really worried about whether or not the dungeons work at this point because of course they do. Final Fantasy XIV’s team has been making great dungeons at this point for years, and there’s no reason to believe that they’ll stop. But it’s still worth knowing how the experience feels and what does or doesn’t work on a whole. And, you know… Trusts.
While I don’t know any of the connective tissue around it, Dohn Mheg does bring a particular scene to mind… specifically, rampaging through the moogles in the Dark Knight questline. The whole of this particular dungeon has a very fairy-tale feel to it, like your party of highly trained and heavily armed adventurers are coming up against storybook beasties that also prove remarkably difficult to kill.
Most of the tricks I had already observed on Gunbreaker got to be put through their paces in the dungeon, as were role actions like being able to interrupt enemies. Quite a few pulls started with one of the enemies casting a buff on fellow members, which necessitated using Rough Divide to charge and then a quick Interject before establishing threat.
This did provide its own challenges, of course; I did feel the change in tank mechanics (or perhaps just the nature of Gunbreaker) insofar as I did feel a bit more fragile than my usual tanky characters. But I also had a fair array of defensive options, including my two single-target buffs that also worked on me as needed, which meant that I could keep using Aurora and Heart of Stone on myself to mitigate more damage.
That may even be part of the nature of the job; you’ve got lots of defensive and recovery cooldowns, but you also have softer natural defense and not quite the aggression-based mechanics of Warrior or Dark Knight. It felt fun, regardless.
The first boss had an interesting central mechanic in which he summoned geysers from the ground that took two “ticks” to fully erupt; thus, positioning was as much about avoiding the next burst as the current one. The bursts didn’t hit too hard, so that made life easier when people missed them (and someone always missed them, including me).
As is frequently the case, the second boss was more interesting; you can actually see him in the benchmark, the dragon-tree-thing. His name is Griaule and he likes to grow. He summons little seedlings that will make him grow, but you can stand near them to grow yourself; as he grows, he takes less damage and deals more, but as you grow you can keep up with him, which is a near mechanic. He’ll also periodically root everyone and you have to break the roots to dodge his long narrow cone of Swinge.
The last boss, meanwhile, features the one mechanic I’m a bit unsure of; at one point he pushes everyone to one side of the arena while placing himself at the other, and there’s a narrow path to traverse to reach him, break his shield, and prevent a big cast. I’m sorry to admit that I simply could not get over that gap reliably; maybe it was me being tired, maybe it was the unfamiliarity of the computer, maybe a lot of thing. Falling just sets you back with no damage, but it feels like it could be a failure state for some groups, and I think making the path a touch wider would mitigate a lot of the issue.
Still, my own shame at not getting that right didn’t mitigate the overall dungeon being fun and straightforward, easily up to the standards of previous dungeons while feeling distinct in its own right.
Trusting Minfilia again
The idea of having Trust companions running dungeons with you is an interesting one at face value. It has obvious advantages for people who, for whatever reason, don’t want to wait around for others in a queue as well as those who may not have the time to do a dungeon with other players. For DPS players working through the MSQ, it could be delightful. Having said that, it’s also fraught with pitfalls. Make the NPCs too good and there’s no reason to do these things with others at all; make them too bad and the option functionally isn’t there.
On balance, then, it feels like the experience got things just about right. The dungeon is not harder with Trust companions, but it is slower. The DPS appears to use little to no AoE, the healer DPS contribution is limited, and generally you have to deal with players who are reliable but perhaps a touch plodding.
What is interesting, though, is that these dungeons are still interesting, in part because your Trust companions interact with both one another and the dungeon itself during the run.
Playing as a Gunbreaker, my one real choice was between Alphinaud and Urianger as a healer; my DPS choices were limited to Minfilia (a Rogue, if you can believe it) and Alisaie (a Red Mage, naturally). And there was plenty of little incidental dialogue between the characters. Urianger notes the historical significance of bosses. Minfilia is a bit more timid when battles start. There’s banter back and forth between the characters along the way.
They also reliably use limit breaks and follow mechanics; at one point on the second boss I intentionally didn’t bother breaking myself out from the rooting vines, and sure enough Minfilia and Alisaie broke me out with plenty of time after dealing with their own roots. The lot of them were also dealing with that last tightrope walk far better than I was, too. Jerks.
In all honesty, I don’t think I’ll be using Trusts generally as my means of clearing these dungeons for the first time; even on DPS characters it’s more fun for me to play with other people. But I suspect that going back through them on alternate jobs and just to see how the dialogue plays out will be a thing that I do on occasion, and the feature works to do exactly what it’s meant to do. It turns your traveling party into an option instead of just an element that’s supposed to be there but never shows up in-game.
Not that I expect to use Thancred very often. He is still a foul cigarette boy, even as a tank.