Wisdom of Nym: First impressions of Final Fantasy XIV’s 5.5 content

    
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Roar.

This is a bit of an unusual case. I can’t think of any patch in recent memory that’s been so split between the quality of its content and the quality of its storytelling, to the point that I almost considered changing how I usually split up this particular column. Ultimately, I decided to go with the familiar split just because, well, it’s familiar. And while Final Fantasy XIV’s storytelling is one of its overall strengths, one or two weak offerings don’t change the fact that the content is what people will be doing for the next several months.

Plus, you know, this way I can avoid covering things in spoiler tags because the patch has been out for less than a week. So with that in mind, let’s talk about the content side of this patch in the aggregate. I would ask that you do your best to avoid further spoilers in the comments, but on a whole this article will seek to avoid any spoilers not otherwise already available via the patch notes.

Zap.

A place for lizards

Mechanically, Paglth’an is actually one of the simplest dungeons in recent memory. The first and second boss have a couple of unique mechanics, but otherwise it’s all pretty rote, and so it’d be easy to mark the overall dungeon down as being kind of basic in that regard. And to my mind that would also be entirely wrong because I actually think Paglth’an is one of the most interesting and inventive dungeons the game has had in a long while.

First and foremost, the second boss is basically the first time the game has attempted anything similar in terms of execution. I honestly find it one of the most inventive and original boss fights to date, and while it’s not one I’d like to see in every single dungeon, it does a great job recontextualizing things like openers, burst windows, and overall DPS rotations. The first boss also feels appropriately springy and unique, and the last fight feels nothing short of epic despite basically just coming down to lots of AoEs with dodge patterns that should be obvious.

Even more interesting is the look of the thing. No dungeon looks like this. No dungeon even looks close. I was a bit disappointed in trailers when it looked like we weren’t going to get to go up against the Amalj’aa themselves, but we do see plenty of the lizard men stomping around, and the dungeon pulls together many separate ideas like fighting with NPC allies, skipping portions of scenery, and breaking up the usual two-pulls-and-barrier structure that defined dungeons in this game for a long time. Did I mention that it was gorgeous?

It also hits that perfect sweet spot where it doesn’t quite feel trivially easy but it also doesn’t feel onerous to complete. It is, in short, a really good dungeon, and the sort of thing that’s going to be a lot of fun to be running a bunch over the next few months. The novelty of the vistas will start to fade, though.

Override.

Everything is towers

Look, we’re not talking about the story this week.

We’re not.

I promise, I’ll be angry next week.

Right now, let’s talk about the actual structure of the Tower, which is… actually pretty good! It definitely feels like another installment in this raid series, which has generally been marked by a somewhat playful attitude toward mechanics. Not that the mechanics aren’t serious, just that it’s clear that this is a showcase for trying new stuff and some of these mechanics will be weird to dodge or only obvious immediately after you get plastered by them.

The actual structure of the bosses is kind of awkward: two bosses, then trash, then another boss, then trash. It frontloads things a bit more than I think is ideal. And the third boss feels a little bit like it went overboard with the mechanics, especially with the middle segment where you have to hop into a separate instance for a direct showdown.

What you definitely can’t accuse it of, though, is laziness. There are legitimately mechanics throughout these fights that I’ve never seen before, and some of them are (as mentioned) obvious as soon as they go off how they’re supposed to work. The second and third bosses in particular have some very unique telegraphs that make perfect sense, but the first time you run them you’re likely to just be staring at a riot of stuff and be wondering what the heck is supposed to be going on.

I also like, for example, that the second boss requires two tanks to moderately coordinate, rather than splitting the raid into thirds – and it found a way to make both of your targets relatively important without trying to coordinate splitting the raid as a whole into two. And the last boss does feel appropriately epic, even if her building-crash ability is kind of hard to see as a telegraph (intentionally, I’m sure, but unclear is unclear).

As a capstone raid for the next few months, it’s an interesting ride with some unique challenges and an appropriately large-scale theme. About the worst thing I can say for it is that I don’t much care for any of the gearsets therein, but even that’s a pretty milquetoast complaint when the raid also offers a few other cosmetic rewards. Good stuff.

As for the story around it… damn it, not this week!

Zoomies.

Diamonds aren’t a girl’s best friend

As someone who doesn’t care for EX fights, I had really expected that Diamond Weapon’s whole armor-off routine would play a bigger role in the Extreme version. But no, it follows the same phase structure there – armor on, armor off, then armor on until the end of the fight. That makes the “armor off” segment feel a bit underused, as a whole.

Regardless, this actually is a pretty fun fight that makes use of a different style of arena, something I really do like. While a lot of FFXIV fights really do come down to “room with boss,” the game has always experimented a lot with how that room works, but up until now most of the Weapon fights really haven’t. Diamond Weapon’s split floor actually does play with that in interesting ways.

I also do like that the armor-off segment feels like a phase switch without actually being one. The mechanics change, but it’s still the same boss, and you face unique hazards. It’s one of the first bosses that manages to really feel like a dangerously fast opponent, which is something that’s happened in lore before but not so much in practice.

Beyond that, well, normal mode is still kind of pointless beyond story and I’m still not thrilled about that. Still, it’s an entertaining fight for that story.

And the story… oh boy. You know what, we’re going to call it here. We kind of have to. Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week, we’re going into the story of this patch and… oh, wow. Wow. Wow.

The Nymian civilization hosted an immense amount of knowledge and learning, but so much of it has been lost to the people of Eorzea. That doesn’t stop Eliot Lefebvre from scrutinizing Final Fantasy XIV each week in Wisdom of Nym, hosting guides, discussion, and opinions without so much as a trace of rancor.
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Dagget Burmese

The dungeons and trial were interesting but nothing to get too excited about. Same for the MSQ story. Now, the Sorrow Werlyt story was the one that really hit hard.

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Justtadude1

Can we also talk about how lovely the Tower music is? I’ve not played the Neir games (so the story feels more than a little esoteric to me) but I especially gushed over the last boss music anyway.

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cursedseishi

The music in FF14 is pretty strong overall, but even back when they teased us with the 5.1 trailer the Remixes were pretty much the star of it so I think it’s just… difficult to not gush about it at all. Which…

Well, music is like 50% of the reason to check out the NieR games! But music can also risk being a spoilery part of things with it too… Especially with this raid, the boss and some other little… details, including some things I only noticed while watching the fights and not playing. I’m still parsing (and remembering) things for references that I have no doubt slipped by me too.

But the music for the NieR raids definitely deserves a spotlight of its own. Especially when they mix some goddang great NieR music with some iconic Final Fantasy music–like this raid does. A particularly long-named orchestron roll you can get as a drop is like… #2, just like the ‘Prelude-Weight of the World’ fusion is literally my #1 favorite track in the game.

… Where is the goddang soundtrack, and how much for ten of them.

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Louie

“I honestly find it one of the most inventive and original boss fights to date”

I love the dungeon (and I enjoy this fight too), but it didn’t really floor me in a similar way because my reaction was just “Oh okay, it’s the second boss of Amaurot (adds) with the mechanics of Bismarck (limited time to deal damage to the boss) and the water rushing mechanic from the second boss of Matoya’s Relict last patch.”

Which isn’t to say it isn’t still fun and interesting, but it felt too familiar to really feel like a re-contextualizing shakeup to me. It was neat to see all those mechanics combined in this way though.

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Vincent Clark

Visually, the new dungeon was stunning. At first, the tight corridors and then it opens up onto the wide field…the sun glaring over the battlefield…beautiful stuff.

The Nier raid…some creepy stuff, visually again…stunning. Love the animations and new mechanics. The way certain AOEs were projected by your screen literally glitching like it was being hacked. Granted, not very FFXIV…but I see what they were going for with this particular collaboration and you can see where the work went.

As for the story…wow, yeah–looking forward to the second part of your summary! :)

Tizmah
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Tizmah

I was excited seeing the big field at the end of the dungeon thinking we might actually have our own direction in a FFXIV dungeon for once, sneaking past mobs and mob management…sadly no. They just drop us in a gated off trail again lol

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Ruby Lancer

Your comment on the second boss of the new dungeon, and how it recontextualizes things reminded me of how much I kind of miss the the way Alexander did Normal mode raids. Given how rare it can be to have people actually do countdowns for actual openers, making the Normal modes have trash to deal with before you get to the boss isn’t exactly going to change much.

I am a bit upset that we didn’t get any new “Final Boss” music in the dungeon as we tended to in the past X.5 dungeons, but they did change the boss music for the level 80 dungeons back in 5.2, so it isn’t like we didn’t get two sets of boss music, but still.

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Khalith .

I’m not unhappy about the music choice but admittedly it’s because I love Insatiable, it’s my favorite theme in the entire expansion so far and I legit turn up my speakers whenever I get in to a boss fight with it playing.