Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker media tour: Previewing the Tower of Zot

Hands-on with the first dungeon of Endwalker

    
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Another dang tower.

So this is an interesting deviation from the usual set of dungeons that we see in the media tours. Normally, the dungeon that media gets access to is the second dungeon in the expansion – for Stormblood it was Shisui of the Violet Tides, for Shadowbringers it was Dohn Mheg. However, the Tower of Zot is clearly the first dungeon of this particular Final Fantasy XIV expansion, based on the level it syncs to and just the few bits of story that you find throughout the dungeon.

This is also particularly notable because it means that for the most part, existing jobs play the same as they did at level 80 for most of the dungeon, without the big level 90 marquee abilities and a generally familiar rotation. I took on the tower a few times with both trusts and other players, and it’s an interesting dungeon with slightly more mechanics than you might expect for an early expansion dungeon, exacerbated just a bit by server lag and the nature of the event. So let’s talk about the Tower of Zot.

First of all, a history lesson. The Tower of Zot was a dungeon in Final Fantasy IV housing the Magus Sisters, Barbariccia (the Archfiend of Air), and a variety of story encounters. It’s something of an outlier in the game’s dungeons in that it doesn’t have a clear location on the world map and can’t be revisited, making it a bit of a mystery. Then again, considering FFIV in general, I’d say it’s not surprising that we never learn where it was meant to be located or who exactly the eponymous Zot might be.

FFXIV‘s version is clearly meant to be a reference back to the original, although it has a far more pseudo-organic feel to its interior corridors. There’s a distinctly fleshy and unnerving quality to the entire set of events, exacerbated when during your rush into the tower it appears the primals that are the Magus Sisters appear to be summoned almost incidentally. At a glance, it’s likely at the inside of one of the Garlean towers that summons “lunar” versions of the various Primals.

The opening sections of the dungeon take place on a series of catwalks that almost feels spinal in the way they project across, with unnatural curves and a distinct lack of railings. (There’s a bit where your non-party companions jump off the catwalk that made me think it was possible to fall, which was unsettling.) Trash pulls are pretty normal here, with a mix between fights against single colossi and groups of tempered Garlean forces. The colossi in particular have a point-blank AoE that seems custom-made to show off creative use of Reaper’s backstep-and-recall move, as well.

Fighting with a reap.

All three of the Magus Sisters have been renamed more appropriately for the Thavnairian culture, but I confess to not remembering their names off the top of my head. The first boss has an interesting mechanic, though. She has four elemental spells she casts: Fire (an AoE with a safe spot at the point of origin), Thunder (a ripple AoE that spreads in a cross pattern from its central strike point), Blizzard (a radial AoE with forked safe spots), and Bio (a half-room AoE). What she does is send out little orbs “holding” the spells to a pair of spots in the room, which means that your job is to keep track of what she’s sending out and stand in the safe zones created by the delayed output of these spells.

This was really difficult to do based on the remote access of the event. I think it’ll be easier with less lag, but this served as a hard roadblock for a lot of people in this particular event. It’s a lot of dodging, to boot. Don’t be surprised if some players get stuck on this boss when the expansion first launches.

Following the boss, you move into a series of internal rooms that look like… well, fleshy rooms linked by bone corridors. These trash pulls feature some really goofy-looking enemies and more magitek monsters along with Garlean troops, and the whole thing felt… disturbing. Like, this was downright unsettling compared to what you’d expect for a start-of-expansion dungeon through and through, right down to the Garlean troops having the loose-limbed “zombie” movements.

The second boss is much easier than the first one. She has two major attacks. The first is a time-delayed Stop ability followed by straight-line AoEs; your goal there is just to spread out so that you’re not getting hit by multiple strikes at once. The second is summoning clones of herself, with all of the clones except one emoting. You’re supposed to run to the one who is not emoting to be safe from the subsequent cluster of AoEs, followed by running away from her small point-blank circle damage attack. It’s pretty rinse-and-repeat, all told.

From there, you move to the upper levels of the dungeon, which finally has some guardrails that look like ribcages along the walkway. Evil monsters scanning the organic hell-tower for OSHA compliance should take note. There’s actually somewhat more trash here than is usual ahead of the last boss, more akin to the last set of rushes in Holminster Switch, but it’s a good breather before the intensity of dodging once you get to the final boss.

KER-SLICE

See, as there are three Magus Sisters, you probably already ascertained that the final boss would be the third sister and you would now have to face off against her. Simple enough. However, those who remember the structure of actually fighting these ladies would remember that you fight them all at once… and sure enough, the last boss promptly summons her sisters, turning the fight into an odd dance of dodging mechanics as the trio bounce a variety of stacking AoEs off one another cycling through Blizzard, Thunder, and Fire spells. The bright side is that there’s less pre-emptive dodging required here; if you’ve made it this far, you can map out the patterns as they happen reliably.

I’m a bit curious about the best way to take out the bosses at this point. What I actually did during my various runs was to focus on the third sister, then take out the other two one at a time. The one time I ran the dungeon as a tank, I didn’t have to work to keep threat on the other two sisters, suggesting that they all follow the same threat table. However, it might actually be faster to drag all of them together and AoE them down, since the fight doesn’t end until all three drop.

Fortunately, once one sister is down, the fight gets significantly easier as they no longer use their room-wide three-part AoEs, and the other two sisters seem to have a greatly reduced HP pool.

Interestingly enough, the intro cutscene and final boss cutscene were not present for this dungeon, nor was there a “duty complete” cutscene. I’m not sure whether that was intentional and will carry through into the final version or it was just for this media tour build. Regardless, the dungeon is fun and a solid example of the design that FFXIV has excelled at for years; it makes me excited to run more in the future.

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Andrew Clear

What I noticed from other people’s reports on this dungeon, is that if you killed any of the other sisters before the 3rd sister (the sister that starts alone in the fight), on the final boss fight, then the 3rd sister will revive them.