Welcome to part four of my ongoing Final Fantasy XIV adventures as a WoW Refugee™.
In this episode, I’ll be wrapping up my experiences after clearing Shadowbringers’ second Savage raid tier: Eden’s Verse.
As with my previous entry, I would like to start by stating that this will not be a guide on how to beat these bosses, I will simply give my review and share my thoughts on each of the four fights—once again, from the perspective of a so-called WoW refugee.
If a proper guide is what you seek then may I suggest Lycona DaCheeChee’s ezpz guides.
I originally was not intending to participate on this raid tier, as I was severely time constrained at the start of 2020, no to mention that I am continuously and actively seeking a legal way out of this country along my brother, which is one of my biggest goals and burdens right now—plus, the group of friends that I raid with (which, just like me, hail from WoW) weren’t originally planning to participate this time around.
Then along came COVID-19 and the quarantine lockdowns, which ruined everyone’s plans. Long story short, we grouped up and got ready to go.
We started way late, several weeks after the release of FFXIV’s 5.2 patch, and the road itself was very bumpy due to time and scheduling issues, and unforeseen internet connectivity issues, but at last, we cleared the tier on the 22nd of June.
In order to accommodate changes in our roster and newcomers, I had to switch from Gunbreaker tank to Red Mage—yes, meme at me if you will for playing pleb mage. While not the strongest DPS class, it is one that’s very latency friendly for me (there are some classes that I can’t properly play due to my Internet), although in retrospective I believe I should’ve gone Ninja or Monk—too late now.
I will go through each of the four bosses in Eden’s Verse in order, and at the end I’ll give my overall conclusions on this raid tier, and what I think of Final Fantasy XIV’s raid experience so far. It’s worth mentioning that the Eden raid series is my first and so far only raiding experience in this game, so I will be measuring it as a self-contained experience.
Half horse, half man, all business.
Fulmination, or E5S, is the entry point of Eden’s Verse. Coming from the previous tier (Eden’s Gate), Fulmination Savage’s difficulty feels just fine, it’s not as punishing as Titan Savage, nor is it as easy as Eden Prime, that doesn’t mean the fight is a pushover, and it’s not without moments where a single person’s mistake can instantly cascade into a disastrous wipe for the group, which without a doubt are the hardest parts of the encounter.
Being a remix of the original Ramuh fight in A Realm Reborn, the surge protection orb mechanic makes a return, although I wished this encounter did more with it beyond simply “pick one to counter the empowered mechanic or you’ll die—don’t pick more than three or you’ll have a bad time.”
If you already have some FFXIV Savage raiding experience under your belt, even if it’s just from the previous tier, then you’ll have no problems learning the fight, as all of the mechanics are simply a continuation of the development team’s design ethos: Stand in your spot, stack, spread, and dodge accordingly.
The most interesting mechanic of the fight is the Raiden add, and that’s something that under normal circumstances is something that the off-tank has to deal with. I think there’s something wrong with it because I’ve seen the add straight up attack someone else, which, due to the nature of the fight, results in an instant death.
The boss theme for this right, Twice Stricken, is a superb way to pump you up and get you into the mood of the fight, and a great jam to start the tier.
Furor: Ifrit & Garuda
Devilman and Sirene.
Of the four Eden’s Verse fights, this is my least favorite, here you are, fighting against two bosses at a time, but the encounter doesn’t give you a proper two-boss experience, at least not the one that I would expect.
The fight starts with Garuda, and she gives you a basic runoff of her abilities. After a few minutes she departs the arena and Ifrit comes and does the same, giving you a firsthand look at his mastery of fire. A few minutes later and they both briefly attack you at once, giving you a combined mix of what you’ve dealt with so far.
After a short intermission they will both combine into Raktapaksa (don’t ask me how to pronounce that) and that’s when the fun begins.
This is the most livid and adrenaline-fueled part of the encounter, which you will get to experience less and less as your team’s gear improves, since you will be skipping the final scripted mechanics of the encounter out of sheer numerical dps brute force.
Overall, I feel like they should’ve done more with the fact that you have two bosses at once, I don’t know, making their abilities affect each other through the use of clever positioning, or even altering the combat arena via manipulating their wind and fire abilities—coming from WoW, that’s the sort of thing I’d expect.
Primal Angel, this counter’s boss theme, is a remix that combines both Primal Judgement and Fallen Angel, tracks composed by Nobuo Uematsu for the original 1.0 version of Final Fantasy XIV’s and then reused in A Realm Reborn.
As a remix it’s not bad per-se, the Garuda parts of the track are the ones I liked the most, while the Ifrit halves are the weakest in my opinion.
Iconoclasm: Idol of Darkness
The boss itself is just an Idol (of Darkness) surrounded by a flock of light-aspected bird creatures. You will be fighting this thing atop the Primal Eden, thus, FFXIV’s iteration of the iconic Force your Way theme from Final Fantasy VIII plays once more. As one of the few FFVIII fans on the planet, this track is what makes the fight for me.
It’s a more fun encounter than Furor in my opinion, while at first the whole 4×4 grid + red/blue portal gimmick seems intimidating, it becomes beyond trivial once you realize that the patterns are very predictable and easy to deal with, only requiring 1/8 of the platform for some of then.
Being the (former) WoW
junkie raider that I am (was), the whole light-dark switcheroo aspects of the encounter remind me of 2009’s Wrath of the Lich King’s Twin Valkyr, but unlike that encounter, where the mechanic was a more active part of the fight, here it takes a much more passive approach, which, one again, gives me a clear reminder of the differences in design philosophy between both MMOs.
This encounter gets bonus points for an apt use of the word Iconoclasm, it gives the fight some pretentious prestige. It also becomes the easiest of the quartet once you nail down the portal mechanics, which itself doesn’t take long, making it a little disappointing in my opinion, but this perceived easy difficulty is offset by what’s to come.
The apex of this raid tier. Eden’s Verse best and most punishing encounter of the tier, by far. This is a fight I love to hate, and a fight I hate to love.
Refulgence is an encounter that you will hate when progressing through it, because you will be stuck at many of its steps to the point of frustration, however, you will rapidly grow fond of how the encounter works. By the time my group mastered it it instantly became one of my top FFXIV boss encounters so far.
Light Rampant is perhaps the biggest wall of the fight, and I’m not exaggerating, Shiva will flatten your whole team with it. There are many ways to deal with it, all just as valid, doesn’t matter which one you choose, it will take some time to master.
This fight feels like the most complete of the bunch. Much like it’s normal mode version, it’s split into two halves, with an add phase intermission separating them. The Savage-only version introduces its own set of mechanics.
From what I’ve gathered, this boss has the hardest dps check of a boss of its kind since Heavensward’s Midas raids, so it’s safe to say that it’s the hardest challenge in the game right now outside of the three Ultimate encounters—which I don’t feel like doing due to time constrains, I’m already miserable enough as it is.
Return to Oblivion, Refulgence’s boss theme that kicks in during the second half of the encounter, its way above the rest of the tier’s tracks, I will go as far as to claim that its one of the best pieces of video game music released in recent times. The song is indeed catchy, so catchy that I’ve made several memes out of it, including a pseudo vaporwave clip:
Heck, I may even do a complete and proper Vaporwave remix of it.
I highly recommend checking out Alex Moukala’s fantastic analysis of this track. Even if you absolutely hate this game I strongly insist you listen to this song (and his channel).
I accidentally learned how to do the Icelit Dragonsong mechanic thanks to something I made with the sole purpose of practicing some video editing things—and they say you don’t learn anything from making memes.
Without a doubt, this fight was a very good combination of fun, music, and difficulty. The fight clocks almost fourteen minutes, it’s quite the long one, so it’s ok to feel frustrated if you wipe at the very last parts of it.
Comparing Battle for Azeroth’s utterly lackluster cinematic, Refulgence’s normal mode ending cutscene feels like FFXIV’s dev team was flexing on Blizzard, it’s a very weeb cutscene, but the sheer difference in quality is astounding.
Mid-expansion raiding thoughts
Now for my general review of the tier as a whole. First, some biased personal rankings:
Boss fun-factor: Shiva > Idol of Darkness > Ramuh > Ifrit/Garuda
Music: Shiva >>>> Ramuh > Ifrit/Garuda. Force your Way doesn’t count since it’s not new to the game, but I will never get tired of it.
Difficulty: Shiva >>>> Ramuh >= Ifrit/Garuda > Idol of Darkness
The tier itself felt more tiresome to progress than Eden’s Gate. I will give it the benefit of the doubt and make the case for it that due to the state of the world (COVID, lockdowns, protests, riots, et al) the enthusiasm and motivation to do these encounters wasn’t at its highest—and the burnout gets real pretty quickly.
To my knowledge, each encounter was designed by a different group of people within FFXIV’s dev team, yet, when weighing the full package, all four of them feel very same-y in terms of execution. I could be speculating and talking out of my ass here, but I suppose that the game’s dated engine and technical debt is getting in the way of more elaborate combat mechanics and boss encounters.
These perceived gameplay limitations are really harming the game’s offerings when it comes to raid encounters. It is also what makes the encounters feel very mechanic and repetitive, as when handled properly there’s little to no elements of surprise. While the mechanics of these bosses can have variations, many are limited to a strict binary difference, ie. something that spawns in North and South can also spawn in East and West, If it’s not left its right, etc.
If you’re already tired of how FFXIV bosses work, then Eden’s Verse is more of the same, if you’re fresh then you will have a better experience, your mileage may vary, of course.
The fights themselves are carried by that which makes Final Fantasy XIV special: the presentation, flashy spell effects, and a beyond fantastic soundtrack, these are the highest points, not the technical offerings and mechanical abilities of the bosses themselves—the dev team knows this, and they play these strengths to their fullest.
I do hope that the next raid, or most likely the expansion after Shadowbringers will bring some new ingredients to an already stale raid boss gameplay. You can only do so many stack/spread/dodge combinations before you’ve done them all. As for the final four bosses themselves, my only wish is that there’s more FFVIII references on them. Eden’s initial plotline of restoring the elements to The Empty one boss at a time is done, so the final bosses can be literally anything now.
Ultimecia? A remix of the Man with the Machine Gun? God I hope so.
I don’t have plans to participate in the last Eden tier, as events have been set into motion with regards to my eventual escape from this country. However, should COVID continue to keep me stranded here well then I will give it some consideration, if only to keep me entertained and to complete the whole expansion’s raid cycle. It also depends on my group’s plans—we’ll see.
Until next time!