It seems that my catching up with older dungeon & raid content which came in addition to MSQ will take longer than expected. The reason is: queues!
Well, it’s only natural to expect that, because, duh, this is group content. Given the number of encounters, especially with a 12-boss streak of normal raids, it’s not happening too fast. So, I spent 2 days on Stormblood alone, and I will need a break before I proceed with Shadowbringers – and moreover, a second alt to walk through the same raids and dungeons.
So, there were four groups of content to cover – three more or less standalone dungeons (although Swallow’s Compass is a part of raid story), the Beast Lord story of three trials, the Omega story of 12 normal raid encounters and the Ivalice alliance raid trio.
Dungeons: I liked them a lot. They proved to be not harder than leveling ones, we covered them easily. What is important is that they covered the Far East theme, in my opinion underrepresented during MSQ and even side questlines. We got a traditional training monk theme in Rhalgr’s Reach, a classic Japanese castle in Kugane, and tapped into wuxia and Monkey King vibe with Swallow’s Compass – all of them done so immersive and well. Maybe I can finally walk out sated from Othard, although Yanxia zone still remains not too developed – not what it should have been as a nod to IRL China.
The Beast Lord story was, well… ok. I absolutely loved the encounters which gave us some hard time, especially the phoenix one. As best FFXIV trial examples are, you learn the idea and mechanics, and the encounter never turns into a mess, but becomes an intricate dance in-between the deadly blades.
Not a fan of Soroban, like at all, but it was mitigated by Tataru, a rare – well, never – a Scion to participate in the actual dangerous events. The story itself was quite simple, totally in the vein of Chinese IRL stories, and quite fine to pose a local but brutal threat and means to cope with it – no more, no less.
Can’t help admiring the humanized beast lord incarnation, it was a feast for the eye:
Omega story was my favorite in all the Stormblood. First of all, the cogs clicked into places in my brain as I remembered Endwalker finale, and I was like “Oh. OHHHHHH!” with recognition. Replaying the MSQ on my alt will have a lot more immersement and meaning now.
We got some cool dragon lore, we got a constant, always welcome clash of Nero/Cid (especially the infirmary finale, I laughed so hard), and Omega itself was such a good take on cold, soulless robots while allowing to go totally crazy with the encounters. I thought Alexander raid was fun – well, Omega surpasses it by a mile in terms of being totally unrestricted. In Alexander, the bosses were all bound to steampunk theme (perfectly done, btw), but Omega is so wild and different – you never know what boss comes next. Fighting an actual train? Give me a dozen.
And of course, Alpha the merry chocobo chicken adds up to the whole quirkiness.
That all said, I’m not a fan of Cid Garlond and his team of Garlond Ironworks. To my liking, they are one of the most boring and annoying crews and characters in the whole FFXIV saga, and it’s a pity that they’re bound to pop up whenever some tech shit is going on and be our guides for the whole run. So this spoiled the fun a bit – if not for Nero and Alpha, lightening the mood, it would have been a lot less enjoyable.
Return to Ivalice – was precious to “explore” the lore of Ivalice and Dalmasca, not presented in the open world and lore.
Stunning, gorgeous, enormous raid environments – is the best thing in all this arc. A sheer scale is what I always like about alliance raids, and this incarnation did not disappoint at the very least.
The encounters were cool, totally worth an epic raid value. Although, to my shame, I was incapable of learning tactics beforehand – even if I had 60-90 minute queues for the wings, the longest so far. When you open a dungeon guide and you read: alright, this is 20 simple things you need to know about this boss (multiply by 4 by the number of encounters), and I just close it, cause it’s such a strain for what is going to be a 5-minute fight. So, I learned the encounters in the field, and to my credit, did not die excessively – that is, I was not the only one always kissing the field, and I managed to dodge almost every stuff to be dodged. Of course, now I’ve seen and experienced the fights, so on alt or during alt job roulettes I’ll fare a lot better.
The story itself was quite interesting, the whole theater and its boss thing, the crocodile and bunny people, the link to Garlemald lore, and exploring the old tombs and ruined cities never hurts. For some stupid reason they sent me on a wine errand right in the middle, totally unrelated to the main story, and what was supposed to be a comic relief turned into a massive source of irritation. And Ramza… well, no matter how they tried to redeem a first-brat-then-a-fine-guy-realizing-his-mistakes, the common FFXIV trope, I think they went too far. Look at me, even by the end of the raid I felt a very strong urge not to help him up, but kick him, literally, no matter if he was conscious or not:
Anyways, a great experience: Stromblood delivered a ton of great group content, and that seals the expansion. What of glamour? Omega gear is amazing, I’ve dressed my samurai in this set, and I think I maybe even farm it on alt jobs. Ivalice raid was crappy and boring to my taste, so I always skipped the “Need” option after trying it on – even if I were the only guy in the raid with this armor type, so basically a 100% chance of getting a piece.
So, what now?
I’m making a break from new raid/dungeon content, and today’s goal is leveling up 6 alt jobs through Shadowbringers, then I might explore this expansion – so that alt jobs were valid for the 80 level dungeons and raids, and I could swap them as I like. It also helps with experience (surprise): I did all the Stormblood content on samurai, and 1,5 level is not something to wave away easily.
P.S. Oh, and winning a scythe from Holminster dungeon finally made me to roll Reaper! Obviously, on Lalafell:
So far, quite fun. The rotation is super easy and enjoyable, yet another job to explore. Someday.