The Final Fantasy XIV – Return to Ivalice Raid is Awesome

Patch 4.1 -The Legend Returns just dropped yesterday for Final Fantasy XIV.  With it, came a bunch of new MSQ’s (surprisingly emotional), Shinryu Extreme (have yet to try), Hildibrand (freaking hilarious), & Beast Tribes (decent XP for leveling alts) just to name a few.  The one new addition that a lot of people were looking forward to the most (including myself), is the 24-man Return to Ivalice raid.  As a fan of Final Fantasy Tactics and Final Fantasy XII, this was a welcome addition to my favorite MMO.  Yasumi Matsuno (director of Final Fantasy Tactics, Final Fantasy XII & Vagrant Story) and Keita Amemiya (creator of the Garo television and film series, from which the Patch 3.5 PVP gear, weapons, and mount designs came from) have weaved their own new tale for FFXIV, and for the most part, story wise, it works.  There’s music pulled right from those games (if you manage to defeat the last boss you’ll be treated to an instantly recognizable theme), and the story brings back some familiar enemies and characters, with a twist.  The standout among this content though, as it should be, is the boss fights.  They can get pretty heated and require proper positioning and teamwork to get through.  It’s a breath of fresh air among the previous 24 mans.  I’m hoping for the next installment we’ll get to face off against one of the judges, or maybe Balthier & Fran could make an appearance.  For now though, this first battle in Rabanastre is more than enough to tide me over.

Where you at homies?

What’s immediately made apparent when you start the raid, is that the developers aren’t messing around.  The layout of Rabanastre isn’t anything special, you’ll navigate it easily.  It’s these boss fights that’ll test you.  If you’re running with a static you probably won’t find it too difficult, you’ll just get a dose of nostalgia.  Typically, I could run through the previous 24 man raids blind and have no problem with mechanics.  This one is a different beast.  The fights are very heavy on mechanics.  There’s fire and shit literally flying everywhere.  The 2nd boss Hashmal (one of the Espers from FFXII) summons giant pillars that he cuts and drops down on you if your positioning is off.  I joined a PUG for my first blind run and we got stuck on this guy for quite a bit (I’ve heard other groups say they experienced the same thing).  Everyone stayed calm though and we managed to stay together and finish it, which was well worth the effort.  Surprisingly, the last two bosses were the ones we only wiped once on.  As always though, they were all entertaining and I can easily see myself running this again and again.  It’s also a nice change from running Lakshmi Extreme (I’ve got my 99 totems for that goddamn mount.  NO. MORE. BOSOM).

I think what excites me most is that they’re actively exploring other worlds in the Final Fantasy universe.  We get little nods to the classics here and there (like the robot Scorpion from FF7 that’s the first boss in the Ala Mhigo dungeon), but now we’re getting full blown content.  At this rate, we’ll be battling it out with Sephiroth or going up against Kefka in no time (my heart be still).  It’s great fan service and introduces players who haven’t played these games to some amazing stories and characters.  The entire Stormblood expansion has encouraged me to go back and revisit FF5 because of all the references to it.  I can’t wait to see what world FFXIV takes us to next.

Have you ran the raid yet?  If so, did it impress or did it underwhelm you?  Let me know! – NVJ

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