Well, Final Fantasy XIV:ARR is now a thing. The not so new game has gone through its fourth beta phase, into its early access period, and into official release. The (re)launch has officially happened, bumps and bruises have been felt along the way.
We have read the reports of the not so trivial problems associated with the launch. The game has been inaccessible to many, locked behind full world queues and plagued by a rigid lack of formal queue. Suffice to say, the launch to the new game has been a rocky one.
But the game itself, for those inside it, has been a great experience. The client is quite stable, the content is quite good, the game is fun! Indeed, most of the problems being experienced stem from an overwhelming number of people wanting to play. If you are going to have a problem in your launch, that’s a good one to have.
I want to take this column to talk about the content of the game. In particular, boss fights. The Final Fantasy series is well known for its epic and exciting bosses and a Realm Reborn certainly delivers. I have only played through 38th level at the writing of this article, but I have played through all of the group content along the way.
Here, in ascending order, are my choices for the five “best” boss fights in Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. This isn’t a scientific thing, it’s my opinion. It is primarily focused on the fights themselves, not the staging of the fights. It’s a look at the mechanics, novelty, complexity and coordination required. It is, of course, all highly debatable.
#5 Ichorous Ire [Copperbell Mines]
Located in the level 19 Copperbell Mines, the Ichorous Ire is one of the early bosses you encounter. It certainly isn’t the most exotic looking boss, the Ire is a simple blob of goo. The fight isn’t mechanically rich, it has one primary trick to it. Once you figure out that trick, it’s a very straight forwards fight.
What I like about the Ire fight is that your initial response to fighting a boss is completely the wrong response. No serious spoilers here, but this fight is more subtle than a typical boss fight. What’s great is that you run into this at level 18 or so while you are still getting the feel for what your class does.
The Ire stands out more from its promise than anything else. I like a game that is willing to make you stop and think about your approach to a fight. It’s great to see FFXIV take this step, this early into the characters' development.
#4 Teratotaur [Sunken Temple of Qarn]
The Sunken Temple of Qarn is the second “optional” dungeon in FFXIV:ARR. Most of the dungeons are required parts of the main story progression. If you wish to proceed on the primary story arc, which is necessary to unlock most character development, you have to hit the primary dungeons. There are a few optional ones though. Starting with Halatali at level 20 and including the Sunken Temple at 35, these optional dungeons are there for people who just enjoy group based fights.
The Sunken Temple really ratchets up the game complexity. Each fight is mechanically rich. Heck, even the trash fights bring mechanics in Qarn! There are also a couple of fights in this dungeon that will be real headaches for unprepared groups. Teratotaur, the first boss in Qarn, in just such a fight.
This fight is an individually complex fight. Regardless of your class, there are several mechanics happening. Most importantly, there are usually at least two mechanics going on at the same time. Failing to properly counter these is a wipe guaranteed.
It’s a fight that benefits from voice communication, but it’s not required. Each person has to learn the fight and then has to execute on what they have learned. Failure to learn and execute is a wipe waiting to happen. Organized groups will enjoy this fight, disorganized groups will break up.
#3 Titan [Primal]
Titan is the second Primal fight and is encountered around level 35. Titan isn’t as well staged as Ifrit, the Lord of the Inferno gets a very nice cutscene and a solid lead-in story. Titan, by comparison is a much more low key entrance and the quest lead in for the fight is disjointed.
But Titan's battle delivers.
He enters with an introduction seemingly from a World Wrestling Federation production. His music is something to experience and the fight itself takes place on a platform sitting over lava. Fall off the platform and you wipe. Titan also brings plenty of tricks to help you fall off said platform. This one keeps you on your toes. It also requires you to make good mid-fight decisions. Playing your role and addressing mechanics must all take place with an eye towards positioning relative to future mechanics.
#2 Lady Amandine [Haukke Manor]
Lady Amandine is the final boss in the haunted house themed Haukke Manor. This dungeon is part of the main story arc and encountered around level 28. Haukke Manor is one of my favorite dungeons in the early game and Lady Amandine is a big part of that.
This fight is all about coordination. Mechanically you rarely have to deal with more than one thing at a time. The key to Amandine is that each person has a role in each mechanic. Everyone in the party has to respond properly to the mechanic. Not just in a “get out of the goo” way, but in a coordinated manner where each person does a different thing (again, I’m treading light on spoilers).
The final 30 seconds or so of this fight can also be hectic and crazy. Depending on your party composition, dealing with the final stage can be fairly easy or very messy. Either way, you need a plan and that plan has to take into account your party composition.
#1 The Adjudicator [Sunken Temple of Qarn]
The Adjudicator is another coordination fight. The final boss in the Sunken Temple, he brings a can of whipping along and there are several things to respond to as the fight progresses.
Some of the responses require patience, some of them require haste. All of them require movement and some of that movement needs to be coordinated. It’s not just “get out of the goo,” it’s sending two different people in two different directions while still getting out of the goo. You have been learning about this fight every step of the way through the Sunken Temple (barring one or two small surprises), it’s a matter of putting it all together.
I genuinely understand anyone who is frustrated about the FFXIV launch. It’s been rough, I have guild mates who have barely been able to log in over the first few weeks and it's a given that our Mumble server had one or two people trying desperately to login to the game at any given time. Hopefully those congestion issues are resolving and access to the game becomes the simple thing it should be.
The game itself is great and, assuming you can login, its one of the better MMO’s to hit the stores in a while. The stories vary from good to great. The people in the towns “feel real” and some really give you a chuckle. The world itself is very nicely realized and there are some interesting themes to discuss in future articles.
Most importantly, to me, the group content is simply fun. From what I gather from higher level guild mates, the content increases in complexity the rest of the way to 50th. Some of the encounters have pretty solid learning curves and we aren’t even to the real endgame stuff just yet. It leaves me very optimistic for Crystal Palace when it arrives and Bahamut’s Lair when it’s accessed.
Have you had a chance to face off with any of these bosses? Were there others you liked that I left out? Have you had any luck defeating the notorious monsters 90000 and 1017? Join us in the discussion below.
Ryahl / Ryahl is a columnist for MMORPG.Com. He is also the host and primary author for Eorzea Reborn and TSWGuides. He has been playing MMO’s since 1999 and frequently gets at least 2 of his top 5 picks right. You can follow him on Twitter @EorzeaReborn or just argue