It’s April. The expansion’s just over the horizon. So you’d be forgiven for wondering what the best use of your remaining subbed time would be. Well, if you’re not interested in Palace of the Dead, recent patches have opened a new option to casual players: Alexander Savage.
Alex Savage wasn’t that difficult to begin with, but it still appeals to a very narrow section of the playerbase. You need to do a huge amount of prep — starting with finding a group that shares your schedule — before getting through the door, and various raids throughout Heavensward have presented a pretty unappealing challenge. Living Liquid, for example, was not at all for the faint of heart, nor for the faint of interest; it shattered the resolve of plenty of people who were seriously committed, to say nothing of casual groups.
But now we’re in the Heavensward’s final stretch, Alex Savage is more appealing than ever. I’ve said in previous columns that the latest tier of raids were enjoyable and accessible to the point that there’s never been a better time for schmucks like you and me to give Savage a try, and with the addition of the Echo — the buff to damage and healing that’s added to older content like Primals — it’s got even better.
Let me explain: I did A9 and A10 before the echo with a team that was a lot better than me. I was never in a position to find my own static, but my free company’s occasionally needed someone that could mash 1 and who wouldn’t cry if they got shouted at. That I could do. It was fun, but it wasn’t my way of life and I stopped when they didn’t need me.
A few months later, those same raids have been made significantly easier to the point where you can just jump in and make a good shot of it no matter what kind of player you are. This weekend, I jumped in with part of the static I just mentioned (on alts) as well as some new people, and it was great. Most of us hadn’t been there in months and somebody hadn’t even unlocked the raids, let alone watched a video.
Our attempts were chaotic and often failed — but they were fun as hell. At a time where a lot of players are looking for a reason to stay subbed, particularly casual players who may have got tired of the loop of capping tomes and running Dun Scaith each week, why not get some free company members together and give A9S a try?
The Echo’s been added to previous raid tiers, of course, but I think what make this one different is that it was already very accessible. Cruise Chaser and Alexander Prime are tough fights, but they’re pushovers compared to Brute Justice (easily the hardest fight in the game right now) or Quickthinx Allthoughts (and his hellspawn cat). Let’s say you’re looking for one last hurrah before the expansion hits: this is something that I think anyone can achieve if they put their minds to it. And if you’re worried the Echo’s made it too easy, you can turn it off, too.
On the flip side, there’s a couple of people I know who’re trying to do A8, AKA Brute Justice — and good luck to them. While having substantially better gear than what was available on release lets you forget about DPS, there are a lot of mechanics that’ll instantly kill you if you try and ignore them. It’s a wonderful fight that syncs up well to the music, but it’s hard as nails and I’d be willing to pray for anyone who wants to give it a try. If A9 to 12’s Savage variants aren’t enough of a challenge for you, then perhaps now is the time to revisit it?
There’s a lot of fun to be had in Savage (putting the dog days of Living Liquid to one side), and if someone as crappy as me can enjoy it then almost anybody reading this column can. The amount of groups willing to revisit Alexander’s tougher variant once Stormblood is released will be tiny — so if it’s eluded you so far, go for it now and see what you’ve missed out on.
An incremental update
A small patch this week that you might have missed if you didn’t have to sit through a download. 3.57 brings very little — even data miners haven’t found much — but if you’re looking to blast through your Heavensward bucket list, there’s some tools to help. For starters, the previously discussed Echo-buff in Alexander Savage is getting cranked up another 5% just weeks after it was implemented, to 15% overall.
If that’s still not your speed, Shadows of Mhach tokens (that is, the rewards from Void Ark to Dun Scaith) can be exchanged for Illuminati Deepest Gobdip now, which will allow you to exchange your shire weapon for an item level 270 upgrade, previously only available from Savage.
Upgrading the Anima Weapon has also become significantly less painful, with Ulan now giving double the amount of crystal sand in return for upgrade materials, and various other steps (such as singing clusters) getting a nerf.
Hoping for anything else? Well, unless it’s bug fixes you’re looking for, I’m afraid there’s not much here for you. But don’t worry — Stormblood’s only around eight weeks away...