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Omega Impressions

Final Fantasy XIV Columns - By Michael O’Connell-Davidson on July 21, 2017

Omega Impressions

The first raid of Stormblood is here! Omega went live a couple of weeks ago, and this Tuesday marked the opening of Savage mode, where both the loot and difficulty are cranked up beyond anything else in the game. I’ve played normal to death and I’m on the second Savage encounter, so I thought I’d put down some of my thoughts. Beware: spoilers ahead.

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If you’re not up to speed, Omega is the Allagan superweapon that you reactivated at the end of patch 3.55. Shortly after it’s tracked down to the outskirts of Gyr Abania, the Warrior of Light and their companions fall into the machine’s clutches, and quickly becomes clear that Omega might not be of Allagan in origin at all — but from another world entirely.

Omega reveals that it seeks to find the strongest being in order to become stronger itself. Sounds simple enough! Except Omega is able to manipulate a dimension of its own, where it calls upon real and fictional figures and pits them against each other as part of its grand test. He challenges players to engage in the battle royale, threatening to send its creations to invade the real world if they don’t play along.  You fight enemies from Final Fantasy V in the first series of encounters (the ‘Deltascape’), all the way up to the game’s antagonist and final boss, Exdeath.

An unexpected — but not at all unwelcome — addition to the plot is Midgardsormr, your little dragon buddy from Heavensward, who’s run into Omega before and serves as your guide. I know I said before I was glad to be done with dragons, but I surprised myself by how pleased I was when he turned up. And while we’ve known Nero was coming back since 3.55, I’m thrilled by his return. Honestly, he might just be the best character in FFXIV.

Given how many fictional characters there are to pull from in the Final Fantasy mythos, the premise is pretty cool, but I haven’t found myself that excited by Omega so far. I really, really liked Alexander and Coil, but the aesthetic here does nothing for me. FFXIV is laced with callbacks to earlier games, but what we’ve seen of Omega goes a step beyond that; the entire first tier seems to be designed as a nostalgia trip for people that played FFV, which I never did. Perhaps I’d appreciate the raids it more if I had, but right now, I feel like Omega doesn’t have an identity of its own, nor does it seem to fit in particularly naturally alongside what’s already in the game.

That might change (the Deltascape went all the way up to the last boss of FFV, so they’ll surely take the series elsewhere) but, as it stands, Omega’s not captured my imagination the way previous raids did. Saying that, there’s eight more stages still to be released, and I wasn’t too sold on Alexander at first either.

In terms of the gameplay, there are some interesting new mechanics that debut. The second stage, for example, has three-dimensional layered AOEs, forcing players to levitate between two planes in order to avoid damage, while V3.0’s Halicarnassus is a really great fight complete with an escape room sequence. Unfortunately, the V1.0 and 4.0 stages are far less encounters point of being dummy fights once you know the steps.

Having said that, my initial impressions of Savage are really positive so far. My group and I cleared O1 Savage, and it’s a massive improvement over the normal mode fight. Ice skating around on a rink with no edges is surprisingly good fun, and, once you figure out how to move, it feels fair, too. Here’s our first clear:

(Apologies for the lack of sound effects — my capture device made a weird sound before the pull, and I thought it was fine. Turns out it wasn’t!)

The fight is simple, but not overly so — more like a really good Trial than anything else — and it’s a really good introductory encounter in that it won’t crush any groups right off the bat. A lot of people will have formed a new static for this raid tier like I did, and being able to go in and clear the first hurdle on week one is a huge confidence boost. If you’re struggling with it, there are already guides (Graehl Melchkt’s videos are brilliant, as ever). You can also try your hand at DF, but, like most fights, being able to communicate makes it much easier.

I’m not sure we’ll get there for some time, much less clear the fight, but O4S looks absolutely incredible, too. Like Brute Justice, beating the boss simply reveals another form that isn’t available on normal mode, and let’s just say it makes a hell of an entrance.

It’s early days yet, but Omega seems to bring a great deal to the raiding scene, and should serve as a great start for those who found Alexander’s early stages to be too tough to deal with and who want to try again in 4.0. The difficulty curve appears much more manageable this time, concluding in one of the most visually impressive fights SE has ever designed. Inevitably, there will be those that say Savage isn’t hard enough, but with an additional difficulty being added later, things feel pretty good as they are.

The area that’s really lacking is normal mode, which I fear won’t be enough to satisfy those who will be stuck playing it until 4.2 — and that’s the vast majority of the playerbase. It’s just not interesting or charming enough compared to either of the prior 8-man raids. That’s a shame, given that O4S is just breathtaking. I can’t wait to see it for myself.

Michael O’Connell-Davidson / Michael O'Connell-Davidson is MMORPG.com's FFXIV columnist. Follow him on twitter @mikeocd.