The last part of Final Fantasy XIV's new expansion, Shadowbringers, dropped into place this morning. The humbly named Patch 5.01 adds the first chapter of the Eden story arc, continuing after the main plot ends and providing players with four increasingly tough eight-player boss battles. Not unusual for the game, but these are some spectacular fights, including a huge nod to Final Fantasy 8. Below, some thoughts where I shall endeavour to dance around spoilers like so many AoE markers while still giving you some idea of what to expect, and how to start these new fights.
The entire final two acts of Shadowbringers were, for me, an emotional rollercoaster more than worthy of the Final Fantasy name. It's hard to follow up on that, but it seems that Square Enix aren't going to ease up yet. The two post-story optional dungeons -- The Twinning and Akademia Anyder -- are both fun and deliver some smart story beats. Today's Eden bosses had me laughing and cheering as I fought my way through them this morning. Ever wonder what it's like to be on the receiving end of FF8's most ridiculously over-the-top summon spell? Unsurprisingly, it hurts.
Final Fantasy 8 fans probably have an inkling as to why this raid is called Eden.
To jump into the new raid, you'll need to have finished the main story and seen the credits roll. You'll also need to be at Item Level 425 - I was very close just from finishing the main story, but had to buy a single ring at the marketplace to bump me over the threshold. You'll find a guard giving the quest "In The Middle Of Nowhere" in the Crystarium. Say hello, then off you go. Don't worry about assembling a crack team on voice chat. These fights aren't much tougher than the final boss of the main story, and a matchmade group should handle all but the last with relative ease.
Not to spoil the story reasons why, but the final two fights of this raid are against your character's memories of a pair of Primals from far earlier in the story. Presumably, you've got a very active imagination, repressed memories, or have just taken one too many earth-shattering blows to the head, because they're effectively whole new battles with amazing new music. You thought Sephirot went hard? Crank that volume for a wall of thundering electronic and guitar noise. It's a final bit of catharsis before the months-long wait for the Nier: Automata crossover story to begin.
You beat Titan? Oh, you sweet summer overdweller. Prepare to bow down again.
Personally, I think I'll be unsubscribing and shelving the game until the next expansion is near, then binge it all again in a few weeks. Your mileage (and desire for raid loot) may vary. You can see today's 5.01 patch notes here. In the meantime, keep an eye open for a piece from me soon on why it's worth diving into FFXIV (or back again), even if you've got years of story to catch up on.