Warning: If you don’t want to hear me grumble and discuss my (probably unpopular) opinions about the new brand of alliance raid content in FFXIV, feel free to move along.
Syn and I attempted the new 24-man raid, Dun Scaith, last night. I have a soapbox for it today. There’s just no other way to respond to this for me. Here’s my impressions on the direction that alliance raids are going in.
The Death of Average-Player Raiding
If you don’t want my soapbox, skip on down to the Impressions part below this. Thanks!
I’ll say time and time again, I’m not a raider. Heck, I’m not even much for dungeon running, much less taking on group content with more than 2 or 3 people. So the fact that FFXIV coaxed me into an alliance raid at all was nothing short of a miracle.
Crystal Tower was the first time I experienced anything over an 8-man instance. Crystal Tower feels like a raid for folks who have never raided before.
It had mechanics. It had some tricky moments. It focused on teamwork and supporting your alliance. But overall, for even the average player, it was something achievable.
Most of all, it was fun. It’s STILL FUN.
My Free Company still runs Crystal Tower Sundays. And me, who is not a raider, actually spent all of last Sunday teaching FC folks how to run these raids.
Me? Teaching raids. Yeah.
Crystal Tower is content we still run as a FC group while Weeping City is not.
Because I know I can take new level 50s and regular folks into Crystal Tower, teach them the mechanics, and they walk away feeling like they’ve achieved something. Feeling confident in themselves. They just completed this pretty epic story arch, maybe even their first raid, beat down these pretty epic bosses, and they want to do it again!
Why am I talking about Crystal Tower in a post about my experiences with Dun Scaith? Because between Dun Scaith and Weeping City, we’re seeing the death of average-player raiding. FFXIV is legitimately telling the the normal player, the ones who are going to struggle with these instances, that they have no place in alliance raids.
The message is: “Git gud or GTFO.” This makes me sorely disappointed, because FFXIV wasn’t like this in 2.0.
And those players who can handle the mechanics and the demand? They’ve moved on from Weeping City months ago, once they’ve gotten everything they’ve needed out of it.
They’re off to Alex, which are the raids that should be made for this group of players. Of course they cheered to see a set of harder alliance raids, and whined the old were too easy. But now they’re gone, and the people who are struggling through them are the normal players.
Syn noted that the last couple WC runs she’s had have been the worst she’s seen since the raid was new. People used to say “Once the average ilvl gets higher, Weeping City will be easier.” So, now that the average ilvl is higher, why are the runs still so rough?
Because the raid design and mechanics aren’t tuned to the average person, who is grouping with 23 other randoms who have no means of voice communication. And expected to perform fairly intense, sometimes vague, often punishing, mechanical responses very accurately.
That just doesn’t work well.
We’re seeing this all over again in Dun Scaith. Even more so.
Dun Scaith Impressions
Yes, I understand that these are impressions from Day 1. I understand it will get better as people learn. These impressions were formed, however, going in about 30% blind (I did read some brief explanations that did little to help overall), and I think I can pretty fairly judge the straightforwardness of the raid mechanics having done most other raids in this game.
We were also very lucky to have some level-headed raid leaders there. I will judge to say that our team was probably 90% better than what most randoms will be. We had folks giving suggestions, calling out raises, and overall keeping the salt down. People who wanted to clear. People who were willing to stick it out and learn.
Despite that, we had a terrible time getting through all the bosses and did not earn a clear. We ran out of time on the final boss, which we did get down to halfway at one point. This makes me nervous to see what a poor group will do.
My main issue is some of the mechanics aren’t very clear. Some mechanics, I understood and learned. Most of the boss fights, though, I was sitting there dead saying, “I’m confused. I don’t understand what I needed to do. I’m not sure what killed me. How do we handle this?”
Yes, I know, first run. But, the mechanics were so vague (an issue I had with Weeping City, too), and can kill you so fast, that it was frustrating. Not to mention you often had several of these mechanics stacking in rapid succession, which just led to massive wiping.
So, the bosses.
Deathgaze ended up being the easiest of the bosses to figure out, despite my fear of falling off the edge. This one will take some practice, but once you get it, it’s not horrible. It’s annoying when he randomly drops the iceblock (you have to use as a buffer not to get knocked off) all the way at the other end of the ship’s deck… and you have no hope in reaching it in time.
Ferdiad… I had no idea what all was going on with this fight for a lot of it. I’ve read through some guides since I ran it, and that helps a bit. But still, there’s lots of mechanics here, and most of them aren’t easy to eyeball and know how to respond. The first fight where I started going, “I’m confused… what’s going on?”
Scathach was another huge pain in the butt. Lots of vague mechanics on top of not so vague mechanics. Everything just piled on everything. We wiped many times and hardly made it through this one — we got a lucky kill at 1%.
Another complaint is that she and the final boss do these attacks where you have to know which way they are facing. Most the time, even as ranged, I found it difficult to determine which way they were looking because they weren’t as large as some of our previous bosses were.
Diabolos is the final boss. He has two phases. It was cool to have a pause-for-dramatic-speech effect the first time we fought this boss, but I can see it being an annoyance when wanting to clear it over and over. I also found the “you have to break the shield and do no damage to the boss” phase annoying and unnecessary. It’s just wasted time in the fight… and we did this phase over and over and over and over until we ran out of time.
Again, not all mechanics were clear from the start. Eventually someone told us that a group needed to go inside the middle door to fight an add. But looking at it, it was a targetable door, similar to the others, and I couldn’t tell with all that was going on that that was the intention of the mechanic.
We made a valiant effort, but ended up abandoning when we only had 2 minuets left. Since the only things that dropped were double Casting and Healing gear, no one really got anything out of this run in my group, either.
A Second Opinion
Now, if my casual-biased opinion doesn’t hold sway with anyone, when that was done, Syn said to me, “I really hate that raid. This isn’t going to be fun to run.”
Oh wow! This is from someone who runs alliance raids for no other reason other than she just loves World of Darkness. I have never heard Syn say she’s “hated” a raid as a first impression. Hehe… maybe now she understands how I’ve felt about Weeping City this whole time. Though, I do think this one is going to take the place of most-disliked alliance raid in the end.
Our overall takeaway is to wait until people figure this out better and we can see some guides on mechanics. And it’s not that we can’t read and learn mechanics — shoot, we breezed through the new story dungeon without knowing a thing about it. Right now, it’s just too frustrating to fight through all that again without having a better idea of how to handle things.
The only problem is, in a 24-man instance, just because you know something doesn’t mean anyone else does. I agree… this probably isn’t going to be fun.
The things we do for gear upgrades…