So given my track record, I expected the second round of the Omega raid, called Sigmascape, to take days to work through. Alex took days (sometimes weeks). Deltascape took days. It just made sense this would be a full-weekend thing.
But then, Syn and I unlocked Sigmascape on Saturday and blew through it in a few hours. I was truly surprised. I have to admit, this might be the first time I’ve found myself having fun in a FFXIV raid since… maybe Crystal Tower?
Here’s my rambling thoughts on the new raid.
The Wren Threshold
In my FC, we have something that Syn jokingly calls “The Wren Threshold.”
Basically, I have a stance where if something is just Not Fun™ or Too Stressful™ I will judge the content severely: I will either not run it again, or I’ll run it the minimum amount to help other people (once a week, no repeats – even if I don’t get a drop).
I’ve come a long way in dealing with the party-based social anxiety I used to grapple with in MMOs. But I still have to balance what I do in game to prevent burnout, and I’m well aware of that.
In the FFXIV gear-treadmill environment, I’ve lost any desire to chase carrots (unless that carrot is very nice looking, for the sake of glamour). I play a game to have fun and often to relax. So, if an instance becomes more work than play for me, I politely bow out of running it.
I made that promise to myself going into Stormblood, and I’ve kept it.
Now, if someone needs a clear in my FC, or just needs help with something, and I’ve not been running things back to back, I will usually pitch in and help out. There are some fights, however, I will never touch again.
So, when I tell someone in my FC: “Hey, this isn’t too bad. I’d run it again.” It’s sorta a seal of Wren Approval that the content is fairly casual-friendly and not too stressful to learn.
And when I say, “Man, that was fun! I want to run it again!”
Well… that’s rare.
I haven’t been happy with the direction FFXIV has taken raiding, especially Alliance Raids, since Weeping City. I feel the mechanics are too dense and stressful to make it a casual experience (like Crystal Tower was).
I had no love for anything (except some of the music) in Alexander. I never felt compelled by the story. Battling machines, though impressive looking ones, felt too uniform. I knew the next boss was just another robot. The mechanics were different, but the machines didn’t have much personality.
Omega took a different turn. While it is ultimately a machine, too, it’s a machine that gives the developers an excuse to pull out the biggest weapon they could on an old-skool Final Fantasy player – nostalgia.
I never dove in too deeply into FFV (Deltascape). But when you start pulling from things from my adolescent years, like FFVI, and you have my attention. This was the first time I actually looked forward to a raid, mostly because I was interested in the bosses.
I don’t know if it was nostalgia. I don’t know if it’s just that the raid difficulty was tuned down a good bit.
I know that we went in on the first weekend, had some pretty stable parties (I admit, the groups we had were solid), and only saw one wipe in all 4 fights of the raid. Period.
There are mechanics to learn. There are tricky parts to some bosses.
But overall, Sigmascape is balanced quite nicely, even for folks like myself, who just want fun battles… not punishing battles.
I feel like they got it right this time. Let the overall population who is interested in raids have a fun time in Normal mode, and give the ones who want the challenge the Savage mode. That’s how it should be.
- Phantom Train (O5) – Very fun fight!
- Chadarnook (O6) – Gimmicky fight. Okay if your party understands mechanics.
- Guardian (O7) – Long, annoying fight. RNG mechanics can be frustrating. The only one we wiped on.
- Kefka (O8) – Balanced battle. What I hoped it would be for a Kefka fight, without being annoying.
I know when it comes to raids, story is usually not a focus. I really am enjoying the Sigmascape storyline, though, and that makes a lot of difference. At this point, I’m invested, and I think I’d still do the next raids just to know what happens to our friends.
I’ve been a fan of Nero since Crystal Tower. I’m super happy they brought him back into the storyline, and really love the bickering dynamics between Cid and Nero.
I’ve been holding my breath, hoping that Nero won’t go turncoat on us, because that would make me sad. He’s always been a bit of a wildcard, and it’s hard to decipher his motivations and loyalties. But given the newest development in the storyline, I think (hope) Nero will make the choice to stick around Garlond Ironworks as a “good” guy. 🙂
I was also pleased that they gave some more background for Midgardsormr. That the world he came from was destroyed by machines like Omega. I wish they’d gone into details a little deeper on his connection with Hydaelyn (I need to go back and rewatch the cut scene for clarity), though that was touched on.
I loved that he chose to rescue the Warrior of Light. I’m a little sad they’re writing him out of the story for now, putting him back into slumber. I can’t help but like the snarky old dragon, whom my server was named after.
I’m quite proud to be on Midgardsormr! 🙂