I started last week out in FFXIV just a few points shy of the 365 ilvl required to enter the new 24-man raid, the Orbonne Monastery. Somehow, I ended up not just earning the ilvl to run the raid, but clearing it on both my main and my RP alt (who is now higher ilvl than my main… go figure).
After hearing all the first week horror stories, I came into the raid both times with no expectation of clearing, but merely learning. The first group we got was very solid, and while there were new folks, there were enough people setting out the strats to get us through with only two wipes.
The second time was a lot more rough. I really didn’t expect a clear. It was crazy that Syn and I, who had only run it once, were the ones more or less leading our group of the alliance and teaching folks how to run it. I’ll say that teaching is the best teacher, because I now have a pretty strong grasp of the mechanics of these fights, especially the third boss. And much to my surprise, that alliance pulled it together, even after several wipes and some folks dropping out, and got it done with time to spare.
What’s my opinion on this raid? Well…
Warning: There will be spoilers from here on out!
It’s no secret that I’ve not been a fan of the direction the 24-man raids are going. In fact, I avoid running alliance roulette on my level 70 characters so I don’t have to deal with the newest raids, especially Lighthouse. It’s sad: 24-man raids used to be some of my favorite content because I felt like it was tuned for a somewhat casual player who was looking to get into larger group content.
With Raba and Lighthouse being so punishing on release, I expected the same from the Monastery. And I will say that yeah, this is still a pretty tough raiding experience, especially the third boss. It requires strong coordination, something that’s not so easy to achieve when you don’t have everyone on voice chat.
That being said, I find myself less overwhelmed by the Monastery than I still am by the Lighthouse. I think it has to do with the fight design — I really dislike the overly random nature of most of the boss fight mechanics in Lighthouse. Extra points off for making me do math under an already pressured condition.
The Lighthouse battles all require a very fast reaction time — sometimes faster than I can correctly respond. That final boss still overwhelms me, even though I’m starting to understand his patterns a little bit more.
Yes, there are still mechanics that require quick response in the Monastery, but I feel like you have a lot more room to breathe, as long as you’ve picked up on the pattern and understand what you need to do to respond to the mechanics. It was really frustrating that even though I knew how to deal with mechanics in Lighthouse, I could still very easily fail because my response time just couldn’t keep up with everything the raid demanded.
Also, the raids are starting to use more fake-out mechanics. For example, it’ll drop an AOE circle you need to avoid, so you step out of it. Then, it’ll drop a delayed AOE circle right where you’re standing — which triggers the learned response “must step out of it!” But you can’t. You have to learn to wait until the first circle explodes, then quickly step into the cleared area out of the second AOE.
These are, by far, the most frustrating mechanics because they go against everything the game has taught you (quick, move!). But they’re becoming very common in both 24-mans and 8-mans.
All this being said, do I think Monastery is easier than the others? No, I think the challenge of this is just as high, especially if you get the wrong sort of alliance make up. It builds off of the knowledge of past boss fights, and is just as bad about layering mechanics on top of mechanics… and putting a lot of responsibility on individuals in the party to respond quickly when targeted.
But while Monastery is not a slow raid, I felt that I had enough time to actually do damage as a Red Mage caster during these fights — something I was hard-pressed to do in Lighthouse, when you had to constantly be running on just about every boss battle. I learned taking Bard in to those fights for the mobility was far less stressful.
I also found the story surrounding this raid probably the most enjoyable of the 24-mans since Crystal Tower. Granted, this was certainly aimed at fans of Ivalice, no matter if it’s Tactics or FF12 you appreciate. Especially Tactics, which I did play once a very, very long time ago. So, the music and the characters/design were all pretty familiar to me.
While I didn’t get any worthwhile drops (I want that Bard chest piece), everyone who finishes the raid gets the option of picking up the new hair. You just have to go to the Golden Saucer prize rewards and purchase it for 50,000 MGP — it’s called something like Flaxen Tail.
It is gender locked, however, and the appearance changes depending. So if your character is female, you get Alma’s hair, and males get Ramza’s hair.
It sits somewhat far back on the head for both, mostly because long hair in this game clips terribly with all the hoods and collars in the gear design. So this helps with that… and looks a mite odd when wearing gear that doesn’t have oversized collars. Ah well. Can’t win them all.
Overall, I won’t say the Monastery is a new favorite piece of content, but I probably won’t swear it off like I did Lighthouse. At least, if the third boss has to be the second coming of Ozma in terms of mechanics, you can’t get knocked off the platforms.
Hopefully things will get a tad easier as folks learn the fights, and ilvls get a little higher over time.