So, I’m going to start this off by saying I’ve never played a NieR game. The first time I’ve ever heard of the series was due to people talking about NieR: Automata. I’ve mostly only heard positive things about it, and apparently it’s a really great game for those who enjoy the kind of game it is.
However, as I stated before, the aesthetics and concepts don’t really appeal to me. I have an appreciation for science fiction in small doses, and prefer less gritty and more fanciful elements mixed in my sci-fi.
Shadowbringers, in contrast, is an expansion that feels quite high-fantasy. The world of the First has a lower technological level than the Source due to the devastation the world’s undergone. So meshing something of dark sci-fi into this world seemed a very odd choice. I was originally worried that it would be so out of place and overly dark, despite the fact that the devs worked to make it the ultimate highlight of 5.1.
I think for people who understand the world of NeiR, this raid was very significant and well received. I have no emotional attachments and don’t even understand any of what I’m seeing beyond the story that FFXIV presents, so you’re getting a completely unbiased set of thoughts here.
Setting and Story
First, I was pleasantly surprised with how the teams meshed the Copied Factory into the existing world. As stated above, the First just doesn’t seem like the place for dark sci-fi to exist. But they managed to make it happen in a way that felt believable.
Not only that, but their choice of the side characters who lead you through the raid added just enough humor and whimsy to keep it from getting too dark.
The Factory setting itself was a lot of metal and machines, as I expected. But, for some reason it didn’t feel too imposing — I was concerned it would be super dark and dreary and edgy. In fact, there’s an area at the end that’s so bright that I often get a bit of eyestrain because of all the white.
As for the story… well… I don’t really get much of the significance of it. Androids are fighting bad machines to save the world. And… that’s really all I took away from it. I’m not entirely sure why they are in the First or what connection they have to the past of this world… or why there’s even a huge buried factory to begin with.
Maybe the further story will tell us? I’m not super invested in it, though.
But that’s okay, because there’s raid drops and playability.
Raid Mechanics & Rewards
Unlike all these folks out there who are drooling for a B2 glamour crate drop, I really don’t care that much for the outfit. *gasp!* Did I just say something unpopular? Ah, well.
I don’t care for it, and everyone wants it or is wearing it. So I’ll be glad when that fad eventually heads for the sunset, as they tend to do.
However! I do think the normal gear drops there – which are all dyeable for a change – are VERY nice to look at. I actually opened the raid on my RP alt because I was after the aiming coat in particular (finally got it last week). So thumbs-up on glamour design for normal drops.
I’ve yet to get one of the pod minions, but I think they’re cute, and do want one. I also think the music is pretty nice there, and got the music drop that people seem to really want last week.
As for how the raid feels and the mechanics…
Folks who know me know that I have been disgruntled with the difficulty level of Alliance Raids since Weeping City. I feel that on release, most of these raids have been way too difficult for the average player who doesn’t have a guild on voice chat to learn. This can be seen in the fact that the Monastery was later edited to have an automatic echo buff applied to it… likely just so people didn’t drop upon seeing it in roulette.
The direction the Copied Factory has gone in is a lot better. I actually say that while dying more often in this raid than I did in previous raids. Which is funny. I find it an accomplishment each time I manage to stay alive a whole boss fight.
However, the fights are much more forgiving, even to full party wipes. I think that there’s only been one run that we’ve had a raid wipe, and that was because we had a new tank that didn’t realize he needed to spread the adds on the boss.
When I go as a Red Mage, I do a lot of rezzing, and get my share of rezzes, but the raid as a whole seems pretty stable to carry on despite players taking a few hits along the way. That’s not to say that wipes aren’t possible, but it seems like the community in general really farmed this raid for drops the first few weeks, and mostly have an understanding of mechanics due to that.
The one major complaint I have about the boss fights is an odd one. Whereas I felt some of the bosses were a bit too large in previous raids (I’m looking at you, Yiazmat), in this one, a few are just too small (or need to be elevated above the particle effects).
The final boss in particular has several laser moves where he shoots beams to the fore/aft or sides, as well as a laser directly from the front. I find it really difficult to see which way he’s pointing because the machine looks similar on all sides and the model is so small it gets lost in the battle easily. It’s frustrating to know what I need to do to avoid the mechanics, but still die while shouting: “I couldn’t tell which way he was pointing!”… and this happens at least once every run, if not more.
In general, though, it feels like the pace of this raid is a bit more laid back than the previous raids. There are mechanics that overlap, but not to the point of insanity. Even the boss battle music is rather chill, as I die to the slowly…. moving…. pink bubble…. that I just didn’t see as it crossed the screen.
Oh, and I will note that I liked how you could do a little explorable mission into the Factory after clearing the raid. And you can go back in there anytime you want. I don’t exactly understand what any of the significance is, but I appreciate that it’s there.