It’s been two weeks since Final Fantasy XIV’s Shadowbringers expansion launched. That’s been enough time to explore and complete the exciting story, and players have been eager for more. The latest raid content, Eden’s Gate, released today, offering a handful of difficult boss fights and an intriguing mystery storyline to follow. These are some of the toughest and trickiest bosses so far, and it’ll take some serious focus to best them.
The Eden raid series features character and boss designs by Final Fantasy and Kingdom Hearts artist and designer Tetsuya Nomura. The questline, which features four bosses and is available to players who have cleared the main quest, harkens back to Final Fantasy VIII, but it isn’t just a notalgia-fest. The boss fights are genuinely hard and require concentration and a group of eight players to run. The story, such as it is, involves the player and their allies finding what appears to be the first Lightwarden. Shadowbringers is set in an alternate world called the First, where creatures called Sin Eaters have ravaged the land. Lightwardens are the most dangerous of all Sin Eaters. The creature, dubbed Eden, is immensely powerful and holds the key to restoring a massive, broken part of the world. If you want to bring water and life back to the world, you need to best Eden’s guardians and defenses.
The fights are based both on Final Fantasy VIII’s guardian forces, summonable creatures that aided players in battle, and on previous fights from Final Fantasy XIV. The first fight is against Eden Prime, a magical creature whose fight is defined by dodging an extremely large amount of area of effect damage spells. During this attack, Eden Prime also moves to one end of the arena and will instantly kill any player who does not get behind them. It’s a hectic fight that rewards situational awareness. This isn’t to different from boss encounters in other Final Fantasy XIV raids, but the Eden raid series seems to delight in subverting player expectations by teaching them one mechanic and then making them do the complete opposite in a subsequent fight.
For instance, the second fight is against the Voidwalker, a dark monster fought atop Eden’s massive body. You need to run to one side of the platform to avoid getting blown off, and you get marked by attacks that hit once a countdown reaches zero. Portals also open on the ground that players need to stand on in order to prevent the group for receiving damage. Sometimes these even show up at the same time that the Voidwalker blows players around, turning the fight into a mad dash. Similar portals show up in the very next fight against the sea serpent Leviathan. However, standing in them does damage and gives a negative status effect. For all the intense magical settings and hardcore Nomura enemy designs, Eden has a sense of playfulness.
That playfulness shouldn’t be confused for a sense of fair play. Bosses suddenly destroy the platforms you are on, hit your tank for absurd amounts of damage, and litter the area with dangers to dodge. You haven’t lived until you’ve watched a reimagined version of the god-entity Titan transform into a tractor and boop your ass right off a mountain. Fights feel easier as you grow accustomed to the mechanics, but things felt tricky when I played today, with no one really knowing what was coming next.
There are still more bosses to come, as well as a series of 24-player raids helmed by Nier: Automata director Yoko Taro and a slowly unraveling story about a mysterious dark foe encountered during the raids. Nomura’s designs and tough mechanics make for a great experience, and the fights aren’t as repetitive as Heavensward’s Alexander raid tier or as straightforward as Stormblood’s Omega series. Eden’s Gate is off to a tough start, and I look forward to continuing it.