Outside of the normal storyline quests of Final Fantasy XIV, the twenty-four-player Alliance raids are considered the most difficult content that casual players will engage with. The level of work that goes into them makes them the centerpiece of content for each expansion post-launch, as they’re accompanied by full storylines and take place in fully-crafted environments rather than the single rooms of the normal eight-man raids.
The stories from A Realm Reborn and Heavensward are mostly original tales inspired by Final Fantasy III and Final Fantasy V. Still, Stormblood made headlines with a trilogy of raids in locations pulled from XII and Tactics and a story acting as an alternate-universe retelling of the latter. While difficult, the Return to Ivalice series was received well, and fans eagerly waited to see what would be in store after Shadowbringers…only to be completely caught off-guard by a Nier: Automata collaboration.
YoRHA: Dark Apocalypse is a set of raids taking place in dungeons pulled almost straight from the game they’re inspired by – namely, the factory, the bunker, and the tower, transplanted into the world of Shadowbringers. Just finding out that the two games were crossing over was enough to send fans of both into lore frenzies about how they’d connect. While the original storyline created for these raids ended up being rather polarizing, the raids themselves are some of my favorite pieces of content in the entire game.
Starting with The Copied Factory, you immediately get to fight against a few familiar Automata foes like the tank and the massive Engels robot (one of the most memorable parts in the whole series). Copied Factory established early on that these fights will be much more mechanic-heavy right away than previous first-stage raids.
Within minutes of starting, you’ll already be dodging red balls of death and fighting off hordes of machines, leading into an excellent fight with different mechanics depending on your alliance, the truly epic battle against Engels, and a spoiler boss that is actually probably easier than the previous one – which is a relief after all of the instant deaths you probably just suffered.
The Puppet’s Bunker takes you through a replication of the moon base from Automata (which you can actually see in Kholusia after the event when it appears, so long as it isn’t too foggy out!). This raid proves to be even more mechanically complicated than the first one, relying heavily on the player interpreting visual cues outside of the heads-up display to avoid losses.
While most of the fights here can be learned to a point of confidence, I felt that the final boss’ gimmick attack was too difficult to read most of the time. Even months after the patch introducing this raid, I still saw a dozen or more people fall victim to this particular attack every time I ran it. Despite the more personal and affecting nature of fighting in such a familiar location (you even pass 2B’s room at one point), this one is probably my least favorite of the three.
Thankfully, The Tower at Paradigm’s Breach is, despite its crushing length, a more fair and worthy challenge. There are mechanics in this raid I can genuinely say I’ve never seen before, up to and including a faithful recreation of the hacking minigame from Automata in the middle of one of the encounters.
The whole raid is a satisfying build of dancing between telegraphs (most of which are invisible, so players are going to really need to learn how to keep their eye on the boss!), building on past mechanics to make them unique and challenging again, and then culminating in an insane fight at the end. The final encounter will have you dodging trains, weaving between laser beams, and carefully avoiding getting yeeted off the platform by a skyscraper crashing through it!
The last expansion’s Orbonne Monastery raid left an impressive legacy. It was, in the beginning, so difficult that parties would end up running out the ninety-minute clock, and the developers had to implement a permanent stat buff while running it just to mitigate this issue. With the Dark Apocalypse series, the Final Fantasy XIV team has demonstrated that they’ve truly learned how to create very challenging content that most players can still complete.
Final Fantasy XIV Patch 5.5’s conclusion to the YoRHA: Dark Apocalypse event lives up to the hype born from the game that inspired it in many ways, from the twists and turns in the storyline to the satisfying difficulty. The aesthetic is a bit jarring in comparison to the rest of the game, but so was Shadowbringers in general, so this feels like a fulfillment of the “on another world” vibe of the whole expansion.
If you’re a Nier fan who has yet to jump into this adventure, YoRHA: Dark Apocalypse is an excellent trip down memory lane that will, in typical Yoko Taro fashion, have you questioning if memory lane looked this way the last time you were here.
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