Sunday, September 25

Final Fantasy XIV’s Newest Raid Is Blowing Everyone’s Minds

A gray-haired elf offers someone off-camera a wry grin.

Image: Square Enix

Final Fantasy XIV’s latest update saw Square Enix give serious players a new “ultimate” raid to conquer. The last few days have been a whirlwind as groups try to be the first to complete the raid, known as Dragonsong’s Reprise, and new developments concerning the potential revival of a dearly departed ally have only brought the community’s excitement to a fever pitch.

Dragonsong’s Reprise revisits Heavensward, the 2015 expansion that’s still considered a high point in the Final Fantasy XIV story. Among other things, Heavensward elevated Haurchefant Greystone, the bastard son of an Ishgardian noble who becomes fast friends with the player, from side character to fan favorite. Tragically, that friendship is cut short when Haurchefant shields the Warrior of Light from a surprise attack, succumbing to his injuries in one of the game’s most touching cutscenes. He is beautiful and he is my boyfriend.

As Haurchefant’s death was a pivotal moment in the Heavensward storyline, players naturally relive this tragedy during Dragonsong’s Reprise. Instead of playing out via cutscene, however, the raid portrays Haurchefant’s sacrifice mechanically. He appears during a deadly enemy attack to protect the party, who can only watch as his health bar depletes to nothing.

But players are convinced there’s more Haurchefant’s cameo than meets the eye.

Take, for instance, the Dragonsong’s Reprise quest text, which speaks of an “alternate conclusion” where “a dear comrade is spared his tragic fate.” Who else could this mean, Haurchefant truthers told themselves, but the good boy himself?

It felt like almost everyone was convinced that there must be something in Dragonsong’s Reprise that would allow folks to reimagine the moments leading up to Haurchefant’s death. We just needed to wait for high-level players to get far enough into the raid to learn more.

That dam broke yesterday evening when raiding group Thoughts Per Second uploaded mysterious footage from their behind-closed-doors attempts. At some point, the clip teased, Dragonsong’s Reprise displays a cutscene of a clock winding backwards accompanied by narration that mentions “a song of imagination transcending.”

Unlike other groups, the members of Thoughts Per Second don’t stream their gameplay, so spectators were again left to speculate. The leading theory was that reaching a certain point in Dragonsong’s Reprise would turn back time to a previous battle, giving raiding groups another opportunity to save Haurchefant.

More developments came a little over an hour ago courtesy of Krile, another leading raiding group. Upon completing the fourth-phase boss fight, Krile was treated to the same cutscene Thoughts Per Second shared yesterday and returned to the moment when they were saved by Haurchefant.

The group’s surprise at this turn of events was captured live, but as no one knew what to do, they fell back on the strategies they’d already learned about the encounter. They beat the boss, watched Haurchefant’s death, and were then placed back into the raid’s normal progression. Whatever needed to be done in the new timeloop apparently didn’t happen.

Again, theories abound over the correct way to proceed. Eagle-eyed viewers pointed out that, once you go back in time, the group’s limit break meter is expanded from two stocks to three, indicating that the use of a powerful level three limit break may be required to save Haurchefant. Whether this means shielding him with a Tank limit break or reviving him with a Healer limit break remains to be seen, but saving up that energy is going to make phases players thought they’d figured out much more difficult.

As of now, raiding groups are still contending with Dragonsong’s Reprise. Krile spent a little bit of time replaying the initial Haurchefant phase for any clues as to how to save him the second time around, but to no avail. It appears as if folks will need to, as always, trial-and-error their way through the raid to learn more, and those of us without the skills to try ourselves are simply left cheering them on.

If you want to follow along as well, visit Twitch stream MogTalk for a live look at several groups’ progress.

Raids like Dragonsong’s Reprise are literal retellings of previous adventures, described to players by an NPC stand-in for Final Fantasy XIV producer Naoki Yoshida known as the Wandering Minstrel. Despite your actually being there, this bard often exaggerates your stories, which is why the revisited battles are much harder than they were the first time around. As such, any turning back of fate will likely remain wishful thinking rather than a new plot point in the game’s overarching story.

No matter the outcome, it’s just nice to imagine a world where Haurchefant’s still around.

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