All your high-end content questions answered!
You finally caved in and enjoyed the critically acclaimed MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV. After hitting the endgame you decide to give High-End content a try. We'll explain to you here what is to expect and most importantly how you'll survive.
What is High-End Content?
Some spirits will be divided on this, but we'll define High-End battle content, as the kind of content the player has to get out of their way to succeed at. All of these will usually net you some great rewards, such as gear, mounts and titles. And a certain sense of achievement once you conquer it. There are currently three types of content in the game, that all feed into each other. We'll gonna start out with a quick breakdown of all three of them, before we get into what you can do to prepare for them.
The Extreme Trials are on the lower end of the spectrum, you can consider them as the 'easy' High-End content. It does not mean you'll be able to slack off on them however. These will be a firm tests of your skill with you class, and your ability to perform under pressure. They'll use amped up versions of their Trial mechanics, start combining them at a merciless pace. And sometimes, just for fun throw in mechanics you've never seen before. They are usually somewhat forgiving and more fun than frustrating. Meant as an alternative to grinding or paying for gear. They are mostly there for you to kit yourself out for upcoming or current content.
Every expansion usually with two of them upon launch, another one added in the X.1 patch for the final Boss Trial of the Expansion. A separate series of trials, with their own story that will start off with X.2. And will get another one added with X.4 and X.5 respectively. And a Main Scenario Quest related one, coming up with the X.3 patch. This has been the pattern for every Expansion so far, but this might be different in the 6.X patches.
Technically, there are also the Unreal Trials, which are Extreme Trials from previous expansions, adjusted for the current endgame. They simply exist to offer rewards, but are a fun way to engage with older content.
We consider them the meat of high-end Endgame content. They are fairly difficult and rather unforgiving. Comebacks are not impossible but the damage needed to clear the fight before enrage, is usually so tight. That if four of you are dead at the same time, you'll most likely have to reset the fight. These will award you with gear and a guaranteed mount, once you clear the last fight of a tier. They usually come in sets of four and are the more difficult version of their Normal Raid counterparts. Some of them, are really just the normal Raid fight on a six-pack of Energy Drinks, others are almost completely different fights.
They usually come along with the X.05 patch, a month after expansion release. Then the X.2 and X.4 patch, usually six to eight months apart from each other. Depending on current world affairs.
They are the super hard stuff. Cream of the crop, that might make you curse life itself. A clean clear of these fights usually takes around 20 minutes. But groups usually invest around 70 to 80 hours to get one of these clears. This is the kind of content you can brag about when clearing. It will award you with a weapon that only makes this specific fight a little easier, and a title. You don't do this content for the rewards, you do it because you enjoy pushing yourself and your party to your limits. These fights are a kind of greatest hits album of either a Raid tier or a series of Trials. All packed into a single fight with a bunch of new mechanics, and suffering.
There are currently three of those in the game, with another one slated to come sometime in the near future. But the Development Team has threatened to make more.
When you try to get into this kind of content, people will expect you to know what you are doing. Be geared and be prepared to various degrees. One way of testing if you even do enough damage, its the games Stone, Sky, Sea training mode. In these training sessions, you can select a Trail, Raid or Ultimate training Dummy that you'll have to kill within three minutes. Killing them within the time limit, means you do the expected amount of damage to clear the fight. Under the condition that you have a reasonable uptime on the boss and don't die or mess up mechanics. Also great to warm up on. Or on other training dummies. You'll find one outside of all the major cities, many players even have them in their gardens. Just whack away at them for a while till your rotation becomes second nature to you.
You should also make sure that you have enough of the current best food for you job on you. And you should probably use that leftover Materia. Meld them into empty slots, as long as they fit your Job, they should give you a little bit of an advantage. You are not required to have the perfect Best in Slot equipment for every fight. Minimum average item Level, and playing your job proper is theoretically enough. All the other factors, like food, temporary buff potions or Materia windows exist to give you more room for error.
These fights are balanced around a standard Full Party, in any combination, all with minimum average item Level. Final Fantasy XIV considers a standard Full Party eight players with unique jobs. Two tanks, a pure/regen Healer, a shield Healer, two melee DPS, a caster DPS and a ranged DPS. Every job can clear any content. Most importantly is, play what you think is comfortable. Don't pressure yourself into playing a job just because someone said it does the biggest numbers.
Finding a Group
Now here is where the spirits are divided. Data Centers usually have different cultures surrounding their High-End content scene. While some prefer using the Raid Finder to be matched with a random party, most of the NA and EU prefer pre-matched parties. You will find those in the Party Finder, where people look for fellow adventurers to tackle a difficult fight. Here you'll find groups looking to practice, to clear or to simply grind for the loot. Each expecting a different level of proficiency in the selected fight. There are usually one or two strategies floating around in the party finder, people will expect you to know and execute. Should you join a party with the Duty Complete tag.
Party Finder can be a mixed bag, sometimes you'll clear within a few pulls. Sometimes they'll disband after the first wipe. Depending on the phase of the moon and the time of day. You'll have a more consistent experience with a Static. Which is a group of eight players that attempt content as a fixed party. People will be recruiting of them in the Party Finder, but also on several Discord servers, the reddit and so on. You'll just have to find a group that fits your playstyle. Some are just looking for a quick first time clear, and easy weekly gear. Others are just in it for the joy of it.
Before you go
But before we'll send you off to go live your best life, here is a little big of advice free of charge. The best time you'll have in this game, is clearing content you don't know how to play yet. Figuring out mechanics, adjusting your party and finally clearing a fight. An experience we want everyone to have at least once. So go forth and seek yourself a blind prog party. Especially for the Ultimates. You'll grow as a player and a group. Because its not just about the gear rewards or the title's to brag with, the experience alone is more than worth it.
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