The Gilded Araya at Final Fantasy 14 FanFest 2023 with Asura

AT Final Fantasy 14 FanFest 2023 North America attendees had the opportunity to challenge Asura, the upcoming Primal Trial that will appear via a new content patch. As one of those attendees, I took the opportunity and worked my way into the FanFest online queue (which required attendees to uninstall and reinstall the app for it to work properly ) to mark my place in line with other potential Warriors of Light to tackle this new Trial.

For those unfamiliar with Trials, these are actually 8-player boss battles that players can participate in. These instances are arguably my favorite part of Final Fantasy 14, so I was super excited to fight Asura and see what she would bring to the table compared to previous Trials such as Nidhogg from Heavensward, Golbez from Endwalker, or Susano from Stormblood. While queuing, I ended up gathering a group consisting of James Galizio from RPGSite and the following Warriors of Light: Thallan Gildeford, King Ma, Ishtar Valentine, Worstluck NA and Kini Solis. The bottom four in this lineup are five-time Legends, which means they’ve completed all of the Ultimate fights currently available – some of the toughest pieces of content in the game.

While waiting in line, we discussed what classes of jobs we were going to play, and I assigned myself the role of White Mage, because that was what I was most comfortable with and in which I had the most experience. While I enjoy playing Tank as a Gunbreaker and DPS as a Summoner, I jumped in as a white mage as I had for previous battle challenges (notably Thordan and Susano at Gamescom when these fights respectively appeared). After setting up our hotbars, making sure we had the right skills in the right places, and talking amongst ourselves, we were ready to jump into battle and defeat Asura.

However, once we got into the fight, it was the same song and dance as the previous tries. Asura was hardly difficult, and despite failing for over three months, I had no problem co-healing alongside our Sage. Maybe it was because he was extremely good at the game, or because White Mage is easy to pick up, or maybe it even shows how quickly you can get back into the rhythm of things in Final Fantasy 14, but Asura was easy. Extremely easy.

It had all the characteristics of a standard Final Fantasy 14 combat: telegraphed attacks, tank destroyers (extremely hard-hitting attacks reserved only for tanks), and orange areas of effect on the ground that sometimes manifested in large circles or rings. There was also a mechanic where she would channel a larger version of herself to then spawn orange rings on the ground that we had to run out of before we got hit and received a negligible amount of damage and a stack of vulnerability . I can’t speak to the music, because for some reason the audio wasn’t working for my setup. And before we knew it, the fight was over.

The writer took a picture of the victory screen for a special FF14 battle, The Gilded Araya with Asura

Image: Square Enix via Kazuma Hashimoto for Polygon

Asura was taken down and we emerged victorious. We were all silent, almost surprised that it ended as quickly as it started, but then we congratulated each other. We exchanged information and parted ways. I wished my team luck at their next Ultimate Clear and told James I’d be heading back to my hotel room to freshen up.

Part of me wonders if Asura was easy because of the group I was in, or if Asura is a demonstration of Creative Business Unit 3’s dedication to making content more accessible to all players. If the latter, they nailed it. Unlike Nidhogg’s exit at the end of Heavensward, I don’t see people getting stuck and having to use Party Finder to complete the fight. If anything, I’m interested to see what his extreme combat will be and what other mechanics will be layered on. In the end, it was a great experience and a great way to bond with other players, even if it was only five minutes of their time.

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