When I think about NieR: Automata, which I consider to be one of the best games of this generation, I often first think of the boss battle against Simone. I remember the lead-up: the wonder that struck me the moment I arrived to the amusement park that, underneath its joyous and bright surface, hides a heartbroken machine who sings without an audience. The chaos of the battle itself, with its switching perspectives and flurry of glowing orbs. The awe that overwhelmed me because the track that plays during the fight, “A Beautiful Song,” is one of the most gorgeous pieces I’ve heard. The NieR: Automata raid in Final Fantasy XIV—or at least the first part of it—contains a brilliant hint of that wonder, chaos, and awe. Considering both are two of my favorite games ever, I would’ve been happy with anything—but what I got has made the wait until the next part feel unbearable.
YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse is the latest 24-person raid for Final Fantasy XIV. The game has two kinds of raids: eight-person affairs and then 24-person epics, where three teams of eight players work together. While the first few raids stuck strictly to the world and the themes of Eorzea, the last few raids have introduced outside influences. For example, the ongoing eight-player raid, Eden, incorporates music from Final Fantasy VIII; the previous one had a boss battle with Final Fantasy VI’s Kefka and the Phantom Train. The previous 24-person raid, Return to Ivalice, had story elements from Final Fantasy XII and Final Fantasy Tactics and subsequently had the involvement of director Yasumi Matsuno.
But now the raid material has reached outside of Final Fantasy, to a different series under the Square Enix brand. The inclusion of NieR: Automata’s world is done rather naturally, too: you’re in the First, a world far away from the Source, the world you got to know and traverse until the arrival of Shadowbringers. A group of dwarves discover a mysterious robot named 2P as well as an underground factory that is producing machines that kill. 2P’s connection to 2B, the protagonist of NieR: Automata, is still unknown, but I suspect this won’t remain for long.
I didn’t expect much from the story since this first part exists to establish the foundation for what’s to come. What’s there is light, but impactful: Immediately, Yoko Taro’s influence on the writing is crystal clear, with his quirky and whimsical humor eliciting several chuckles out of me during the raid’s opening moments. By the end of the patch the power and grace of his more emotionally-charged writing almost caused me to tear up.
What the raid does have in abundance are sources of that wonder, chaos and awe that NieR: Automata overflows with.
First, there’s the wonder.: that first shot once you’re facing the underground facility with its muted colors, reminiscent of the scenery of a desolate world humming with life and imitations of of it. The collectibles the raid introduces, which you scan with a device that incorporates NieR: Automata’s unique interface. The secret room in which copies of 2B are scattered about. Seeing a character I didn’t think I’d see again anytime soon, wondering about their role in this story.
There’s the chaos. Currently, as players are learning the raid and how each of its four boss battles operate, the raid lasts around an hour. Throughout that time, my friends and I would constantly say, “Everything Happens So Much.” It’s utter chaos as we simultaneously dodge lasers and the iconic glowing orbs of NieR: Automata that can kill you in two hits; as the three alliance teams stand on rotating platforms to attack a machine in the center that unleashes flamethrowers, shifting parts that can instantly crush you, and highly-concentrated beams of energy; as you dodge the arms of the massive first boss of NieR: Automata, realizing that the scale of it in that game is nothing compared to its grandeur here.
And then there’s the awe. For that first hour, that sense of awe was relentless; even now, several more runs later, it still hasn’t stopped. Walking down the floors of the factory, I was in awe of how the team went as far as incorporating the same sound that 2B’s heels made as she dashed across a similar factory’s floors and platforms. I was in awe of the new renditions of classic NieR and NieR: Automata tracks that only accentuate their beauty and at the nods and appearances of characters I’ve deeply missed. The musical highlight of the raid is a superbly elegant combination of NieR: Automata’s ending theme and Final Fantasy XIV’s main theme; just like “A Beautiful Song,” it’s one of the most magical songs I’ll ever hear.
I don’t know many things in life, but I do know that I’ll always be left in awe of everything that NieR: Automata and Final Fantasy XIV explore, accomplish and tackle individually. Together, they form their own beautiful song—a glorious symphony that, unlike the tragic Simone, has an audience of millions of joyous players excited for whatever is next (if the shouting of “glory to mankind” in the chat is anything to go by, at least). I hope the next patch delves into what Taro-san and Natsuko Ishikawa, the scenario writer of Shadowbringers, do best: create moments so emotionally powerful that you won’t forget them anytime soon. Glory to mankind and all the brilliance it can create.
Natalie Flores is a freelance writer who loves to talk about games, K-pop and too many other things.