Sometimes in MMOs you run into little bubbles of time where things seem to line up in some perfect cosmic way and draw you completely in. Most of the time when I look back at these eras of my past, there’s something to mar the nostalgic glow a bit. My first social guild was a magical time of exploring the possibilities of social games, but it was also saturated with drama that eventually was terminal. That progression raid group I was in during Wrath was great and Ulduar was amazing, but the culture of that guild was toxic beyond belief. My SWTOR raid was like a second home, where I met several of my best friends, but the game itself was so broken and buggy that it’s a miracle we stuck with it as long as we did.
One of these bubbles that doesn’t quite fit this pattern was my raid group in FFXIV. This was a group of people who happily threw themselves at the same boss fight every week for months on end, never completing it until it was long past current but enjoying the process and each others’ company enough that the victory was still sweet in the end. When Heavensward launched the group fractured a bit, first to make room for more raiders in our free company, and then again as folks drifted away from the game during that first extended period without fresh content. Luckily, events last week conspired to focus everyone’s attention back on the game, and we got together for our first raid of a renewed campaign last night.
All but one of us were in gear that was about the bare minimum to enter the content we were doing, and most of us had never seen the fights before. Sure, Sephirot and Final Steps of Faith aren’t exactly progression raiding for folks who have been playing this whole time, but they were new to us. It took pretty much a full hour to scrape off enough of our rust to kill Nidhogg. Even though I had finished the fight once before, this time felt far more satisfying because we earned every inch of that kill together as a team. Nobody could see it, but I had a huge grin on my face when the cheers went up after that kill, because I did not realize until that moment exactly how much I missed that sound. After that we easily handled Sephirot in a few pulls in part because the fight was easier but also because our coordination and muscle memory were slowly returning after months of disuse. We ended the night by killing the skywhale, which was the last boss we killed before drifting away last time. It was a fitting way of coming full circle. Now I can’t wait to really pick up where we left off and hunt down a sword-wielding murder-bug.
Hooray for getting the band back together! Long may we play!