Ode To The Bard Who Saved My FF14 Dungeon Run

Ode To The Bard Who Saved My FF14 Dungeon Run
I will avenge you my beloved Haurchefant. (Screenshot: Square Enix / Kotaku)

My journey through Heavensward has slowed down considerably. I have other games to play and review. And generally, the steam that powered this expansion leading up to The Vault encounter has petered out significantly. That’s not to say Heavensward’s sluggish back-end pacing wasn’t punctuated with a few bright spots.

After losing Haurchefant, I didn’t think Heavensward could still hurt me. But when Haurchefant’s father, Lord Fortemps, gave me his fallen son’s broken shield, I absolutely lost it, not because of the reminder of our shared loss but because of the tearful, grief-stricken expression on my character’s face. Heavensward is six years old, I don’t know what tech runs the game’s engine, but I’m telling you, it’s pure witchcraft. This is an MMO that has to run for more than 20 million people across millions of devices at varying levels of performance power. And yet, I can see the literal tears welling in my character’s eyes. This is the kind of facial animation you’d expect in a prestige, AAA single-player game developed for the PS5 by Naughty Dog or Sony Santa Monica…in a six-year-old MMO. Damn.

This game is shockingly good with its character animations. You can see the pain clearly on my face. Wow. (Screenshot: Square Enix / Kotaku)This game is shockingly good with its character animations. You can see the pain clearly on my face. Wow. (Screenshot: Square Enix / Kotaku)

Beyond being stunned by FF14’s facial animations, there was another moment I experienced in the bowels of the Great Gubal Library that reignited the spark I felt playing this game when Haurchefant was still around handing me mugs of hot, indeterminate liquid to drink.

Recently, I’ve decided to sideline my other jobs and focus solely on levelling on my astrologian because it was getting increasingly difficult to level all my jobs evenly, progressing through the main story quest. As I and others have expressed, healing is difficult and stressful, but on the whole, very rewarding. However, this change also meant that whenever the main story quest (or MSQ) mandates a trip through a dungeon to proceed, your girl will be required to heal, and it’s rough.

My first dungeon after this change was the Great Gubal Library. I had been forewarned that the dungeon is tough on healers, so I watched a couple of YouTube videos explaining the layout and boss mechanics. Queuing for a dungeon as a damage dealer can take upwards of 15-20 minutes. As a healer — two seconds. I made the right choice picking my AST.

Party members usually don’t talk in dungeons beyond a quick “hello” at the beginning and “GG” at the end. Everyone’s there to do a job, get some loot, and get out. But since I was afraid my developing healer skills wouldn’t be up to snuff, I decided to break with tradition and let my party know that I was new to the dungeon. After I spoke up, the tank did too, telling us they too had never seen this dungeon before. The damage dealers — two black mages — remained silent. The first part of the dungeon went fine until we faced the first boss when our progress screeched to a halt.

While not the book boss in question, me lying dead on the ground happened a lot in the Gubal Library. (Screenshot: Square Enix / Kotaku)While not the book boss in question, me lying dead on the ground happened a lot in the Gubal Library. (Screenshot: Square Enix / Kotaku)

Fuck that book. Y’all know the one. We just could not kill that book. Either I died or the tank died after getting caught by its insta-killing area attack. I was so embarrassed that I considered faking a disconnection and coming back to complete the dungeon on one of my damage classes. But I felt sorry for the tank who kept lamenting in chat about how bad they were and how sorry they were for dying so much that I stuck with the party doing my best to teach the tank what I had learned from my YouTube research. Eventually, I stopped dying, figuring out when and how to move, but the tank still couldn’t get the hang of it. The damage dealers grew frustrated. One of them left the dungeon in a huff which actually ended up being the best thing that ever happened because they were replaced with a bard who saved our expedition.

That bard was patient, kind, and very knowledgeable. They would call out when to start moving to avoid Book Boss’ insta-kill attack and put down enough damage to finally put the boss to rest. We “/cheered” and “/cried” in chat, thankful for this heaven-sent party member, and with their help, the rest of the dungeon was a breeze.

Bless you, Bard. You saved us. I'll never forget you. (Screenshot: Square Enix / Kotaku)Bless you, Bard. You saved us. I’ll never forget you. (Screenshot: Square Enix / Kotaku)

That bard saved our dungeon run. Other players would quit rather than patiently guiding us to victory. It felt like being in a shonen anime — our party, united by the fire-forged bonds of friendship overcame seemingly insurmountable odds.

Dungeons aren’t supposed to be difficult. They’re loot piñatas attached to an EXP firehose. But every once and a while, FF14 chooses violence by throwing players an inexplicably difficult dungeon boss encounter for shits and giggles, and I love it. As an MMO player, I typically don’t get to feel this great sense of accomplishment until the endgame, when content is explicitly designed to be extremely difficult. Having these experiences peppered into normal content feels like getting intermittent shots of adrenaline — they’re reminders of why I love this game, even when it’s slow.


  • Dungeons get harder and varied as you progress.
    I’ve only had people rage quit less than five times. People are usually lovely. More bards, less black mages =P

  • This was my issue with FF14.

    It’s a lovely game but none of my friends play it anymore. I tried to play solo but the game is so insular with its linkshells and groups; nobody seems to just talk to each other anymore particularly in dungeons. The game feels a little dead as a result.

    If you don’t know the fights back to front – people get mad.
    If you don’t dps AND heal as a healer – people get mad.
    If tanks aren’t pulling fast enough – people get mad.
    If you try and engage your party members in conversation, well.. you get the idea 🙂

    • Hi tael!

      You inspired me to make my kotaku account (participation – after all these years!) to address part of your comment: DPSing as a healer in FFXIV. I main heals, so this issue is close to my heart.

      My understanding is that the ‘healers heal’ mentality came from WoW, where it’s true. FFXIV has different game design, with less required healing, meaning that if you’re only healing as a healer… well, there’s a lot of time where you’re standing around doing nothing (especially as you get into higher levels, when a lot of the healing spells aren’t on the same global cooldown that your damaging abilities are on; the key is to be mashing your damage button and then weaving your healing in when required to keep everyone alive). While I don’t agree with people getting mad about that, I think it is reasonable to expect people to Always Be Casting to contribute to the party. This isn’t a difference in playstyle so much as non-DPSing healers just… not playing the game or pressing any buttons for half the time? 🙁

      The game tries to reinforce this in parts – the core theme of the white mage job quests is “it isn’t enough to just heal; sometimes you need to fight too.” – but that doesn’t always seem to translate for the playerbase.

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