*This article will be a mostly spoiler-free zone. Nevertheless, proceed with caution. If you haven’t finished the main story of Endwalker, or the rest of Final Fantasy XIV for that matter, then I advise you read with caution.*
I’m not addicted to Final Fantasy XIV, why do you ask? Shut up!
As an MMO, Final Fantasy XIV is packed to the brim with boss fights. Every dungeon has at least three, the raids have upwards of seven a piece, there are dozens of instances that are dedicated solely to a single mega-boss! There are even a few that are single-player only, being tied to the main story or certain side quests. This one game has hundreds of boss fights to choose from! Picking one out of all of those is a trial in it of itself!
In the end, I decided to settle for one of the less chaotic but more memorable boss fights. It also just so happened to be the final boss of the game’s most recent expansion: Endwalker. I am of course referring to the murderous prince of the Garlean Empire: Zenos Galvus.
Zenos is one of my favorite villains from any Final Fantasy game. He’s a shameless homicidal maniac who thrills in fighting strong opponents. It is his sole pleasure, and the sole joy he can share with others. He respects those with strong enough wills to fight for what they believe in, even when their cause is seemingly hopeless. Essentially, he’s an MMO player who doesn’t care about the story or the world and just wants to fight things. He’s a dark, twisted reflection of your character, and as such, he is the only person who truly understands you.
And so, after you save the universe from the living embodiment of nihilism, he challenges you once again. Not as a hero, not as the Warrior of Light, but as an adventurer who loves a good fight. How you respond to his challenge is entirely up to you, but regardless of which of the dialogue choices you pick, you will fight him.
He says you can walk away, but given that this is a video game and he is a boss fight, we all know that’s not an option. Also the game won’t let you do that. But at least he was polite enough to offer.
The fight is split into two phases. In each phase, Zenos has a plethora of AOE attacks that you’ll need to avoid if you want to stay alive. If you’ve been paying attention to the last hundred or so hours of MMO gameplay, you’ll recognize just about all of them and know how to counter them. Most have appeared in previous boss fights. Hell, some of them are straight-up taken from other bosses, such as Shiva’s Diamond Dust move.
Not to say Zenos doesn’t have his own moves. As a Reaper, he unleashes many a powerful slash with his deadly scythe. Some of them are clearly choreographed with the familiar ‘don’t stand in me’ circles you’ve seen up ’till this point. But others are completely invisible until he actually unleashes them. To dodge these, you’ll need to recognize the voice lines he says before each one.
At which point you just go behind him. It’s always safe behind him when he uses a voice-line AOE move.
In phase one, it isn’t just Zenos you need to worry about. There’s also his Avatar, an unhittable companion that aids Zenos in the battle. It doesn’t just throw out AOEs, either. It’ll also sneak in the occasional petrification move, rendering your Warrior of Light unable to move and thus giving Zenos a free hit. Watch for the familiar eye of death symbol from the Avatar if you want to avoid these.
Come phase two, the Avatar will disappear, merging with Zenos to give him a power boost. At this point, his move list almost completely changes (though his voice-line AOE moves remain) and he attacks you for all he’s worth. His list of AOEs change, and he hits much harder and faster. On top of that, he now has an unavoidable attack that you’ll just have to tank or heal your way through.
Playing a class that can’t do that? Don’t worry. This is the one fight in the game where you have multiple lives. Six, to be exact. As such, this is among the easier fights in the game, as you have plenty of room for error, regardless of your class of choice. Be wary, though; at the end of each phase, Zenos hits you with an unavoidable instant kill. To win, you’ll need at least two or three lives.
Once the second phase of the fight ends, you’re treated to an incredible in-game cinematic of your final clash with Zenos. It’s super cool, but alas, it is non-playable. Still, it’s a cool way to end the battle.
You know what my favorite part of the fight is? The music. Accompanying the entire battle is the main theme of Endwalker: Footfalls. My favorite song in Final Fantasy XIV.
Well, one of them. Scream is pretty solid. So is Shadowbringers. And… you get the point. This game has got a killer soundtrack.
As the final battle to an MMO expansion, Zenos is an absolute delight. It was built up for several expansions prior, and it was paid off masterfully. It’s a fantastic conclusion to the narrative that solidifies Final Fantasy XIV as one of the greatest gaming stories of the last few decades.
Unless you don’t care for Zenos. In which case… sorry.