In FFXIV, one of your endgame tasks is to follow the Relic Reborn quest line in order to build your "relic weapon," which is one of the better weapons in the game (but not the best, of course, because that would be too easy). I’ve been pretty lazy about it because statistically the Artimes Bow doesn’t seem that much better than the Garuda Bow I’m currently using. But anyway the final step of the Relic Reborn quest (at least I think it’s the last one) involves retrieving some primal materials by defeating the three Hard Mode Trials.
I’ve done Ifrit and Garuda several times in PUGs. Not all PUGs can do them, but I would say at least half of them are successful. So I knocked those out pretty quickly.
So far, Titan hard mode has a PUG success rate of about 0%.
I must have tried a hundred times over a weekend with twenty or more different groups. Not once did anyone beat this dude. Only once did a group even come close to beating it. Only a handful of groups even made it past the heart phase, which is the halfway point.
I’ve done it so many times now that the first half of the fight is second nature to me. It mainly involves a lot of dodging. This is pretty easy for a Bard, and most other people can manage through the first half without too many incidents.
(This fight makes me wonder about the relative DPS output of Bards versus Black Mages and Summoners. I feel like BLMs and SMNs might have higher DPS abilities, but all of their spells get interrupted whenever they move, and there is a lot of movement in Titan Hard.)
At the halfway point, you reach the the first barrier to success, which defeats a majority of groups. After Titan jumps the third time, you have to switch to his Heart and burn that thing down. I don’t know exactly how much time you have, but it can’t be more than a couple of minutes, during which he casts two Gaols. You’re supposed to free the person in the first Gaol but ignore the second one. Most people try to do all this without using a Limit Break, which I first thought was nonsensical, but after seeing the chaos of the post-heart phase of the fight, I can understand why it might be better to save the LB for the end.
If by some miracle you get a PUG which has enough DPS to kill the Heart, with or without a Limit Break, you then enter the nightmarish part of the fight. (That’s right, the first part is a cakewalk.)
Unfortunately, because PUGs almost never make it past the heart, most people have never seen the really hard part. For that reason, the triumph of defeating the heart is usually quite short-lived.
I think the main problem in the second half is the new bomb pattern that throws everyone off. In the first half, you only get two bomb patterns. You see those hundreds of times and get quite familiar with them. But in the second half, Titan throws out a new one, and it’s a surprise when you first see it. Most people panic or get confused (me included), and it wipes out half the party right there. (Even if you’ve watched a guide, which I did, it’s nothing compared to experiencing it.)
I’ve seen it enough now to know: Run to where the last row of bombs fall, wait for the middle row of bombs to explode, then run there. (For some reason I have a mental block and keep wanting to run to where the second bombs fall, which is not a good idea.) You’ll probably have to dodge a Landslide, too. Conceptually it’s exactly the same as the other two patterns, but it’s hard to remember it in the chaos of the moment. You also have to see the order in which the bombs fall, which is sometimes difficult in the middle of dodging all the other stuff.
The other part of the second half that is especially hard on healers is Titan’s stomps. He does more of them, and they do more damage. They do unavoidable AoE damage to the entire party. If the healers aren’t able to intervene, a lot of people are going to die from the stomp damage. (My ~3800 Vitality wasn’t enough.)
As if all of Titan’s mechanics weren’t hard enough to contend with, I also have to deal with an increasing number of annoying lag spikes. I’ve heard that this might be the result of ISP traffic shaping, which is even more annoying. Everybody on the screen freezes, while I can still run around, then one or more seconds later, everybody moves at warp speed and catches up. Sometimes this is just a comical nuisance. But when six of Titan’s AoEs suddenly appear under your feet and blow up without giving you any chance to move, it’s pretty annoying. The only thing I can think to do during these lag spikes is to take off running somewhere and hope that you dodge whatever is happening that you can’t see. (I’ve been seriously considering signing up for the Pingzapper service to see if it helps.)
On Sunday night, I lucked into a group that made it farther than I’d ever seen before. This group made it past the heart mostly intact, and a lot of people managed to stay alive in the second half. I, of course, kept getting killed by lag and/or the escalating stomps that Titan does. In the end only a heroic healer and tank survived, and eventually they were both Gaoled, and the fight reset. We considered it a success anyway because technically, Titan didn’t kill everyone. We had him down to around 20% health. Then the time limit expired and we all went our separate ways, hoping that maybe the next PUG will be the one that finally defeats Titan.