Part 53: Truly A Hero (Part 2)Continued from the previous post...
So that means it's time for Last Scenario's final challenge: the Gate to Elysium.
The Gate to Elysium's contents are very simple: four boss fights. There are no frills here. There are no puzzles to solve, no side paths to explore, no treasures to find. It's just us and the bosses.
The thing about the Gate, though, and the reason why I decided to save it for last, is that it works a bit differently from the rest of the post-game content. Unlike other dungeons, where the difficulty stays fairly constant throughout, the Gate to Elysium is pretty much explicitly designed to not be completed in a single run. Beating the first boss here does not mean you are strong enough to defeat the second, and the same goes for the third and fourth. It is possible to beat the first boss shortly after the Gate opens, while defeating the last one all but requires the player to have completed everything else there is to do in the game.
In this manner, the Elysium bosses are milestones of sorts for the player's progress through the post-game. Each one serves as an incentive to keep playing beyond the end of the story: both as a challenge to defeat, and as encouragement to do the rest of the optional content so you can become strong enough to complete that challenge. The average player will likely be popping in and out of the Gate as they complete the other post-game content, testing their new strength and equipment and seeing if this time, it is enough to defeat the obstacles the Gate imposes.
Which brings me to the reason why I saved the Gate for last: I've been doing just that. While I've been recording and writing updates about the rest of the post-game, I've also been fighting the Elysium bosses behind the scenes. This is to show the bosses as the average player might fight them, rather than steamrolling them all at level 99. Or steamrolling the first three, anyway--even level 99 isn't enough to make the last boss here easy.
So for now, we're going to be heading back in time to when our party was level 70, right after we completed the Hall of Judgment.
Stepping on the pedestal triggers the appearance of the first boss. After that lengthy introduction, you all must be wondering: who the hell are these bosses, anyway?
Well, if you've been paying attention, their names may be somewhat familiar...
Once, I was heralded as one of the four heroes of the Valkiris army. My name was known in every city. But now, my soul is trapped in this chamber. I cannot rest until my sins have been atoned for.
You were... one of Alexander's men?
Yes. We all committed great atrocities. Under the orders of my King, Valkiris, I personally led the razing of Luminas. Thousands were slaughtered as I watched... Even the Elder's wife was killed in the attack.
My sins are the heaviest. I died young, without ever realizing that what I'd done was wrong. But I've had a long time to reflect on my actions. Please, end it now. Sever the chains that bind me to this world. That's the only way my soul can be freed. I beg of you, help me.
As the daughter of Meodar, Elder of the Havali, I forgive you.
I thank you for your kindness... but the seal on my soul will not easily be broken.
BOSS FIGHT: Xolon
Music: (RECOMMENDED LISTENING)
The fights in the Gate to Elysium are, without a doubt, the most interesting and enjoyable battles in the game. Not only are they all serious tactical challenges, but the music that plays during them is amazing and sets the mood perfectly. This is not a fight that either side truly wants, and the music reflects that.
Xolon is built around one thing, and that is being a massive physical powerhouse. On the upside, he's also rather slow, which gives us time to prepare for and recover from his attacks.
A common theme in the Elysium battles, as you might expect, is that appropriate Shields are basically required if you want to survive. Xolon's first move is just a regular attack, and yet it's strong enough to one-shot anyone in the party if they're not shielded.
Most of Xolon's techniques are just variations on the theme of "hit one guy really hard." Great Cut is just that, though interestingly it's actually weaker than his regular attack.
Not so with his other single-target technique, Ravaging Blow. Remember how the first time we came here, I said that whatever was behind the door hit Ethan for over 4000 damage? Ravaging Blow is how he did that. Even with a P-Shield up it's entirely possible that Ethan will get one-shot by this.
And lastly, Xolon has a multi-target attack in Howling Wolf. It's not hugely powerful, but it inflicts berserk, so having protection is highly recommended for this fight.
Xolon serves as a good barrier to the rest of the Gate to Elysium, since I'd say that whether or not you can beat him is tied directly to whether or not you're strong enough to survive one of his attacks. If you can, it's not too hard at this point to get the ability to recover from his damage, so you should be able to prevail.
Xolon drops a Warding Charm on defeat, so at this point I have to confess that I've had full party immunity to status effects for a lot longer than I've let on.
It's really, finally over... Thank you...
As Xolon fades away, the door at the back of the room opens, clearing the way to our next challenge.
Between each pair of boss rooms, there is a small area with a save point. At least this way, if we die, we won't have to climb all the way back up again.
Now then, it's time for the next fight. This time around I came here at level 78, just after clearing out the third Entalar seal. A certain something we found there is very handy for the Gate's second boss.
All of the boss rooms in the Gate are identical, so as before, we start the fight by stepping on the pedestal in the center.
So, Xolon has finally found peace... Unlike him, I had a long, long life. As I grew older, I began to understand that I'd been deceived. I believed. I truly believed that everything King Valkiris was doing was in our best interest. I believed enough that I committed a terrible crime for him. I killed them all. Men, women, children. Three villages I burned to the ground with my men. All for the "greater good." All to unite us against a common threat. All to prevent total destruction. All lies. Will you save me as well? A man like me? Will you end this long torment?
Alexander told me about you. He called you a good man. Nothing can make up for what you've done, but three hundred years of suffering is long enough. I'll free you.
You truly are just like him.
BOSS FIGHT: Lucius
Music: (RECOMMENDED LISTENING)
Lucius is, I'd say, the easiest of the four Elysium bosses. That doesn't mean he's a cakewalk, but his attacks are simpler to deal with than those of the other bosses here.
Lucius is basically Xolon's opposite: where Xolon focused on massively powerful single-target physical attacks, Lucius prefers multi-target magical ones. Despite being more of a mage, though, Lucius's HP is much higher than Xolon's was.
In addition to being the easiest boss here, Lucius's moveset is also the most limited. He kicks off the fight with Tranquility. Although it doesn't do much damage (note that I haven't put M-Shields up on the party yet), Tranquility is a very dangerous move if you're not prepared, as it puts the entire party to sleep. Worse yet, Lucius has no physical attacks, so nothing he does will wake a sleeping character up. Simply put, without immunity to sleep, you are not going to win this fight. He uses Tranquility often enough to ensure that anyone who's not immune will never get to act.
As far as the rest of his techniques go, though, Lucius isn't anywhere near as powerful as Xolon was. He only has two other techniques, and the first of them is Shock. Despite having the same animation as a plain old Lightning spell, Shock is very powerful, but if we could survive Xolon's attacks, we can survive this.
Lucius's final technique is Cracked Earth, dealing a moderate amount of damage to the entire party. But it's simply not strong enough to worry us, because...
... at this point we have Fury. With M-Shields up, only Shock does more damage than Fury can heal, meaning we're never in any serious danger.
So provided we can keep our M-Shields active, it's simply a matter of whittling down Lucius's HP.
The experience and gold rewards only get higher as we delve further into the Gate. Lucius also drops the Neomancer, Lorenza's ultimate weapon.
Farewell. I can't thank you enough.
For the next fight, we've gained a few more levels by doing everything up to the Black Mausoleum. This fight was done just after finding the five tomes.
But unlike the others, I did not survive to see the end of it. When the Havali launched their final attack to allow their people to escape, I was there at the camp. And just like they sacrificed their lives for their people, I gave mine to prevent a massacre on our side. And now... I am trapped in here. Despite my "noble" death, I am no less guilty than the others. I have been waiting for a long time. Waiting for my punishment to end. Xolon and Lucius have already been freed. Will you grant me the same serenity?
BOSS FIGHT: Durile
Music: (RECOMMENDED LISTENING)
Durile is about the point where the Gate to Elysium stops fucking around. Up to now, we could handle pretty much everything with proper Shields and a liberal dose of Fury. That is about to change.
Where Xolon was the warrior and Lucius was the mage, Durile is the rogue. She is faster than our entire party, meaning that our strategy is going to have to be more preemptive than reactive this time around.
She starts the fight by using Hurricane Arrow, a six- to eight-hit combo of powerful attacks. This seems to be designed to prevent the player from cheesing the fight with the Party Hat, though I think Matilda might still survive all of the hits if she's P-Shielded.
In addition to strong attacks, Durile is quite fond of using Sniper Shot every few turns to reduce a character's HP to 1. Since we're not fast enough to react to this, we just have to hope that she won't attack that character on the following turn.
Durile also has a few magical attacks to go along with her physical ones. Searing Firestorm deals a fair chunk of damage to the entire party...
... and Stone Break hits one character for a large amount of damage and I think also attempts to inflict petrification.
Part of being able to handle this battle (and this goes for the rest of the Gate as well) is to realize that Durile KOing our characters is just something that's going to happen now and again, rather than something that needs to be avoided at all costs. A significant part of the strategy to this fight is knowing how to recover our momentum when someone goes down, and not getting caught in a loop where we revive a downed character only to have someone else fall immediately. Copies of the Revive spellcard and the twenty Soul Elixirs that the Jord Hex tile trades for are a great help in this regard.
It's still a harrowing fight, but in the end, we're able to take her down.
Just as in Exit Fate, the Lord-Sorceror's Gown Durile drops is a mage's wet dream. Here, not only does it grant a huge amount of protection, it also provides a +50 INT bonus and, most importantly, it cuts all MP costs by half. Lorenza, say hello to your armor for the rest of the game.
That leaves us with only one battle left to fight. As mentioned previously, the final battle of the Gate to Elysium is not something you want to take on until you've done everything else there is to do in this game, so our party for this fight is the one that just defeated the Black King. They're not level 99, but this isn't actually a huge problem, because the stat gains for level ups start tapering off once levels get really high. What's far more important is the gear and spellcards we've been obtaining throughout the post-game.
At this point, it should be obvious who the final fight is against. There's only one hero of the Demon War remaining, and that is Alexander himself.
But this isn't the aged, powerless Alexander we knew as Phantom.
This is Alexander in his prime.
As you can see, even I, who tried my hardest to stop the massacre of the Havali, can't escape my sins. Even after I was forced to walk the earth in that frail and weak form, I still ended up here after death. It was hopeless. I just went to sleep one day, and woke up fifty years older. I was tired, empty. When Ortas was about to kill me, I was only hoping for release. And now, I'm here. Salvation was suddenly still miles away. I see that the others have already been saved. I must thank you. Now it is my turn to ask you for your help.
This is your chance to prove that you've truly risen beyond me. Whether I have faith in you is irrelevant. What matters is that you have faith in yourself.
BOSS FIGHT: Alexander
Music: (RECOMMENDED LISTENING)
Let's do it.
If you're going to attempt this fight, then there's one thing that you need to know going in: you are going to be in this for the long haul. Not only does Alexander have an incredible 200,000 HP, but his VIT and RES are significantly higher than the other Elysium bosses, and the damage reduction from that means the fight will be dragged out even longer. Alexander also has the distinction of being level 100, a level we cannot attain, as well as having a completely maxed-out STR. We do have one slight advantage, and it is that with Matilda now wearing Mashimizu's Robe, our entire party is faster than him. But that doesn't mean this battle is going to be easy.
As you might expect, full P- and M-Shields are an absolute requirement in this fight. I'd actually recommend equipping a copy of X-Shield to everyone in the party, because spending any amount of time without a Shield will lead to Alexander destroying us.
Like Durile, Alexander kicks off the fight with a powerful combo attack, Blaze of Glory. Like Durile's Hurricane Arrow, this combo hits six to eight times, but unlike Hurricane Arrow, not even a P-Shielded Matilda can survive all of its hits. So unless you're abusing the Barrier bug (and if you are, shame on you), leave the Party Hat in the inventory.
Like Xolon, Alexander's regular attack hits like a goddamned train. Ignore the lack of an icon (he's Enlightened for Fury spam), Ethan is P-Shielded here. Without one a single regular attack will wipe out anyone in the party.
And like Lucius, Alexander also possesses a few full-party magic attacks. Great Phoenix is his main one, dealing a huge amount of light damage to the entire party. Having the Grand Vizier's Robe on one of your main healers is very helpful here.
He also will occasionally use Silent Wind, which seems to be a check of whether you're still wearing status protection. Its damage is lower than his other attacks, but it inflicts silence.
Alexander has a few other techniques in addition to the ones listed above. Great Divide is arguably his "breather" technique, as like Xolon's Great Cut, it's a physical technique that's less powerful than his regular attack for some reason.
But Alexander's worst technique, and the one that everyone who's attempted this fight remembers, is Lionheart. What does Lionheart do, you ask?
It does that. But wait, it's not done!
Then it does that! And that was with P-Shields up. Lionheart will KO half of your party, no questions asked. Alexander uses Lionheart every five turns, so it's possible to anticipate it, and it's where having a strategy to get your team up and running again is most important. You need to revive the downed characters and get Shields back up on them as soon as possible after a Lionheart, or you likely won't live to see another one.
If ever there was a battle where you should burn Sacred Orbs, this one is it, especially if you decided to trade in the Ortas Hex tile. Alexander is tough, far tougher than any boss we've ever seen. But with skill, a bit of luck, and a whole lot of persistence...
... he can be beaten.
Alexander drops the final Hex tile, his own, and the Arch-Angel's Halo. The Halo is unquestionably the best helmet in the game, as not only does it provide a huge amount of VIT and RES (something most helmets don't), it grants immunity to all status effects like a Warding Charm. It seems tailor-made for Hilbert to wear, because...
... Alexander's Hex tile trades for the Hero's Soul, the best accessory in the game. Only Hilbert can equip it, and it grants a +30 bonus to all of his stats and immunity to all elemental damage. With it and the Arch-Angel's Halo equipped, Hilbert is now a god.
And with that, the post-game content of Last Scenario is at an end. It's time to take on Castor.
Our post-game team's final stats, for the curious.
Next time: Let's end this.