Episode 3’s finale finally arrives with the showdown against Dark Falz: Double and the Profound Darkness.
Let’s go over the quest briefly. This will not be a breakdown of tactics and mechanics, as its too early to make an exhaustive list of what the boss does to you and you can do to it. So instead it’s going to be more of an overview.
As was stated in promotional material, the quest works just like the “Utterly Profound” quest where players face off against Dark Falz Elder and Dark Falz Loser in succession. It’s slightly more complicated in its cutscenes and one quest directly leads into the other with Double’s arena shattering upon defeating it.
Double’s attacks are fairly nippy for such a large boss, it’s also invulnerable everywhere apart from its weakspot attached to one of its “legs”. Melee classes might have issues keeping up with the weakspot due to how quickly it can move, where forces should have the easiest time with their tracking attacks. Beyond this, most of its attacks are well telegraphed enough that they shouldn’t really cause a problem for most players. Its wall and sweeping attacks can hit pretty hard, but it lacks a raid-wipe move like Falz Loser.
Profound Darkness itself has at least 4 phases. Mechanically, there isn’t really a lot to the fight, as it throws attacks at you and you can throw attacks at it as long as it’s next to the arena. There’s no complicated order to things like there is with Dark Falz Loser or arguably even Magatsu. During phase 3 your raid will need to defeat some floating balls it sends into the arena however, as much like Anga’s bits destroying them all will stun the Profound Darkness, allowing you to freely DPS it.
The part of the fight that I thought was the coolest was the part where players are separated into their own spaces and they have to challenge themselves. It’s much more than clone fight however, as your alternative self behaves much more like an enemy with its own unique movesets and abilities. This is seemingly Profound Darkness’s raid-wipe mechanic, as failure to deal enough damage to your alternative self will result in the Profound Darkness dealing massive damage to the entire raid. Once you pass this DPS check the boss is seemingly motionless until you defeat it.
For both parts, Weak Bullet is significantly weaker than it is in the rest of the game. Instead of a 250% damage mod it’s around 120%, which is nice to have but it won’t make or break a multiparty (hooray!), . It really doesn’t matter much, as both bosses have much less HP than the other raid bosses meaning you won’t need to worry about your multiparty failing, especially as they give you an hour to complete it. You’re also given a stacking bonus to your stats (PP regeneration and HP at least) which all but trivialize an already easy but definitely cool fight.
So what does Episode 3’s final boss give you?
For the gear hunter in all of us, this is probably the most interesting part. That is to say it isn’t terribly interesting but whatever.
Judging from posts by players and my own experience with the quest it seems to give roughly 6 Caligula stones on average, with a varying amount of Nero stones (I’ve seen reports of 0-2).
At this rate, it would take at worst around 67 runs worth of Caligula stones in order to obtain a 60% Austere weapon. Given they probably aren’t going to typically do more than 2 rounds per day (more at the moment because they tend to do additional rounds of freshly released emergency quests), but of course this is just taking Caligula into account. Why not count the significantly more scarce Nero? Well let’s talk about that…
Nero stones can drop from any Dark Falz and Dark Falz humanoid. This means Angel, Dourumble,Hunar and Apprentce Doppleganger can all drop them. While this is great, what isn’t known is what the drop rates on them will be. The jury’s out on this one, as people haven’t done enough runs to really establish how good or bad the rate is. It’s assumed however that it only drops in the lv76-80 tier, which does severely limit your options for hunting them. This essentially restricts it to any Extra-Hard Emergency Quest featuring any of the Falzes and Super Hard Advance Quests at +12 risk or more, with Ruins being the one most likely to give you a Falz to fight. Data collected so far suggests the rate isn’t particularly good, which isn’t surprising.
Austere weapons will take a long time to obtain as a result; at least a month assuming you manage to catch every instance of the quest. Those with multiple characters parked on multiple servers with enough friends to assist may get the weapon more quickly if they’re willing to transfer characters to pool their resources. The quest is limited to once per ship, not once per account. That isn’t an approach I recommend, but doubtlessly some of the richer players in more organised teams will be doing this. This isn’t the most unreasonable of grinds they’ve presented to us even if we assume that currently observed rates are the standard.
When you clear the quest you may be given a number telling you which position you came in on your ship. It has absolutely no effect on your drops or your mission rewards, it’s purely for ego stroking and nothing else. It’s OK, we all like a good stroking now and then.
So what about general drops? An average if running the quest with +250% and +100% boosters seems to be around 30 10*+ items. Pretty decent. It’s a pale shadow of the Excube pinata that is Magatsu but Double and the Profound Darkness can drop a much wider selection of weapons and has the largest pool of 13* weapons to pull from than any enemy in the game.
It seems to be able to drop any Dark Falz 13* weapon as well as significant 11*s from other bosses (including Gran Fol). It can also drop the Invade series weapons, which will significantly reduce the Caligula stone requirement should you get the type you want, it’s just an inventory space waster otherwise. What’s more, the boss can drop Austere weapons, allowing players to potentially skip this item grind entirely.
So you go through the trouble of getting all those materials together, or maybe you’ve got some gear gaps to fill in and Invade weapons look promising, how good are they really?
Invade weapons will only be +10, 60% with no potential if you purchase them from Zieg for 100 Caligula and 100 Excubes. Apparently they have a potential which boosts critical hit rate by 40% at level 3, which isn’t a terribly useful latent for most builds but it could be worse. Essentially if you’re hurting for gear, Invade weapons even with no latent could be an excellent stopgap, as they still provide a ton of attack power. At the rate discussed earlier, you should be guaranteed an Invade weapon after about 17 runs.
Austere weapons however are the strongest weapons in the game right now. Their potential is 12% bonus damage with a 10% bonus to passive PP regeneration, which combined with their superior attack and the fact that their damage bonus is unconditional makes them stronger than Ares weapons. That said, they’re not a massive improvement over them, so those with finished Ares weapons might not really miss them.
Surprisingly, this update added three new affixes, two of which we had no idea about.
Darkness Soul: +15 all attack, HP+15 and PP + 2
Soul Catalyst: HP+10, PP + 1
Astral Soul: +35 all attack, HP + 35, PP + 5
Creating these affixes requires some significant investment on the part of the player. Darkness Soul can simply be obtained from anything that drops from the Profound Darkness. Soul Catalyst and Astral Soul both need to be synthesized from other affixes however.
To make a Soul Catalyst, you will need to combine any four of Elder Soul, Loser Soul, Double Soul, Apprentice Soul and Persona Soul. This will grant a 10% success rate for creating a Soul Catalyst. Yes you read that right, 10%. Once you manage to succeed with this, your job isn’t over yet, as if you want Astral Soul you’re going to need to use four Soul Catalysts together with a Darkness Soul in order to create Astral Soul. The transfer rate on Astral Soul currently isn’t known.
That sure is a lot of gambling steps on top of a system that is already absolutely riddled with gambling steps! It’s a lot of work for +5 PP per item, but it is 20PP if you manage to get it on all of your units and your weapon. That’s a pretty significant amount, so min-maxers are likely going to want to go for it. For the rest of us, frankly it might be too much effort and you’ll be better off sticking to certain Ultimate souls instead.
Hey! Related to the previous section, don’t fret about those abysmal transfer rates because if you’re willing to put up 100 Excubes for a 40% booster you can bring Soul Catalyst creation to a nifty 50%! More likely this is an item intended for regular affix synthesis to cover things that may cap out to less than 100% with the 30% booster. Given it’s 5 times as expensive as the 30% booster, it really isn’t worth using unless failing a 90% would incur a significant Meseta loss. There are certainly affixes out there that this is a genuine concern for (hello, Modulator).
This was already a fair amount to go over so I’ll try to keep my thoughts brief.
The Austere/Invade weapon grind on the surface doesn’t seem that bad a grind, though you need to consider that Caligula stones are entirely restricted to the quest. This is not a quest that is available at all times, or one that can even happen randomly. This means that the rate at which you could obtain the weapons from it is almost entirely dependent on whenever Sega fancies allowing you to do the quest. If it’s twice per day, you might obtain an Invade weapon in a week or an Austere weapon in a month and a half. There could be weeks however where the quest only occurs once or not at all, in which case who the fuck knows when you’ll ever have enough materials for a weapon! Essentially my issue with it isn’t that it’s a grind, as a grind suggests its something you can work towards when you want to. This is something you can only work towards when yours and Sega’s schedules happen to be convenient for each other…
My other problem with this quest is that it’s the conclusion to the story. As such, to me it just feels kind of strange to have it confined to a quest that happens occasionally. If it was something that happened on a rotation both my main issues with the quest would be largely gone.
That said, I do overall really enjoy the quest. It’s not particularly challenging, however it is fun in a lot of ways which for me makes up for the lack of difficulty. It’s visually very appealing and technically quite impressive for them, both of which make me eager to see what content they have in store for us down the line. It also feels like a satisfying way to end Episode 3, particularly with the story events that lead up to it which I also enjoyed even if I couldn’t understand them. Ignorance might well be bliss in this case, who knows… Roll on Episode 4, I say!