(still working on the Witcher post, so here's a small detour)
Extreme primal fights are a huge part of Final Fantasy XIV's endgame and as of right now we've been treated to nine very unique trial encounters featuring the series most popular deity gods that have always manifested themselves as summons, eikons, etc. While not on the level of the game's true "raids" they're easily the game's second most challenging encounters. While the game's main story quests typically feature a "hard mode" battle that's easily overcome (for the sake not slowing the player's narrative progression), extreme modes take the mechanics featured in the original incarnation, dial it up to 11 and add a handful of other random factors to deal with.
Generally, screwing up any of these mechanics will result in a complete party wipe and everyone will be instantly killed and forced to start the entire 7-10 minute fight over. While the power creep will eventually dull the teeth of each of these encounters, they all have their heyday in which they cause the vast majority of the game's playerbase no end of frustration.
I just wanted to talk shortly about my favorite one of these that the game's produced so far. This is "Thornmarch", a fight against King Moogle Mog XII and his royal guard, seven smaller moogles who all have their own class typical to final fantasy most's well known roles. One of the most unique things about is not only does it very clumsily combat the power creep, most people in the game kind of hate(d) it. At the time it was a difficult exercise that involved simply managing chaos rather than overcoming it. In its current state it exists as a testament to annoy anyone caught up in Final Fantasy XIV's most tacky design narrative (and most other MMOs of this era): the DPS meta.
At the time, most primal fights didn't really require the tank to do much. Thornmarch was the first time I recall the game actively making me sweat as a tank. It involved a very high-risk tank swap that relied on a certain debilitating effects to be traded off between tanks. This is all while the healers and DPS were handling their own tailored mechanics and problems in the midst of a very chaotic dance that the small moogleguard does. There's very little rhyme or reason to it and the party spends more time reacting to their movements than anything else.
How the players react to them is further dictated by how they communicate amongst each other which Moogle to react to. Damage dealers very specifically have to actively hold back in certain phases as killing something too soon in this fight will actively work against the entire party later own. The moogles themselves also have a class-specific ability that they can use that the entire party will generally need to be prepared for, which is further complicated by how it works in combination with another moogles ability. None of the moogles outside of the ones that the tank moogles have a threat meter, meaning they can wander around the arena at their own whims while the tanks will always be forced to constantly readjust not only according to that movement but also to keep the king (who the party is unable to damage directly until the last 10% of the fight) out of range of the more dangerous moogles. He periodically buffs them, meaning that he has to be positioned according to random patterns.
It all culminates in a kill switch the boss will flip in the last bit of his health which lets the players actively trigger his enrage, which will kill the entire party in one move provided they don't kill him first before he stops casting Momento Moogle.
At some point I can't really talk much more about the fight without making it sound like a guide, so I'll keep it short and stop there. Everything about this fight is erratic, yet it demands precision in the midst of absolute chaos and I love it for that.
P.S. I should also mention that the fight's theme song is a strange homage to Night Before Christmas's "This is Halloween". Primal fight music and specifically Masayoshi Soken deserve their own posts, so I'll save that for another time.
1. One of my biggest issues not only with FFXIV, but modern MMOs in general: http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Main/PowerCreep
2. Fortunately, plenty of guides and players have cropped up to help people learn these and other difficult encounters in the game. Mizzteq in particular is one of FFXIV most well-known video guide creators. Concise and full of puns, her tutorials have always been the standard for the game's extreme primal fights and raids. If you want to get some sense of how much is required to surmount one of these trials, just take a look at this video of hers for Thormarch (Extreme): https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=h7N5XIFsJv4
3. It's sad nobody has really truly solved the inherent problems with the trinity design. As fantastic as FFXIV is, it falls prey to some of the system's most frustrating failings. In this case, the number of endgame tryhards that push for the most DPS (damage) and nothing else exist a better testament to this than I could ever describe.
4. To XIV's credit, it already requires a more involved tank presence than most MMOs, even outside of this fight, which is a large reason I've stuck with this game for so long.
5. It also featured a very rare drop that was used to make some of the most alluring weapons in the game (even long beyond their actual power being relevant they remain some of the best looking items in the game). This drop is was probably the most consistently expensive thing in the game for quite some time. It was only recently that its price on it dropped to reasonable levels, and that's only because the fight itself is two years old and players can faceroll through it now.