Meet the Final Fantasy 14 heroes making the MMO's hardest content accessible to everyone else

Final Fantasy 14
(Image credit: Square Enix)

A group of Final Fantasy 14 players are running an entire operation dedicated to breaking down the barriers between fans and the MMO’s most brutal content.

Ultimate Raids bring together high-end bosses from a previous expansion’s campaign and raid content, remixing it all into a gauntlet you must clear in one attempt. It’s so tricky that developer Square Enix doesn’t consider it ‘progression’ content demanding completion to advance elsewhere, but rather a spectacle for fans to gather around as the most hardcore among them race to be among the world’s first to complete it.

If you do fancy tackling the challenge, you’ll likely be headed to the party finder feature to wrangle however many strangers needed to fill a team, unless you have seven pals on standby – a ‘static’, as it’s known in Final Fantasy 14. It was there that the idea for the ‘Ulti Project’ would come about, with a player called Sausage Roll jumping in with their friends to help others complete Ultimate raids for the first time.

“We did it mostly to sharpen classes apart from our main roles or simply because we wanted to hit the boss,” they tell me. “What really got me hyped up about it was the crazy reactions and pop-offs people have when they finally clear – so many different kinds of reactions, I love it! From there, we were hooked.”

Full party

One of the Omega Protocol bosses from a FF14 raid stands on a platform

(Image credit: Square Enix)

Two years later, the Ulti Project – which you can find on Discord – has multiple groups working to a schedule to help one to three players at a time to get their first clear, all for free. Alongside providing the bodies needed to do the raid, they teach others how the mechanics work before and during the fight.

You'll need the benefit of timing to get involved, however. The Ulti Project runs at specific intervals throughout an expansion's run, operating in seasons to give helpers a chance to become familiar with the content first and fulfill personal obligations. Helping others clear Final Fantasy 14's Ultimate and Savage-tier raids also gives everyone something to do when the MMO gets quiet. 

Time and time again, we have seen players that were inexperienced or even new to the Ultimate raids absolutely pop off

Three seasons in, with a fourth likely to start once patch 6.5 releases later this year, the community has come together to run a smooth operation around helping others. While 'carries' are popular in other games, Sausage Roll reckons the term doesn't apply here. Ultimate raids require each party member to carry out their duties while juggling myriad mechanics, meaning there's little an experienced team can do to help you get that clear if you mess up.

"I don't like seeing the Ulti Project as 'carrying', since every player must perform the dance flawlessly," they explain. "Especially in The Omega Protocol (Ultimate)! If one person makes a mechanical error in the final phase, it's nearly impossible to recover.

"To me, every single player that shows up prepared and performs the dance absolutely deserves the win. It's a difficult fight and nerves are at an all-time high when going for their first clear, you know?"

Saus legends

Final Fantasy 14

(Image credit: Square Enix)

While the Ulti Project's barrier-breaking efforts have been viewed as a net win for everyone, others in the high-end raiding community aren't so sure. The more nuanced criticism is that players aided by the project go back to party finder and underperform compared to the more experienced players who had to sweat harder for their first clear, resulting in time wasted and encounters failed. Others have taken to calling those players 'Saus legends' in a bid to undermine their achievements. 

I put the criticism to Sausage Roll, who says it's nothing new.

"We did have people trying to invalidate clears and downplay other people's achievements throughout the years, but to be frank, none of what they say has phased me or ever changed my mind on the project," they say. "We just brush it off like it's traffic noise and move on with what's more important."

"It's so unnecessary and inefficient to gatekeep players from experiencing content. The game would be so much more fun if we had more people to play with. Everyone has room to grow, you know? Time and time again, we have seen players that were inexperienced or even new to the Ultimate raids absolutely pop off! 

"If given the right environment for them to learn and play without feeling like they're always being judged or attacked, I assure you that we would see more hype moments, and the game would be a much better place for it."

In other news, Final Fantasy 14's famous low-poly grapes are back and Square Enix is handing them out in real life.

Deputy News Editor

Iain joins the GamesRadar team as Deputy News Editor following stints at PCGamesN and PocketGamer.Biz, with some freelance for Kotaku UK, RockPaperShotgun, and VG24/7 thrown in for good measure. When not helping Ali run the news team, he can be found digging into communities for stories – the sillier the better. When he isn’t pillaging the depths of Final Fantasy 14 for a swanky new hat, you’ll find him amassing an army of Pokemon plushies.