Special mention needs to go to Answers, the main theme, linked here in live symphonic glory. The song is sung by Susan Calloway, the English vocalist from the Distant Worlds concert series, and Uematsu intended it for her from the start. The choral part is a complex layering of phrases and sentiments, and the lyrics manage to be both uplifting and heartbreaking at the same time.
And then... and then they set it to the end of Legacy. See directly below.
And then, they set it to Turn 4 of the Final Coil of Bahamut, where you get to face Bahamut himself.
Could also count as a Tear Jerker toward the end. Even if you haven't played the game.
Keep in mind, this actually played at the shutdown of 1.0. Square Enix, for all their mistakes, weren't going to just shut down the game (until the launch of A Realm Reborn in August 2013), they were going all out with a bang. This sort of flashiness is what you would expect from a new Expansion, not a shutdown. With poor review scores (which are pretty much death sentences for the average MMORPG), they decided to just reboot the game entirely. And they did it in the best way possible with a giant dragon wrecking hell on earth. To quoteJosh Scorcher:
I love how Square Enix basically says, "Whelp, we blew it, but the show must go on! We're not going to just kill it, we're going to kill it and have it be the most amazing thing anyone ever sees."
How about the Extended Trailer, A New Beginning? A True Masterpiece, indeed.
Let's not forget Flames of Truth, which reveals what happened to Louisoux after his spell: he goes totally and completely Dragon Ball Z-like, catching and preventing Bahamut's Mega Flare from hitting the ground, then shooting right through it AND Bahamut in a Mutual Kill.
The boss fight with Titan. Ifrit, for all his flashiness, was a pushover. Titan? Is fought atop a platform so high up, falling off means instant death, out of reach of raise spells. He will occasionally target a random player with a knockback attack which may send them falling to their death. He will regularly use an attack which damages everyone in the party, which is a Difficulty Spike for a healer new to the fight. And twice throughout the fight, he will break off the edge of the arena, making it even smaller. All this, and he still has a One-Hit Kill move like Ifrit you have to interrupt to survive. How could this be any more awesome? With the rocking BGM that plays throughout the fight, getting more and more intense along with the fight itself.
And on the subject of primal battles, Garuda's battle theme is something else.
EVERY SINGLE THING IN THE PRAETORIUM. From the Nero tol Scaeva fight, even with his whinging about being in Cid's shadow, reuniting with your sentient Magitek Armor, Maggie, fighting Gaius van Baelsar on a freight lift, and then fighting the ancient Allagan superweapon, Ultima Weapon on another badass elevator reminiscent of the Olga Flow battle from PSO, seeing it use Ultima, confronting Lahabrea, good LORD what a finisher. And that's not even counting the extra lengthy and super-touching ending cutscenes!
"Escape From Castrum Centri". A rescue mission to recover the survivors of the Scions of the Seventh Dawn. Two fun fights, and a show of why the Scions deserve the respect they receive. Everyone shows their own form of Badassery, everyone gets hit with a major shock when they learn who's behind Lahabrea's mask, and the final escape by airship is one awesome moment after another.
At the end of "Return of the Holyfist", Hamon Holyfist goes to confront Weggfarr in a fight that could likely end in the pugilist guild leader's life. Thankfully, he has undergone training with you for this fight. When Weggfarr goes at Hamon with an axe, Hamon moves with such blinding speed that his counterattack was barely perceptible. And For just a split-second, he looks just like his younger self◊!
The Labyrinth of the Ancients. It's the first dungeon to require an alliance of 24 players (3 parties of 8), and the bosses are designed with this in mind.
The Bone Dragon. It seems to go down pretty quick... then the skeleton enemies that you've been killing during the fight get back up and start running towards it. If they reach the dragon, the raid takes massive damage. Then the dragon gets back up. The fight isn't even half over.
Thanatos. He's incorporeal, so he can't normally be harmed. Good news, there are friendly NPCs who will turn you ghostly too so you can hurt him. Bad news, lots of enemies will spawn to kill them, so those who aren't ghostly need to protect them.
The King Behemoth. As soon as the fight starts, the floor becomes electrified. There is no safe place to stand. Instead, players are assigned to the four towers around the arena to keep them active, reducing the electric damage to manageable levels. Sometimes, a comet will land on a player. This is actually a good thing, because the Behemoth's strongest attack, Ecliptic Meteor, will outright kill anyone, unless they cower behind the comets left around the arena.
Phlegethon. The final boss of the labyrinth is actually not that difficult, but the mechanics involved are unlike anything else in the game, making for a very fun end to the instance. He has nonstandard shaped AOE moves, and the Ancient Flare, which will kill everyone unless enough people react correctly.
In the 2.2 story quests, the plan to defeat Leviathan in his own domain. Use a scaled-up version of the same tactic used to fly the Enterprise through Garuda's tempest. None of the Lominsan ships can carry enough crystals to make it work? Lash two ships together to carry them all! How is this thing going to get close to Leviathan in the first place? Tow it with another ship!
Continuing the Crystal Tower quest and dungeons from Labyrinth of the Ancients, we now have Syrcus Tower. Besides being a massive shout-out to Final Fantasy III, it's another alliance raid, with the following four boss fights.
Scylla's fight is pretty much Phlegethon version 2. While she doesn't have any instant death attacks, and her Ancient Flare is toned down (assuming you stand in the puddles of water first), she solves this by having constantly respawning adds call Elder Staves that have various AOE patterns. Additionally, to even use the barrier mechanic for her AOE Stun and Damage Daybreak attack, players have to run orbs of electricity to terminals to power them up, while at the same time, freeing players hit with ice orbs using fire orbs, leading to a frantic fight with everyone constantly on the move. Scylla will also spam a dark version of Holy called Unholy, which comes with a deeper sound effect compared to the normal Holy used by White Mages.
Glasya Labolas requires the alliance to constantly stop various machines that are charging him up for a major AOE attack, as well as to redirect power to special pads that cause the players to jump away to safety. Players either have to have a member rush to Clockwork "Wrights" to have the power diverted to one player, while everyone else destroys the machine, or lure Clockwork "Knights" (based off of Final Fantasy XIII Pulse Machina soldier type machines) in between two terminals to redirect power.
Amon, is a mad scientist who dresses like Kefka with a touch of Kuja's music and theater themes to his attacks, such as Elemental Forte, and Curtain Call. Additionally, he calls various experiments of his to aid him in battle, while confounding the alliance by turning random members into Frogs, planting Pyrotechnic bombs on others that cause periodic explosions and knock away those near them, and tries to inflict Mini on others with special orbs. The alliance has to figure out how to turn these things back on their creator to help aid them to victory. Amon will also speak down to the alliance with polite mannerisms, viewing you and your party as "rude guests".
The final battle, is against Emperor Xande, the first ruler of the Allagan empire, who attempts to take out the alliance using powerful attacks like Ancient Quake, or by summoning multiple comets and a meteor. Xande even boasts how the stars must bend to his will.
The player character is dubbed the Warrior of Light due to the blessing they were given by Hydaelyn. The player character is granted the Echo, a power that lets them see memories of people near them and resist being tempered by primals. But then your blessing is taken away by Midgardsormr and an Ascian senses your light is no longer with you, dubbing you as weak and non threatening. When said Ascian kidnaps Minfilia, you proceed to kick his ass anyway without Hydaelyn's blessing by sheer determination and with your own powers and skills.
The Zeta Zodiac weapons. What started off as a quest to recreate a relic weapon of legend evolved into something much greater. Anyone who stuck with a relic all the way endured a LOT: recreating the relic (base relic), defeating powerful enemies to gather materials so that the relic can be fully reborn (completed relic), obtain special items to enhance the relic's power (Zenith), find 12 incredibly rare items to begin the process of further enhancing your weapon (Atma), slaying tons and tons of monsters and foes to bathe the weapon in their blood and souls to gain even greater power (Animus), collecting a ton of materia and alexandrites so that the soul enhanced weapon will be further boosted (Novus), going around Eorzea on your daily adventures so that the weapon can be attuned to the souls within and power up further (Nexus), spending a fortune of several kinds to obtain special materials while also spelunking in dungeons to find even rarer items while crafting other items so that you can transform your relic into a weapon that was once used by the Zodiac Braves (Zodiac), and finally, going around and adventuring again to fully awaken several different types of sentience within your weapon so that the Zodiac arm achieves its ultimate form (Zeta). For anyone who stuck by their relic through the thick and thin, the moment of seeing your Zodiac Zeta awaken with triumphant fanfare and glory is its own reward.
Not to mention the other reward - it's pretty much agreed that the Zeta weapons were the Best In Slot weapons of the 2.x era, period. While the Dreadwyrm weapons are of equivalent item level, the fact that the Zeta weapon can be configured to the player's wishes gave them the edge.
At the end of Turn 12, you get a CGI cutscene showing Louisoux's battle against Bahamut. What the rest of the world saw was just a blinding light and then everything was silent. What really happened? Louisoux used the hopes and wishes of the people of Eorzea to turn himself into the primal Phoenix, and using his new power, he proceeded to blow a hole in Bahamut's chest. Had it not been for Bahamut's malice and craftiness, Louisoux would have ended the entire tragedy of Dalamud in a single strike.
The climax of 2.55 has a lot of awesome to go around as well as mixing in some moments of Tear Jerker. Raubahn is in sorrow when he hears that Nanamo was assassinated and Teledji Adeleji, one of the most antagonistic members of the Syndicate, taunts Raubahn by saying that Nanamo would be glad to have her strings cut since she's not in charge anymore. Raubahn, who knows of the schemes that Teledji had a part in and had held back from acting for Nanamo's sake, flies into pure rage and cleaves the Lalafell in half, which makes it doubly awesome for everyone who wanted to see him finally reap what he sowed. Ilberd, who reveals himself as the true assassin, cuts Raubahn's left arm off, but it does little to stop the enraged man as he engages the assassin one-handed and manages to hold his own as the Warrior of Light and the Scions flee for their lives. Sadly, Raubahn lost the fight and was thrown in jail, but it's still a crowning moment of ass kicking for a man who had won 1000 gladiator matches in a row.
The final mission in the Kobold beast quest line has a few but most noticeable is the confrontation with Zo Ga. You don't actually get to confront him. Right before the point where you figure you would, Gi Gu (who until this point was absolutely pathetic and helpless) manages to get back up after being beaten within an inch of his life, blows up Zo Ga's mining tunnels and single-handedly take down the larger and much more ruthless Zo Ga using a bomb to propel himself at him to deliver a flying rocket punch. It's as awesome as it is satisfying.
The quest you unlock after finishing all the ARR beast tribe quest chains has a rather amazing cutscene involved. The leaders of all the friendly beast tribes band together to fight a powerful enemy while you handle a hostage situation. The fight ends with a sylph-magic buffed Amalj'aa shoulder tackling the enemy, followed by a pacifist Ixal throwing a sword to a legendary Sahagin warrior who then finishes the fight with a kobold-assisted ROCKET JUMP. Also counts as a Crowning Moment of Funny for the five beastman leaders as they perform a "Super Sentai" Stance introduction complete with Badass Boasts and multi-coloured fireworks.
3.0 has you confronting one of the new primals by pretending to surrender yourselves to the Gnath as a sacrifice to their lord, Ravana. Once he's summoned, Ysayle uses the crystals in the room to transform into Shiva and fights him and even uses most of her moves that she used when you fought her previously. Sadly, Shiva loses and you have to fight Ravana yourself, but it is no less awesome to see a primal that's on your side fighting against another primal.
In 3.0, early in the story quests, you, Alphinaud, and Yugiri team up to save Raubahn by exploring Halatali together as a team. It's awesome in that, prior to this, most NPCs took a backseat in story content, and now they're actively helping you take on a dungeon together. It helps make both characters feel like part of your team in a way that's not been present until this point.
In 3.0, the final dungeon includes a lot of reused mechanics from Crystal Tower and the Binding Coil of Bahamut. Soon after in The Singularity Reactor, the final boss's long desperation move does the same with Primals added. The feels of nostalgia are very real. To top it off, the Primal(s) in question is the Knights of the Round summon from Final Fantasy VII. Players get to face off against what is widely regarded as the most powerful summon in the entire series slowly building up to the moment they strike the party with Ultimate End, causing the screen to shatter much like the original.
Midgardsormr, a dragon who mocked you for trying to find sanctuary within Ishgard, mocked you for thinking you could stop the Dragonsong War, and mocked you for relying on the light from the Mothercrystal, finally sees your true worth after you overcome so many trials and hardships by the time you reach Azys Lla and declares you worthy of the blessing of light. He rewards you for your efforts by becoming a full sized dragon (though not his original massive form) and allowing you to ride him.
The whole ending for Heavensward is one big awesome moment that will be a part of Eorzea's history books. Ishgard is now united with the Eorzean Alliance once more, bringing its people together again. Ishgard is also free from the chains of the church and its people will now be able to make their own fate rather than being born into a societal class. When the Warrior of Light returns to Isghard with Midgardsormr, the knights draw their weapons at the sight of the dragon, but then hesitate when they see the Warrior of Light riding on Midgardsormr. After Midgardsormr introduces himself, Aymeric and the rest of the knights all kneel before him as a sign of respect and change, swearing to him that they'll do everything in their power to reunite man and dragon together. Midgardsormr, while stating that it will take generations to repair the damage done, is also willing to help mend the bond between dragon and mankind once more as long as man keeps their promise to uphold the peace.
In 3.1, the display of magical might put forth by Diabolos as he awakens the Void Ark is incredible and awe-inspiring to behold. Climaxing in him using its main gun to tear open a dimensional gate in the Sea of Clouds.
Heavensward was also the launch of the Mac client so that Mac users can play without using a Windows emulator/wrapper. However, the Mac client had extremely terrible performance, even if the user's computer exceeded the recommended specifications. After players gave their feedback, Yoshida personally apologized for having the Mac client release in such a sorry state and he took full responsibility for it since he was the one who gave the go ahead to launch the Mac client as is. Not only did Yoshida apologize for a broken product, but he actually went out of his way to explain why the problem occurred (mainly due to a chaotic schedule leading up to the release of the expansion and the client releasing early before it was ready) and offered refunds to anyone who purchased the Mac version of the game. Yoshida also had the Mac version pulled down from the store and says it will not go back up until the client has been thoroughly tested and meets the requirements. In an age where major video game companies usually treat their customers like dirt, Yoshida's gesture was a very welcoming sight.
The finale of the 3.1 quest chain, after having endured a riot and a shanking, Aymeric, alongside you, Thancred, Y'shtola, Alphinaud and Artoriel, raid the Vault to save hostages that a splinter group of clergy have taken. Things finally reach a head when you confront one of the priests responsible and he tries to drop a child to her death, only for her to be saved... by Vidofnir, the dragon guardian of Anyx Trine. Try as the nobility might to discredit it, Ishgard's status quo is one step closer to being shattered as commoner and nobility alike see a dragon rescue someone from their death out of nothing more than the goodness of her heart. To make things even more heartwarming, speaking to the child in the Brume after the events has her asking if she could ride the dragon again.
The story of how Thancred spent the interim between 2.55 and 3.1 is this sprinkled with some Crowning Moment of Funny. He emerges from the Lifestream completely naked, alone, no longer able to use magic, and suffering a painful leg injury in an unfamiliar wilderness, infested with dragons and other countless predators. But he wastes no time in trying to get his bearings, sharpening some obsidian into makeshift daggers, and the screen cuts to him WRESTLING A BEAR. WHILE STILL NAKED, INJURED, AND ARMED WITH NOTHING BUT SOME POINTY ROCKS. AND WINNING. And then he skins the bear and wears its pelt until he's able to trade with the Vath for some better clothes. Soon Thancred learns of Ravana and the 'mighty warrior' who defeated him, and realizes that if he were to track the Gnaths' movements, he'll be able to reunite with the Scions. And the Big Damn Heroes reunion in question is another Awesome Moment altogether.
3.2 has a very awesome moment for Thancred. After Emmanellain discovers that his manservant was roughed up by the people that were trying to cause a riot in the Falcon's Nest, he becomes hysterical and starts to blame the people that beat up the poor boy. The Warrior of Light becomes visibly angry at Emmanellain's self-pity and is about to punch him in the face, but Thancred stops them and tells Emmanellain to calm down. Emmanellain punches Thancred in the face in a jealous rage and whines about how Thancred always comes out a hero and how everyone fawns over him. Not only did Thancred barely react to the punch, he returns a punch that hits Emmanellain so hard that he knocks him off his ass and follows it up with essentially "I'm not a hero and I have failed people. Learn to live with the consequences. I have."
3.2 also has a spectacle called the Grand Melee that can be described as a massive free for all. With Ishgard needing to instill confidence in its people, Aymeric, Emmanellain, and Hilda all join you in the battle to reclaim Ishgard's honor against the Eorzean Alliance while you wear Ishgard's garb to represent them. After coming close to victory, Raubahn takes you one on one in a Duel Boss moment and uses a ton of ass kicking moves that covers most of the field while the two of you are surrounded by flames. For a man who won 1000 battles in the coliseum in the past and lost an arm, Raubahn is able to go toe to toe with the Warrior of Light. The entire event showcases just how much support the Warrior of Light has from his Ishgardian comrades and how much of a badass Raubahn is.
For bonus points if your character is a member of the Immortal Flames Raubahn will address him or her by rank before initiating the duel.
It can be made even better through the player's own actions. Going into the Grand Melee, your gear is temporarily glamoured to look like House Fortemps Knight chainmail. If you happen to be a paladin, you can go into the melee bearing the shield (or glamour of the shield) of House Fortemps given to players in the previous patch.
When a Cyclops appears out of nowhere and threatens the match, Thancred calmly walks up to it, decks it so hard it gets knocked on its ass, and then tells them to continue on while he takes care of it.
Ser Aymeric's speech managing to rally almost all of Ishgard, even those who planned and attempted to sabotage the peace talks, behind the idea of finally ending the endless war with Dravania. Though Nidhogg's arrival did sour the moment a little, the player can find Emmanellain in the Jeweled Crozier afterwards where he admits that Nidhogg's actions did manage to unite the people of Ishgard towards a common goal to end the strife (redirecting most of the hatred for dragons in general to just Nidhogg, who is actually responsible for most of the current tensions between them).
3.3 sees possibly the crowning moment for the entire game, culminating in a final, climactic battle against Nidhogg. And it begins with you arriving at the Steps of Faith, besieged by Nidhogg's Horde, upon the back of Hraesvelgr, having convinced him to aid in the fight against his twisted brood-brother. What follows is an undeniably epic confrontation between the two great wyrms, both unleashing all their might and magic against one another. And just when it seems Nidhogg has triumphed, his defeated brother reveals himself to be missing an eye... cue the player stepping forward, imbued with half of Hraesvelgr's power, and ready to take Nidhogg down personally.
The scene in particular is, from a lore standpoint, the climax of the Dragoon job story that's hung over the heads of Dragoon mains since 2.0 or even further back to those that stuck around for 1.0. It is at last time to face their destiny as the Azure Dragoon; to face Nidhogg in battle. Like the Azure Dragoons of the past they are empowered by a dragon's eye. Only this time this is assuredly the last time such a clash will happen and it will be a battle with both Nidhogg's brood and all of Ishgard to bear witness. It makes the slow walk across the bridge towards Nidhogg all the more intense when combined with Dragonsong accompanying the scene.
At the end of the battle, Nidhogg, in Estinien's body, appears ready to continue the fight, only for Estinien himself to regain enough control to throw away his lance and grab his own throat, in order to hold the dragon at bay.
Nidhogg: I am of the first brood! I am vengeance incarnate! I am Nidhogg! Thou wilt die at my hand! Estinien: This is not your hand, wyrm!
With the opening Estinien has created, and in spite of his demand to give him a Mercy Kill, Alphinaud and the Warrior of Light rush forward to tear the Eyes of Nidhogg out of Estinien's body. And in the last moment, when it seems like they might fail, Alphinaud and the Warrior of Light see a vision of Ysayle and Haurchefant, helping them to save their friend. With that, the eyes are finally wrenched from Estinien, ending Nidhogg's second life.
Alexander: The Heart of the Creator has the Cruise Chaser as the boss and it's designed after the dark elemental summon Ark from Final Fantasy IX. Halfway through the fight, gusts of air appear and you have to use them avoid its One-Hit Kill attack. Using the air ducts has your party leaping onto the boss's back as it transforms into a warship and you get to fly around the arena watching it blast the battlefield to bits (plus the unlucky players that got left behind). You then have a Quick Time Event to jump off the ship and land inches away from the blast zone.
Alexander: The Creator has a few, but one in particular stands out. One of the DPS checks is you and Alexander himself starting a Stable Time Loop, undoing the frozen time bubble Quickthinx had used on you in the cutscene prior to the fight — revealing that you are the one that saves you and your companions' past selves from death by Wave Motion Gun.
The climax of 3.4, a conflict built up since the stinger of 3.0: the Warriors of Darkness vs. the Warrior of Light, accompanied by the Scions of the Seventh Dawn. Special mention goes to Alisaie, who despite carrying an Arcanist's book like her brother, summons not Carbuncle but a Sword of Light!
3.5 Part One brings us the climactic finish of the Shadow of Mhach storyline with a final showdown and rematch with Diabolos that is as much Dragonball Z as it is Final Fantasy. The first phase of the fight ends with Diabolos charging a massive ball of void energy and hurling it at the party, only for the party to open a portal in the middle of the field that fires a massive beam of energy back to stop it. What ensues is full on beam war ending with Diabolos eating his own ultimate attack, only for him to absorb the Queen as he originally planned to super charge himself for round two. Then after beating him AGAIN he tries to play dead long enough to ambush everyone, keeping the Nullstone out of Cait Sith's hand only for Leofard, despite his earlier injuries, to ram into Diabolos with his personal airship forcing him to drop the stone and allow Cait Sith to blast him with it, finally ending a story with origins back in 2.2.
Part 2 of 3.5 has one heck of a battle at the Carteneau ruins. With waves and waves of back up coming in no many how you kill, things seem to be lost until Nero lends you his personal Magitek mount to even the score. Not only does it have the same kind of firepower as the Magitek mounts you used at the end of 2.0, it also has two extra methods of attack designed by Nero himself; a huge firebomb and a massive laser. The enemy commander shits his pants as you mow down his men and automated colossi. Eventually the commander's men go Screw This, I'm Outta Here! while said commander begs for his troops to come back before he decides to fight you and your allies anyway. You send him running after a good beating.
The purpose of this battle? To secure the Omega Weapon known to be sealed beneath Carteneau and unleash it to take down the twisted Primal summoned by Ilberd; Shinryu. What follows is a cinematic showdown that rivals 3.3's epic duel between Hraesvelgr and Nidhogg, culminating in a Beam-O-War that detonates a massive blast over Baelsar's Wall and seemingly dispatches both of them. A fitting send-off to Heavensward.
Meta-wise: At first they start showing off the old trailer of the monks dueling on top of the statue of Rhalgr, but then the camera zooms out of the map to show Ala Mhigo... and starts slowly panning over ocean. To the shock of just about everybody, it's revealed that we're not just helping in Ala Mhigo, but are beginning a two-front push against the Garleans by helping to reclaim Doma and Othard as well, and the continent will make up the other half of the expansion.
In-game: We're treated to a shot of the new city of Kugane as some local soldiers that look like the Shinsegumi (later turns out to be Garlean troops in Far Eastern-inspied armors) run through the streets to a dead end alleyway, at which point we get treated to a shot of the Warrior of Light in Samurai garb standing over two defeated soldiers. At first the leader tells his men to go at them with their swords, the Warrior does a Flash Step to dodge one and then takes them both out without even drawing his sword, just with a precise Sheath Strike. Now unnerved, they all draw their guns as the Warrior of Light slowly reaches for his sword, Iai-style. When they fire, the Warrior proceeds to do a Single-Stroke Battle so quickly that he vanishes, cleaving the bullets in half in mid-air, and creating a shockwave that rips the shingles and wall panels off a nearby house and ruins a stone embankment, disabling or killing the Shinsegumi in the process. He then slowly sheathes his sword, and the second it clicks into its sheath a nearby rain guard collapses, a tree in the background (That wasn't in the path of his strike, mind) falls apart in a Diagonal Cut, and a paper lantern falls to the ground and starts burning. And then he looks up as the camera pans out, giving us a absolutely stunning view of Kugane as triumphant music plays, ending with Yugiri and new character Gosetsu standing on the top of its gigantic palace looking out.
The benchmark trailer shows a huge battle between the Warrior of Light, their allies, and the massive forces of Garlean troops and magitek mechs. The Warrior of Light, showing off the new Monk skills and gear, easily punches their enemy to defeat but has an Oh, Crap! moment when they see an Iron Giant ready to take a swing at them. Cue interruption by a Red Mage on the nearby cliff as he joins the fray to lend a hand.
The Hopeless Boss Fights with Zenos are pretty awesome, both from a general gameplay perspective and from a meta perspective. Just in general, the sheer sense of dread Zenos inspires with his slow walk toward you, No Selling everything you throw at him, is really great once you're no longer in the middle of being freaked out over it, but there's also the fact that up until this point, this sort of thing wasn't something an MMO like XIV had really tried or was considered possible. While the placement of the earlier example caused some server issues during Stormblood early access, it's obvious why the developers wanted to do it and it's impressive that they pulled off the trope in question in a format that usually doesn't allow for it.
Even in the aftermath of the first Hopeless Boss Fight, which is easily the Warrior of Light's Darkest Hour in the expansion, Zenos doesn't leave the battle without a cost. After striking one last blow to take the Warrior of Light out of the fight, there is an extended silence as your allies look on in horror...and then Zenos' katana-, which he has used to devastate your allies for the better part of an hour with ease- snaps in half at the blade. This moment becomes even more awesome later when it's learned that Zenos collects and prizes strong blades of Eastern origin, and so would likely have cared a great deal for the broken blade. It's very clear in that moment that even if someone can defeat the Warrior of Light in combat, there will be a price to pay for it.
Almost the entirety of the main story itself is a huge moment of awesome. The Warrior of Light and the Scions manage to convince people of many backgrounds and even beastmen to rise up against the empire. Doma and Ala Mhigo are both liberated by the end of the 4.0 story and it is glorious.
The attack on Doma Castle is awesome in itself. What makes it better is how Lord Hien comes up with an alternate plan for the attack. Originally, the plan called for blowing halls through the walls to create an opening. The actual plan cooked up at the last minute? Destroy the foundation in the river to flood the castle from the ground up so that the enemy forces are forced to retreat to the higher floors with no chance of escape.
The final dungeon of Stormblood is Ala Mhigo itself. After suffering that first crushing defeat against Zenos, and then the long campaign to liberate Othard and the rest of Gyr Abania, the Warrior of Light and the Eorzean Alliance at long last can move to liberate the city. It's a hell of a payoff after struggling for so long throughout Stormblood's story, culminating in a fight against Zenos where the Warrior of Light truly emerges victorious. To top it off, all of the city state leaders can be seen in the background actually fighting against the Garlean soldiers, showing they can kick as much ass as the people they train to defend Eorzea. Ishgard also joins in and one of their sentries will tell you "Ishgard remembers, Warrior of Light!" to show that they have not forgotten your selfless deeds from Heavensward.
The final boss battle, The Warrior of Light's showdown against Zenos inhabiting the primal Shinryu just above the menagerie, only for Zenos to decide that the heavens themselves are not grand enough of a final stage and creates a new star JUST to make sure the final battle will be that awesome. Zenos suggests they transcend from their "mortal coil", and takes you there, crossing through the dimensions. Cue the epic music and the true final battle REALLY begins. It is a rare feeling that hearkens back to FFIV and FFV
The song that everyone sings after Ala Migho is liberated. Hearing the voices of everyone in their native homeland singing in harmony after finally regaining their freedom is an awesome and heartwarming sight to behold.
One player in the Susano battle gets their moment to shine per fight when they have to singlehandledly stop a gigantic blade from destroying the party, holding it off in a Press X to Not Die segment! Success results in an absolute No-Sell and repelling the blade right back up, throwing a massive water clone of Susano off-balance despite him easily towering over the party.
The final confrontation of the level 70 Dark Knight quest, Our Compromise. You are pitted against an army of enemies that are old foes reanimated from your memories, the whole while enduring a very painful speech from the antagonist, about your failures and the horrible things you've done. But just as things are looking their grimmest... the enemies fall with three separate abyssal drains going off at once. Who caused it? None other than Fray, who the last time you saw him, you subdued in your mind after his attempts to take the reigns. After a quick reconciliation with you in regards to the level 50 quest, he proceeds to completely shut down the antagonist's ramblings, before joining you for one more battle, where you work your way through several reanimated antagonists from the past.
The fight itself is concentrated awesome, while afterwards if you speak with Rielle in the Forgotten Knight, she sums up the ethos of the Dark Knight in three sentences:
Rielle: It's nice to dream of a world without pain and suffering. But the world is what it is, and dreams will only carry you so far. That's why we have swords.
The battle against Exdeath in the Omega Savage raid. After roughly half of his health is depleted, Exdeath is overcome by the void much like his original battle in Final Fantasy V. Then the void disappears and the arena gets darker. Suddenly, the background begins to crack as Neo Exdeath literally rips reality open in order to pull himself back into the battlefield to begin the final phase of the fight. It's a spectacular transition scene the likes of which haven't been seen in the game before.
The fight with Neo Exdeath itself is an amazing callback and love letter to V as well. Its 3D rendition is equal parts amazing and horrifying (as it should be), and a large number of its attacks are lifted directly from the source material and given far more attention to detail than you'd expect XIV's environment could handle. About the only complaint players have with the otherwise awesome battle is that Grand Cross is easier to handle than in V, which is ultimately a Necessary Evil on the developer's part since its original effect* entirely random Standard Status Effects including Petrify and Death instead of the revamp* several guaranteed status effects given to players depending on their role, which is still chaotic but predictable would make the fight a Luck-Based Mission in XIV's engine.
The Nadaam event is a massive one for the main story. Spoilers abound! You, Hien, Gosetsu, Lyse, and the Au Ra Mol tribe are competing against other tribes on the Azim Steppe to claim the title of Khagan. Once everyone reaches the claim zone, the battles blows up into a three way split between your allies and two major tribes. Once you actually make progress, Magnai uses Holmgang on you to yank you away from the zone and forces you to fight him off. Not long after that, Sadu joins the fray and is preparing to end you with a Meteor based spell unless you take out her support fast. Once all is said and done, the Warrior of Light claims the spot and becomes the new Khagan for the Mol tribe. Celebrations are cut short when Grynewaht and his men show up to kill the Warrior of Light. As the new Khagan, they order their new allies to attack the invading empire forces and it becomes a massive brawl between the empire and your allies. In an inversion, Sadu prepares to use the same Meteor spell on the empire and thus you have to protect her this time. Grynewaht screams "Bugger, bugger, bugger!" before Sadu finishes casting and wipes out the entire enemy alliance in a single attack while laughing. Grynewaht is forced to run away yet again while your allies bask in the glory of victory.
An understated moment of Awesome not for a person, but for Eorzea as a whole. The Garlean Empire tried to invade the Realm not one, not twice but three times. It failed. All three times.
First invasion, done with their biggest dreadnough the Agrius, was stopped dead in its tracks by the Father of All Dragonkind, Midgardsormr himself, who tore the Agrius apart.
Second invasion fared barely better. This time, the Garleans decided to drop Dalamud on the Realm. Except they also released the very pissed off dragon god that was sealed in it and the dragon laid waste on everyone, Garlean and Eorzean alike. It was a tie and, for Eorzea, the End of an Age. Did the city-states yield in front of the Calamity? Nope. They used the five-year respite to build themselves back from the ground and brace for Round Three.
This time, the Garleans used an old Allagan superweapon. The Eorzean Alliance met Garlemald head on and fought them off, by themselves, with only a small team of professionals to deal the Allagan superweapon. End result? A clear victory for the Alliance and Garlemald sent reeling.
Then Ilbert tricked the Alliance into attacking Baelsar's Wall. Did the Aliance retreat? Nope again. Instead, with Ishgard having joined, they decided to go along with it and free the last city-state of the continent, Ala Mhigo. Unexpected resistance from the crown prince of the Empire? Stir trouble in Doma to distract him while they get ready. It ends up working better than expected when Doma frees itself and the clans of Azim Steppe join the fight. By the end of Stormblood, all of Eorzea is freed, Doma is free and Garlemald is wondering just how they managed to do it.
The end of the 4.1 main story quests culminates in a fight against Lakshmi in the Ala Mhigan throne room. At first it's just the player and Arenvald defending everyone present from getting enthralled by the primal with their Echo, and soon it becomes too much for the two alone to handle. As everyone else present is about to get enthralled, in comes Fordola, released from her prison room by Lyse, to protect them with a barrier.
A great part of this fight is that Lakshmi employs the exact same mechanics she used in her trial, alongside some new attacks exclusive to this fight. One such attack is a room-wide attack that can't be avoided... except for a section of the room that Fordola forms a barrier at. Once the fight nears the end, Lakshmi spams this attack, and Fordola keeps the barrier up, rapidly draining her aether in the process, to make sure Lyse has enough time to charge up the final blow to the primal.
Also, just the mere fact that Raubahn and Lyse assist you in the fight at all. By this time the story has made it a clear point that only people with the Echo can face off against a primal without risk of permanent enthrallment, and these two characters in particular are well aware of that risk. They had the chance to escape, but they put it all on the line anyway to help safeguard the peace they'd worked so hard to achieve.
Ivalice. Almost everything about it. Just stepping foot inside the playwright ship hits you with nostalgia as the Protaganist's Theme from FFT starts playing. The raid itself filled with bosses that were espers from XII, culminating in rescuing Ramza's father at end, only to have a last minute mugging from none other than recurring XII antagonist Ba'Gamnon! The biggest deal though is that at the end, Jenomis's real name is actually Arazlam Durai and his goal, as it was in Tactics is to reveal to everyone the truth about the Ramza of legend.
The last boss takes special note for people who played Tactics. It's Argath. Yes, that Argath. The Argath that started off the entire game's events by causing Delita's Start of Darkness, caused Ramza to become disillusioned with the nobility, and in general being a massive asshat to anyone he deems to be a lower class than him. The Catharsis Factor in beating him down is massive.
The Kojin beastmen quest where you have to save Tsukumo by raiding the vault belonging to the Kojin of the Red and you have Kabuto at your side. Each time you make it further in, your Kojin allies leave behind treasures to boost your power before they go back to the diversion. Kabuto shines in one part where he has you gather enemies in one spot so he can use the Blue Cut skill to mow them all down. In the final moments against the Red's general, Tsukumo sacrifices himself by merging with Kabuto's soul, giving the Kojin warrior enough power to strike the general down in one cut, making the enemy cough up a copious amount of blood before dropping dead. The whole quest not only gives much needed Character Development for Kabuto, but it also showcases how badass a beast tribe can be when they work together among themselves and with you.
The end of the Sigmascape story cranks up when Omega decides to see what can make the Warrior of Light become incredibly strong when they need to be. Omega concludes that the Warrior of Light's strength only emerges when their life is in danger, so it traps them inside a barrier and tells them they have exactly 180 seconds to break free or it will kill them. Alpha uses a card to become a frog and tries ramming into the barrier, but fails. Midgardsormr takes action by becoming his old city sized dragon form and bites down on the barrier until it shatters. For a dragon that didn't hold any high regards to the Warrior of Light in Heavensward, Midgardsormr shows he not only respects them but is also willing to take a risk with his own life to save them.
In the 2016 Moonfire Faire event, one of the quests asked the player to weaken and capture three bomb monsters to be used later on. Due to an oversight from the developers, the target monsters were open to be attacked by anyone. This had led to a lot of people constantly killing the bombs due to everyone attacking them at the same time and trolls killed the bombs on purpose just to piss people off. However, some Japanese servers had its players counter the problem by having everyone form a line to wait their turn at capturing the bombs so that everyone can complete the quest fairly. The idea then spread to other servers outside Japan and everyone formed their own lines to make things fair.
In the 2017 Frankfurt fanfest, The Primals (a band known for playing songs from the game) performed Rise, which plays in the 2nd half of the Alexander Prime fight. Halfway through the song, the whole band performs a timestop and freeze in place as if Alexander had stopped the flow of time like it does in the game.
For 2017's April Fools Day, Square Enix uploaded a trailer for a De-make of the Alexander raids, set up as a Tactics Ogre styled game called Tactics Alexander. The spritework and soundtrack are immensely well-done for a simple joke that could've been mere screenshots on an announcement page.
During one of the last live letter leading into Stormblood started showing off some of the job abilities that would be introduced. While it was all very nice, there was a collective mix of "OH MY GOD!!!", hysterical cries of "WHAT!?", and in one particular case overjoyed and down right hysterical laughter when it was revealed that Summoners were actually getting the ability to summon Bahamut.