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FFXIV: Shadowbringers E9 raid guide: The Cloud of Darkness returns!

The first fight of the final Eden raid series featured in Final Fantasy XIV: Shadowbringers patch 5.4 takes us back to a rematch with the final fight of the final Crystal Tower series. Confused yet? We’re not. After a little deliberation, the surprisingly humanoid Cloud of Darkness was chosen by Ryne and Gaia as the creature that should be able to restore balance to the light of Eden and The Empty.

As these fights are typically conjured based on fragmented memories and shaky retellings, the once-gargantuan voidsent is now without its cloud entirely, making the fight quite a bit different from how you may personally remember it. Here’s your guide to Eden’s Promise: Umbra (AKA: “E9 Normal”) and the complete Cloud of Darkness boss fight strategy.


Before we walk you through the cycle of hurt it’s about to fire your way, it’s important to know this monster’s attacks and how they’ll affect you, your team, and the battlefield. That way the paragraphs below won’t all blend into one. It helps to visualize the fight before going in.

Repeating moves

  • Ground-razing Particle Beam — Raid-wide damage
  • The Art of Darkness — 180-degree slam originating from boss’s glowing arm
  • Wide-angle particle beam — Wide frontal cleave
  • Wide-angle Phaser — Boss teleports to a random arena edge before blasting everywhere but its corner flanks
  • Zero-form Particle Beam — linear tankbuster

Terrain/Phase Changers & Unique Moves

  • Empty Plane — Raid-wide damage, transforms terrain to falling squares
    • Flood of Emptiness – Triggers falling squares and blocks Jump
  • Obscure Woods — Raid-wide damage, swaps Empty Plane effect for stripes
    • Flood of Obscurity — Knockback from center and spawns vine traps around the edges
    • Rejuvenating Balm — Spawns structures to the east and west that slam the relative side with dome-shaped damage. A triangle section is safe to the north and south
  • Deluge of Darkness — Returns the arena to its default state
    • Particle Concentration — Summons four meteor spots. Each must be soaked by at least one player. Phase 2 only.

Phase 1

FFXIV E9 guide Particle Beam
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Deluge of Darkness

Note: Deluge of Darkness is the default/original state of the arena when you begin the fight. This changes as the fight goes on, before returning back to this and beginning the cycle anew.

Cloud of Darkness introduces you to its three most frequently used moves in the first minute — Ground-razing Particle Beam, The Art of Darkness, and Wide-angle Particle Beam. Maybe in that order. That’s raid-wide AoE damage to heal, a half-arena slam on the side of her glowing arm, and a wide frontal cleave.

Once those are out of the way, she’ll move into the middle of the arena to cast Empty Plane, dealing another blast of party damage and splitting the arena into squares, sowing the seeds of the most tiresome mechanics of the fight — falling platforms, detailed below.

Empty Plane

FFXIV E9 guide flood of emptiness
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Not long after the squares appear, Cloud of Darkness casts Flood of Emptiness, setting a few select squares to explode and applying Cloying Condensation to the raid, preventing the Jump action, and rendering the space under Cloud of Darkness lethal. Until she casts Obscure Woods, each floor panel will light up when occupied by a character, eventually plummeting them to certain doom if they linger too long. Here’s when they’ll start to fall.

They flash more vigorously before falling completely and their timer resets once unoccupied again. The rate at which they fall is increased for each player on there, so melee should spread out to the squares closest to the boss, while ranged and healers take the outer set, ensuring each player has an empty square nearby they can quickly hop onto to reset their main.

During all this, moves like Ground-razing Particle Beam and The Art of Darkness continue to appear. Make a mess of the platforms and you’ll have a hard time staying safe. Continue to do the dance until Obscure Woods sends you into, well…the woods.

Obscure Woods

FFXIV E9 guide flood of obscurity
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Obscure Plane shifts the arena design from squares to a series of lines. Not that it really matters. The first attack to watch for here is Flood of Obscurity — a pushback + vine tether combo. Get into the center and angle yourself to be pushed back toward one of the spawning vine traps on the outer edge.

Once the vine spawns, look for the boss’s glowing arm and run away to dodge an incoming The Art of Darkness and break the tether. Take too long and you’ll be pulled and rooted to its origin point, potentially landing you in a big hit. After this, Cloud of Darkness will zip to an edge of the arena to cast Wide-angle Phaser, blasting everywhere but the corners to its sides.

Next up, she’ll return to the center to cast Rejuvenating Balm, rendering only the far north and south safe. With the vine spawners present, this is limited to small triangles on three sides of them on the north/south sections. Refer to the image above. Then it’s back to the starting point. Almost.

Phase 2

Deluge of Darkness V2

FFXIV E9 guide meteors
Image used with permission by copyright holder

After that onslaught, Cloud of Darkness will use Deluge of Darkness to return the arena to its original state. This isn’t a repeat phase, though. Like the other terrain states, she’ll introduce moves unique to this state while mixing in her first four moves for good measure.

The first of these should be Zero-form Particle Beam, which hits the tank and anyone ahead for massive damage. After that comes four meteor drops for players to soak, with an Art of Darkness swing slipped in toward the end. Watch her arms. Then it’s likely back to Empty Plane with you, so healers will want to have the team topped up.

From this point on, the terrain changes repeat, albeit with a few more mechanics tossed in for good measure.

Empty Plane V2

FFXIV E9 guide particle beam
Image used with permission by copyright holder

First up is Empty Plane, kick-starting the wheels of motion of the falling platforms yet again. This time, the boss will summon two Hypercharged Clouds on opposite ends of the arena. Kill these before they reach her or she’ll increase in strength for 2 minutes. You don’t want that.

Shortly after, she’ll use Summon to spawn two clones of herself on the outer edges of the arena that will, before long, charge forward. Paired with the Anti-air Particle Beam she casts shortly after to cover the center, only the two outer edges the clones aren’t facing will be safe. Watch for another Art of Darkness soon after.

Obscure Woods V2

FFXIV E9 guide phase 2 rejuvenating balm safe zone
Image used with permission by copyright holder

Survive and you’ll soon move into Obscure Woods again. Healers, top off before that hits.

Deal with the knock back + vine combo again and watch for Wide-angle Phaser. Deal with whatever damage was sustained and move in preparation as soon as you see the tethers for Rejuvenating Balm. She’ll string another Art of Darkness in during this, cutting the available safe zone in half yet again. Look for her glowing arm. With that, it’s back to Deluge of Darkness, whereby phase 2 repeats until the boss is down.

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Josh Brown
Josh Brown is a UK-based freelancer with devoted interests in video games, tech, film, and anime/manga. Just don't talk to…
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