With Defenders of Eorzea Patch 2.3 hitting last week, the over two million players of Final Fantasy XIV have been rushing into the new content.
The new system that has caught everyone’s attention is the Hunt – content that allows you to earn Allied Seals from slaying Notorious Monsters in the field which can then be redeemed for items such as Alexandrite, gear previously available from Mythology Tomestones and new gear specific to the Hunt.
The most notable item that can be purchased with the rewarded Allied Seals however, is the Blood-Spattered Mark Log, which can then be exchanged for Oils of Time and Sands of Time which were previously only available in the Second Binding Coil of Bahamut. These are used to upgrade ilevel 100 equipment and are therefore in very high demand.
There are some articles that praise Square Enix for this system, calling it a grand social experiment. These articles praise the system without experiencing it for what it truly is – the most unbalanced, game breaking system that Square Enix has ever implemented since A Realm Reborn’s launch.
Jumping into Hunts solo
My first day out on the Hunt involved me picking up both the daily and weekly bills to get an idea of what monsters I needed to go after. The daily targets yielded 1 or 2 Allied Seals upon completion, which seemed excruciatingly low when considering the new Hunt exclusive gear cost upwards of 1,000 seals. The second bill for the Elite Mark said it would yield 20 Allied Seals upon its defeat. After joining up with a Hunt-focused Linkshell (which is almost necessary to do this content) I saw a position posted for the monster known as Naul. After its defeat, I was awarded with… wait… only 1 Allied Seal? The bill said 20!
Herein lies the first problem with the Hunt: You need to do a certain amount of actions to get the maximum reward for defeating a target. You have a bill saying to kill Naul? That’s great! You got a couple hits off of him? Even better! The game said you’ve been rewarded for your contribution, thus acknowledging that you helped defeat the beast! However, you didn’t do enough before it was defeated by the other few hundred players that wanted to cross it off their weekly bill- so you don’t get the full credit. Tracking the monster down and running to its location sadly aren’t added to your contribution score even though it’s the hardest part about the Hunt.
The second problem with the Hunt is that the bills that you get – the ones that tell you which targets to hunt and kill – are unneeded. You can hunt targets without receiving them on a bill (or a bill at all) and frankly it’s much more time-effective to track down and eliminate any enemy you can versus focusing on a specific mark.
The Hunt Party
The next day I decided to jump entirely into Hunt content. I joined a party that had formed in the Hunt-specific Linkshell and we roamed the lands of Eorzea in search of the various targets that would yield Allied Seals. It was during this group (which I was in for at least 8 hours) that I discovered that the only way to successfully get full credit on a kill is to be in a party. Unless you’re targeting the daily marks, at 1-2 Allied Seals apiece, this content is not solo friendly.
The other thing that I learned during this second day is that there are a lot of other people on the server also looking for these monsters and they could care less about you and your party. Countless times a member of our party had stumbled upon a target, only for it to be defeated by other groups by the time the rest of us arrived on the scene. This means we had to wait at least one hour for another target to spawn again in that area, and maybe much longer if it’s a higher tier mark. This is problem number 3.
We were able to find quite a few targets of our own during the day, although we were sometimes unable to get credit as we arrived right when a target was being defeated and before we could attack the monster.
Towards the end of the day, people who had apparently run into the same issues as our group started to shout at players that pulled the monsters. The idea was that players should wait for other players to arrive before pulling, so that more people can get credit for the kill (and the Allied Seal rewards). While good in theory, in practice the monsters will inevitably get pulled prior to everyone arriving. This led to people shouting out of the name of the player who first engaged the monster, with several saying that they would add that person to their blacklist. Let’s call this problem 3a, as it relates to the above and is somewhat community controlled.
I’m not sure what Yoshida envisioned when first coming up with the idea of the Hunt, but I’m sure that people going on a witch hunt for pullers wasn’t part of the equation.
At the end of a full day of doing only the Hunt, I had earned enough Allied Seals to acquire my first Sands of Time and complete a Rosenbogen for my Bard. It was a satisfying reward given the ease of the content (not including the time or effort to locate the monsters), although I received a few dirty looks from friends that had gotten the same item from doing the much more difficult Binding Coil content. They were a bit upset that this item that took their static weeks of perfecting strategies in order to obtain, could now be earned by simply running around for a day and killing monsters. I didn’t care much at the time having just completed a kick-ass weapon for myself, but looking back now, I can understand their reaction to it. This is, arguably, problem number 4.
On the third day of my Hunt adventures, the word on the street was that players had begun to use third party radar apps to give them an unfair advantage with tracking down marks. There was a widespread feeling of discouragement for part of the day, as it seemed more difficult than ever to track down marks for the hunting party. This is most certainly problem number 5.
Midway through the day, I remember seeing a post on Reddit that claimed to have found a way to combat the people using these radar apps. They said that by naming your Chocobo Companion after one of these Notorious Monsters that these players wouldn’t be able to tell the difference and would come running if you summoned your Chocobo. I never saw this first hand, but I found it both funny that players had come up with their own way to combat cheaters yet also sad in that players had to come up with methods like this to begin with.
The Ninja Hotfix
The small update that was originally said to include adjustments for Frontline queues snuck in some changes to monsters included in the Hunt. The largest change was that the HP of monsters would be increased- a suggestion made by players so that the monsters would take longer to kill and thus give players more time to get to the target in order to get credit. The second change was the amount of contribution points needed for the reward were eased. This would hopefully make it easier for players to get full credit. Lastly for the S ranks, which suffered the same problems that Behemoth and Odin had when A Realm Reborn first launched, S rank mobs had now been given load priority which would most definitely help those issues.
As a nice bonus, after the update was completed there was a notice that some players were observed using “illicit actions” to complete content and those that were found out had received a temporary ban.
Way to go Square Enix!
Too Many Players
Today while in my hunting sessions I came to a new realization. After the patch yesterday which in theory, would allow more people to fairly participate in the hunt, a lot more players who had not looked closely at the content became more interested. A lot more.
Now, when arriving at A rank marks waiting to engage, and spamming my abilities until it falls to the ground, I can’t seem to get full credit. There are simply too many players participating in this content which makes it impossible to get a maximum contribution score from a kill. This will only encourage players to pull sooner so that they can get full credit for a kill- the exact opposite of what both the community and Square Enix hoped for after these changes were made to monster HP.
Hunt > All
The ultimate problem with the Hunt as it stands now is in the rewards that can be earned, namely the Oils of Time and Sands of Time.
As previously stated, previously these items were only available in the Second Binding Coil of Bahamut- the hardest end game content that Final Fantasy XIV has to offer. It’s also important to note that The Second Binding Coil of Bahamut also has a weekly lockout on rewards.
So where a raid group was limited to what they could earn in a week, a hunt party can now get as many of these same, valuable, items as they want with zero limitations, in less time, and with less effort. I’ve heard tales of players dropping out of duties half way through because of Hunt targets spawning. Those Allied Seals are infinitely more important than anything they could hope to get in the content they’re already participating in. This leads to slower than normal Duty Finder queues, with even required jobs taking abnormally long to hop into a roulette.
All of Eorzea is out in the field searching for these new monsters, to obtain Allied Seals, to obtain Oils of Time and Sands of Time, and it is having a negative effect on the game and its ecosystem. Possible solutions? Yoshida could just remove these items as rewards from the Hunt. There are other rewards that still make it a compelling system. Another option is to cap the number of Allied Seals that can be acquired per day or week, so that at the very least the time requirement is more appropriate in comparison to the rewards.
When an item (or equivalent items) are available through different methods, the methods need to be balanced. That balance can come in the form of difficulty (i.e. Coil), time (i.e. soldiery caps), or randomness (i.e. atma). Here that balance is non-existent.
At the time of this posting, we’ve yet to hear an official statement regarding the Hunt content from Naoki Yoshida. The tweaks made in the hotfix were an acknowledgement of some of the more annoying issues with the Hunt content – but it did nothing to address the more important effect it is having on the game as a whole.
I sincerely hope this is addressed… and soon.