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Compare the challenge in A1S or FFXIV BisEX to other challenging games. Let's say, a puzzle game such as Pokemon Puzzle League (The "puzzle" mode in particular), and a difficult platformer such as Super Meat Boy

FFXIV: I find the PvE content to encompass both facets

I find that the challenge in the end game PvE content is really a multifaceted experience, and trying to point at the whole and determining if it's arbitrary or not is not only difficult, but is missing the point.

 

Compare the challenge in A1S or FFXIV BisEX to other challenging games. Let's say, a puzzle game such as Pokemon Puzzle League (The "puzzle" mode in particular), and a difficult platformer such as Super Meat Boy. Both of these games can be described as challenging, and I haven't really heard either of them have their challenge called arbitrary. In Puzzle League, the challenge lies in figuring out the solution. You're aware of all possible abilities and facets of the puzzle, you just have to find the proper solution to finish it. In Super Meat Boy, there isn't really a puzzling element to the difficulty, it's obvious at a glance what must be done, but the challenge lies in forcing the player to execute moves in a very precise matter, and these moves have a great room for nuanced differences in execution. Mastery in Super Meat Boy comes when you realize the nuances in the platforming, and mastery in Puzzle League comes when you can plan and find the solution.

 

This entire tangent is to say, that I find the PvE content to encompass both facets, albeit in varying levels of each for each encounter.

 

There is very much a problem solving element in Final Fantasy XIV: Heavensward- A1S. If your group has formed a proper strategy for it, there's virtually no situation where an "impossible" setup of the missiles and spazers will completely block off your dps from their adds. There's a very set time where both the resin bombs will drop, and the spazers are fired. Ideally, my static had each dps grab a general quadrant of the arena, and in the likelihood that it wasn't immediately obvious which one to take we briefly communicated who would handle what missiles. Further, we took pains to try and drop the resin bombs in a predictable fashion that wouldn't impede the melee dps as much, such as stacking to a single flank for the duration of the cast of resin bomb, leaving the other flank and rear open for them.

 

The Platforming-like challenge in A1S is simple, it's the DPS-check of the enrage timer. It's a test of the abilities of the players that demands they be used at least as well to survive and meet a certain requirement of their damage. Much like in Super Meat Boy, where there might be ways to make a jump easier or faster, there are occasions where DPS should be applying themselves to notice the nuance of mechanics. This has been the entire reason why my static was able to get passed Hand of Pain on A3S, we had to change our rotations to save them all for a very tight DPS-check, as well as be careful to not have dots up on both targets.

 

This is all to say that I don't find the challenge arbitrary. There are certain mechanics that I can see have unintended challenging aspects to them, (Whenever wash away decides to push both tanks/healers into the same direction and have them digitize each other immediately) but I find that to be the exception rather than the rule. 

 

Further, I do not play melee DPS, but those mechanics are in place to prevent the fight from becoming a training dummy. In which case, competent melee (probably a DRG) would completely demolish the DPS of any ranged. You're not supposed to freely land all of your positionals in these fights, but it's the great players who find ways to maximize their opportunities to do so. It's just a quirk of the difference between melee and ranged, and the only fight so far that I've seen heavily favor ranged over melee was RavEX (namely the ball phase).

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