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FFXIV: Heavensward had a lot of different expectations set upon it by different types of players. For some of us, we understood that ARR had to play it safe in order to rebuild trust in the game and draw in new players who may not have played MMOs before

FFXIV and Risk vs Reward

First off, this is a first post and I'm sure there will be negative stigma attached to that. I'm not a new player though, even though I am a new poster here. Sorry for the weird paragraph breaks.

 

FFXIV: ARR pulled off a miracle and saved a game from destruction and made it into something great. 

 

FFXIV: Heavensward had a lot of different expectations set upon it by different types of players. For some of us, we understood that ARR had to play it safe in order to rebuild trust in the game and draw in new players who may not have played MMOs before. We were okay with that. When 3.0 was being discussed, the dev team mentioned that they would be more experimental and felt more confident after ARR's success. Players like myself interpreted this to mean that the training wheels would come off, and that new content would be difficult or at least would require a higher level of skill and participation than content in ARR did, and that the open world itself would also follow this model.

 

Here we are waiting for 3.2, and I think that our expectations were very different from what the devs had in mind.

 

And sure, that's okay, since the most common rebuttal to where my argument is going is to say "but Cina, the majority of the playerbase is happy with the way things are and they're mostly casual players, you are in the minority and the game is not gonna change just for you."

 

But here's why it has to:

 

Any job can take out any single open world enemy in 5 or less hits. Some can just oneshot burst before their GCD resets. The caveat of course is hunts, but I'm not talking about hunts. I'm talking about the flora and fauna of Eorzea - the stuff that's out there and aggressive to players.

 

Why is this a problem?

 

"But Cina, how annoying would it be if I had to actually fight stuff that aggro'd me while I was running through Sea of Clouds!?" Okay, sure. You're telling me that while you're doing beast tribe quests or crafting or whatever, you'd rather just run away or burst it dead and move on. Does this make the world feel real to you? Does it make you feel like you're challenged at all, or that the world is a place that might harbor some danger? What if some enemies aggro'd to smell, sound, use of magic, or low HP? What if some enemies only came out at night or got stronger when the weather was rain or heat wave?

 

What if this stuff actually mattered? What if you could still burst that poor Paissa in 3 moves but a rather testy Bull Dahlmel could oneshot YOU if it was around? I do not argue that every enemy have 10x the HP they have and 10x the ATK power. No, I argue that the range of strength be bracketed and that enemies spawn that are easy for players to defeat, and some that are difficult, and some very difficult. This adds more flavor, more variety, and most importantly, more risk.

 

Why does Risk matter?

 

We forge strong memories when overcoming risk. It is when we get that adrenaline rush that drives us to continue to pursue adventure. Do you feel like an adventurer when you're stomping everything in sight without a care in the world? I'd argue this is part of why some players feel burned out. They may not even realize it.

 

Strong memories lead to nostalgia, to a desire to experience adrenaline rush again, and the associated feeling of adventure and overcoming difficulty with friends at your side.

 

FFXIV needs to implement Risk in 3.x and 4.x open world content, in addition to the challenges offered by raids. Furthermore, it needs to reinforce good play and discourage ineffective play at that level. It has to do this in a method that only allows players to progress once they've proven their ability through specifically tailored duties. "But Cina, you can't tell me how to play, I paid my sub fee, so what if I suck? I'm having fun." Again, not a problem. ARR is a theme park, and so far, so is Heavensward. It's virtually built for that kind of player. Anything that is a struggle for that kind of player is quickly reduced in difficulty by SE so that they can keep those players happy and keep them playing. But do you feel like you're a max-level elite player when the bar is lowered so much?

 

And why does that matter? Where's my reward? 

 

Because Risk generates the desire for reward. You rightly ask for compensation for the risks you take. Currently, FFXIV trivializes reward by side-grading Raid gear and providing fast-obsoletion through vertical gear progression. The parallel raid experience attempts to solve the difference in ability between hardcore and casual players. It attempts to allow both kinds and those in between to experience the story associated with the raid while providing a difficulty appropriate for each group. However, inadvertently this trivializes the hardcore experience. It diminishes the reward, which diminishes the incentive to take the risk.

 

If you've read this far, you're going to tell me "Cina, casual players are the bread and butter of the sub base, you can't piss them off to please the hardcore players." If you're talking about short term goals, you're absolutely correct in that casual players are going to be your revenue stream. But if you're talking long term, over the length of the game, it's the hardcore players that keep coming back and that don't get bored and leave after they've done their first relic, or whatever it happens to be. Casual players, by their nature of being casually interested, will come and go. But the hardcore player subs and subs and subs. Unless they're no longer happy with the way the game is developing, and I worry that that is beginning to be the case here. 

 

Anyway, the TL;DR is that FFXIV needs to provide risk and reward in the open world, needs to gate max-level content behind ability checks, and needs to do this in order to remain a healthy community, regardless of what players currently think about casual vs. hardcore. It's not really about that, it's about creating a difficulty curve game-wide that increases both risk and reward so that reaching the 'endgame' community content puts players in the strongest position to forge powerful positive memories of overcoming challenges and draws them to come back to the game again and again. And this demands that the endgame content not be a faceroll.

 

EDIT: Thanks Voltyblast for showing me the ways of the edit button here.

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