The Mog Log: Final Fantasy XIV's Hunts are broken

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It's been nearly two weeks since Final Fantasy XIV's patch went live, and I'm at once surprised and not surprised that we haven't seen anything really addressing the problem with Hunts. I'm not surprised because Square has a bad history of reacting to broken elements about as quickly as a narcoleptic sloth with poor motivation, and I'm surprised because players have been screaming about it for... about two weeks now? Yes, that sounds right.

And not just screaming in the usual disorganized fashion. This is pretty targeted and logical screaming, helped substantially by the fact that Hunts are currently very, very broken and need fixing. So let's explain the mess that the game has made for itself and the numerous simple solutions that can be implemented really any time now. Not that I'm saying they're all easy, just simple. Straightforward. And no, increasing mark HP is not one of those solutions.

For brief moments, I live, and it is then that my torment truly begins.  No one creature could stand against the onslaught that begins moments later.  I can feel and see my enemies assembled on the edge of my perception, but as soon as they enter it, pain explodes in a million ways across my body and I am helpless.So why are hunts so broken? Many reasons.

Daily bills are completely useless. There is literally no reason to go out of your way to hit all five of your daily targets for a whopping seven allied seals. At that rate of acquisition, you could pick up a Blood-Spattered Tome in 36 days. (Or a piece of i90 gear in 10 days, but you can buy that for the Myth probably coming out of your ears at this point.) There's literally no reason in the world for someone to make the extra effort these things request, especially not waiting for a FATE to spawn for four seals a day.

Elite marks are as bad as NM camping. If you're not part of the initial crush when an elite mark is targeted, too bad for you because that thing's going down in a hot minute. The result is that it's almost impossible to actually find an Elite mark. You're just hoping you're there when it pops and reaping the benefits. Either you camp them over an extended period of time or you get nothing. It's Final Fantasy XI all over again.

The other content is trivialized. Remember how irritating FATE zergs were? Of course you do; it became everyone's de facto leveling approach at launch simply because it was the fastest way to go from 1-50. Of course, the people who reached 50 that way weren't actually equipped to do anything beyond spam AoE attacks, but who cares, right? Hunts, as they exist now, are this taken to 11 -- they make literally every other sort of content pointless, because spamming them gets piles of Allied Seals (AF2 gear, Sands/Oils, etc), Mythology (AF2 again), and Soldiery (110 gear and weapons). Speaking of which...

It's exactly as engaging as chasing FATEs. Run in, spam damage abilities, run to the next point. I'm pretty sure there's a midpoint between this and Titan Extreme in terms of mechanics.

There are no alternatives. This is where things get really messy. Your options for participating in the system are to join the horde and hope or opt out entirely. Daily bills are worthless, and weekly bills are nearly as bad, thus invalidating the whole premise of the hunt -- you lose, at most, 20 seals a week by not doing the hunt quest. Woo. But there's no "take it at a slower pace" option. If you're not part of the crush of people killing targets, you'll be lucky to get two seals.

If it needs to be said again, this is one of those places where Final Fantasy XIV could benefit immensely from a public test server because this is exactly the sort of issue that could have been revealed within minutes of testing with other players. It's as if no one thought to double-check the numbers before setting all of this to live.

At these times I question the worthiness of myself to live, to exist, for what cruel deity would make me solely to leave me in a state of permanent doom?So what can be done? There are lots of suggestions out there, but this is such a broken mess that a lot of them need to be rolled out. Maybe not all at once, but soon.

Increase the rewards from daily bills. About 10-20x the current number of seals would leave you making only a little progress per day if you're just doing daily bills, but at least it is progress. Doing this would move daily bills into the realm of being worthwhile and provide an alternative to the horde.

Limit kills to once per week. My podcast co-host Nel suggested this, and I think it's a stellar idea. You'd get full credit for only your first kill of a particular Elite once per week; after that, you'd get maybe 1 seal or perhaps even nothing. This doesn't prevent dedicated players from getting a lot of extra seals, but it sure does remove some of the incentive for madly grinding.

Make the marks more like treasure hunts. Give players control over spawn conditions rather than simply setting the marks to spawn in a window. An idea that's been floated is having a "hunting license" available for purchase from the Grand Companies, which can be used to spawn one. Anyone in the area could take part and get extra seals for killing it, but the spawner would also get a bonus for doing so.

Put a weekly Allied Seal cap in place. I'm not as fond of this as an option because it's a transparent bandage over a gaping wound, but it would at least put a cap on how much could be earned and (again) discourage hordes endlessly wandering the maps.

Limit certain rewards and adjust prices. It's ridiculous that cosmetic-only gear costs more than 10 times as much as the more powerful and useful level 90 equipment, which can also be purchased with the piles of Myth stones you have from hunting marks. It'd also be reasonable to limit sand/oil purchases to once per week; again, more mark logs is advantageous, but you have a reason to stop.

A lot of people have hit the core argument many time now, specifically that Hunts -- as they currently exist -- don't add anything worthwhile to the game. They're FATEs that offer better rewards than anything else in the game while requiring less tactical acumen. The current bandage of increasing mark HP not only fails to address that fact but tacitly encourages huge zerg farming instead of participating in any other content in the game.

We received that fix on the 15th, and people are still abusing the system. It's too late to roll things back now, but the mess that Hunts have caused should be addressed, and soon. With such a good patch overall, it's disheartening to see how badly this one ill-considered feature has damaged the game as a whole.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments below or via mail to eliot@massively.com. Next time around, I'd like to talk a bit more about the dungeons of 2.3, which are quite good and fun.

Chocobo Dash!

Yep, we spent a couple of weeks talking about the patch! Episode 13 is our first chance to chat about the patch and also features my favorite stinger ever for the show; Episode 14 contains some discussion of Hunts as well as other gameplay mechanics and attitudes.

Meanwhile, in Final Fantasy III, I wrecked another airship and killed a shirtless bird-man. Made sense in context!

From Eorzea to Vana'diel, there is a constant: the moogles. And for analysis and opinions about the online portions of the Final Fantasy series, there is also a constant: The Mog Log. Longtime series fan Eliot Lefebvre serves up a new installment of the log every other Monday, covering almost anything related to Square-Enix's vibrant online worlds.

This article was originally published on Massively.