Hello, this is Naoki Yoshida, Producer and Director of FINAL FANTASY XIV.
Patch 6.11a included an assortment of balance adjustments to several jobs in PvP, most notably for black mage. We have received a great deal of feedback regarding these changes, and in hindsight, I believe we went too far with our adjustments. For this, I apologize. Please know that we have plans to address these concerns in Patch 6.15, which will be released on Tuesday, June 7.
In addition, we have received questions concerning how balance adjustments are decided, how often they occur, and when players can expect them for Frontline. I will address each of these questions below.
Crystalline Conflict Balance Changes: Details and Schedule
I am delighted that so many players─including those who previously distanced themselves from PvP gameplay─have been enjoying Crystalline Conflict. Since its release in patch 6.1, we have been monitoring certain data sets to implement balance changes and provide improvements to this new mode of PvP. (I will address balance changes made to Frontline in a separate section below.)
① Job Win Rates (in matches between players of differing jobs)
We keep a constant record of win rates for matches where players of differing jobs compete against each other. Ideally, we strive to keep the win rates for each job at 50% in such matches.
Furthermore, we separate these statistics into categories such as casual, ranked, and expert matches to better understand gameplay trends across various subgroups.
When a particular job starts showing win rates much higher than 50%, we investigate the cause while also taking into account player feedback. If we discover an overpowered action, or perhaps a combination of actions creating a potentially unfair advantage, we implement balance changes in a way that preserves the distinctive characteristics of the job in question.
Jobs with win rates much lower than 50% are treated similarly─instead of simply taking a "weak" job and making it "stronger," we strive to enhance its unique attributes in a way that organically improves its chances of victory.
At the end of the day, we hope that PvP matches are decided based on players' knowledge of jobs─both their own and their opponents’─their strategic execution of both offense and defensive actions, and their ability to understand and adapt to teams with which they are randomly matched. Going forward, we will continue adjusting our system as necessary to provide as balanced an experience as possible.
② Job Usage Rates
Another factor we keep in mind when evaluating balance is the rate at which players choose certain jobs over others. Like win rates, we separate these statistics by category and only consider data for matches where players of differing jobs compete against each other. However, unlike our stance on win rates, our goal is not to equalize the rate of job usage─we believe players should choose their jobs based on personal preference, which naturally fluctuates. Instead, what we look for in job usage rates are instances of extreme bias that may indicate a particular job is "easier" or "harder" to use, which in turn may implicate a greater underlying issue.
When a certain job seems significantly more or less palatable to players, we both review player feedback and engage in matches ourselves to investigate any issues present in action balance or the job's fundamental mechanics. As previously stated, we try to preserve each job's individuality when applying changes, such as introducing comparable weaknesses to jobs that seem distinctly advantaged, while bolstering those that may need support.
③ Balance Change Schedule
As we received overwhelmingly positive feedback for Crystalline Conflict upon its release in patch 6.1, we wanted to implement any and all necessary balance changes as soon as possible in order to further optimize our players’ experiences.
However, as FFXIV is a project that requires constant and simultaneous development of a wide array of content, our patch release schedule is both incredibly detailed and decided far in advance. For instance, players may have received patch 6.11a on Tuesday, May 24, but our developers had to finish their adjustments and implementation by Friday, May 6. (In reality, this deadline was extended at day to Saturday, May 7, as our developers were insistent upon working down to the wire to deliver the most comprehensive update possible within the given time restrictions.)
Accordingly, the balance changes made to PvP job actions in patch 6.11a were based on data and player feedback received by Friday, May 6, and any issues that have arisen since will be addressed in the next update.
As developers, we have an ever-present desire to adjust and correct even the smallest issues as soon as they occur. However, reality dictates that any changes we make need approximately two weeks for debugging, translation and implementation checks, patch note creation, changes to the Job Guide, and more.
The changes made in patch 6.11a were particularly extensive and implemented on relatively short notice, causing many players to lament their inability to enjoy and explore the nuances of Crystalline Conflict in the state it was released. Reflecting on this, we acknowledge that waiting to release all necessary adjustments in patch 6.15 would have been a better solution than hurrying to release an intermediary patch as we did. By waiting until patch 6.15, we would have had more time to verify and test our prospective changes, ensuring they resulted in balanced gameplay. (As it is, the only changes we plan to make to PvP in patch 6.15 are those addressing functionality issues discovered after the patch 6.11a deadline, and adjustments to black mage job actions, which I will explain below.) We will keep this in mind for future updates and strive to deliver the most stable and effective balance changes we can going forward.
④ Regarding Recent Changes to the Black Mage Job
By means of both the data explained in points ① and ② and extensive player feedback, we became aware that─as of Friday, May 6─the black mage was exhibiting the lowest usage and win rates across all player categories. (As a point of reference, the black mage experienced victory 14% less than the job with the highest win rates.) As this issue was discovered by the deadline elaborated in point ③, changes to strengthen this job we deemed difficult to play were promptly incorporated into patch 6.11a. In the following days, I would have the distinct pleasure of battling against many of you in my personal investigation of the black mage's issues.
As many of you know, a black mage's overall fighting style is reliant on spellcasting, specializing in area of effect attacks, damage over time, and limiting opponent movement. While this job has the potential to inflict extensive damage─particularly during limit breaks─in many cases, its relatively low health and sparse methods of self-defense make it difficult for the black mage to execute said limit breaks before being struck down by melee combatants. Having said this, my personal impression after countless Crystalline Conflict matches is that, in the hands of a skilled PvP combatant, the black mage has more than enough potential to excel in battle.
These impressions, however, were only gleaned after patch 6.11a had been sent off for finishing touches. What should have been minor changes were released as major changes, which ultimately resulted in an overpowered black mage. By adding a heavy effect, giving Paradox multiple charges, and otherwise decreasing casting times, the black mage was granted an undeniable advantage, which we intend to revert in a future patch. We will also be reducing the level of defense granted by limit break action Soul Resonance.
I would like to emphasize that the black mage is experiencing no preferential treatment by being specially mentioned here; we evaluate action balance for all jobs with a similarly scrutinizing gaze. I only present this instance as an example as it was particularly inconvenient and frustrating to many players, and I am truly sorry for the trouble we have caused.
Balance Adjustments to Jobs in Frontline
As I mentioned above, focusing our resources on balance adjustments to Crystalline Conflict, the new PvP mode, has regretfully resulted in certain jobs being over or underrepresented in Frontline.
It has taken us more time than we hoped, but adjustments to Frontline will resume in Patch 6.18. The following changes are currently planned:
① Adjustments to damage dealt and taken by all jobs in Frontline
In light of the fact that the number of participants and the length of matches vary greatly between Crystalline Conflict and Frontline, Frontline-specific adjustments will be made to damage dealt and taken by all jobs to bring them in line and better balance matches.
② Adjustments to frequency of limit break usage
As with the first adjustment, the rate at which Limit Breaks can be used should be appropriate to the number of participants on the field, so we are working towards bringing their frequency of use in line as well.
We have already begun making the above changes to ensure they can be implemented in Patch 6.18, but we have more specific changes in mind for Frontline in Patch 6.2 and beyond, including functionality allowing us to make further Frontline-specific adjustments.
Our aim for not only these changes, but all changes we make to Frontline in the future, is to preserve what makes the mode so special: casual, large-scale battles, where players have the freedom to change their job at will─no strict role requirements involved.
I would like to apologize once more for how long it has taken us to address the state of balance in Frontline. Though it will take time, we plan to review play records, and once we have decided on appropriate adjustments, have them tested and implemented. Your continued patience is greatly appreciated.
Our miscalculation in the PvP balance adjustments has caused a great deal of frustration, as evidenced by the overwhelming feedback we have received. However, I believe such feedback is indicative of PvP’s unprecedented popularity. As with our story quests and other PvE content, rest assured we will do our utmost to make PvP in FINAL FANTASY XIV an experience everyone can continue to enjoy.
FINAL FANTASY XIV Producer & Director