Player-vs-player content has never been the main draw of Final Fantasy XIV Online and that’s for a good reason. The gamemode has been pretty inconsistent and bare-bones since its original iteration. Aside from its main narrative, the massive MMORPG constantly creates new, half-baked content in an attempt to appease its ever-growing fanbase. Despite this, PVP is rather unbalanced and somewhat unneglected, even after its overhaul in patch 6.1.
As an individual who’s played an ungodly amount of PVP in FFXIV, I decided to look over its current iteration and reflect on what it does wrong.
Crystalline Conflict’s Crystal-Clear Issues
As the newest gamemode introduced in patch 6.1, Crystalline Conflict (CC) is mainly responsible for the rebirth of PVP in FFXIV. Whilst it can sometimes be fun, the mechanics of this mode are pretty half-baked and can quickly become tedious and irritating.
To start with, the titular Crystal is more of an annoyance than an asset. It makes any player pushing it a massive sitting duck for their opponents. Whilst the point of the game is to push it into the enemy’s base, few games are as straightforward as that. Considering that the Crystal is where players spend most of their time fighting, perhaps some kind of weak defensive buff could be applied to anyone who is within a certain range of the Crystal. This would incentivise players to respect the rules of the game and not avoid the win condition of their match.
There is also a massive issue with how players queue for PVP, which could be fixed with a lobby system or just allowing premade teams to fight other random premade teams. Unfortunately, friends have to snipe each other and hope they land in the same match and (more unlikely) the same team. This is a very fundamental flaw that makes Crystalline Conflict less attractive for first-timers and experienced players alike.
Crystalline Conflict’s Map Design
Next up are the maps. As of this moment, there are four maps to play on in Crystalline Conflict:
- Cloud Nine: A map taking place within the sky. Periodically, a map-wide tornado will often blow all players up into the air.
- The Palastria: A straight-forward map that has no defining traits
- The Volcanic Heart: A map that is periodically bombarded by multiple explosions
- The Clockwork Castle: The latest map revolves around flipping tatami mats, clockwork dolls and hidden doorways.
These maps are pretty small which allows players to navigate and transverse them very quickly. Maps like Cloud Nine and The Palastria even have jump-pads or sprint lanes to help previously fallen combatants re-enter the battle as soon as possible. Unfortunately, three of the four maps are based around some kind of gimmick that halts the progression of the fight and forces players to stop interacting with each other. Whilst this does allow the losing team to mount an effective counterattack, these gimmicks just feel cheap and annoying. I think that the maps should be more varied in terms of terrain instead of using artificial tricks to create tension.
In my opinion, maps could be a bit larger and have different levels of terrain to give interesting and diverse advantages to players smart enough to utilise them.
Common Issues With Common Actions
For some, the 6.1 PVP overhaul was the rebirth that the gamemode needed. Tons more players flocked to it, thanks to its new, easy-to-digest mechanics. Personally, I enjoy some aspects of the new system but I often find it lacking in many ways.
For better or for worse, PVP in FFXIV now revolves around the use of three shared actions:
- Guard: Covers the user in a protective barrier that blocks 90% of incoming damage for 5 seconds. Slows the user’s movement speed by 50% while in use.
- Recuperate: Restores a small percentage of the user’s HP.
- Standard-Issue Elixir: Restores the user’s HP and MP to full.
- Sprint: Boosts the user’s movement speed
- Purify: Makes the user immune to most negative status effects for five seconds.
Now, these actions seem really good on paper but amid combat, they aren’t exactly the most reliable. Thanks to server ticks, “Recuperate” and the “Elixir” can end up not going off when they’re supposed to. Which isn’t exactly great when you’re fighting for your life or trying to recover from a near-death state.
“Guard” is the most prolific offender though. It can be useful for avoiding dangerous amounts of damage in a skirmish but more often than not, it ends up making you a sitting duck for the enemy. Since it’s so obvious when you’re guarding, all an enemy has to do is wait the short five seconds and then use their burst, it’s not you’ll be able to escape them, thanks to movement debuff.
As I’m sure you know, being stunned or bound in the middle of a fight; usually means one of two things:
- You’re about to be stun-locked and blasted to death in a matter of seconds
- The enemy you’re fighting is trying to escape and they just prolonged their death for a few seconds.
Enter “Purify”, arguably the worst-designed PVP action. The Job design overhaul made a lot of skills have additional effects aside from just pure damage, like Bind, Silence or Stun. Purify exists to allow players to get out of these situations but its 30s recast time and 5s duration doesn’t match the sheer amount of times you will get hit by status effects.
Not to mention, that not even “Purify” or “Guard” can deflect the effects of “Miracle Of Nature”; the infamous White Mage action that makes the target totally useless for two seconds. This is a surprisingly long time, especially when you weren’t expecting it.
PVP in FFXIV relies so heavily on status effects, it’s almost polarising. Resulting in a lot of undeserved deaths and so many rage quits.
Teams & Combat
Job design isn’t balanced and I think that’s fine. The problem is that when paired with the overall PVP design it becomes a bit of an issue.
With the right Jobs, a competent team of players can literally walk into their opponent’s base without worry. In a situation like this, It can be practically impossible to mount a counterattack. One player can’t beat five after all; especially when they’re constantly using AoEs, stunning and silencing them.
Battles should be based more on skill and not just dogpiling on a single enemy. This could be implemented by allowing players to create certain ‘builds’ of their Job. Like a defensive Black Mage, an offensive, high-speed Paladin or a status-based Ninja. The Devs could also grant a ‘Base Buff‘ that can increase the defense of all party members when they’re down to their last checkpoint; allowing a losing team to fight back and not just crumble under the pressure.
Overall, I’m relatively pleased with the latest PvP changes and I’m glad that both the community and the Devs are taking it more seriously. All it needs is just a small push in the right direction to create a solid and enjoyable PVP experience in FFXIV.
If you’re unsure of trying this gamemode, I can only encourage it. It’s a great way to play FFXIV Online and meet some of the most interesting and diverse members of this game’s community.
(Credit goes to StingKnight for the video)