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Adjustments to Abyssos: The Eighth Circle (Savage)

Hello, this is Naoki Yoshida, Producer and Director of FINAL FANTASY XIV.

There has been a lot of discussion surrounding our explanation for adjusting the HP of the boss in Abyssos: The Eighth Circle (Savage) in Patch 6.21, as well as the necessity of the adjustment itself.

Firstly, please allow me to apologize for the disruption caused by this balancing issue, and for any offense resulting from the insufficient explanation we initially provided.

In this post, I hope to clear up any misunderstandings as to how and why this adjustment was made.

Reason for the HP Adjustment

As was explained in the Patch 6.21 notes, a miscalculation on our part resulted in the boss's HP being roughly 1% too high in comparison to the difficulty of previous fourth-stage Savage raids.

We do, of course, understand and appreciate that many players nevertheless honed their ability rotations, raised item levels, and repeated the fight over and over in order to claim victory.

Having the HP set to this higher value, however, had other undesirable consequences, including:

  • Certain jobs being excluded from party recruitment
  • A growing dissatisfaction with the overly punishing degree of difficulty

As our miscalculation was the root cause of these issues, we decided that the best course of action was to explain our mistake and correct the inflated HP to the value it should have been in the first place. This type of correction has little precedence in FFXIV's development, and although the decision was made after considerable debate, we once again apologize for the impact it had on player enjoyment.

Source of the Miscalculation

This issue was touched upon in the patch notes, but allow me to explain our balancing process in further detail.

Firstly, the development team bases adjustments on the following premise:

The top percentage of players are overwhelmingly better at the game than we are.

We regret not stating this more clearly in the previous explanation, but said premise is the reason why we do not release content tuned precisely as it was when the battle team’s balance testers cleared it.

We always add a little bit extra to the boss values before rechecking the fight and releasing it live.

The team responsible for balancing boss fights does so without debug commands and at the appropriate item level, employing available materia, foods, and medicines while experimenting with mitigating actions and various job compositions. Yet we recognize that player skill far exceeds our own. If we were to ship content with the same values which challenged our battle team, the top raiders would be deprived of that by-the-skin-of-your-teeth victory in the initial week of release.

Based on the team's skill and our experience, that "little bit extra" usually translates to:

Balance test clear values +1-2% HP

The final values account for other mathematical factors too, of course, such as the estimated damage the party could deal from the moment of victory to the end of the time limit, as well as total burst damage potential based on frequency and amount inflicted. The numbers these various calculations are based on are what we were referencing when we said that our team’s performance was higher than anticipated.

This latest installment features a boss closely tied to the dark past of a major character, and so we were focused on making this battle even more of a challenge than usual. As such, the battle team spent an inordinate amount of time together designing and testing the fight mechanics, which in turn led to them improving party coordination and communication beyond what they might usually achieve for a given boss fight. Final adjustments were, however, still based on the team's victory data, and so the "little bit extra" we added for the release proved to be that little bit too much.

Reasons aside, our adjustments were off by that crucial 1% and we again offer our apologies to those whose gaming experience was adversely affected by the correction and insufficient explanation.

A high-difficulty raid is a special kind of battle. We want players to enjoy a satisfying, hard-won victory, and we keep that ideal in mind when making tweaks and balance adjustments. Although we failed to walk that delicate line this time, the experience will help us to design a more perfectly thrilling battle in the future.

Why Adjust the Duty, Rather than Job Balance?

When balancing jobs, each job's base damage numbers at the applicable item level are adjusted with respect to the difficulty of playing that particular job and its rotation, as well as its support actions and their effects.

Naturally, the above factors are also affected by the mechanics and combination thereof at work in each battle─meaning that every job's numbers will not necessarily be at ideal values during all available battles. In addition to this inherent variance, there are indeed times when our calculations or adjustments are incorrect, producing damage numbers lower than intended and requiring subsequent strengthening of a job.

In this case, when considering job balance more broadly, the jobs that needed emergency adjustment in this fashion were Paladin and Warrior. However, the aforementioned issue with Abyssos: The Eighth Circle (Savage) also caused certain jobs to be better suited to the raid than others, and made the damage check required to clear extremely strict, resulting in a situation where players felt obligated to choose jobs with higher damage output when attempting the raid.

Attempting to ameliorate this by buffing certain jobs without making changes to the raid itself would have negatively impacted overall balance within each role, and likely resulted in disappointment for those whose jobs were already dealing sufficient damage for the raid and therefore received no adjustments. Unfortunately, adjusting all jobs in such a short period is also not feasible.

Thus:

  • The root cause of the issue was a mistake in balancing the duty
  • An immediate fix that maintains role balance was required

It is a game design fundamental as well as our policy that, rather than adjust the jobs to suit each battle, we balance the jobs independently, and only then set the battle content difficulty. Changing the job balance for one single duty would end up causing more problems than it solves, and so we decided to address the problem in the manner we did─by ameliorating the root cause.

I appreciate that, regardless of our rationale, this issue has been a source of frustration for many, and I apologize for that. I hope, however, that this has helped clarify our approach.

In Conclusion

The adjustment to Abyssos: The Eighth Circle was never intended to be a “nerf,” but merely the correction of values that were set inappropriately for a fourth-stage Savage raid to begin with.

Nevertheless, I understand that it feels like a nerf for those who worked hard and were on the verge of clearing the fight as it was originally implemented, and I regret having caused such disappointment.

As we strongly wish you to continue enjoying fiercely challenging Savage fights, particularly in the early days after release, we will do our utmost to further improve the tuning of these battles. Furthermore, we will strive to better understand what our players think about such issues and improve our operational protocols─perhaps by waiting a week before implementing fixes, in addition to providing details on our perspective─so that if we again find ourselves in a similar situation, we may arrive at a solution that is more satisfying to everyone.

At the risk of sounding like a broken record, I sincerely apologize for any disruption that our error may have caused to your gameplay experience, and appreciate your patience.

Naoki Yoshida

FINAL FANTASY XIV Producer & Director

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