Since returning to Final Fantasy XIV with Stormblood, I’ve been playing a lot of PvP. I’ve been writing about it, too. AFKers aside, it’s been a whole lot of fun and also a great way to level. Unfortunately, those AFK players ruining the experience for everyone else got Square Enix’s attention in the way I worried most. Patch 4.01, the first post-Stormblood patch, included heavy handed nerfs to PvP experience in order to address the AFK issue, and it’s my opinion that the changes will do little to discourage AFKers while simultaneously punishing everyone else.
The changes introduced in 4.01 reduce experience significantly for the losing teams in Frontline PvP and also scale XP rewards for match length. The latter changes don’t appear to have made a huge impact, but the XP nerf for losing teams (roughly 30%) is incredibly discouraging since there are always two losing teams in Frontline.
Players have done the math, and assuming said math is correct, it appears that the experience for winning is roughly the same as it was before, but I don’t imagine the odds of winning 100% of your matches are all that high. Assuming an average win rate of 33%, you’re looking at ~50 additional runs of Frontline PvP to level from 50-70 (or +10-ish hours) when compared to patch 4.0. Ouch.
PvP is still doable if you’re a diehard fan, assuming queue times aren’t severely impacted, but if they are, then these new rates will make the activity that much less viable as an alternative means of leveling. And for what? These changes don’t really discourage AFKers. Free experience is free experience. People who queued up with the explicit purpose of AFKing for free EXP aren’t going to care if it takes 50 more runs total if they can watch Netflix while they do it. Everyone else genuinely interested in making PvP worth their while as they enjoy it is punished instead.
It was this exact scenario that I worried about in a recent column celebrating the awesomeness of PvP in Stormblood. As long as PvP provides exp and queues are quick, people will AFK. Lowering the base rate of experience while bringing things up to the 4.0 level for actually participating in the match (healing, dealing damage, doing objectives, etc) would be a much better solution than pinning it all to wins and losses. There will be many instances now where AFK players are rewarded when they are carried by their teams and those who fought hard the entire match and lose will suffer an experience penalty. That’s just wrong.
My hope is that this is a stopgap change until Square Enix can take a more measured and nuanced approach to making PvP a viable leveling path. Throwing the baby out with the bathwater solves nothing here.