Hello again, all fans of FINAL FANTASY XIV!

Information on 1.18 has recently started popping up on Topics, and today I’ll touch on some details about this patch as well as talk about our balance reform plans. In particular, I’ll be casting the spotlight on guildleves. Now, to give you due warning, this letter is going to be a wall of text. This isn’t without good reason, though—the content can only be described as pivotal, and I ask you to bear with me to the last word.

In order to keep up with the times and cater to changing lifestyles, large-scale MMORPGs such as FINAL FANTASY XIV need to offer a more casual playing experience than before. Mind you, that’s not to say that the entire game should be casual. Rather, there should be elements that can be enjoyed in a lighthearted way, for example, after coming home tired from work or school, with mobile phone or refreshing beverage in hand. To elaborate, content that can be enjoyed with little fuss, that doesn’t demand large time investments—up to an hour, say—or require a party to be formed.

But come weekend, players have the choice of undertaking more elaborate adventuring, forming parties with linkshell members and/or likeminded adventurers to accomplish mutual goals. Light parties can exploit the versatility offered by classes to conduct forays into beast tribe settlements, something that a lone adventurer would find grueling. Full parties, on the other hand, can immerse themselves in fine-tuning job configuration in preparation for their bid to obtain rare items in advanced battle content. Disciples of the Hand can outfit the battle-inclined with equipment boasting the requested attributes. And last but not least, Disciples of the Land can set about gathering ingredients based on current class and materia crafting demands.

We still have some ways to go, but FINAL FANTASY XIV will gradually shift from being a grind-centric game to one that offers enjoyment for all playing styles and circumstances with its ever-expanding variety of content.
Patch 1.18
As part of the reforms based on the above direction, 1.18 will see the introduction of instanced raids along with the first stages of the battle system reform. In addition to these two areas, which have been discussed in some detail in previous letters, we’ll also be carrying out major revisions to guildleves.
Guildleve Reforms
When FINAL FANTASY XIV was launched last September, it was stated via official channels that guildleves will form the heart of the game. Today, I’d like to officially retract that statement.

Guildleves will no longer be central to FINAL FANTASY XIV.

In my mind, central content isn’t a static thing. Rather, it’s new content that we continually develop for our fans’ enjoyment, with no one item indefinitely bathing in the spotlight.
  • Guildleve Repositioning
    We will reposition guildleves as content catering to solo adventurers, which can be enjoyed repeatedly and with minimal time investment and fuss.

    Large volumes of quests are being added—now and in future patches—which require adventurers to interact with an NPC. Until you do so, you won’t be able to gauge the quest’s difficulty level. In contrast, Guildleves can be initiated simply by visiting guild counters and aetherytes. Bone-tired after a hard day’s work? Got only a bit of time to spare? Then guildleves are just what the doctor ordered. Being able to get started without delay is without a doubt the biggest selling point of guildleves.

    Having said that, we want to avoid boring players to tears with monotony. We recognize the need to add a pinch of spice to the mix, such as a system in which special levequests can be triggered, that borrow inspiration from guildleves.

    Based on my rationale above, 1.18 will see the following changes made to guildleves. This marks only the beginning, mind you. Further revisions are in store for future patches, all driven by the same overarching goal.

  • Imbuing Rewards with Regional Identity
    Guildleves won’t simply offer fuss-free adventuring. We also intend to make it so that through guildleves, adventurers will be able to experience the richness and diversity of the world of Eorzea. To achieve this, we will accentuate the uniqueness of rewards for each region. For instance, if it’s metal armor or Blacksmiths’ Guild marks you’re after, you’ll want to make a beeline for Limsa Lominsa.

    Levequests yielding guild marks will be limited to city-states hosting the corresponding guild only. In compensation, we will make it easier for players to amass the guild marks they desire.

  • Skill Points: Introduction and Balancing
    In light of guildleves’ repositioning as solo-oriented content, leve link bonuses will be reduced. To make up for this reduction, skill points will be added as a new reward for the benefit of solo adventurers.

    At the same time, the objectives of certain guildleves will be adjusted in order to accommodate a system in which difficulty and completion time influence your reward. For example, completing a high-difficulty levequest in a short amount of time will yield greater rewards. Through this we hope to encourage skillful adventuring.

    In addition to guildleves, sidequests will also be made to yield skill points upon completion, thus providing players with more avenues for advancement.

  • Regional Levequest Battle Rebalancing
    Given the tremendous amount of work required for instanced raids and battle reforms in 1.18, we weren’t able to allocate sufficient time to review balance for regional levequest battles. Rather than do a cursory job of rebalancing and risk making a mess of things, we decided to put it off for a later patch.

    A handful of levequests with peculiar demands, however, such as those that would send adventurers scrambling long distances, will be revised on a case-by-case basis. At the same time, we’ll implement a system that allows the same levequest to assign different routes, which should help to even out adventurer distribution.

  • Regional Levequest Usability Tweaks
    • Automatic updating of minimap marker position.
    • Pegging of enemy rank variance based on guildleve difficulty.
    • Revised menu position when cancelling within guildleve issuance window.
    We’ve finally gotten around to making the adjustments above, and a bunch of others besides. Adjustments like these will continue well beyond 1.18, with changes great and small to be implemented as required to improve user-friendliness.

    On a related subject, failing guildleve objectives due to disconnection is a major issue that many players have raised, and we’re looking at ways to tackle it. We’d been deferring work in this area due to concerns that the ability to resume a guildleve after disconnection may be exploited to unfairly obtain large amounts of skill points. But with rewards now undergoing adjustment, we feel this is a suitable time to put together a plan of action to address the issue.

1.18 and Beyond
Phew, that pretty much sums up all the guildleve changes planned for 1.18.

Although guildleves are just one aspect of FINAL FANTASY XIV, they play a significant role in the overall scheme of changes. And so in deciding to carry out guildleve reforms, I made a pivotal decision that will have a profound impact on the game. I wrote this letter while fighting sleep, and hope I managed to underscore the importance of the adjustments.

Though I’ve already buried you in a mountain of text, there’s actually still a lot more that I wanted to write about, and many more tasks that we have to complete. Here’s some of them, in a flurry:

Reforms to behest are still outstanding, and more new content is in the pipes. We’re doing what we can to reorganize the opening stages of the game, but progress is being made. A complete reworking of recipes is planned for 1.19, with the goal of granting Disciples of the Hand and the Land more power to invigorate the game economy. Likewise for the materia crafting system. Disciples of the Land will benefit from the addition of a stealth skill to their arsenal, and we’re prepared to invest as much resource as needed to improve the map.

The team will keep soldiering on, working intently towards clearly defined goals, and we ask that all adventurers keep doing what they do best: adventure!

1.18 has proven to be a time-consuming patch, but there’s a good reason for this. 1.18 is the momentous first bold step towards the ideal game that we’ve envisioned, and we hope our fans will be able to feel and appreciate the passion that went into its creation. We ask for your patience for just a little while longer.

This letter ended up taking on quite a formal tone, didn’t it? I suppose it’s only natural, though, considering the weightiness of the content. Anyway, thanks for sticking with me and reading to the very end!

See you next time and/or on the forums!