Hello again, to all of you FFXIVers out there!

These past few months have been a whirlwind of events and late nights at the office, but with patch 2.3 just around the corner, players would be at my door with torches and pitchforks if I didn't take time to deliver my fifty-seventh Letter from the Producer.

Attending last month's E3 event, we had the opportunity to meet with a number of media outlets, fellow game developers, and most importantly you, our players. We stayed quite busy during our stay in Los Angeles, but it was a fantastic experience, to say the least.

It was also the opportune time to reveal Rogue and Ninja, the new class and job making their debut in patch 2.4. Staying tight-lipped about such exciting news is really hard for me, and during every interview or Q&A session before the reveal, I could hear the dev team in my head shouting "Don't spoil it before E3!" Now that the secret's out, it's like a great weight has been lifted from my shoulders.

But patch 2.4 is still a few months away, so let's talk about what's coming now─Patch 2.3 - Defenders of Eorzea! My final checks of the patch are complete, and thanks to the amazing work of our team, everything is prepped and ready to go for a July 8 release. It's just a day away, so hold on a little bit longer.

Patch 2.3 brings a lot to the table with new dungeons, system features, items, and recipes. After watching the trailer, I'm sure many of you are still deciding where to begin. While you continue to consider your options, I'd like to shine the spotlight on one new system in particular: the Hunt.

The Hunt, a new initiative started by the Eorzean Alliance, will have adventurers tracking down and defeating notorious monsters roaming the land referred to as "elite marks," as well as visiting the Hunt board at each of the Grand Companies for bounties being offered to quell the lesser threats found in Eorzea. While any monster with a bounty on its head is considered a "mark," an elite mark, as the name implies, poses a much greater threat to the realm.

Take this guy for instance. Although I managed to take a few screenshots, it wasn't long before our eyes met, and I was introduced to his gargantuan club. Needless to say, I died instantly, but it was worth it to give you all an idea of what new dangers await in patch 2.3.

Elite marks can appear in any area, with some of them appearing only when certain conditions are met. Add to that the fact that they won't always appear in the exact same spot. You'll also come across hunter-scholars in each area, who are more than willing to share with you what they know of the elite marks you're after.

They may even offer a hint on how to track down your prey, so be sure to keep an eye out.

Players who defeat these elite marks will be rewarded with Allied Seals, which can be exchanged for various items and gear at your Grand Company's headquarters.

There are no weekly restrictions on how many seals you can acquire, so those of you feeling especially heroic are more than welcome to venture out and defeat as many marks as you can find.

Which reminds me, I know a lot of players have been concerned this will be like back in the day, where one player or party would claim an enemy, and lock everyone else out from getting a reward. You'll be happy to know that the Hunt was not designed with any such claiming system in mind. In fact, some of the elite marks are so powerful, it would be in your best interest to shout for help before trying to lay a hand on them. I've also heard the more elusive elite marks drop rare items as well. These rare items are distributed on a player-by-player basis, so don't hesitate to reach for a helping hand.

I think that covers the basics of elite marks, so let me tell you a bit more about the Hunt board.

The Grand Companies have made every effort to protect the peoples of their respective nations, but there are still many threats they simply can't handle on their own. This is why they've created the Hunt board, where bounties are posted for monsters deemed to be a threat that can't be ignored. Players will find two types of bounties posted on these boards.

1. Regular mark bills, denoting lesser enemies they would have you exterminate that day.
(Regular mark bills will indicate different enemies for every player.)

2. Elite mark bills, denoting more dangerous enemies they would have you exterminate within a week.
(Elite mark bills will indicate the same enemy for all players)

Regular mark bills will have you exterminating enemies commonly found around Eorzea, some of which may include bosses from FATEs. Elite mark bills will have you tracking down one of the lower ranked elite marks once per week. Both regular and elite mark bills offer a reward of gil and Allied Seals, the latter being a reward in addition to the Allied Seals yielded by elite mark enemies.

So for those of you looking to amass large quantities of Allied Seals, you can acquire as many as you'd like from hunting down elite marks. Just be warned that sometimes they can be hard to find, and even harder to kill. Players who don't have quite as much time on their hands, however, can use the Hunt board to slowly build up Allied Seals at their own pace.

So band together with your fellow adventurers, and seek out the most dangerous enemies the realm has to offer.

But there's more to patch 2.3 than just the Hunt. With Ramuh, Frontline, Crystal Tower, desynthehsis, and new recipes coming, my free company members are all excited thinking about what to do first. As for me, I've recently gotten into tanking, and having recently reached level 50 with my Paladin and Warrior, I'm looking to get some high level gear. Patch 2.3 is definitely packed with plenty to do.

But I may have to wait for a while, as I'm currently in Paris, France.
(Sure, a trip to Paris sounds cool, but you know me─all work and no play.)
I'm attending Japan Expo, where we're holding a battle challenge for the first time in France. I'll also have about 12 interviews over the course of my two day stay, but it will be worth it to meet all of our fans in France.

See you next time, at the F.A.T.E. in Sendai, and at China Joy 2014!