With the end of Season 5 of The Feast, Final Fantasy XIV’s ranked PvP, rapidly approaching, I want to address some issues that are quite clear with how the game handles ranked PvP. I also want to state my hopes for what the developers will do to address these problems in future seasons.
I believe what The Feast needs most is reprimands for cheating and harassment. I imagine this would be obvious, but we’re in the end of Season 5, and still seeing little punishment for those ruining experiences. The cheating itself has died down slightly in this season, so I will give them that. I at least haven’t seen anyone blatantly hacking this time, such as the speed hacking that was rather obvious in some of the previous seasons, especially Season 3. Sadly, when it comes to win trading, that’s a whole other bucket of fish.
It has not been uncommon this season to run into two or three teams win trading if you’ve queued at any time other than peak hours. This is an obvious thing you’ll notice when you constantly see the queues popping with someone withdrawing their entry immediately after you accept your queue pop, or when you see someone throw the entire game within only a few seconds. So, how can Square combat this?
The easiest way I can think of is to allow only one character per account into each season. The leaderboards are overflowing with player’s alts, which not only takes away from more people that could get the rewards but also allows for an easy win trade alternative. Since there are already few players who actually care to do the PvP, it can be easy to manipulate getting into the same match with someone else.
Just to test out my theory, I went on my own alt, and got to platinum rank within a couple of days. At platinum rank, you’ll find yourself in matches with and against diamond tier players - the highest rank. Meaning I could go on my alt, be on the same team as someone who is ranked higher than my main, and purposely lose the match so that they go down and I go up - all without risking my main’s ranking. This does happen too. In fact, earlier in the season I had a rather annoying run-in with a friend of mine who I got into a fight with, and they used this method to harass me as payback. It got to the point where I was unable to do The Feast for several weeks, because any time I would queue they would end up on my team and then promptly throw the match. Just one loss can make a huge difference too, which is evident when looking at the leaderboard and seeing that one win makes the difference between being ranked at 100 to 80, or 63 to 45.
In patch 4.10, they implemented a new pairing system where only diamond and platinum players can get matched together, who used to also be able to be paired with gold tiered players. I imagine this was to help combat win trading since both rankings lose a substantial amount of points per loss. However, this did more harm than anything. It makes queues even more unbearably long than they already were, and yet hardly discourages win trading since you’ll be losing those matches on an alt that you likely don’t care about anyway. So, please, Square Enix. Please only allow one character per account. I don’t enjoy seeing one person taking up two spots in the top ten, the same guy taking every first place spot in every single data center, and other players rigging matches via win trading.
Next up is the harassment. I touched on this slightly in my first article on The Feast, such as how it’s likely why we’re unable to have direct communication in matches anymore, but that hasn’t stopped things from getting out of hand. I mean, being told to commit suicide on a daily basis is really not something you want going on anywhere - especially so in a game where you’re trying to get away from some of the harsh realities of life. I can really only think of two possible solutions though. The most obvious is to just actually start banning players. I find it absurd how rare it is for Square Enix to take any action against, well, honestly anything. But cheating and especially harassment extra so. Still, since the game has been out for over four years now and they still seem to not be changing their stance on bans or any form of even mildly serious punishments, I believe they should just start graying out player’s names while in PvP. To be honest, I don’t want it to come to that, but seeing as we can’t communicate with each other mid-match anyway, I don’t see any reason not to.
Hopefully, come Season 6 there will see some improvements that deal with these issues. While I won’t be getting my hopes, I will still be looking out for any changes that the following seasons may bring. I can imagine players will only put up with a system that is lacking key and fundamental elements for so long, eventually just giving up on PvP or even the game entirely. However, for the time being, all we can do is wait and see whether or not these problems will ever be addressed.