Kanican (kanican) wrote,

Abusing the "Return" AI


Before getting into the actual topic of this post, I want to update those who are following XIV but not playing.  Overall, I feel like the game is starting to make tangible progress.  The current team seems very focused on fixing the game from the ground up and adding lower level content first, rather than trying to prioritize appeasing those currently playing (for instance with throw in high level content).  For this reason, you may still hear a lot of complaining about lack of content; however, it's actually starting to increase quite quickly.  For those interested in starting, I would highly recommend watching for the May 1.18 patch when expected battle changes are happening.  Content-wise, I feel the game is ready for low levels and new starters.  Level 50 content is still lacking however.

Moving onto the topic for this post, one of the most immediately obvious new battle mechanics I saw when this game started was this "return to territory" AI.  Basically, every mob has it's own little zone where it likes to stay, and it will return to this area if you move too far.  This applies to every mob in the game, including NMs.  Where this becomes abusable is when players just hang out at the fringe of this zone and take ranged shots at the mob as it runs back and forth trying to hit you and returning to it's "territory".  In this post, I'm going to show case exactly how abusable this mechanic is with a solo of Elder Mosshorn (with video), which is essentially not soloable via normal methods - even with the current overpowered THM job.

This post is going to be a bit shorter than some of the previous ones.  I will not focus too much on the details of the actual Mosshorn solo since it is basically a combination of how the other THM solos are currently done (see my Dodore post) with the addition of those "return to territory" AI abuse.  I feel like this post may be especially "on topic" in terms of the current state of the game as SE recently revealed that they are planning to remove ranged attacks from all mobs.  This just adds to the potential abuse of this tactic as you will see in the post.


Elder Mosshorn Solo Basics

Being brief, Elder Mosshorn is one of the 5 original NMs meant for level 50 content introduced back in late 2010.  In the recent 1.17 patch, the number of minions that accompanied him was decreased from 6 to 3.  He is generally considered an impossible solo since it's normal melee attack cannot be weakened by Thaumaturge Emulate, which is essentially how the other THM solos are conducted.  However, his ranged attacks are partially blocked by Emulate (from 450 to 200 damage).  All mobs in this pack will perform the usual goat TP attacks - Head Butt and Alpine Fury.

The key to this solo starts with the fact that Emulate is the most broken defense skill in the game.  if you can force mobs into using attacks that are nulled by Emulate, you always have a chance to survive.  For this solo, this involves forcing mobs that like to melee attack to use their ranged attack (which is nulled by Emulate).  This is where the "return to territory" AI comes into play.  The general goal of this solo is to force this pack of NMs to run back and forth by abusing this return mechanic, and in the process restrict them to ranged attacks.

In the following video, you'll be able to see just how abusable this is, in addition to how impossible this solo would be without it.  Once the 3 minions are dead, I go into a more normal 1v1 solo mode (which really isn't relevant to this post).  The initial pull (to get the pack to it's fringe zone) requires the use of both Sentinel (GLA36) and Quickstride (ARC22).  For speed purposes, you may also need Bloodletter (ARC48).  Overall, I feel like this is the only solo that really involves multiple layers of strategy to complete, making it easily the most interesting available for any THM solo enthusiasts.


Implications of Removing Ranged Attack

Again, based on recent SE forum posts, they are planning to remove ranged attacks as default for all mobs.  I feel that this makes sense as it is ridiculous that an antelope doe can "sneeze" on you for 1000 damage, but it will bring about some very abusable battle mechanics as long as "return to territory" is not removed as well.  Basically, imagine the above solo, except the mobs couldn't even use their ranged attack.  You can turn essentially any mob into a joke, especially with an army of archers, who have an even longer ranged attack than mages.

In my opinion, this entire "return to territory" AI and the general "all mobs have their own home zones" idea needs to be removed.  Mobs should not be restricted to certain areas - basically make this like FFXI.  I understand why this idea was even implemented (again, anti-kite measures), but it just lends itself to more abuse, especially if they are going to remove the other half of the anti-kite implementation in ranged attacks.  There are plenty of other ways to prevent kiting abuse without such drastic effects on mob AI.



The "return to territory" mechanic is a part of the current mob AI that just asks to be abused in FFXIV.  This will only worsen if default ranged attacks are removed from the game as SE currently plans to do.  In my opinion, the whole idea needs to be scratched and they should implement something more closely resembling XI.  While this will allow for more kinds of kiting abuse (my favorite strategy for anyone that's followed my blog for awhile), it will ultimately save the game from an extremely obvious form of abuse.

On a slightly different topic, with this solo coupled with another recent Great Buffalo solo, Thaumaturge can essentially solo every piece of current content in the game with the sole exception of Uraeus.  This is generally due to the overpowered ability Emulate, but even when this is inevitably fixed, the game still suffers from huge class imbalances.  Fixing Emulate does not change the fact that stats largely do not matter due to the extreme amount of weight dLVL carries in nearly every single formula in the game.  I'm hoping for the best with 1.18, but nearly every aspect of the battle systems in regards to it's formulas is horribly imbalanced from both an implementation perspective as well as a concept perspective.  I'm personally very happy with the new team thus far, but balancing the system they were handed will not be an easy task.

Again, for those waiting on the sidelines for the game to improve, I would recommend watching closely in May for the 1.18 patch.  In an earlier post, my big 3 complaints with the game were EXP gain, battle mechanics / formulas, and content.  The SP/EXP system still has issues, but overall it is very easy to level and this issue is largely fixed.  Content-wise, the game is still lacking at level 50 with no "endgame" instances, but it has plenty of quests and lower level content now - certainly enough to keep a new player busy for months.  Hopefully 1.18 will be the beginning of the battle mechanics fixes.  

Lastly, I started posting short blurbs on the official Lodestone blog site.  You can follow me here if you're interested in some of the less formal posts.  These compete posts take time to write so I like to just post shorter topics or video updates there first then transfer anything interesting here with more detail later.

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