It’s not exactly a secret that the most recent Trial in Final Fantasy 14, Steps of Faith, isn’t exactly popular. I think it would be a lie to say that this is because it requires coordination or punishes mistakes harshly, because there are actually a lot of trials (even ones required for the story) that do this, like Shiva or Ultros. Today’s patch, 2.57, brings some changes, mostly by reducing the damage that a lot of the hazards do and reducing the health of most enemies (including the main enemy, Vishap), which should make it a bit easier to finish the trial before you fail. What it doesn’t change is why I dislike the trial in the first place:
Even if you know you’ve failed, there’s no way to start over until all of the events “finish”.
Super Meat Boy Philosophy
If you’re not familiar with the platformer Super Meat Boy, it’s a game that’s filled with spikes and saws and missiles and other things that will kill you, and asks you to get to the goal as fast as possible without dying. You die in one hit, so it’s a pretty hard game. The thing that makes it playable at all is that there’s maybe two seconds between dying and restarting a level. (I mentioned this in the Darkest Dungeon podcast). As a result failure isn’t that big of a deal, because before you even have time to think about it you’re starting again.
Steps of Faith is not like that. It’s the only trial that doesn’t end if your entire group is dead, it has its own unique failure condition when the dragon makes it all the way to the end of the bridge. In addition, if you miss certain things (like the giant harpoons), your chances of victory are very low, and you still have to let the entire sequence play out. This results in the time it takes for a successful run to be comparable to the duration of the duty finder lockout for leaving (30 minutes), so people frequently leave when they get it via roulette. (I haven’t seen a case this bad since Oculus, which WoW eventually started bribing players into doing.)
I don’t know if the nerfs are going to help this, but that’s really just a matter of magnitude. They may have reduced Vishap’s health to the point where you can beat on him the whole time and still win. I personally think the only required change would have been allowing the fight to reset if all party members were dead (or some other way to reset the fight). It’s a new day, and we have people in the Free Company approaching this fight again, so I suppose we’ll see in the future.