Continuing on with the theme of my favorite items from any game ever, i’m once again revisiting FFXI. Lets be honest, old school MMORPG’s were better at meaningful drops that newer ones for obvious reasons. Sure poor drop rates and terrible game mechanics contributed to this greatly but the fact remains. I’ve not received a drop in any MMORPG in the last decade that has meant as much as anything i received in FFXI. There is a huge catch to this and one i’m fully willing to admit later on.
Lets backtrack to the summer of 2009 and i was still going full crazy mode in the endgame scene in FFXI. At this point i reluctantly agreed to take up a leadership position in my Linkshell (guild) due to many old time members decided it was their time to move on. This was something i didn’t want to do but felt i needed to in order to keep the guild together.
It was time to camp King Behemoth so i got us all out there last minute if i remember correctly. Well wouldn’t you know he spawned as soon as we got there and we claimed him. I was actually bummed that we did because it meant boredom for the next 20 minutes or so. I don’t think any of us ever took him very seriously.
It was a pretty boring fight at the time, kiting him around the zone while as many ranged as possible took his HP down. We always tried to make the encounter more fun by seeing how many people we could kill outside of our group by running him around all willy nilly. This may sound a bit like griefing now but it was accepted on our server and if you were there you had to watch yourself. Well we inevitably killed him and the all caps chat began. The son of a bitch actually dropped a Defending Ring. Not a single person was ready for that, including me.
Anyone that didn’t play just doesn’t understand how rare this item was at the time. On my server we saw maybe two drop the entire year. That’s just unheard of compared to today. Some servers did much better than us while some actually maybe saw one the entire year. It was super rare and extremely overpowered for tanks. I’m talking about a game where 1% increase or decrease in anything could mean the difference in wasting three hours of your time. 10% was unheard of back then. Couple that with the fact that the damage mitigation included magical and physical and we had the rarest and best item in the game.
You just don’t see items like this anymore or rare armor like this either. I remember seeing someone or hearing rumors that someone had one and being in awe. I remember players with rare gear being spotted and everyone running to where they were to inspect him or her and ask them questions. This sort of thing doesn’t happen anymore and i think it’s a shame. It certainly motivated me and many of my friends to get better in hopes that one day we could be that person too. Perhaps there’s too much cynicism or perhaps i’m too naive to think this could happen today, but i still think exclusivity is a good thing in regards to item drops.
There is a huge downside to this as i’m sure everyone is fully aware of. You see the ring went to me despite not being the main tank or rarely tanking for that matter. We used a DKP system where i had like twice as many points as the next person for the simple fact that i hadn’t gotten a drop in a really long time. I honestly didn’t need anything. The tanks we did have were fairly new and everyone else couldn’t really make use of it. It wasn’t my decision who to give it to but i believe it went to the right person. Unfortunately it didn’t go to who i think it should have gone to but that person wasn’t there. Such was the life of random drop rates and random encounters. Instancing of content has fixed this for the most part today.
The real problem with super rare items like this is what happens when that person inevitably quits? That’s exactly what happened with me a few months later. It’s crazy that i still feel bad about this but that should speak volumes to the lasting nature of such a system. It’s amazing when it works and something great drops but it’s also heartbreaking when something so many people worked for disappears. You have to take the bad with the good and it’s certainly something i’ll never forget. I miss that feeling.