FFXIV’s new ultimate fight slams into buff cap as players push limits

The fifth FFXIV ultimate, The Omega Protocol, is currently being pulled apart by the MMORPG’s best players, but has reopened a discussion about the buff cap.

FFXIV - Urianger stands before Omega, a giant mechanical creature with four legs

The fifth FFXIV ultimate has arrived, and The Omega Protocol (Ultimate) is currently in the process of being methodically pulled apart by the best players the MMORPG community has to offer as they strive to be the first team to beat it. However, the encounter – introduced with the release of FFXIV patch 6.31 – has caused many groups to run into a long-standing issue with the game’s buff cap, reopening a discussion around the limitation.

Put simply, you can only have 30 buffs and debuffs on your character at one time in FFXIV. While that might seem like a pretty sizable number for the average player, it does come up in some content – particularly the harder variants of encounters designed for 24 players or more, such as Delubrum Reginae (Savage) from the Shadowbringers expansion.

In some cases, players have managed to exploit this buff cap to their benefit – loading up on buffs to reach the limit so that deadly debuffs such as Doom aren’t applied to their character when intended. Traditionally, these instances have been dealt with through patches that gave key debuffs priority to ensure that they would still go through as intended.

With TOP (The Omega Protocol), however, teams are facing a different issue. Because of a mechanic called ‘Hello, World’ that occurs in the fight’s third phase, players are becoming loaded up to the buff cap, meaning that standard buffs used by many classes such as the Monk’s Riddle of Fire or the Black Mage’s Ley Lines are simply not applying to the characters. Given the incredibly challenging nature of FFXIV’s ultimate encounters (designed to be the hardest content in the game), this can be the difference between success and failure.

It’s reached a point where many teams are choosing to steer away from classes that rely on applying too many buffs, with the likes of Dancer and Sage being pushed out of contention in favour of others. Players are even joking that this is the development team’s concession to the Machinist class, which has been left out of favour in recent high-end content prior to the latest update.

You can watch one team realising what is happening in the VOD below, at the 12:39:06 mark. “No wonder we’re having DPS issues,” one player on the team exclaims with a laugh, “we’re dodging half our ****ing buffs!”

Another factor adding to this is something players refer to as “the 2-minute meta” – changes that were made with the FFXIV Endwalker expansion that saw the rotations of many classes adjusted to line up buffs on a more consistent 2-minute cooldown cycle, in an attempt to smooth out randomness. It’s a change that has been received with mixed feelings; some players prefer the consistency, while others say that it makes every job feel too much like the others.

One side effect of this is that more buffs tend to be active at once – indeed, that was by design on the part of the developers. However, for buff-heavy content such as TOP, it’s only exacerbating the aforementioned problem. It’ll be interesting to see whether this new wrinkle in the discussion leads to changes down the line – either to the way the newest ultimate works, or more fundamentally affecting the buff cap. For now, though, teams appear to have found workarounds and are continuing to push for completion.

If you need a break from thinking about ultimates, or they aren’t really your speed, our FFXIV Island Sanctuary guide is perfect to ensure your island getaway is running smoothly, and our FFXIV Island Sanctuary animals list will make certain you don’t miss those rare spawns. We’ve also got more of the best single-player MMOs if you prefer to experience the rich worlds they offer by yourself.