So you’ve got your hands on Final Fantasy XIV but you don’t know where to start. Whether you’re a newcomer or a returning player, there’s a lot in the game and a lot that has changed over the years. We’ve compiled a list of helpful recommendations that will make your journey through Eorzea all the more enjoyable. Obviously, this won’t answer every question you might have, but it should push you in the right direction.
Picking a Server
Depending on where in the world you are, there will be different servers to select. Provided you don’t have friends already in a specific one, it’s best to look for preferred worlds (come join me in Marlboro if you’re in North America). These are generally servers with not super high populations that Square Enix has set up to give new or transferring players some benefits. For example, you will be given double EXP until level 60 and 10 silver Chocobo feathers to be traded in for goodies. If you are able to get to level 30 while in a preferred world, fifteen free days will be added to your account. If there’s a new world, which will be added when Square Enix adds a new Data Center leading up to Shadowbringers’ release, you will get 1,000,000 Gil if you reach level 30 in addition to the 15-day credit.
You might be thinking, but if there aren’t as many people in that server, how will I get matched up with anyone? Well, you’re able to match up with anyone in a data center, so for example, the Primal Data Center has Behemoth, Brynhildr, Diabolos, Excalibur, Marlboro, etc. servers. You’re even able to talk to and group up with others cross-server in a data center, but you just won’t be able to meet up in the world itself; you’ll only be able to see each other in instances such as dungeons, raids, trials and so forth.
Picking a Class/Job
Like most MMOs, there are three roles when going into battle: tank, healer and DPS. If I had to make one suggestion, it would be to either pick a tank or healer as choosing a DPS might turn some players away in the long run. The problem is that getting into dungeons as a DPS can take an exceeding amount of time (depending on the time and what mode you’re playing), whereas Tanks and Healers are almost always in demand.
Tanks: There are three different tanks in the game, but only two that are accessible from the get-go. Gladiator and Marauder are the first two, and they eventually turn into Paladin and Warrior, respectively. Really, either of these tanks is fantastic choices, they’re just fairly different from one another in the late game. Early game they have their own traits, but they’re fairly similar in terms of controlling Enmity (aggro) and attack patterns. Mind you, early game dungeons you will probably have some difficulty holding enmity, but that’s just something you get used to until you upgrade to their true job class. Gladiator (Paladin) is fantastic for those who don’t want to rely too heavily on healers as they’re able to heal themselves, whereas Marauder (Warrior) is all about absorbing damage and even increasing their health when needed. From a healer’s perspective, both jobs are the best to work with as they’re easy to master. Dark Knight, which is introduced in the first expansion, Heavensward, is a little more challenging to conquer with all its unique abilities, making it a little harder on the healers. Dark Knights are good for off-tanking, but you won’t need to worry about that for a while.
It comes down to what type of tank you want to be. Paladin has a better armor set if you’re looking to go for style, not to mention they can heal themselves (and others) if things get too hectic. On the other hand, Warrior can soak blows like nobody’s business and is more of a brute force type class that can arguably do more damage than its immediate competition. It’s more of a traditional tank vs a supporting tank fight here, but I would recommend Gladiator (Paladin) to kick things off.
Healers: Like tanks, there are three healers, but one locked off in the Heavensward area. The difference is that there’s really only one healer job until level 30. Conjurer, which transforms into White Mage, is just that, with Arcanist being an offensive-magic DPS class that eventually evolves into Scholar. If you’re looking to get straight into a healer, Conjurer is your only choice, and in my personal opinion, one of the best options. White Mage and Scholar have fairly different play styles, with White Mage being mostly brute force healing and regen, and Scholar all about summoning a fairy to do a lot of your bidding. A scholar does have a fantastic damage mitigator, later on, not to mention is the best for adding DPS to a battle when not healing, but it relies too heavily on Aetherflow, which can turn against you if you’re in need of too much healing. On the positive side, this is the only class in the game where leveling up Scholar will also level up a DPS class, Summoner, and vice versa. It’s a more complicated class to play, but nothing like Astrologian. This is one to consider much later on in the game, and probably the most fun to play as. It’s a little harder to get your head around at first, as it requires you to go into a specific magical stances and memorize cards (not to mention shifting decks), but once you understand it and get used to it, it’s one of the most chaotically entertaining jobs to play as in the entire game.
I personally would suggest going with Conjurer/White Mage right away to get a good understanding of the mechanics of healing and build a little bit of confidence in a supporting class. If you like it, move up to Astrologian later on, or Scholar if you’re looking for a two-for-one deal.
DPS: There are a ton of different DPS, so I’m only going to go over the A Realm Reborn ones and avoiding the three from Heavensward and Stormblood. I’ve also broken them down into two different categories as it’s pretty evenly split.
Ranged: These three are Thaumaturge (Black Mage), Arcanist (Summoner) and Archer (Bard). Of the three, I would recommend Black Mage as it’s consistently strong, even into the late game where the damage output is outstanding, especially if you know how to go between the two different modes fluidly. Summoner is also another solid choice, especially if you want to try out a healer on the side. As I said in the healer section, Arcanist levels both a Summoner DPS job alongside the Scholar healer. Unfortunately, the summoning itself isn’t particularly great until Level 70 when you get Bahamut; at least it has some decent DOT (damage-over-time) spells that can affect hordes of enemies. Lastly, there’s Bard. I might be in the minority here but unfortunately, I’m not a fan of Bard mainly because of the way it plays. I’m thankful that there are those who are willing to run Bard because its supporting abilities are a major aid for any party, but outside of that it’s not complicated or all that engaging to play as.
Melee: Here we have Rogue (Ninja), Lancer (Dragoon) and Pugilist (Monk). Of the three, Ninja is easily the one to recommend. This job has a highly-entertaining rotation that you can actually screw up if you’re not paying attention. It requires putting together different Ninjutsu spells to create different spells, be it reducing your action timer or putting a DOT AOE on the field. It even has its own jump animation (forward flip), which is always a plus. Monk and Dragoon are no slouches, but they are far from the best jobs you can play as. Monk can do some major damage and it has a unique set of skills, swapping between stances for different buffs, but it takes some time before it gets any good. Dragoon is flashy and like Ninja has some of the best armor sets for DPS, but a lot of the class feels unremarkable until very late game.
It’s sad I can’t recommend Samurai or Red Mage to new players. These not only require you to be level 50 but also own Stormblood as well. The former is arguably the most fun job to play as, and the latter is right next to it with its versatility of being both at a distance and up close. The Red Mage even has the ability to resurrect allies, taking a huge burden off of healers during both 8-player and 24-player raids.
Attack Who Your Tank is Focused On
One thing a lot of new players tend to do, especially if they’re DPS, is that they want to go out on their own during a dungeon and simply attack whatever’s closest to them. A tip for making things far smoother of experience is focus on a single enemy at a time, specifically the one that the Tank is attacking. There are times when AOE attacks become useful (generally when there are 4 or more enemies), but what that does is decrease the Tank’s enmity on targets. Because there isn’t really a good indicator of when a Tank is going to lose enmity until it’s already lost (whereas everyone else generally has green=safe, yellow=drawing attention, orange=you’re about to pull enmity and red=you have enmity), it’s very much advised to follow the tank. The easiest way is to just focus on the enemy with the lowest health and watch the little indicator to make sure it’s not getting too high. Also, if you get enmity, don’t run away thinking it’ll be harder for the enemy to hit you; this just makes it more difficult for the Tank to regain its attention. If anything, get up close to your tank so they can easily pull it back.
Leveling Up Quickly
There will be various ways of leveling up, but overall it can be a bit of a grind to get to 50 (slightly less so to 60 and 70). The most important and best way to level up your first job is to simply go through the story. There will only be a couple of spots where you might need to earn a level or two to progress, but each main story quest should be enough to get you through the game. Outside of that, the first ten to fifteen levels are easy as I would highly recommend quickly going through your Hunting Log. Kill a set number of monsters specified in this log and you’ll earn some good experience. When you get to around Level 16, your Daily Leveling Roulette will help immensely, same with the Daily Guildhest Roulette. There’s also Palace of the Dead, which is unlocked by completing “The House That Dead Built” in New Gridania, but I found this not as fast as doing the standard up-to-date dungeons, not to mention you don’t really get very good loot in comparison.
After you get to Level 50, you’ll unlock Level 50 and Trial roulettes that should help you out a fair amount, but most importantly, when you complete A Realm Reborn’s story, you will get a Main Story Quest Roulette, which will give you a staggering amount of XP. To give you an example, between Level 60 and Level 70, you can earn between 2.5 and 4.7 million EXP per run (provided you get the longer of the two missions). This can be a bit taxing, especially since Square Enix now prevents you from skipping these cutscenes, but the rewards are worth it. In short, Dailies will be your friend for leveling up until the end of time.
Earning Gil Fast
Gil is a precious resource you use to buy most items, be it better weapons or crafting material. The best way to earn Gil early on is mining or harvesting items in the world. This will require you to slowly level up your mining and botanist classes (found in Ul’dah and Gridania, respectively). Even some of the early game mining spots can net you some decent cash. It might be a bit of a grind to do this, but early game mining is the easiest way to earn some easy cash (crafting will be the go-to much later on), which can eventually see you buying more items on the market board and potentially flipping them, even though that’s far riskier. It should be mentioned that the better your gathering and perspective values on your equipment are, the higher the success rate of mining or harvesting materials. Fishing is the costlier venture and unfortunately, its rewards can drastically vary. Sometimes a fish can net you thousands upon thousands of Gil, but most times it will be pennies. It requires you to buy one-time bait or Jigs (that eventually are lost), making it less rewarding early on.
You will need to be able to access a Retainer in order to sell your items (you’re given two for free after you complete Level 17 main story quest “The Scions of the Seventh Dawn”). If you’re wondering why you can’t sell some of your own gear, it’s either Unique or because you’ve had to equipped during battle. As soon as you enter a battle with equipped gear, it will be spirit bonded to you, ensuring you can’t sell it. Be sure to check the market board in your server to see what material is going for to best maximize your earnings.
Obtaining a Chocobo and Flying Mount
A Chocobo mount is unlocked at level 20 when you complete the main story quest “A Hero in the Making”. You will then need to join a Grand Company in whatever city you desire. At this point, you can take on a quest called “My Little Chocobo” and helps you unlock your first-ever mount. You’ll also be given a Chocobo Saddlebag which will help expand your inventory significantly. Alternatively, if you purchased a collector’s edition or even spent money in the MogStation to buy a mount, you should be able to receive it from a Mog mail clerk located in a city. As for flying mounts, most mounts have the ability to fly, but you won’t be able to use them until Heavensward. Even then you’ll need to unlock aether currents in each area. Maybe one day Square Enix will rework the 2.0 maps to allow for flight, but until then, you’ll just have to deal with long treks around the world.
What’s a Trial? What’s a Raid?
Trials are like boss fights with very specific moves that need to be countered. Early on, these trials are easy with little to worry about. Later on, they become hectic and require a fair amount of skill and coordination, especially if you plan on doing the Extreme versions.
As for the raids, there are two types: 8-Player Raids and 24-Player Alliance Raids. The former generally has a boss, with potentially an incredibly short dungeon prior to it, that have specific mechanics to defeat. 24-Player Raids are short dungeons (fifteen to thirty minutes) with a set number of encounters throughout, each with roughly four bosses per raid. You’ll probably need to know the mechanics coming in otherwise you’ll most likely die a couple times. If you’re a DPS, that’s alright. A tank or healer might be more concerning, especially considering there’s only one of the former per party.
Gaining Access to the Gold Saucer
Final Fantasy VII’s Gold Saucer in the form of Manderville Gold Saucer makes an appearance in a big way, offering various mini-games and ways to earn fantastic glamour. This houses both Lord of Vermillion and Triple Triad, alongside Chocobo racing. When you reach level 15, in Ul’dah, there will be a young lad just outside of the main crystal with the quest “It Could Happen to You”. It’s that easy. Enjoy the games and fun to be had!
Equipping Fashionable Gear
This is called Glamour. This system has been streamlined relatively recently to be much easier to look as weird or fashionable as possible. Essentially, at level 15, head to Western Thanalan (outside of the desert city of Ul’Dah) and talk to two NPCs to unlock “If I Had a Glamour” and “Absolutely Glamourous”. Complete these and you’ll be able to glamour items with a Glamour Prism. Basically, right click on a piece of gear (equipped or in your inventory) and choose “Cast Glamour” with another piece of gear that you want it to look like. You are only able to glamour items that are of the same level or less than the piece you’re equipping, and of the same class. So for example, you can’t have White Mage clothing cast on dark knight equipment. The Gold Saucer is just chalked full of fun glamour opportunities, along with various other clothing on the market board.
Is a Controller a Viable Way to Play?
Absolutely. There’s are a number of jobs that, in my opinion, actually play better with a controller in hand. With that said, this notion slowly degrades in the late game with the more abilities you obtain. There are still somewhere a controller plays entirely fine, but there are more complex jobs, such as Astrologian, where the keyboard and mouse combo becomes preferred. Also, some missions where there’s a giant monster on the screen can be tricky to target without a mouse and the Vermillion mini-game in the Golden Saucer is difficult with a controller.
Don’t Feel Discouraged
In the earlier dungeons, most players are very understanding and will help you out when you don’t know what to do. Heck, way back in the day I played Black Mage wrong until around level 40 until someone spoke up. You will, of course, run into those who will give you an ear full complaining about how you play, and some fed up in the much later modes when your party pretty much requires you to know every little aspect of a fight. Do not get too discouraged as this is a big game with a lot of different mechanics to learn. For example, even with one maxed out Tank, I’m still learning the proper early-game rotations that better facilitate healers. If you need help, just ask your party members, not to mention there are networks in the game where others will aid newcomers.