How Easy Is It To Start Final Fantasy XIV?
Getting into a new MMO is not always an easy feat. If you don’t have other friends that are playing to help you out, they can be daunting to begin. Final Fantasy XIV is no exception, but how easy is it really to begin? Though I’ve been playing the game since 1.0, there are still things I have yet to do in this game, so there’s always something new around the corner to learn and to experience. To prepare for this, I recorded about 30 minutes of the new player experience on a server I have not played on actively, as a class I’m still reasonably new to. I chose the Lancer on Zalera because I feel Lancer is probably a fairly popular class. Who doesn’t want to wield an awesome spear and stab things? Nobody that I know, that’s for sure.
Picking a Data Center/Server:
The first, potentially most important step is choosing where to start. If you have friends that play, it may not be such a bad idea to join their server; unless you’re like me, and everyone you know stuck to the Legacy Servers. If they are on the same Data Server, and you aren’t really worried about catching up with them, I recommend finding a Data Center in your region, and figuring out which server is “Preferred”. The North American Data Centers are “Aether” and “Primal”. The European Data Center is “Chaos”, and the Japanese Data Centers are “Elemental”, “Gaia”, and “Mana”. These are clusters of servers. You can’t join a Free Company (guild) on other servers, but you can join Linkshells and be friends with people on other servers on your Data Center.
Preferred Servers are key to leveling faster if you’re new and have no real preference. Preferred Servers are less crowded, and players receive a buff called “Road to 60”. This gives a tremendous amount of bonus EXP (+200% before other buffs) until you are level 60. If you swap to a non-60 class, you also receive that buff again. Should that server lose its preferred status, you will still keep the buff for 90 days, which is more than enough time to do some serious leveling. For the purpose of this, I rolled a fresh character on Zalera (Aether).
Picking a Job:
Final Fantasy XIV has a Job System, not unlike Final Fantasy Tactics. First, though, you pick a race. All of the races present in the game (6) have Male and Female options. The only one that is up in the air is the upcoming Viera race in Shadowbringers. There are no serious advantages/disadvantages to any of the race, so just pick the one that looks the best for you. Each race also has an optional regional look too, so there’s no pressure to min-max based on race. Each Race does have a stat they are slightly higher in than the others, but this is insignificant in the end-game experience. So focus less on that, and more on what feels right to you.
You begin with a Basic Job, and at level 30, you will be able to complete a quest chain and begin playing the Advanced Job it is tied to. Initially, you had to be level 30 in a job, and then level 15 in a job that was tied to that Advanced Job, but this has long since been removed. This ultimately makes the game so much easier to explain to newcomers. As an aside, you can also save your character design on the server if you plan on rolling someone on another server and want to keep that look, so that’s definitely a positive. Below are the Jobs by Role and what they advance into. I’m not counting expansion jobs in this list since you cannot start as them.
Marauder -> Warrior
Gladiator -> Paladin
Pugilist -> Monk
Lancer -> Dragoon
Any Level 10 Class -> Rogue -> Ninja
Arcanist -> Summoner
Thaumaturge -> Black Mage
Archer -> Bard
Conjurer -> White Mage
Arcanist -> Scholar
Ninja is a little different because you cannot start as a Rogue. You have to first complete your Level 10 Job Quest, then head to Limsa Lominsa. It might be easier to start as a Marauder or Arcanist, as you’ll be in Limsa already, but neither of those jobs really compliment the Rogue/Ninja. If you’re in no rush, you’ll get to Limsa Lominsa during the main story easy enough. It sounds complicated, but it’s not. In Heavensward, Dark Knight (Tank), Mechanist (Ranged DPS), and Astrologian (Healer) were also added. These require a level 50 Combat Class, and all of the 2.0 Story Quests completed. Stormblood added Samurai (Melee DPS) and Red Mage (Ranged DPS). These also require a level 50 Combat Class and also have starting quests attached.
Classes may seem a little complicated because Crafting is also class-based. Classes/Jobs are broken down into four groups: Disciples of War (Melee/Tanking), Disciples of Magic (Healers/Magical DPS) and Disciples of the Hand (Crafting) and Disciples of the Land (Gathering). You cannot begin as a Disciple of the Hand/Land, but after you reach level 10 you can head to the guild hall of these classes and begin down that road. On a personal note, I do not particularly recommend your first job be Conjurer unless you pick up another job that you are going to level. The reason is that some of the Main Story Quests require instanced battles, and these can be very trying as a healer. Not impossible, but they can be frustrating. With jobs/characters out of the way, how easy is it to get into the actual world?
The Beginner’s Experience:
Final Fantasy XIV has an overwhelming number of tool-tips because there are a lot of things you might not experience in other MMOs. You can turn them off if you’d like, but if you’re new to the game I do recommend leaving them up for the time being. The game will begin by asking how you’d like to have your controls set – controller or keyboard, which is nice. When I first played this game, I did play via a controller, but I’ve gone back to Keyboard/Mouse controls. Both are fine, but I felt like healing was a little hampered by a controller. Final Fantasy XIV is very good about holding your hand through the first levels, which I do wish I could turn off as an experienced player. But for the beginner? This is fantastic. When you start, you’ll head to the Adventurers Inn for the town you’re tied to. Each of the three major capitals has classes tied to it, by guild houses, instead of by race. It’s a very cosmopolitan choice, really.
From there, they will teach you the other important things, like the Aetheryte System. This is a teleporter system to get you to key parts of a town faster, and you can see the points on your map. Since you cannot mount up in town, and it will be some time before you have a Chocobo (or any other mount) to ride, it would behoove well of you to unlock all of these right away. Completing your towns Aetheryte will give you access to teleporting right to the town gates as well, which will save time. The game will teach you about the market, where your guild hall is, and guide you to the path of growth in that class. Every five levels you will also be prompted to go back to your guild hall to tackle a new quest, which gives new gear, experience, and sometimes abilities that you cannot otherwise acquire. Thankfully, Final Fantasy XIV does not make you return here every time you level for new powers.
This game is incredibly newbie-friendly. When you’re in the world, quest objectives are clearly marked above the creature, and the zone where they spawn is circled in red on your map/mini-map. When you unlock your Hunts, those creatures will also be marked, and killing the required number of them will give you a nice boost to your exp. Even if the monster is a few levels under you, if you see that tell-tale mark, go get ‘em. FATES are also marked on the map, which are randomly spawning events of a particular level grouping. Participating gives exp, based on your contribution. I see fewer people doing these in the lower levels, but they are a fantastic way to roam the land and level up. The game will also teach you about the importance of new gear with a quest that will not let you progress without having the armor of a particular level. You can either buy it outright in that town/outpost, or you can do a bunch of side quests, many of which give gear you need.
The Main Story Quest also shows you these! Characters with an Exclamation Mark over their head means they have a side quest for you. The Exclamation Mark with a gold/fiery seal around it means it’s a Main Story Quest. Before they send you into the world they also point out briefly LeveQuests but don’t go into particular detail. Every day, whether you log in or not, you receive Leve Points, which can be used to tackle Leve Quests. These can be used for any class, and there are some very fast ways to get levels for secondary jobs if you store these up. I hold onto my Leve Quests unless I really need to level something. Then you can search out a particular set of Leve Quests (which I will cover in a future article), where you can level much faster. These quests can be turned up to +5 level difficulty, but not all of them require actual combat.
From Housing to your classes, the game has it all figured out. Final Fantasy XIV also has two ways to teach characters how to handle group combat/learn their class. Guildhests teach generic party mechanics and can be found under your “Duty” tab. More intricate choices are found in the “Hall of the Novice”. You can undergo training for Tank/DPS/Healer for all of the main classes, outside of Red Mage and Samurai. Either talk to the Smith in the Adventurers Guild or to NPCs in various towns around the world. I’ve linked to where they are right here. This is incredibly helpful for learning to tank, to heal, or simply to learn where to stand/not to stand. On the note of towns, I also highly recommend talking to every single “Chocobokeep” in whatever town you visit. Since you won’t have a mount until level 20 and complete the “My Little Chocobo” quest, it will make travel a little more tolerable. Some of the areas you adventure in are simply massive, and it might be cheaper to travel back to town by Chocobo instead of teleporting.
Verdict: 4/5 – Very Easy:
Final Fantasy XIV is easy to start, but the only thing holding it back from being a 5/5 is that there is simply so much information. There are so many things you might miss, like hidden bosses, quest chains, mounts, and awesome gear. That’s half the fun though, figuring out what you’ve missed, and always having a new adventure to go on. There’s PVP to try, Chocobo breeding/racing, card games to play, music to create (as a Bard), and more. Final Fantasy XIV is very good at starting players off with information and is not shy about prompting you with tool-tips and suggestions on what to do/where to go. But it’s up to you to take those and learn from them. There are so many reasons why FFXIV is the MMO I recommend to anyone looking for a good game.
The best part is the Free Trial though. You can level up to 35, though you cannot join Free Companies or whisper people. You can’t create parties, but you can join them. This is likely to prevent gold farming/botting, and from the system being exploited. Beyond that, it’s fair and is a sound way to learn how the game works, and if it’s for you. Though MMOs are a vast time sink, and there are of course daily/weekly challenges, the game in no way makes you feel like you must do them to succeed. It’s easy to get into, the game will show you the majority of important tasks you need to know about, and then lets you explore a beautiful world at your own pace.
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