With World of Warcraft: Battle for Azeroth leaving a bad taste in many of its players’ mouths, and an expansion just around the corner, it’s no wonder that Final Fantasy XIV is seeing a rapid increase in players. WoW refugees, MMO veterans, and newcomers alike are filling up servers faster than multiplying rabbits. But with three full expansions and the confusing, failed version 1.0 of the game, there are sure to be those who have no idea where to start with this unique Final Fantasy installment. So whether you’re new to MMO games or an expert in the field waiting to jump into your adventure in Eorzea, here is a beginner’s guide to FFXIV.
Buying Final Fantasy XIV
The first thing you have to do is get your hands on a copy of the game. Final Fantasy XIV is available on PC (Mac and Windows) and the PlayStation 4. You can buy a copy from any local game store, the Square Enix website, Steam, or the PlayStation Store. There’s no need to worry about which edition to get; all copies of the game are the same, and you’ll be able to play with friends across all platforms. (And here you thought crossplay was a myth!)
Keep in mind that FFXIV is a subscription-based game. There are a few different subscription options, but the lowest monthly price is $12.99 at the time of this writing. If you’re not sure if FFXIV is your cup of tea, there is always a free trial available for download. The trial gives you access to all of the character creation options that A Realm Reborn –or 2.0– comes with and allows you to reach up to level 35. With a few restrictions, you can do almost everything a paid subscription player can at that level. If you do decide to purchase the game, all of your progress carries over, so feel free to take advantage of the trial time before deciding to dip into your wallet.
You’ll have a lot of options if you decide to purchase the full game, but there are good and better ways to go about it. Currently, you can buy the Final Fantasy XIV: Complete Edition, which includes A Realm Reborn (2.0), Heavensward (3.0), and Stormblood (4.0). This edition will give you access to all of that content immediately and is the recommended way to go about getting the games. That way you can spend the next few months playing through the 2.x-4.x expansions with their patches before the new expansion drops.
The other option is to pre-order Shadowbringers which will include Heavensward and Stormblood, so you’d only have to buy a copy of A Realm Reborn to get started. This option may save you a couple bucks; however, you will not have access to the first or second expansion until Shadowbringers releases on July 2nd. This means that you’d have to wait until July to play through two full games, twenty more levels, and hundreds of hours worth of content before getting into the newest content. Either option is valid, but it’s definitely something to think about before buying the games.
Data Centers and Servers
Now that you’ve got a copy of the game –free trial or otherwise– you need to pick where your character will be stationed. There are multiple data centers and dozens of servers to choose from. In fact, a few new editions have been recently added in preparation of Shadowbringers‘ launch in July to help accommodate the growing number of players. This choice should be fairly easy. If you have any friends that play the game, join their server. That way you can do anything and everything with them. Or if you and your friends are all starting at the same time, do a little research on the servers in the data center near you and see what would fit your desired play experience the best.
If you’re going in solo, the latter information still applies. Some servers are known for specific things, such as Balmung on the North American data center being the go-to Role Playing server, or Gilgamesh having a large end-game raiding community. While you shouldn’t make a choice based on something you read on the internet –spoiler alert, not everything you read online is true– looking up some things on servers may give you a better idea of where to set up your character’s home.
Don’t worry about being stuck on a server, though. Square Enix offers a service where, for a small fee, they’ll allow you to transfer your character to a different server. There’s also the option to make an alt (or alternate character) on another server. Players now also have access to the World Visit system. This allows you to take your character to a different server that’s on your data center for an indefinite amount of time. You’ll have a few restrictions while visiting another server, but you can run any and all content with other people on their server.
Creating Your Character
Square Enix didn’t skimp when it set up the character creation options for Final Fantasy XIV. With six current races –each with a subrace and male/female options for each– and two more coming out with the next expansion, you can easily spend hours molding your character into everything you want it to be. While there are technically racial stats associated with the Hyur, Elezen, Lalafell, Miqo’te, Au Ra, and Roegadyn (and probably with the Viera and Hrothgar coming out in July as well), they’re so insignificant that you shouldn’t take them into consideration when designing your character.
However, if you’re the type of gamer that believes every single point counts, check out the Wiki page for a full breakdown of each race and its stats. And don’t worry about being stuck with your look. If you decide to change races, or even just the eye color, there is an item called a fantasia you can buy off the FFXIV service store, The Mog Station. That potion will allow you to redesign your character. [Note: Au Ra are not available as options if you do not own Heavensward, and the Viera and Hrothgar will not be available until Shadowbringers launches.]
Choosing your Job
Once you’ve squared away your look, the final step you have to take before setting off on your adventure is choosing your class. FFXIV’s system is set up like other MMO’s in that there are three kinds of classes: Tanks, Healers, and DPS (or damage-per-second). These are grouped into what the game calls Disciples of War and Disciples of Magic. While there are 16 –soon to be 18– different classes you can play, only nine are available at the start: two tanks, two healers, and five DPS. A quick note here: Final Fantasy XIV operates under what Square Enix calls the “Job System.” While the starting options are called ‘classes’, at level 30 they gain a ‘soul stone’ which will turn them into a job. While this changes a few things, for this beginner’s guide you only need to know it changes the name of the classes.
If you’d like to play as a tank, Gladiator and Marauder, which turn into Paladin and Warrior respectively, are available. For healers, you have the Conjuror that later turns into a White Mage. The other healer, Scholar, is a peculiar case. Its starting class is the Arcanist, which is technically a DPS class. When Arcanist hits level 30 and can get its job, players have two options: to heal as a Scholar, or to become a DPS called Summoner. You can always pick both jobs up, but know that you won’t actually be healing for the first thirty levels if you choose to play as Scholar.
If you want to be a DPS, there are five options that can be separated into three categories: melee, physical ranged, and magic. The two melee options are the Pugilist and the Lancer, which later become the Monk and the Dragoon. The Archer, or Bard, is the physical ranged option. For magic, you have the Arcanist –as I’ve already mentioned– and the Thaumaturge that later turns into the Black Mage.
Unlike WoW, you are not locked into one class on your character. So no, you don’t have to make a new character for each class you want to play. Final Fantasy XIV allows players to pick up and get as far as they want on every single job on one character. This doesn’t mean you can’t make an alt, you are simply not forced into doing it. Once you reach level 15 and unlock the Airship, you’ll be able to pick up and play any of the other starting classes you’d like. All the other jobs that launched with Heavensward and Stormblood only have level requirements you must meet before being able to play them.
Your Adventure Begins
You’ve made your character and you’re on your way to one of the three starting city-states. Maybe your first quest will take you into the woodsy Black Shroud, or you might prefer surviving in the Thanalan Desert. And who can forget the beautiful beaches of La Noscea? Whichever you start out in, there will be plenty of opportunities to explore the dozens of maps in Final Fantasy XIV.
Journey on and read So You Want to Be a Warrior of Light: Part 2!