Final Fantasy XIV

10 Things I Learned from Playing Final Fantasy XIV

MMOs aren't always "just a game".

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Getting into MMORPGs can be very difficult and intimidating. Some of them cost real, cold hard cash and put you in places loaded with veteran players. It’s definitely scary the first time around and the length of your learning curve can be determined by how well you prepared yourself, and how much help you get from other people. I played Final Fantasy XI for eight years! The first few months felt like a sensory overload – so much stuff going on, and the pressure to get to higher levels was infinite. Going over to Final Fantasy XIV, I held my chin up high, thinking my experience in XI would give me a head start in adjusting to the new MMO. Boy, was I wrong. These are the ten things I learned from playing XIV, with a little influence from its predecessor. It may seem like a lot to take in, so don’t be afraid to ask questions in the comments.

10. Some people will shame you, others will help you

You definitely deal with a few different types of players in Final Fantasy XIV. In my findings, they’ve been: veteran FFXI players, players from other MMOs, and flat out new MMO players. There are definitely stigmas with each and every one of these groups – some will complain the old was better, some will complain they know it all, some claim their original MMO of choice is best, and some will get too defensive when you try to help. It’s just like real life.

I’ve had my account open for quite some time, but I didn’t become active [on the game] until July of this year. I have a couple jobs over 50 (the cap for FFXIV is 60), and everything but a couple jobs above 30, with my crafting jobs in the 20-35 range. As an old Paladin from FFXI, my first job was Gladiator, which eventually turns into Paladin.

Paladin, some people will tell you is easy – others will tell you it’s difficult. They’re both correct in their own ways. Prior to hitting level 35, keeping hate as a GLD/PLD can be very difficult without the skills you obtain at those levels. There are cool-downs (abilities which assist you in raising your attack, defense, lowering damage taken, etc) you need to use at specific times, and certain rotations (order of attacks for maximum combo damage), and with tanks, enmity (the term used to measure your hostile presence towards enemies) you need to execute to be efficient. Going in, you may not know these things just from reading guides and studying the attacks – you’ll need someone to help you.

Some people will help you and in that regard, they are extremely helpful. If you are open and honest with your party about being new to the game and admit that you are still learning, chances are they will appreciate your candidness and help you along the way. Others will humiliate you, try to kick you from the party, and make you feel bad for playing the game to begin with. I definitely encourage you to help other players when possible, but don’t be discouraged when you get the know-it-all who can’t execute and refuses to listen.

Protip: If you’re new to the game and join a party, take a moment to right-click your party members’ names to see what jobs they have at what level. If they have a lot jobs at a high level (50+), or the job you are doing is a high level one, chances are, you can ask them questions and they will guide you through it.

The Steps of Faith
Fun battle – if everyone is on the same page.

9. You should probably look at guides for big fights (before even thinking about queuing up) 

Final Fantasy XIV heavily relies on mechanics for these big fights. Your 2.0 end dungeons are pretty simple and straight forward (it’s basically just running through the stage and taking out bosses), but some of the future 8-man and 24-man fights you have to do can get a bit more complicated. The fight titled The Steps of Faith, right before you get into Heavensward is a perfect example of this.

The Steps of Faith is an 8-man fight with a dragon so big, no matter how far you scroll out, your camera angles are royally fucked. You have two tanks, two healers, and four DPS. Without going into the details about everything, both tanks most definitely have their own separate responsibilities, as do the DPS. There are several things that happen at once during this fight, and if not done correctly, will cost you the whole battle.

When I did this fight with a couple of my friends as a team, we were forced to boot a healer from the game. This really increased the difficulty (had to re-explain everything to the new healer), requiring us to repeat the fight about five or six times (which isn’t too terrible, but the fight isn’t short by any means). Some people had done the fight, and others were new and did not read the guide. This made it very frustrating, and when people don’t want to listen to the rest of the team, it makes the battle last a lot longer than it should. So, if you see a big fight coming up, look up a guide on YouTube to make sure you have a full understanding of what exactly is going on.

Protip: In any regular duty finder dungeon, if it’s your first time, greet the party and let them know you’re new. If they don’t automatically tell you what to watch out for in the boss fights, ask before you start, and always initiate a ready check (click on the party logo on your menu bar, and you can find this option on the bottom)!

Final Fantasy XIV Crafting
Crafting with a friend a while back.

8. Crafting is essential to making gil

This is my honest opinion and one that is shared by many others: not everyone will feel the same about leveling crafting and gathering, but if you want to make fast gil consistently and efficiently, you’ll want to level up all of your crafting and gathering skills. In Final Fantasy XIV, Square Enix made this very easy. You unlock all of your [Disciple of the Hand] jobs, and can open up a crafting log. Each time you complete an item on the log for the first time, you get an EXP bonus. And just like “regular” jobs, every five levels, your guildmaster gives you a quest and you obtain armor and other items. In my experience on Excalibur (believe it or not, every server has its own economy), the jobs that grant you the most gil are leatherworker, weaver, carpenter, goldsmith and culinarian. Not to mention, if you start leveling them up early, you can begin crafting your own armor and weapons as you go along.

Protip: Once you unlock your Grand Company, this will allow you to do crafting “dailies.” Every day (this resets at 12:00PM PST), you will have one item to turn in from each crafting and gathering job. If you have the gil to spend, and not the time, you can technically just buy these items and turn them in. But if you take the time to craft each item, you will earn even more experience points – and double for high quality items. 

7. It’s okay to play the game at your own pace – it’s built for that

You might get people who will try and drill you to get all your jobs to 50 before getting into the expansion, or doing this and that, but truth is: you don’t have to. The way this game is formatted compared to its predecessor, is that the pacing makes it very easy for you to pick up where you left off. You are able to do a couple things here and there, and most importantly, you can do it alone if you want to. Not to mention, all dungeons are level-synced. Meaning, if your friend is a level 50 White Mage, and you’re a level 20 Gladiator who needs a healer for a dungeon, the system will automatically sync them to the level of the dungeon you’re doing.

The big problem with Final Fantasy XI was that you needed people in your server that were within your level range and had a class that was capable of supporting yours in order to advance in pretty much anything. If you had Beastman unlocked [in XI], you were able to solo mostly everything, but other than that, you were left doing your homework for hours on end waiting to get invited to a party. And you best have your fingers crossed it was a good party and not a bad one.

Ignoring the severe problem with queuing up with a DPS job, the Duty Finder in XIV [for the most part] solves the problem of finding a party without waiting forever. XIV is split up into “data centers” which then have a handful of servers in each one. Instead of asking to be invited to a party from people locally in the area, the Duty Finder scans people queuing up for the same dungeon (or a roulette – which is a random dungeon done daily for extra experience) across the entire data center. The truly unfortunate element to this, is that you can’t really, honestly, make friends in Duty Finder since there is a 1/500 chance you’ll get someone on your own server. In the six months and bajillion dungeons I’ve done, I’ve met two from my server.

Siyra Final Fantasy XIV
Love the way my character looks.

6. It’s normal to spend an hour creating the perfect character.. I think

I mean, if you spend anything less than ten minutes in a character creator, what’s the point? Final Fantasy XIV has a great character creator (remember in XI, where what hairstyle you chose, came with a face, whether you liked that face or not?), and loads of options. The real awesome part was that Square Enix included both gender options for all races. Prior to XIV, you’d have to play as a girl to be a cat person, and a guy to be the Hulk-like race. These options alone added a lot of possibilities. Oh, and the hair. The hair is so good. So many hairstyles. So many.

What is super amazing, is that you will eventually get a free Fantasia potion. Take off all your armor, drink one of these bad boys, log out, and when you log back in, you have the option of editing your character. That’s right – even after you spent an hour perfecting your character, you can change them completely. Gender, race, you name it. After you use your free Fantasia, you can buy additional ones off the Mog Station for $10, or $28 for three. Which, if you play the game a lot, spending a few extra bucks to change up your character completely really isn’t bad.

The game gives you a lot to play with when it comes to your character, so take advantage of it! As strange as this may sound, the only thing Final Fantasy XIV is missing from its character creation is a butt-slider. While you can make your character (both genders) chiseled as fuck, and the female’s breasts a significant size, all characters have a cardboard-flat caboose, and being able to make your character proportionate with that would have been nice.

Free Company
My friend Kat and I carrying a conversation (I changed back from this character because she looked too much like my mom).

5. Don’t settle for a free company because you feel there’s nothing else out there for you

I am so incredibly fortunate to have had all of my childhood friends who played XI with me all throughout high school and some of college transfer over together to XIV. Since they all made the transition together (and sooner than I did), they were already all together in one free company, and were there to help me. I’ve made many friends in my free company (that I didn’t know in person, both in-game and out), and have actually helped restructure the free company and earn a leadership position.

Free companies are a lot different than the linkshells from XI. Linkshells were just chat channels for people to kick the shit, and occasionally do stuff together. This was beneficial for the game, since you needed a tight group to get anything done. With XIV, everything you do contributes to the company seals the free company has, and those contribute to giving you daily boosts and the such. Our free company does weekly polls on our site to decide what boost we’ll have for that week. These boosts range anywhere from extra experience for your battle Chocobo, to extra winnings at The Gold Saucer.

A lot of groups have a lot of different goals and interests, and typically, using the search function in game, you should be able to tell what those goals and interests are. Don’t be afraid to stay solo for a while – it’s better than settling for a crappy free company with no organization or perks. Think of it as finding a group of friends at a new school, or your office buddy – you don’t want to pick just any group. You want to pick a group that you can contribute to, and a group that will help you grow.

If anyone is interested in playing Final Fantasy XIV, or already does and is on/wants to transfer to Excalibur, please let me know if you need a new free company! We’re always recruiting and I’m the lead of bringing people in!

Protip: Don’t be afraid to go to a populated area in game and ask around if people have free companies that are accepting applications. More than likely, people will be more than happy to talk to you and see if you would be a good fit.

4. You might have to make commitments

There are a lot of raids in end-game and map farming, and all sorts of things that I don’t even know about yet. With a lot of the servers being a little empty as of late, due to lack of consistent content (I for one, took advantage of this to catch up to everybody else), using the Duty Finder for these big raids and fights can be time consuming. Sometimes you will find yourself waiting over an hour for a fight that takes only a few minutes. This is where a good free company comes in.

If your free company is organized and has good leadership, the group will have an event board of some sort and a schedule of events that will help you advance and get things done. If you’re a tank or a healer and you make this commitment, you best do your best to hold up to that. Some of you might be thinking, “but it’s just a thing in a game, they’ll find someone.” Get rid of that stigma.

Let’s say you’re throwing a party (most of us have, right?), and you assign every attendee to an item. John gets the beer, Ashley gets the cups, Sam gets the taco shells, and Kat, Nick, and Ryan are bringing the taco fixings. If John and Sam don’t show up, and don’t communicate ahead of time that they won’t be able to make it, the whole party is ruined! What the heck are tacos without taco shells? The hell are red cups without beer? Remember, you’re playing with real human beings, so be mindful of the things you say, and the commitments and responsibilities you take up. And bottom line, don’t volunteer if you can’t commit.

Final Fantasy XIV wedding
Square offers weddings that are free, $10 a person, or a platinum package for $20 a person.

3. Final Fantasy XIV relationships are very real

Not that I am in a Final Fantasy XIV relationship, but I did actually have a couple in my high school days in XI, which I briefly touch on in my gamer manifesto. Of course, you shouldn’t always trust everyone you meet on the internet, but, Final Fantasy XIV courtships can make for a great romantic experience (if you really think about it, it’s like Tinder/Grinder/OKCupid/Plenty of Fish with avatars and a fantasy world). I have met plenty of people on my server and in Duty Finder alike who are in Final Fantasy XIV relationships.

Some have never met the other in person, and rely on video chats and the game to communicate, some met in the game and are living together, while some treat it as a regular long distance relationship. You also have people who meet significant others outside the game, and get them to play too. And just like real life, there are those jerks who will cat-call anything female. Which, a lot of males play female characters (not for weird reasons, but just because), so if you’re one of those cat-callers, you might want to be careful. Had a friend completely freaked out by a guy always sending him high quality, expensive gear. The guy messaged me and referred to him as “her” and I couldn’t help but laugh.

Remember that if you do come across people who are in a relationship in game, regardless of your ideals, and their status, respect them and their decision! I promise you, it’s not as weird as Second Life.

2. Tech support is a lot less responsive than in Final Fantasy XI

In Final Fantasy XI, if you reported an issue in game or needed assistance from a GM, they would, within minutes, come to your service. Encountered a glitch where you got stuck under a bridge you shouldn’t be under to begin with? GM on his way. Did you do something you shouldn’t have? The GM puts you in a jail (seriously, they would lecture you on what you did and you would often find yourself in an underground jail cell for X amount of time, depending on the crime of course). In XIV, I just don’t see that. Actually, I don’t see anything at all.

There are a lot of gil sellers and bots on our server (and they always have names like Sdgsd Dfjg, Hgfdhgfd Hgfdhgh, and Fgdsgfds Gfdsgfd, not joke – just pulled these from my blacklist), and they will either PM you with ads, or will be in clusters, ruining your mojo. If you’re leveling in a low-level area, you can see a cluster of identical characters with botched names stealing your mobs, and screwing up your vibe. I have multiple times reported this through the game’s support form, but never have I ever even received a “thank you” for reporting the issue, or a status update. In XI, I would have gotten some sort of response.

Don’t let this discourage you from reporting things, though. Just like the bystander effect in real life, your report could possibly make a difference in ridding the server of at least a few of those nasty bots.

Final Fantasy XIV jobs
Not pictured: Dark Knight, Astrologian, and Machinist.

1. Some jobs just don’t feel Final Fantasy enough

Granted, you do have twelve whole jobs to choose from [with the expansion], but sometimes, the jobs lose their fun factor, and begin to blend together. In Final Fantasy XI you had (I lost count after twenty) a lot of jobs to choose from, but they were all unbalanced. With XIV ridding of support jobs such as Samurai, Red Mage, and Thief, all the DPS (damage per second) classes can blend together if you don’t take the time to truly learn the mechanics. A lot of people aren’t taking the time to understand the mechanics, nor do they really embrace the jobs. They simply focus on the damage they are doing and that is it.

Some jobs do start off pretty slow, and some start out pretty fun. Archer, for example (which turns into Bard is something that still makes no sense to me, seeing as how there used to a Bard class and a Ranger class), is incredibly boring. I call it the “press 1 get good” class, along with Machinist. Now, some people have told me at a higher level these classes “get good,” but getting to that point is incredibly frustrating! Archer was so boring to me, that getting it to level 15 was genuinely infuriating.

In XIV, Ninja was no longer a tank class, and Dark Knight was made a tank. This takes some of the fun out of those classes, and I think Square Enix should implement a second set of weapons for some classes to switch the roles. In XI, Dark Knights were mean DPS’s with scythes, but now only use great swords. Paladins could also do some awesome tanking with great swords, but now can only use sword and shield. Archer used to be about high, ranged damage, but now you have Bard for that. Except, Bard comes with the music DOT (damage over time spells). The system definitely isn’t perfected and can definitely use some fine tuning.

Protip: If you are new to the Final Fantasy XIV realm, I recommend you read the guides on each starting class, and which jobs they turn into. Get a feel for the roles, the mechanics, and what seems like something you truly want to learn and master. It will make going into the game a lot less stressful knowing the jobs beforehand.

Do you play Final Fantasy XIV? What have you learned from your experience? Do you want to get into the game, and have questions? Sound off in the comments below!


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Tatjana Vejnovic
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