Tips to Not be SHLOPPY
I never shut up about Final Fantasy XIV. I’ve talked about it on this blog at least three times, and even more on Mastodon and Twitter. And now you’re looking to play, so you’ve come to me. Maybe my constant pestering has convinced you. Maybe you’re tired of being left out of all the in-jokes. Maybe you think Viera are hot. All of these reasons are valid, so I’m here to help you get into the world of Eorzea, and have a good time doing it.
This guide is…probably going to be big. Check back with me when it’s finished. I’m going to try to explain as much as I can in a way that’s clear and concise. But here’s my main tip, the one to take away if you can’t read the rest of this piece:
TAKE IT SLOW
I regret to inform you that you cannot learn how to play a gigantic MMO in one hour. Nor two. Not even three! I’ve been playing this game for 10 years and I still learn new things. It’s easy to get overwhelmed. You will not know everything right away, and that’s okay! Just take it slow. Frankly, the game in and of itself takes some time to get going anyways. The pieces will come together eventually.
And with that, we’re off!
Why Should I Play FFXIV?
Good question! There are few reasons. For one, this game has the best story in a Final Fantasy game in at least a decade. If you do none of the extra content and just play the story, you will get more than your money’s worth. It’s that good.
Beyond that, FFXIV is constantly improving and putting out new and interesting content, almost always better than the last. Each patch comes with new mechanics, new boss fights, new raids, new crafting recipes, and more! If you’re looking for a game that will satisfy you for a while, you’ve found it.
Not to say that it’s a full-time job, because it isn’t! It’s not 2005 anymore, we don’t have MMO time on our hands. I take breaks from the game all the time and don’t feel like I’ve been left out. Pretty much all content is available all the time so you can go at whatever pace you want. The only real time-sensitive stuff is capping your gear for hardcore raiding, but that’s a very small piece of the game’s puzzle, and if you’ve gotten to that point, then you’re uh, very far outside of the scope of this guide, heh.
Lastly, why should you play FFXIV? Because you can play as. Them.
Creating a Character
The first thing you gotta do when you log into FFXIV — either after downloading the trial, which lets you play for free all the way up through the first expansion, or by buying it — is create a character.
You start with picking your server. You want to coordinate with your friends here. Make sure you’re at least on the same Data Center as them. Servers that are within the same umbrella of Data Center can travel to each other to party up and whatnot.
Next up is your Race. All races are valid, their stat bonuses literally do not matter at all, so pick whatever you think looks cutest/coolest. However, know that Viera and Hrothgar have more limited options, and aren’t able to wear most hats in the game. Yes, I’m sad about it too. Also, picking Au Ra requires the Heavensward expansion, and Viera and Hrothgar require the Shadowbringers expansion.
When you jump into the game, play around with your emotes and animations, or look at a vid of animations online first. If you find that you don’t like your look, there’s no shame in rerolling a different character. You also get one (1) Fantasia when you finish the first main story of the game at level 50, letting you completely change your race and facial features — something that normally costs ten real dollars to do, so use it carefully. You can unlock the feature to change your hairstyle and color whenever you want later in the game, though. We’ll get to that.
Picking a Job
This is the one that paralyzes a lot of people, so we’re going to get a bit more into the mud in this section. It’s important to know, though: you are not locked to one Job in FFXIV. A unique feature of the game is that you can swap to any Job you want whenever you want when you reach level 15 on your first job. All you have to do is the job quest to unlock said job. Also, you should ignore all of this advice and play what you think looks cool anyways.
Now let’s talk about the three types of Jobs: DPS, TNK, and HLR.
This person gets hit by the enemy’s attacks. They have big HP, and use mitigation abilities to decrease the damage being dealt to them. Tanking is a lot scarier than it seems, but often the players you’re running a dungeon with turn to you as a sort of “leader,” because you’re setting the pace of the dungeon, so if responsibility spooks you, maybe don’t start with theses Jobs. That said, it’s very satisfying and the queue times to get into content are pretty short.
Damage Per Second
These are generally considered the “easiest” Jobs to start with, and there are quite a few to choose from. DPS stands for “Damage Per Second,” and is exactly what it sounds like: doing damage as good as possible to kill the bad guys. These are a bit more responsibility-free, and I agree with them being a good place for anyone to start. However, you can’t just sleep playing these Jobs either! Each one generally has a lot to learn to do a good job, so make sure to read what your abilities do as you unlock them (good advice for all classes, honestly). Most people play DPS, so the queue times can get really long, as an FYI.
This Job keeps the party alive. Usually the Tank is who you’re focusing on, but you gotta worry about the DPS getting themselves killed pretty often too. Healing can be fun, but it can also be a bit thankless. If you’re doing your job properly no one notices, but if you mess up, everyone notices. Much like Tanking, if responsibility scares you, maybe save this one for when you’re more familiar with the game. That said, almost no one plays healers, so often your queue times can be instant.
Okay but which Job should I Play Tho?
Let’s go through them all real quick so you can decide, hmm? And I do mean quick, or we’re gonna be here forever.
A pretty simple Tank, one that has you protecting your allies with mitigation abilities and even the ability to cast ealing spells on yourself and others. Sword and Shield, usually with a cape, and they love the color white.
Full disclosure, I’ve never played this Tank, but I’ve read that it’s a pretty simple Tank as well, with lots of damage and survivability. They use axes.
Real edgy boi hours. Another Tank that has you using a giant sword to protect your friends, and the ability to cast a shield buff on yourself if you take enough damage. Has the best job quests in the game. Remember to wear black. Requires you to have reached the Heavensward expansion area before you start playing it.
The last tank, it’s a very involved class that does some big damage and has combos similar to what a DPS might have. Simple to learn, hard to master. They use a gunblade like Squall from FFVIII and wear cool jackets. Must own the Shadowbringers expansion and have leveled a job to 60 to play it.
They punch stuff. How good they punch stuff depends on where they’re standing when facing an enemy. They’re getting a revamp soon but they’re pretty cool right now.
If you know Kain from FFVI, you probably know this Job. It has a very static rotation, so if you’re the type of person that needs stability in their life, try this class on for size. They jump around a lot with their spears, and they can buff their friends too.
For the Naruto fans. This class is actually a little complicated? There’s some weird, big brain stuff to it, so if that turns you off, avoid it. They do cool ninjitsu, and can buff their pals with a skill called Trick Attack, which everyone loves.
For the other kind of weeb. They are a very selfish DPS, in that they do very big damage, but don’t offer much in the way of buffs for others. A pretty simple rotation, and some cool animations. Must have purchased Stormblood and leveled a class to 50 in order to play it.
They have a bow! They sing and play instruments to buff their pals up. This class is very proc-heavy, which means that there is a bit of randomness to the rotation, so if you like some spice in your life, give it a go! A very support-oriented class.
My main! They are even more buff-y and proc-y than bard. They do dances to make their party stronger, and can also give them shields and heal them a little too. Everyone will want to be your dance partner. They have chakrams, and do most of their damage in a small critical hit window. Not as much damage from these folks, but they look cute doin’ what they do! Must own the Shadowbringers expansion and have leveled a job to 60 to play it.
The most static and selfish ranged DPS class. They do big damage but don’t do much support. They use cool guns and have a robot friend that lets them attack enemies. Oh yeah and a flame thrower. Oh and a Bio blaster. Do you like FFVI? Check this class out.
The selfish magic DPS. They sit in their casting circle and cast big explosions. They will never come out of their circle, even if they’re about to die. Not a very complicated class, but it feels like their rotation changes every ten levels, so maybe look up some guides.
The attacking pet class. You use summons to do your damage! I’m not too familiar with this class, but I’ve heard it’s very “simple to learn, hard to master.” One nice thing about is that its level progression is tied to Scholar, so if you level it, you’re leveling up a healer at the same time! Pretty cool, huh?
The support magic DPS. They do magic damage for a bit, then swoosh in and stab with their swords all sexy-like. They have a very simple rotation and are good for beginners. Also, they can swift-cast raise to revive party members, which can save a run if your healers died. Requires the Stormblood expansion to have been purchased, and a class to have reached level 50 before being playable.
My former main! The simplest healer, go with it if you’re a beginner. They have a lot of “oh god oh no” buttons that do big heals to help people survive attacks. Cute aesthetic. They wear robes and have a big staff. Also, assize is the best move in the game — you’ll see what I mean when you get it.
The pet healing class. They use shields to stop damage before it can happen. That’s basically it. They’re easier to use the more knowledge of a battle you have, so it’s a class that ramps up the better you get at the game.
The most complicated healer, but satisfying if you can figure it all out. They can shield and regen depending on the situation, and give players cards to buff them up as well. For Yugioh fans. Requires you to reach the Heavensward expansion area to be playable.
Phew! We’re done. To summarize: If you’re not sure what to pick and just want the easiest class in their respective roles, here they are, in my opinion:
Tank: Paladin or Warrior
Healer: White Mage
DPS: Early game: Bard. After unlocking: Samurai, Red Mage, or Dancer.
Starting the Game
Finally, we can play!
Except, not really.
Check Your UI Settings
The first thing you’ll want to do when you start the game is go through your UI settings. I know, I know. It feels like homework, and there are lot of options to go through, some you might not even understand. Skip those. Focus on the stuff you get, and adjust it until you’re comfortable. I promise it’ll be worth it in the long-run. Then do another check once you’ve spent more time in the game. Maybe go through your menu options if you’ve got some extra free time, just to see what’s going on. You can get even more detail at the official UI Guide!
Change the movement setting to Legacy Controls
Just trust me on this one.
Make a Chat Tab
There will be a chat box in the bottom left of your UI. Press the + button you see there. Then go into your settings and filter everything in your new tab but messages from other human players. Call it chat, or talk, or whatever else you want.
Focus on the Story
Okay now you can play, and you should focus on playing the story to start. It’s the best part of the game, as I mentioned, but it also will help you figure out everything that’s going on. You will slowly learn new skills one at a time, learn about the world and its characters, and unlock a bulk of the main content. If you’re ever feeling overwhelmed, just follow the trail of that fancy little flaming exclamation mark. It will keep you on your path. You can always come back to other stuff later.
Skip Yellow Quests
They’re usually fluff and frankly kind of boring. They’re only really good for leveling up other classes, as you get generally enough EXP from the main quest to level whatever job you pick to maximum.
DO BLUE QUESTS
This is in all caps because it’s important, and something I didn’t realize for way too long — like long enough that I’m embarrassed to tell you how long. Blue Exclamation Mark quests are key. The blue signifies that the quest unlocks a feature of the game. This could be a side-dungeon, a mount, or even the ability to change your hair or dye your armor. If you see one, it’s generally advisable to do it.
So you followed my sick advice and you’re feeling pretty comfortable. Maybe you hit level 50 and you want to see what else is up. Congrats! There’s lots to check out, but here’s some optional stuff worth taking a look at.
These are 24-player quests, split into teams of three. They are not nearly as scary as they sound…unless you’re doing the Ivalice Raid, but that won’t be for a while. They’re theme-park battles with fantastic fanservice for Final Fantasy aficionados (and Nier aficionados). It’ll soon be required to do the Level 50 Alliance Raid to progress the main story quests, so you’re gonna be playing them either way, but if you like the mandatory one, do the rest!
The true end game. You can’t fight monsters if you ain’t cute. The Glamour system allows you to overwrite your current armor with other clothing so that you can have your own personal style! Once you’ve unlocked the ability to use them, grab some from the market board or the NPC in the city you start in. Then go to an Inn and check out the Glamour Dresser. Soon you’ll be obsessed with creating the perfect outfit: that’s when you’ll know you’re a real FFXIV player.
Try Another Class
Once you’re familiar with your own class, try a different one! Any class you level up gets an EXP bonus based on your highest leveled class, though, so maybe max one out before you do that. But again, you’re free to switch whenever you want at level 15 so don’t let that stop you either! I personally think it’s worth it to dabble in one class from each part of the Holy Trinity (Healer/DPS/Tank), because doing so helps you learn how to play overall. You get a good idea of the flow of battle and if everything is going smoothly. Or not, as is often the case.
Join a Free Company
You can play through the game without speaking to a single player, even while running dungeons with them, but that can be kind of boring. If you’re not already joining the game with some friends, which I recommend, try talking to players and maybe join a guild! I know it can be scary but it can also lead to some good times!
These are 8-person battles that are also not too scary with some practice. They are fun, somewhat challenging fights with interesting lore, and you can start doing them at Level 60.
One of them is a fanservice tournament arc, please do it, it slaps.
Maybe your brain is poisoned by capitalism and you want all of the money. Crafting can help you do that! It’s a relaxing change of pace and lets you make clothing, weapons, furniture, and more! And you can make a profit off it too.
Don’t do the Bahamut Coils
Or like, do them, but with an unsynced party. An unsynced party lets you go into a dungeon or trial no matter your level, so you can overpower it through sheer damage numbers. The Coils suck and aren’t worth doing synced. Honestly you could just watch the cutscenes on YouTube and be fine — that would happen once you’re done with the Level 50 Main Story Quest.
Good lord. I think that’s it. This is the longest blog post I’ve ever written for Mint’s Café, wow!
Anyways: I hope this guide helps make your first steps into FFXIV more enjoyable! This is one of my favorite games ever, and I’d love to help more people enjoy it. I play on Zalera, so if you’re looking for a friend to show you the ropes, I’m always, always around to do that, both in game as Haruko Mint, or on Twitter or Mastodon!
See you in Eorzea!