Final Fantasy XIV can be confusing when you first start (or if you’re coming back to it after a long break). There are a ton of things to do and try, and a multitude of things which can make your life easier which aren’t always fully explained. There are a lot of great guides out there but I thought I’d have a go at my own compilation of things to do, along with links to more in-depth guides by better people. :)
1. Starting a New Character
My tip here would be to have fun with character creation and just pick someone that you like the look of. Religion/gods don’t seem to have any effect in game, and while the stats for each race might give you a very tiny boost in one area or another it really isn’t going to matter that much down the road. You can do all of the jobs (classes) on one character (which the game really encourages you to do), so you need to like the way they look. You’ll get one Fantasia to start with that allows you to change your character’s appearance, but after that you have to buy them from the shop and they’re not cheap. After a quest you can change some elements (hairstyle, face, makeup, etc.) in an inn room using the aesthetician.
Once you’re in game, spend some time running around and picking up every quest you can BEFORE running out to start levelling. Along the way you’ll pick up most of your aetheryte locations and get a small boost on levelling. Buy some food as soon as you can, as it will give you an XP boost. And don’t skip cutscenes, there are some great stories in this game.
Here’s a breakdown on classes (does not include Stormblood classes).
2. Aetherytes and Travel
Aetherytes are the blue crystals that you see in cities and in larger towns which provide fast travel. Important: You can pick one return point (a hearthstone location to you Warcraft players), one free travel point and three favourites, which you can travel to at a reduced rate. I always pick my home city as the free one, the other main cities as favourites, and keep my return point set to a main quest hub, or (later on) the main hub for armor vendors.
Tip: if an aetheryte in your new city isn’t sparkling, you haven’t clicked on it yet.
If you open your map, you’ll be able to see aetherytes on the map – click on one to travel to it.
One last thing about travel: the developers of this game really like quests where you talk to one person, then have to travel to another location to talk to someone else…and back again. Usually several times. If you really hate it, the game is probably going to bug you. I don’t like it, but the rest of the game is so immersive that I just kind of roll my eyes at those quests and do it. :)
This is a great site for finding things and getting around.
3. The Hunting Log, Fates and Levelling
As you’re doing quests, you’ll find public events called fates, and you’ll also get a notification that certain critters are in your Hunting Log. Both of these things should be done alongside questing and instances to level your character easily. This is a good hunting log guide with maps, and this is a list of fates for each level bracket. Basically, you’ll be killing certain critters anyway for quests so you might as well get extra XP for filling out your Hunting Log for that level. Open your Abilities, find the logs, and just put the Hunting on on an action bar so you can refer to it easily. If you find a fate in the area where you are, stop and do it – it doesn’t take long and it provides rewards in XP and Great Company rewards (more about that later).
Speaking of action bars, it also helps to add a bar that has Return, Teleport, your Armory Chest (where all your gear goes), the Hunting Log, your Sprint button and the Emotes button. Along with treating the Warrior of Light (you) as a combination errand boy and beast of burden, Squenix is real fond of quests where you have to do emotes at NPCs. Adding it to a bar makes it easier, as well as allowing you to throw a quick /bow or whatever to another player.
4. Main Story Quests vs. Side Quests
This is a story-driven game, and progress through the game is linked to your main story quests. These will be marked in your journal with a kind of flame icon. All of these have to be done. You’ll also have job and class quests, as well as periodic quests for any professions that you learn.
The rest? Do as many as you need to, but don’t feel as though you need to do every single quest. Remember, you’re supposed to be doing every class on one character, and levelling without quests on those can be a slog – save something to do! That said, there are quests that become available to you as you level, and this is a very good list of when each thing becomes available.
There are side quests which really shine in terms of silliness and sheer entertainment value, such as the Hildibrand quests – these are definitely worth doing for laughs and rewards.
There’s a lot of handy information in icon form for mobs, players, NPCs and items that may not be readily available. You’ll notice different icons next to most NPCs and also most mobs. The image to the right explains what they all mean. It’s handy to know, for instance, that a mob that you are killing for a quest is also one that you need for the hunting log.
There is a handy enmity list, and I’ve borrowed a good explanation for it from here.
The icon next to the monster list (located in a small list underneath your party on the left) is a threat/enmity meter.
- Green square = low threat/enmity
- Downward pointing yellow triangle = High threat but it’s lowering
- Upward pointing yellow triangle = High threat and rising
- Red = You have aggro and you will be attacked
The little bar in the lower left next to each party member in the party frame is an individual threat/emnimity meter that everyone can see.
6. Hall of the Novice
At level 15 you’ll be able to take the Hall of the Novice quests, a short series of encounters which teach basic MMO concepts and awards a full set of level 17 armor, as well as a ring which gives you +30% XP gain until level 30.
7. Grand Companies
At around level 20 you’ll have an option to choose a Grand Company. These are much the same except for PvP, and all can give you weapons, armor and so on. Choose the one that you like the look of best, preferably the one in whichever city you’ve chosen as your home (I’m partial to the Maelstrom’s black and red).
At level 20-ish, after choosing a grand company, you’ll get a quest for your first chocobo. There are a lot of mounts in game which can be earned in different ways or even purchased in the shop. Some are just cool (or silly, got those too) looking, but some of them can be trained to tank for you, fight, or heal you in combat. These will level up just as you do and acquire skillpoints. Chocobos can be dyed via food, wear armor, and even race or breed.
9. So. Much. To. Do.
Although FFXIV has some of the best raiding and instances of any MMO out there (imho) there is a metric buttload of things to do aside from that. Explore it all – I won’t go into much depth on each one here, but I’ll try to link to guides or additional information on each.
- Leve Quests: these are helpful for that last bit of xp needed to level, as well as an easy way to level professions. I believe that you only get a certain amount, so it may be worth saving them for professions or levelling alt classes.
- Palace of the Dead: although this isn’t a ton of help for levelling your character, you will get a jump on a high-level weapon by doing them, as well as cash and some loot. They’re fun and worth doing.
- Crafting: I think FFXIV has some of the best gathering and crafting in any game I’ve played, and while it is both time-intensive and sometimes expensive to level crafting professions it’s interesting and profitable. You can level up doing nothing but gathering and crafting, but you’ll still need to do the main story quests.
- Housing: Housing is quite expensive and sometimes difficult to get, but customisable. If you join a Free Company (guild) that has a guild house you’ll have access to that.
- Eternal Bond: you can get married, with a full ceremony, a wedding chocobo, rings, wedding attire and so on. Weddings are amazing.
10. Have Fun
I think that’s all I have energy for. :) I might do more in-depth guides later on, but with new players coming into the game all the time I thought it was worth doing a complete beginner guide to ease the pain of a very complex and feature-rich game. Mostly just have fun, don’t rush, and enjoy!