You want to experience the world of Final Fantasy XIV but are unsure where to start and what to do? Covering everything from the different versions of the game to character creation and job choice, this guide will help you to take your first steps
What does this guide cover?
First of all: thank you reading this guide!
But what is it even about and who is it written for?
This guide was mainly written for players who are either about to enter the world of Final Fantasy XIV for the first time or just did so. It covers the process of buying the game until creating your first character. Important topics are the history of the game, the different game versions & expansions, character creation & job choice and, finally, choosing your Data center.
I originally only published a German version – [steamcommunity.com] of this guide back in 2019. You’re currently reading the translated version, done by myself, which is of course including all the revisions to the original guide I made in the last couple of months.
I want to stress again that this guide is intended for absolute beginners, not just in regards to Final Fantasy XIV but MMORPGs in general. If you, dear reader, already know more than enough about some of the topics covered here, feel free to use Steam’s chapter function to skip them. Also, if you skip to the end of this guide, you’ll find my other Final Fantasy XIV guides linked in which I cover advanced topics like mounts, worthwhile side quests and more! However, it also certainly doesn’t hurt to revisit topics you feel you already know everything about – maybe you’ll still learn something new?
But enough of the long preface, let’s get started!
What is Final Fantasy XIV?
For most, the name Final Fantasy stands for extensive JRPG (Japanese Role-Playing Game) which offer many hours of single player fun: A group of different heroes and heroines fight evil using different jobs, ranging from Red Mage to Paladin. The popular franchise, which started with Final Fantasy I in 1987, already managed to get up to Final Fantasy XV (2016) and that’s not even counting all the side-games and spin-offs (like Final Fantasy Tactics or Dissidia: Final Fantasy).
However, there are two games in the Final Fantasy main series which are quite different from the others.
The first one would be Final Fantasy XI which released in 2002. In contrast to it’s predecessors, it would not be a single player JRPG but a so-called “MMORPG” (or MMO for short). MMORPG stands for “Massively Multiplayer Online Role-Playing Game” – essentially a role-playing game that’s not played alone but together with a lot of other players. Final Fantasy XI ended up being so popular that the final main scenario, Rhapsodies of Vana’diel, only released in 2015 – 13 years after the initial release of the game! However, as the game was originally made for the PlayStation 2 and Xbox 360 and videogame tech became more advanced, a new Final Fantasy-MMO was needed: Final Fantasy XIV.
Similar to other games from the main Final Fantasy series, at its root, Final Fantasy XIV is also about following an extensive story with your character. However, being an MMO, the main character can be fully customized by the player, be it looks, race or class/job: You might want to play as a swift Bard-Miqo’te (a Cat-like hunting tribe) or a strong Roegadyn-Paladin (enormous, muscular humans) – everything is possible. However, this time, you’re not going on adventure alone. Some tasks, for example saving a haunted lighthouse from an evil sirene, can only be taken on as a group with other players. Even in the open world of Final Fantasy XI you’re going to meet other player characters all the time who are up to their own tasks – or you might join each other, do treasure hunts, kill monsters, craft things to sell, marry and much more.
Meeting other players all the time and getting to know them is what some consider the best part about MMOs like Final Fantasy XIV. Some might only play Final Fantasy XIV with their premade group of friends to beat even the strongest monsters. Others prefer playing alone as much as possible to freely enjoy what the world offers. The best thing about MMOs is that they offer content & activities for all kind of players, there is no “right” or “wrong” way to play MMOs as long as you’re having fun.
Can I play through Final Fantasy XIV by myself?
If I just said that all playstyles are welcome, it begs the question if – at least – the main story of Final Fantasy XIV can be experienced alone. Considering that the main series of this franchise is all about singleplayer games, this is not an outlandish thought. And many parts of the story are indeed just like a typical singleplayer JRPG, with lots of cutscenes and dialogue or battles you engage alone.
However, if we look at the entirety of the game, I got some unfortunate news: The main story Final Fantasy XIV and its expansion cannot be experienced entirely by oneself alone. There are many battles in the game that require cooperation with other players and some of them are necessary to progress in the story as well.
Now, this might sound scary at first. Especially for those that are new to MMOs. Fighting together with other players? What if I mess up? What if I don’t know how a fight works? What if I can’t play my character well enough? And so on. I know I was extremely nervous myself during my first group encounter.
But I can ensure you – and that’s why I included this section – everything is going to be fine. Even if you don’t know anyone else in the game, even if this is your first MMO, it’s going to be okay. First of all, every group encounter features a matchmaking system. Even if you don’t know any other players or none of your friends are online, the game is able to match you with other random players.
There’s usually no need to worry about these random players either. The Final Fantasy XIV community is considered really helpful and especially during low level encounters, people are going to help you out if you need/want them to. There is no voice chat too, it’s all text-based chatting. Actually, quite a lot of group content I went through didn’t even feature any communication besides a friendly “hello!” at the start and “goodbye!” at the end of an encounter.
Final Fantasy XIV also does a great job of slowly teaching new players how to play. There are a lot of tutorials and activities designed to help you get accustomed with everything. You are not going to run into any difficult encounters as you start out with the game, the game does not expect you to have any previous knowledge about MMOs. And hey, if you still want to come prepared, there are a lot of guides like this one and other helpful tips on the internet!
To conclude this section: Even if the thought of absolutely having to cooperate with other players might seem scary at first, there are a lot of systems in place, information online and kind players out there, who are trying to make your experience as good as possible. Even if it might be a bit of a jump in at the deep end, there’s a big chance that things are going to turn out better than you might expect.
The history of Final Fantasy XIV
Moving on from the base principles of the game, let’s take a look at the history of Final Fantasy XIV (or FFXIV for short). While this might sound boring for some people (feel free to skip this section!), I promise you this short look is going to help you make more sense of the beginning of Final Fantasy XIV.
First, we’ll have to turn back the clock to 2005. Final Fantasy XI has been successfully running for a bit now and work on the next MMO began internally: Final Fantasy XIV. After a lot of development troubles, the game released in a devastating state in September of 2010. The faults of the game, pointed out by fans and reviewers alike, were plenty (this
should give you an idea). User interface, performance and general gameplay issues were the most common complaints. In fact, the reception was so bad that the game producer and director were removed from their positions in December of 2010, just three months after the initial release of the game. Yoichi Wada, the CEO of Square Enix (the company behind the franchise), even mentioned that the game “greatly damaged” the Final Fantasy brand.
This could’ve been the end of the game. Only few people wanted to buy & play Final Fantasy XIV after such a badly received launch (MetaCritic-Score: 49 out of 100 – [metacritic.com] ). That, in turn, would’ve meant a financial loss for Square Enix. Going by typical procedure in the business, the game would’ve been shut down to cut losses.
However, that’s not what happened. And this is thanks to Naoki Yoshida, the newly appointed game director and producer for Final Fantasy XIV. Despite not ever working on a Final Fantasy game before, he proposed a radical plan, something that had not been done before: While fixing the live version of the game with a small development team as much as possible, a second team was supposed to completely remake the game behind the scenes: New game engine, new server structures, new story, new everything.
What sounds like a lot of work, not to mention costs, spent on a dying game nonetheless – was exactly that. However, the team managed to succeed: Final Fantasy XIV 1.0, as the live version was called, came to an end. Following events in-game, the world of Eorzea was hit by Dalamud, a falling moon – something the few remaining players could experience. Servers for 1.0 were then shut down during November of 2012. Just a few months later, in August of 2013, the new 2.0 version went live, titled Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn (or ARR for short).
This 2.0 version, A Realm Reborn, is the base game of the Final Fantasy XIV we play today, meaning it’s the place where new players and their characters start their adventure. It released to a much better reception (MetaCritic-Score: 83 out of 100 – [metacritic.com] ) and would receive a few critically acclaimed expansions over the years, Heavensward, Stormblood, Shadowbringers). The newest expansion, Shadowbringers, even managed to reach an OpenCritic-Score – [opencritic.com] of 91 (out of 100), making it one of the best reviewed games of 2019.
This success story, turning a failed game into a popular sensation, is certainly one-of-a-kind. It was even featured by Destructoid as one of the games that defined the decade – [destructoid.com] . If you want to know more about the whole story, I recommend watching the
However, while this story might be a nice tale and all, what exactly does this mean for you as a new player? A few things, mostly concerning the base game, A Realm Reborn.
As mentioned, in 1.0 the world of Eorzea was hit by the moon Dalamud, ending that version of the game. However, that does not mean 1.0 is gone and forgotten. Instead, A Realm Reborn sets in five years after this “Seventh Umbral Calamity”. You can watch the opening cinematic portraying these events in-game or
This does not mean that you should have played 1.0 in order to understand A Realm Reborn, mind you. There are some throwbacks, of course, but nothing too big that your overall understanding of the story should be impacted. The “Seventh Umbral Calamity” and the changes it caused are going to be a bigger topic during the start of the game, but it’ll move on quickly to things only concerning A Realm Reborn.
Due to the development circumstances, A Realm Reborn might also feel a bit different than later parts of the game. That does not automatically mean that it’s worse, in fact it’s probably my favorite part of the game (although I’ll have to admit that quite a few people don’t share this opinion). It just different, it’s slower, it has some quirks. It’s also the oldest content in the game you will experience, meaning time is going to hurt it anyway, unfortunately.
However, A Realm Reborn did receive some attention during the patch cycle of the Shadowbringers expansion. This led to a partial story rework to cut down on some lengths for example, as many players wished for. Flying was also added to A Realm Reborn areas, which was previously not possible. So even despite its development circumstances back in 2014, its not been left on it’s own ever since.
Is it too late to start with Final Fantasy XIV?
As I described just now, Final Fantasy XIV has been around for a few years now. And considering just how much new content has been added to the game in those years, one might wonder: Did I wait too long to give the game a try? Can I still get the whole experience years later?
If we look at competitors in the genre, many changed their new player starting experience quite a lot throughout the years. World of Warcraft offered new tutorials or even completely replaced starting areas with new ones for example. However, World of Warcraft also suffers from the problem that it’s extremely tough for new players to catch up with story told throughout it’s current lifespan. This is also thanks to new characters usually out-levelling old content pretty quickly which makes it less worthwhile for new players to revisit previous expansions, etc.
This might lead to new players arriving in the latest content pretty quickly – but without knowing much about plot background, important non-player characters or recent story developments. This is an especially unfortunate experience for those, who really care about story & lore. But players who are more focused on gameplay might wonder too, if it’s still possible for them to reach the gear stats, level, reputation ranks etc. veterans of the game managed to achieve.
So, how does the situation look like in Final Fantasy XIV? Good news: It’s definitely not too late to start your adventure in the world of Eorzea. Let me quickly explain why that’s the case.
First of, let’s talk about the story. Starting Final Fantasy XIV as a new player does not immediately put you inside the latest expansion. The story begins, as previously mentioned, with the 2013 base game, A Realm Reborn. You’ll need to finish the main story quests of A Realm Reborn first before you’re allowed to access the content (story, areas, etc.) of the first expansion. If you want to play through the second expansion, you’ll have to finish the main story quests of the first expansion in turn and so on. That means that you’re going to see the entire story of Final Fantasy XIV from the 2013 beginnings to its latest developments, if you want to progress in the game. So you don’t have to fear that you’re might missing anything important, even if only starting with the game now.
You don’t have to worry about your characters gear or level as well. The main story quests will keep you geared and levelled for the most part – the game also offers easy ways to skip certain old item-level grinds but more on that in the next guide. As all players have to progress through the main story quests, you’ll also realize that almost all content, old & new, is still being played. Apart from very specific exceptions, you’ll always find other players for your dungeon/trial/raid/etc. through matchmaking, etc.
Tl;dr: No, it’s definitely not too late to start with Final Fantasy XIV.
Free trial, base game, expansions – what do I really need?
But let’s stop with the history, although it’s interesting & necessary to know about, you do want to play the game and not just read about it after all.
So, how to get started?
First of all, if you want to check if your PC can handle FFXIV, download the free official benchmark – [finalfantasyxiv.com] . It should give you a good idea at how well the game would run using your hardware.
Everything’s fine? Good. Let’s talk about the actual game. As mentioned, unless you skipped the previous section, the base game for everything that follows is Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn. Released in 2013, this is where your character is going to start out. The main story of the base game, including the ones from patches, took me roughly around ~100 hours to beat. But this of course depends on what you do & how you personally play the game.
Tl;dr: A Realm Reborn is the base game of Final Fantasy XIV, it’s required by all other game expansions
If you want to purchase the base game on Steam, you’ll have to buy the Final Fantasy XIV Online Starter Edition, which can be found here:
However, before you go and spend money, read on for a bit:
Originally, the Final Fantasy XIV Online Starter Edition included the A Realm Reborn and a 30-day-subscription, allowing your character to play the story up to patch 3.0. Of course, this also included to all crafting and combat classes/jobs featured in the base game which could be levelled up to level 50.
Why did I write “originally”? Well, with patch 5.3 during August of 2020, the Final Fantasy XIV Online Starter Edition got expanded. Now it does not only feature the base game but also the first Final Fantasy XIV expansion: Heavensward. More on the expansions later, for now it’s sufficient to know that you’ll get significantly more content than you did before.
Tl;dr: The Final Fantasy XIV Online Starter Edition includes all content of the base game, A Realm Reborn, and the first expansion Heavensward.
However, I’m still asking you to save your money (for now) and read on. Why? Because we’ll have to talk about the Final Fantasy XIV: Free Trial first, which can be downloaded here:
What is included in this free trial and why should I take a look if the Final Fantasy XIV Online Starter Edition isn’t that expensive anyway, you may ask. Let’s take a look:
First of all, the free trial includes the same content as the Final Fantasy XIV Online Starter Edition. You’ll get the same quests, areas, classes and character creation options. There are a few limitations in place, of course. These mainly affect social features, like being unable to send private direct messages to other players, join a Free Company (basically a guild) or sell stuff using the market board. More information about the restrictions can be found on the official website – [square-enix.com] .
What’s the biggest advantage of the free trial however, is that you can play the game without paying for a subscription (sub for short). Because as soon as you buy and use the Final Fantasy XIV Online Starter Edition, you’ll have to pay for a sub to continue playing once your initial 30 days run out. No matter what content you play or how much you levelled, as soon as your bought a sub for the first time, you’ll only be able to play as long as you pay for it.
Tl;dr: Free trial players might face some restrictions but can play as long as they want without any need of paying for a subscription
You’ll of course be able to carry over your free trial progress once you purchased the game. Just keep in mind that there’s no going back to the free trial version afterwards.
Is there any reason to buy the Final Fantasy XIV Online Starter Edition then? Of course. Besides removing the free trial restrictions, you’ll need to purchase the Starter Edition for all further expansions: You can’t play any of the expansions after Heavensward unless you also bought the Starter Edition.
Tl;dr: You’ll only be able to play the (bought) expansions after Heavensward if you also own the Final Fantasy XIV Online Starter Edition!
As promised, we’ll now go over what these “expansions” actually are. For anyone new to MMOs: Expansions are big content updates that usually need to be bought separately in order to be accessed. In the case of Final Fantasy XIV, these include new main story chapters, new areas, new jobs and more. So far, the game received four expansions:
- Heavsward (HW), released in June 2015. Included new story chapters, three new jobs (Dark Knight, Astrologian, Machinist), a new race (Au Ra), a level cap raise to 60 and new areas/raids/dungeon/etc. Already included in the free trial/starter edition!
- Stormblood (SB), released in June 2017. Included new story chapters, two new jobs (Samurai, Red Mage), a level cap raise to 70 and new areas/raids/dungeons/etc.
- Shadowbringers (ShB), released in June 2019. Included new story chapters, two new jobs (Gunbreaker, Dancer), two new races (male Hrothgar, female Viera), a level cap raise to 80 and new areas/raids/dungeons/etc.
- Endwalker the newest expansion, is scheduled for release in November 2021
This is, of course, just giving a broad overview over the contents, just enough to give you an idea. In detail, the expansions include a lot more. What’s more important to note: If you buy an expansion, you don’t just get access to that one big update. You also get access to all further updates (“patch content”) until the next expansion releases. For example, if I bought Heavensward in 2015, I also got to play all the new story chapters/dungeons/raids/etc. that released until the Stormblood expansion dropped in 2017.
Just imagine the expansions as building blocks of a tower: At the very bottom lies A Realm Reborn as the base game. And every further expansion is a building block placed on top of the previous ones. This also shows that in order to get to a new “building block”, you’ll need to get through the previous building block first. You’ll only be able to play Heavensward once you played through the story of A Realm Reborn for example.
But how to buy the expansions? Look here:
But that’s just the most recent expansion you might say. And that’s true! Thankfully, if you buy the most recent expansion, you’ll also get access to all previous expansions with it. Meaning, if you buy Shadowbringers, you’ll get Stormblood as well.
Tl;dr: Buy the most recent expansion to get the previous ones as well!
Alternatively, you could also buy a bundle containing the Final Fantasy XIV Online Starter Edition as well as Shadowbringers here – [steampowered.com] . I would not recommend doing that though, as you immediately pay for everything the game has to offer – and you have yet to know if you’ll actually enjoy the game.
Tl;dr: Start out with the free trial version for testing. If you want to lift the restrictions, buy the Final Fantasy XIV Online Starter Editon (progress will be transferred). If you reach the yet unavailable expansion content & want to continue, buy Shadowbringers.
Endwalker – the upcoming expansion
To prevent a potential buying error, I’ll quickly have to talk about the upcoming Endwalker expansion:
Endwalker is scheduled for release in November 2021. This expansion is going to end the story arc that began with A Realm Reborn and can already be pre-ordered:
BUT wait! As a preorder, buying Endwalker works a bit differently than buying Shadowbringers. For example, as the expansion has yet to be released, you’ll only be able to access the actual content in November. All you get right now are pre-order bonuses, like earrings that offer a 30% combat job experience boost for killing monsters until level 80.
However, more importantly, buying Endwalker is not going to give you access to previous expansions like Shadowbringers as it’s a pre-order! That is only going to happen once Endwalker has been released and you buy it then. If you currently want to buy available expansions, you still need to buy Shadowbringers!
Tl;dr: Pre-ordering Endwalker does not also give you access to the previous expansions! Buy Shadowbringers instead!
The monthly sub, differences between Steam & the Square Enix store
What, we are still not done with the whole purchasing part? Yes, unfortunately. There are two more things to talk about:
First, the subscription. Yes, besides buying the base game and expansions, you’ll also need to pay for game time in order to actually play the game. If you don’t have an active subscription, you’ll be unable to log in with your character(s). Don’t worry, your character, your progress or your bought expansions licenses are not going to be deleted if you’re not subbed. As soon as you renew your subscription, should it run out, you’ll be able to continue playing like normal.
There is one exception though and that concerns housing. If the owner of a house or plot does not enter their house every 45 days at least, that house/plot is automatically going to get demolished. You will be notified before that happens though. If you’re wondering why this whole demolishment system is in place: Houses/plots are really sought after by many players and only available in limited capacities per server. To make sure that the limited spaces aren’t occupied by dead accounts, this system is what was put in place.
Payment options for your subscription can be found on the official Mogry-Station website – [sqex.to] once you logged in. If you bought Final Fantasy XIV on Steam (more on that in a bit), you’ll also be able to use your Steam Wallet to pay for your subscription.
The current subscription prices can be found on the official website – [finalfantasyxiv.com] , the more game time you buy at once, the less you pay per month (e.g. three 30 days are more expensive per month than one 90 day subscription).
Keep in mind that buying the Starter Edition or expansions usually also includes a certain amount of game time as well, so you don’t need to buy extra game time immediately.
The subscription does expire in real time, not game time. If you buy a 30 day subscription in January for example, you are able to play Final Fantasy XIV until February, no matter how much you’re actually online.
Second, let’s talk about the differences of buying Final Fantasy XIV on the Square Enix Store or on Steam. Basically, if you buy the base game on one of the two platforms for one account, that account will be locked to that platform. If you buy the Final Fantasy XIV Starter Edition on Steam, you can only buy Shadowbringers on Steam as well. You can’t buy the Starter Edition on Steam and Shadowbringers on the Square Enix Store. You buy on one platform, you stay on that platform for further purchases.
However, this is really all there is to the platform differences. The content of the game stays the same and Steam players can play with Square Enix Store players without any trouble. It’s really only about where you have to buy your game licenses and if you’re able to use the Steam Wallet as a payment method or not. Keep that in mind even for the account creation: If you use the free trial from the official Square Enix website for example, you’re not going to be able to transfer that character data to Steam.
Tl;dr: You’re going to need an active subscription to play Final Fantasy XIV once you bought it. If you buy the game on Steam, you’ll have to buy the expansions on Steam as well. You can use your Steam Wallet as a subscription payment method then, however.
Your first character
You downloaded the game, you created your account and just logged into the game for the first time? Great! Then we’ll finally get to character creation!
Or not, because there isn’t that much to say, really. The various options like race, tribe, looks, birthday, worshipped deities, etc. don’t have any actual impact on the game. A female Seeker of the Sun Miqo’te born in December is just as powerful as a male Hellsguard Roegadyn born in July and so on. So feel free to customize your character just how you want, there are no gameplay differences to be aware of.
Don’t forget that specific races are only available if you purchased the expansions they were introduced in. However, that does not mean that you can’t change your character into one of the previously locked races if you buy the expansions later on. Thanks to “Fantasia”, a one-time use item, you’ll be able to remake your character from scratch without losing any of the story progress etc. you made with that character. You’ll get one Fantasia potion for free once you finished the main story of A Realm Reborn – alternatively they can be bought for real money.
If you don’t want to remake your entire character and just change your hairstyle or facial features, etc. – don’t worry, you won’t need to use any Fantasia for that. Once you cleared the Lvl. 15 side quest Beauty Is Only Scalp Deep – [finalfantasyxiv.com] in Limsa Lominsa, you can use the service of the Aesthetician. Call the Aesthetician using the guest rooms in the three major A Realm Reborn cities for example and for just a small fee of in-game currency (which is called “Gil”) you’ll be able to change your hairstyle, etc.
Tl;dr: Customise your character to your liking! None of the available options has any actual impact on the gameplay.
Choosing your first class
Happy with how your character looks? Nice!
Now we’ll get to the seemingly tougher part: Choosing the class of your character. This decision does not only impact in which of the three A Realm Reborn main cities (Gridania, Limsa Lominsa, UI’dah) you’ll start your adventure – but also how your character is going to play like.
What sounds like a nightmare to decide, especially as you only got the introduction texts to know what each class does, is actually not as impactful as you might think it is. Other MMOs, like World of Warcraft for example, tie the class to your character – meaning if you ever want to try a different class, you’ll have to completely start anew with another character. This, however, is not the case with Final Fantasy XIV. Instead, the game offers you the ability to switch between classes/jobs as you want with one character. As soon as you completed a certain level 15 main story quest, you’ll be able to travel between all three main cities – and thus get access to different class trainers as well. Meaning that, once you reached level 15, if you don’t like one class, you can easily try another after completing a short introduction quest!
To change classes/jobs, simply equip the primary weapon of the job you want. The game also allows you to customize & save gear sets, so you can switch classes/jobs with just a few clicks. Changing a class does not require any materials or in-game currency and can be done anywhere outside of a few exceptions (cutscenes, instanced areas like dungeons/raids/etc.).
Tl;dr: One character, all the classes! Choosing a class is not going to tie your character to that class forever, so feel free to experiment!
How about the crafting/gathering jobs? They work basically the same, the job trainers for them unlock once your first combat class reaches level 10. Changing crafting/gathering jobs works exactly like changing combat classes/jobs as well.
But what class should you choose now?
A short classes and jobs overview
There are dozens of YouTube videos, wiki entries or online articles that try to answer the question what class might be best for new players. I certainly can’t provide you with the huge amount of information these offer, so instead I’ll focus on the important stuff you should probably know. Don’t worry, this should actually be enough to aid you in your decision.
First of, let’s make this quick, there is no “best class” or “best job”. Sure, a few jobs might perform a little better in hardcore endgame raiding content. But you know what? That performance difference is neglectable and it usually depends on the skill of the individual player anyway. All classes and jobs in the game are worth playing. So just play whatever class/job you enjoy the most, there is no “meta” that has to be followed in that regard.
There is, however, a limited job called Blue Mage which is an exception to the “normal” classes and jobs. It’s considered a special separate side activity and not an actual, “proper” job. But don’t worry, it’ll take some time until you can unlock it anyway.
You might be wondering why I keep differentiating between “class” and “job”. And we’ll have to answer that question before we move on that what each class/job actually plays like.
The whole class/job differentiation is caused by an A Realm Reborn design decision. To be more precise, it’s caused by the introductions of “soul crystals”. While they were important for cross-classing and more back in the day, thanks to various updates and reworks, you don’t really have to know much about them anymore.
Here’s what you do need to know today: Once you chose a class during character creation, it will remain as a class from level 1-29. Upon hitting level 30 and completing the level 20 main story quest Sylph Management – [finalfantasyxiv.com] , you’re going to get a special class quest. That is, as long as you’ve also completed your previous class quests (which you should absolutely do as soon as they are available, they grant you new abilities!). At the end of that level 30 class quest, you’ll receive a soul crystal for your class. Equip it and your “class” is going to switch to a “job”.
An example: A player creates a new character and choses “Archer” as the starting class. The Archer clears the level 20 main story quest Sylph Management – [finalfantasyxiv.com] as well as all “Archer” class quests. Once the “Archer” cleared the level 30 class quest A Song of Bards And Bowmen – [finalfantasyxiv.com] , they’ll receive a “Soul crystal”, in this case the “Soul of the Bard”. Once equipped, the “Archer” class is going to change to the “Bard” job. Un-equipping the “Soul of the Bard” would change the “Bard” job to the “Archer” class again. The current level 30 gear of the character can be worn by Archers and Bards alike, so it stays equipped.
But what does this change actually mean for you? Again, back in the day it actually had some impact. As an example, you needed to level two classes in order to unlock one job (e.g., unlocking the Bard job had a level 30+ Archer and level 15+ Pugilist requirement). This has changed since the Stormblood expansion. Nowadays it’s really nothing more than a leftover system.
“Classes” don’t receive any new abilities past level 30. Changing your “class” into your “job” does not only give you access to these abilities but also provide a significant stat boost. To make this short, you’ll absolutely have to change your “class” into a “job” as soon as possible. There is absolutely no reason not to do so. Jobs added in later expansions, which have a higher starting level, don’t even have a “class” version without the Soul crystal anymore.
Tl;dr: Do your class quests as soon as possible. If you also cleared the main story quest up to a certain point, you’ll receive a “Soul crystal” after clearing your level 30 class quest. Immediately equip it and never unequip it, ever.
With every rule, there must be an exception. There is one class where the Soul crystal actually matters a bit more and that’s concerning the “Arcanist” class. While every other class only ever changes into one job, the Arcanist is a bit different as it can change into two jobs: A healer (“Scholar”) or a ranged magical damage dealer (“Summoner”). It’s advised to just make one gear set for Scholar and one gearset for Summoner to switch more easily. It’s important to note that the level between the two jobs stays the same. If you level Scholar, you’ll also level Summoner and vice versa.
To give you a better idea, each class changes into the following job:
- Gladiator → Paladin (Tank)
- Marauder → Warrior (Tank)
- Lancer → Dragoon (Melee DPS)
- Pugilist → Monk (Melee DPS)
- Rogue→ Ninja (Melee DPS)
- Archer → Bard (Ranged Physical DPS)
- Thaumaturge → Black Mage (Ranged Magical DPS)
- Conjurer → White Mage (Healer)
- Arcanist → Scholar (Healer)
- Arcanist → Summoner (Ranged Magical DPS)
You’ll notice I also added what role each class is considered to be: tank, healer or DPS (= damage dealer). Why? Because I think this it’s far more important to choose what role you want to play than going over each individual class/job. Let’s take a look, shall we?
Which role should I choose?
What are “roles”? They’re basically a way to make a broad differentiation between the different classes/jobs. Some jobs might specialize in dealing damage to enemies, some might have the main purpose of keeping the group of players alive. By choosing what role you’d like to play in a team, you have an easier way of choosing what class/job you might want to play.
To start things of, all group content in Final Fantasy XIV is entered in so-called “parties” of players. Normal dungeons require a “light party”, consisting of four players (one tank one healer, two DPS). Trials or normal raids are done in a “full party”, consisting of eight players (two tanks, two healers, four DPS). And lastly, the alliance raids consist of 24 players total, organized in three “full parties”. Basically, the majority of the party always consists of DPS and there are always as many tanks as there are healers.
These role restrictions can be lifted for private parties – but if you use the Duty finder to create your party via matchmaking with random players, you’ll get these two party types, “light” and “full”. Now that we got these basics down, let’s take a look at each role.
The priority of the tank (jobs: Paladin, Warrior, Dark Knight, Gunbreaker) is to keep the rest of the party safe. This is achieved by getting the attention of the enemy and keeping it throughout the fight, so the enemy might not attack anyone else. To survive the heavy blows that come with this responsibility, the tank has a huge life pool and a lot of defensive abilities at their disposal. As the tank is the one who needs to take care of enemy control, they’re often the leaders in group content and decide the pace at which content might be cleared. Second-shortest queue time during matchmaking.
While the tank might protect the party by keeping care of enemies, the healer (jobs: White Mage, Scholar, Astrologian) has to protect the party by either shielding them from harm (literally) or healing any suffered damage as well as removing debuffs (negative status effects like poison). If things go wrong, they’re also capable of reviving falling allies. However, it’s important to keep in mind that there’s only so much a healer can do. If the party keeps making mistakes, even a capable healer can’t save an encounter by themselves. Shortest queue times during matchmaking.
The damage dealers (DPS).
Unsurprisingly, the main task of the damage dealers lies in dealing, well, damage to enemies. The more damage they can deal, the faster an encounter is over. However, as they’re usually the in the majority and they’re not as responsible for the well-being of the party as a healer or tank, it’s also the roles where a death is more bearable and usually doesn’t lead to a death for the entire party (“wipe”). Final Fantasy XIV differentiates between Melee DPS (Monk, Dragoon, Samurai), Physical Ranged DPS (Bard, Machinist, Dancer) and Magical Ranged DPS (Black Mage, Summoner, Red Mage) – this differentiation doesn’t matter for the party finder though, as it’s just looking for DPS in general. Longest queue times during matchmaking due to the sheer amount of DPS players.
Already found a role suiting you? It’s okay to take your time or just decide on a whim – or after more research maybe? What I should also mention is that every role in this game is also supposed to deal damage. This is obvious for the DPS, sure. But while other MMOs might want tanks/healers to exclusively focus on tanking/healing, Final Fantasy XIV wants them do dish out some damage as well. If you’re just healing for example, you are going to be asked by your party to also use some of your damage spells – an enemy that’s dead is an enemy that does not inflict wounds that need to be healed. Don’t worry though, you’ll quickly learn how to switch between dealing damage and healing/tanking without any problems.
If you’re still wondering what role might suit you best, personally, I can give you the following advice: In group content, the fate of the party mostly depends on the tanks and healers. Sure, the DPS need to do their part as well but if a tank or healer dies – especially in light parties where there’s only one each – the whole group might be dead a few seconds later. They’re also often expected to know how an encounter works beforehand. Of course, if you just notify your party that you’re doing certain content for the first time, no one’s going to be blaming you and you’ll probably receive some help on what to do.
But it can be quite intimidating to lead a party or having to tell everyone that you’re new all the time. Certain content is also ran through as fast as possible by experienced players so that you might get left behind. So, if you’re unsure and want to be more on the safe side, I’d personally suggest to start out with a DPS. Sure, us DPS got the longest queue times. But our role also got a higher fault tolerance as we’re not as critical to the party. If you go even one step further and chose a Ranged Physical DPS (Bard, Machinist, Dancer), you even get to be away from the boss while also having high mobility to dodge any attacks! I played as a Bard during my first Final Fantasy XIV playthrough, so I could learn all the different encounters more easily – and if I died, I didn’t cause any wipe for the group.
Ultimately though, this is a decision you have to make yourself. I might recommend playing Ranged Physical DPS, others might recommend playing healers or tanks for the shorter queue times. There is no right or wrong answer what class/job to play, choose what you think is fun, these are merely suggestions. Don’t forget that you can change classes/jobs all the time as well, if you’re not happy with your current one. But keep in mind you’ll have to level each class/job individually, so unless you only want to level classes/jobs than progressing the main story, you should settle on a “main job” for the time being sooner or later.
Tl;dr: Different roles, different responsibilities. In the end, choose what you think is bringing you the most fun.
Choosing your Data Center & server
We got your characters details and class nailed down, so there’s only one thing left: Choosing your Data Center.
It should be noted beforehand that this section is subject to change, as it was announced that the upcoming Endwalker expansion update is also including Data Center travel – [twitter.com] .
Currently though, Data Center travel is not possible though. And even if it arrives, I’d expect some heavy travel restrictions like not being able to do group content together with players from other Data centers. This remains to be seen though.
To quickly give you the basics: Choosing a Data Centers decides with who you play with. It does not have any influence the content of the game. I’d suggest choosing the Data Center that’s the closest to your current location. This will not only make sure you got the best connection but also improves your chance of finding a server with a player base also using the language you understand.
Of course, if you got friends playing on a specific Data center, chose that one in order to play together. Again, there is currently no way to travel between Data Centers if you don’t want to make a new character.
Once you’ve chosen your Data Center, you’ll be asked to choose a specific world. This decision is easy and complicated at the same time. First of all, thanks to the World Travel system, you’re able to freely travel between worlds with only very few restrictions – [finalfantasyxiv.com] . Meaning, even if friends of you play on a different world in the same Data Center, you should still be able to do almost everything together using the World Travel System.
To use the World Travel System, interact with the central aetheryte in Gridania, Limsa Lominsa or Ul’Dah and select “Visit Another World Server”. Visiting other worlds is completely free. For more detailed instructions, see the official website – [finalfantasyxiv.com] .
So, where’s the complicated part?
First, some worlds might currently not allow any new character creation. This is usually due to a lot of players creating characters on said world at the same time. Depending on the amount, you might be able to create a character yourself sooner or later.
Second, there might be so called “preferred worlds”. Worlds may gain this status when the active player count on that world is lower than others. Creating a new character there does provide a few bonuses you won’t get when creating a character on a “normal world”. A popular bonus is the “road to 70” buff, which basically doubles all character experience gained until level 70 for 90 days. Once per account, you also get a free additional 15 days of playtime if you reach level 30 with any character on a preferred world.
Third, details. But to be honest, most of them shouldn’t matter. Take language as an example. At least in the EU servers, English is the language used by the majority. Shiva might be the unofficial German and Moogle the unofficial French server, but English is going to work just fine in both. So why you could do some research on what specific world to choose beforehand based on details like these, it doesn’t really matter.
Made your final decision? Nice! I should mention that it’s also possible to transfer your character to other Home Worlds. However, in most cases this service does come with a real money fee. More information can be found on the official website – [finalfantasyxiv.com] .
Tl;dr: Choosing your Data Center is important, choosing your world less so. If you want to play with friends, join the same Data Center.
Start your adventure!
Done! Finally done! Your character is now ready to make their first steps in the world of Eorzea!
From now on, the game will take it’s time to slowly get you used to Eorzea and the gameplay Final Fantasy XIV offers. As such, this is the perfect opportunity for me to end this guide as well. Try taking your own first steps, you definitely worked through enough tips for the time being!
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