Hey MMORPG !
Recently on this subreddit I’ve noticed people asking about FFXIV. The game has picked up a lot of attention over the last year, and as someone who plays lots of different online games, I wanted to drop a catch-all non-biased opinion (as much as possible) on the game. Also, hopefully this doesn’t bother but I am using a throwaway account as my main has been a fairly active on r/FFXIV and I don’t want anyone following me from there to here.
I’m going to attempt to break this down and dissect the game, but some pieces that I discuss here may bleed into others. My apologies.
Final Fantasy games are known for their stories, even if you might nitpick at them or find them uninteresting. Although it is an MMO, this remains true with 14. There are many portions of the story where you will feel like you’re sitting through multiple movies. The vast majority of these cutscenes can be skipped if you want though.
The quality of the story is debatable. Most agree that the first arc of the story has many faults and failings, even though it does set the story up for its later arcs. I feel that the majority of people that have partaken of Heavensward, Stormblood, and the Shadowbringers stories were rather pleased though.
I should also mention that each story has a set of what I prefer to call “in-between arcs.” This is perhaps one of the most praiseworthy features of FFXIV’s story in my opinion. The quests in these in-between arcs do not provide as much experience as the arcs that come before or after them, and their purpose is purely for storytelling. These arcs serve to close the previous arc, and slowly introduce the new one. To me these arcs are fantastic because FFXIV feels as if it leads you into the next arc of its story, while many other MMOs feel as if they pull their next arcs out of nowhere. These in between arcs are typically shorter than their counterparts, aside from the in-between arc that comes before Heavensward, which almost double the size of the others.
I must start before saying anything else that I recommend having a durable machine for playing FFXIV. Otherwise even in casual scenarios you may struggle.
Prior to starting you will have the option of choosing your Data Center. This will give you access to different worlds within that data center. You will also choose a home world on that data center, although despite certain limitations you will be able to move between different worlds on that data center as you please. And of course, you will design your character, and choose your starting class, along with a few other details. It should be noted that you have 8 character slots. It should also be noted for those on their free trials that you cannot create characters using the Viera, Hrothgar or Au Ra races without having the latest expansions (Stormblood for Au Ra, Shadowbringers for the other two).
The game starts off by placing you in one of three different starting locations based on your class of choice. Not all classes are available immediately as some aren’t available until you have a main class that reaches a certain level (and a certain point in the story). You may pick up a new class as you please when they are available however, and many will be available from the start. At around level 15 within the story, you will have access to all of the main starting areas, and the story will merge. Certain classes will become available to you then at this point. Each class has a set of quests given at certain interval levels. Typically, they range from every 5 levels, but during certain portions of the game they can occur at every 2 levels. These quests are important for getting new abilities and sometimes gear (although do not rely on class quests alone for gear). These quests also have their own storyline, so they are more than just chores for getting your new abilities. At some point most of the starting classes will also evolve into a “job” which is a more specific class that also provides a soul crystal.
It should also be noted that there are also non-combat classes, called disciplines of the land and disciplines of the hand. Just like the combat classes you can start as many of these as you’d like. They too have their own unique quest lines.
Overall, the game will explain the vast majority of concepts to you as you encounter them. It is highly recommended that you at least take things slow and read the tooltips as they come up, despite the frequency with which they do appear as they provide important information that will make your FFXIV life a lot more convenient and fun.
We will not be discussing solo combat as each class/job is capable of meaningful combat on their own. I would prefer not to delve into opinionated territory.
Instead, we will discuss the group activities that make up most of FFXIV’s combat. There are two party sizes that you will frequently take part in. The small party is the traditional party with one healer, two dps and one tank. The full party simple doubles up on these numbers with two tanks, two healers, and four dps. Small parties are frequently seen throughout your story dungeons, while full parties are often seen in trials or FFXIV’s solo boss fights. There are also alliance raids, which consist of 24 players, which 3 parties each. Each party in these raids has 1 tank, two healers, and 5 dps however.
Once you have unlocked a fight or dungeon through the necessary quest you can queue up for it via an in-game interface called the duty finder. You can queue from anywhere in-game. Queue times vary depending on your data center, time zone, and role.
As you level up you will also unlock a specific set of queues within your duty finder. These are called duty roulettes. Once per day, completing one of these roulettes will award you with bonus gil, and most importantly bonus experience (and also bonus tomestones, but we won’t be discussing those).
This experience can be important for leveling up side combat classes. While you can play multiple combat classes you will have to level them up after all. Combat classes that start from level 1 can be tedious to level as on your own you must often start by doing your class quests, completing the first tier of your class hunting log, and then finish reaching level 15 via levequests or FATES. These roulettes only give their bonuses once per day and the day resets at midnight in Japan Standard Time (for reference, 10 AM EST is Midnight in Japan). The level 15 grind for classes starting at level 1 can be tedious, but it otherwise won’t bother you as you play through the game with your main class.
I will also mention the party finder system here. Like duty finder, this system can be accessed from anywhere, and it will allow you to group with specific players for specific dungeons or trials. On most data centers this is most commonly used for endgame fights, such as the current savage tier raids, or extremes. It is possible to queue for these fights through duty finder on some data centers though.
Much like the story, this is another selling point for many. It is not without its issues though.
FFXIV has two methods of player grouping. The first is called a free company, and it is very likely that you’ll get an invite to one just by hanging out and going about your day in-game. FCs are comparable to most games’ version of a “guild.”
The other is called a linkshell, and these are more or less chats. There are ranks within these linkshells, as well as the ability to communicate with those in other worlds in the same data center.
Outside of FCs and LinkShells, the vast majority of the community is very friendly. New players who are often identified by the sprouts next to their names will typically be offered plenty of help from other players.
This is not to say that you will not have toxic encounters. The vast majority of toxic encounters will likely be through passive aggressiveness though, as direct and aggressive chat is rare.
The community itself is usually rather forgiving, even to a fault at times as some players will not point out or suggest improvements others can make, especially to newer players, even in gentle ways.
Also be aware that the community as a whole tends to have a hard time handling any criticism. This mentality is stronger on some data centers than others (such as any critical comments on Japanese servers being regarded as toxicity). This is also something to keep in mind, as different data centers and worlds have different cultures. Most worlds have a few locations where you can find large groups of people for socializing with and like the culture, these locations may shift depending on the world.
Thank you for reading and I hope this helps you with making your choice on whether or not to play. I attempted to keep this as spoiler free as possible which meant cutting down the information by quite a lot. I also avoided using specific examples in many places as I did not want to paint the community in any specific light, good or bad. The main posts I have seen have been about people not being able to get into the game, and I wanted to offer some idea of what the game may be like for others in response. I hope that this is well received.
I have saved the information for this account and I will respond later if needed.
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