You might have heard of Final Fantasy XIV recently. The game has been experiencing exponential growth in 2021 and shows few signs of stopping. If all the hype has left you curious and wanting to give the game a try, this comprehensive beginner's guide can get you started.
What Is Final Fantasy XIV?
Like its name suggests, Final Fantasy XIV is the fourteenth entry in the long-running Final Fantasy video game series, developed by Japanese studio Square Enix. While most other games in the franchise are single-player, XIV is an MMORPG, which stands for massively multiplayer online role-playing game.
The game was first launched in 2010. This initial version, known as 1.0, was met with near-universal negative reception. In response, Square Enix decided to rebuild the game from the ground up to improve it. The new base game, called A Realm Reborn, launched in 2013 and was received much more positively. Three expansions have been released since then: 2015's Heavensward, 2017's Stormblood, and 2019's Shadowbringers.
The fourth expansion, Endwalker, has a November 2021 release date. The game's story, especially in the expansions, has enjoyed substantial critical and fan acclaim.
Final Fantasy XIV takes place in the fantasy realm of Eorzea, which is under threat from the ruthless Garlean Empire as well as god-like beings called Primals, which drain the very life essence of the world when summoned. You begin the game as an adventurer looking to make a name for yourself, but perhaps you are more special than you know.
Do You Need To Have Played Other Final Fantasy Games First?
The short answer is no. All numbered Final Fantasy games within the main series tell independent stories unconnected from each other in different settings. You do not need to have played I through XIII to enjoy or understand what is going on in Final Fantasy XIV.
There are, of course, many references in Final Fantasy XIV to elements from other Final Fantasy games for those who have played them to appreciate.
What Does It Cost To Play?
Final Fantasy XIV is a subscription-based game with paid expansions. This means it requires players to pay a monthly fee to access and play the game. Some one-time purchases are required as well. The Starter Edition contains the base game A Realm Reborn as well as the Heavensward and Stormblood expansions. You will also need to purchase the current expansion, Shadowbringers, separately. The Complete Edition includes the game in its entirety.
Final Fantasy XIV has a free trial where players can try out the game before purchasing it. The entire base game as well as the first expansion, Heavensward, is now included in this trial. There are some limitations on trial accounts. For example, some in-game chat options are not permitted and free trial players cannot invite other players to groups. Once you purchase the game, a subscription is required to access and play going forward - your account cannot revert to being a trial account.
You can begin playing Final Fantasy XIV through its free trial or by buying the game outright. There are three starting areas, and the one you begin the game in will depend on your chosen starting class.
Creating Your Character
When you first load up the game, you will be prompted to create your character. There are currently eight playable races, which include:
- The human-like Hyur
- The elf-like Elezen
- The cat-like Miqo'te
- The diminutive Lalafell
- The large and powerful Roegadyn
- The dragon-like Au Ra
- The rabbit-like Viera
- The bestial, lion-like Hrothgar
Some special notes about the Viera and Hrothgar: you will need to have purchased the Shadowbringers expansion to create them, and you can currently only play as female Viera and male Hrothgar. Male Viera will be added to the game in the upcoming Endwalker expansion, with female Hrothgar announced to be added at a later date.
You can customize your character to appear however you wish. Your starting class will determine in which city state you begin the game. You also get to select your character's birthday and patron deity, which are only for cosmetic purposes and do not affect gameplay.
You are required to choose a server for your character, which is tied to a data center. If you have friends who already play the game, you should make sure you create your character on the server their characters are on. Characters can visit other servers within the same data center, but at present you cannot visit other data centers, so keep this in mind when making your choice. Due to an increased number of players, some servers might not be available for new character creation at all times. You can check server status at any time on the game's official website. A paid service is available if you want to move your character to a new server later.
Jobs in Final Fantasy XIV are the equivalent of classes and they have been inspired by many previous games in the franchise's history. There are currently 17 full jobs in the game and one limited job. Two more, the Sage (which will be a Healer) and the Reaper (a melee DPS), will be added with Endwalker.
Tank jobs are focused around high survivability and keeping damage away from weaker party members during group content. Healers are tasked with keeping the party alive and curing depowering ailments. DPS stands for "damage per second" and consist of the jobs whose role is to deal damage to enemies. In Final Fantasy XIV, DPS jobs are further categorized into melee (close-ranged) fighters, ranged physical combatants and ranged magical casters.
Available jobs include:
- Paladin (Tank)
- Warrior (Tank)
- Dark Knight (Tank)
- Gunbreaker (Tank)
- White Mage (Healer)
- Scholar (Healer)
- Astrologian (Healer)
- Monk (Melee DPS)
- Ninja (Melee DPS
- Dragoon (Melee DPS)
- Samurai (Melee DPS)
- Bard (Ranged Physical DPS)
- Machinist (Ranged Physical DPS)
- Dancer (Ranged Physical DPS)
- Summoner (Ranged Magical DPS)
- Black Mage (Ranged Magical DPS)
- Red Mage (Ranged Magical DPS)
Unlike many other RPGs, you can play all jobs on one character, switching between them as needed and desired. Each job has its own quests and story that you play through as you level.
Another important fact to know is that some of the jobs outlined above are unlocked after getting a base class to level 30. This is a holdover from both A Realm Reborn and the 1.0 version of the game. So for example, players must start as a Lancer before they can progress to Dragoon. Once leveled to 30, these classes change into the jobs listed above and have little to do with gameplay going forward. Jobs added in expansions have no base classes.
Finally, there is Blue Mage, which is the game's sole limited job and cannot be used to participate in certain kinds of content. The developers determined that some popularly-requested jobs from previous Final Fantasy games could not be balanced properly for group play in an MMO and so decided to put them in as limited jobs. The development team has mentioned plans to add additional limited jobs to the game in the future.
Dungeons, Raids And Trials
Like most MMORPGs, Final Fantasy XIV contains a number of dungeons and raids, which require players to work together to defeat a series of enemies. Most dungeons require a party of 4 that consist of one tank, one healer, and two DPS. Some dungeons are scattered along the main storyline and must be completed to progress in the game, while others are optional. Normal Raids require 8 players and Alliance Raids are for 24 players.
In addition to dungeons and raids, Final Fantasy XIV also features Trials. These are essentially boss fights that require a group of 8 players to complete. Like dungeons, players will go through a number of Trials at certain points as they progress through the main story.
You can do Daily Roulettes that randomly match you with a party to do a dungeon, trial or raid. These roulettes offer additional rewards such as increased experience and in-game currencies.
PvP, or player-versus-player, is present in Final Fantasy XIV. This is a mode where you fight and compete against other players rather than programmed environments and encounters. Players choose to align themselves with a Grand Company (the military arms of the three main city states present in the game) early in the story, which serve as your faction for PvP purposes.
PvP can only occur within special areas of the game and offers a number of modes such as dueling and battlefronts, all with differing objectives. Some job abilities are altered during PvP, and PvP-specific abilities become available.
Crafting and gathering are their own respective jobs in Final Fantasy XIV that you level separately. They are similar to combat jobs in that you have a variety of actions you can take while crafting an item to achieve the best outcome.
The Gathering jobs include:
The Crafting jobs are:
With Gathering professions, you can gather raw materials throughout the regions of Eorzea to be used in crafting.
Crafting items and then selling them to other players is one of the most effective methods in the game to make gil, the in-game currency. Having crafting jobs at certain levels is a requirement to access certain quests in the game. These jobs can be used to repair your character's equipment as well, which costs gil to do from NPC (non-player character) vendors.
Player-run communities, often called guilds in other games, are called Free Companies in Final Fantasy XIV. New players might desire to join a Free Company so they can make new friends within the game and have other players to do content with.
Many Free Companies will shout out that they are looking for new members, and you can talk to them if you are interested. You can also shout out that you are looking or use the Community Finder to find Free Companies that focus on the type of content you are interested in.
You can only be in one Free Company at a time and you cannot join a Free Company while on the free trial. If you decide you no longer want to be a member of a Free Company, you can choose to leave at any time. If desired, you can also form a Free Company yourself.
Final Fantasy XIV features player housing. Players can buy a house in one of four residential districts: the forest-like Lavender Beds, the coastal resort-esque The Mists, the desert oasis The Goblet and the Japanese-style Shirogane. A fifth, the medieval Ishgard, will be added in Endwalker. There are a number of activities you can do in your home, including decorating it, gardening, caring for your chocobo companion and more.
Housing space is limited due to the way it is programmed into the game. Because of this, it can be difficult to purchase a house and once you have one, you must log in at least once every 45 days or the house will automatically be demolished to make room for active players who want the space.
Fortunately, you can purchase an apartment if you can't or don't want to get a house. Apartments are a single-room housing option that once purchased is yours as long as you want it. If you are in a Free Company that has a house, you also have the option of purchasing a personal room there as well.
A final major activity in the game you can choose to participate in is roleplaying. This is when you behave as your character would during in-game interactions. To roleplay well, you will need to come up with a strong backstory and characterization for your character. Final Fantasy XIV does not have dedicated roleplay servers. There are active roleplay communities on most servers but some have a stronger reputation for focusing on it than others.
That covers the basic systems and activities in the game as well as some key background information. You should now be prepared to begin your journey in Eorzea. Above all else, be sure to have fun.