Beginner’s Guide For Final Fantasy XIV
For new Final Fantasy XIV sprouts, and even newer players who have never played an MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online) before, all of the tasks and functionalities of an MMO can be incredibly overwhelming—I know, I’ve been there! But with any luck, this quick list of beginners tips in Final Fantasy XIV will help make the learning curve just a little bit easier.
Additionally, Square Enix has trimmed the content in the first two expansions: Realm Reborn and Heavensward. The sprawling storyline has been reduced with some quality of life changes making progress easier and more efficient for new players. Beyond that, Final Fantasy XIV has the friendliest community of any major MMO that I’ve ever come across.
That’s not to say you won’t stumble across the occasional jerk, but based on personal experience, they’re nowhere near as common as they are in some other MMO’s. Final Fantasy XIV even has a commendation system for rewarding players who are especially skilled or helpful at the end of each dungeon, so there’s some incentive to be kind (plus you get an extra experience bonus for quicker leveling!). For further reading to help you decide on if you’d like to purchase the full game (with several reasons why I think you should!) look here.
UPDATES: If you have questions about the game that I haven’t answered in this article, feel free to ask in the comment section below or join the Final Fantasy XIV Discord server (invite link). When you join the server, read the rules and post your question in the general chat. The mods are there to help you so don’t be shy with your questions! Remember, there are no stupid questions.
I also run a Discord server for my static and Free Company members; if you’re new to the game, you can hop in and ask questions or participate in events such as map parties and we regularly help players clear endgame content! We’ve done a lot of Extreme Trial farming in Shadowbringers and Endwalker with friends and members in the Free Company! If you’re on the Hyperion server, you can check out information on my Free Company here. I really enjoy helping new players, so don’t be shy!
For more information regarding my static group, the schedule is listed here, and I stream on Twitch every Friday and Sunday. You can also check me out on Final Fantasy XIV’s Lodestone here. If you’re interested in my battle logs, just look me up on FFLogs: Miss Moonie on Hyperion. ?
Other Relevant Articles on Final Fantasy XIV…
This article has been updated for Patch 6.0 Endwalker.
Table of Contents
I’ve organized this guide into several sections. First, I’ll explain what’s behind the game such as free trial information and what to expect. Following this are several sections covering creating a character, choosing a class to play, and choosing quests to tackle. This guide will also contain information on leveling your character, gear, customizing your hotbars, and more endgame related content such as using party finder and savage raids.
- The Free Trial
- Creating a Character
- Try Out Different Classes
- Try Crafting and Gathering
- The Main Story Quest
- Understanding Quest Types
- Leveling, Gear, and Item Level
- Dungeons, Trials, and Raids
- Configuring Hotbars and HUD
- Free Companies
- How to Effectively Use Party Finder
- Endgame Content
- General Tips for New Players
The Free Trial
As mentioned above, Square Enix expanded (patch notes) Final Fantasy XIV’s free trial to allow new players to play the Heavensward expansion up to level 60 story content for free—that’s easily 20 hours of content to get through if you’re not skipping anything. ? The Realm Reborn and Heavensward expansions also add an additional playable race (Au Ra), and three extra playable jobs (Dark Knight, Astrologian, and Machinist) that can all be unlocked after reaching level 50 in the main story quest.
The free trial won’t work if you’ve ever spent money on your Final Fantasy XIV account before, even if you bought it several years ago upon release and just piddled around in the starting zones. But if you only had a trial account before Patch 5.3, that trial account should now support the increased level cap from 35 to 60.
The upshot of all this is that it may be wiser to make an entirely new account if you want to play through A Realm Reborn and the Heavenward expansion with the free trial. Keep in mind some of the limitations, though:
- You can’t use the Market Boards (which means you can’t buy or sell tradeable items in-game)
- You also can’t join Free Companies (commonly referred to as “guilds” in other MMO’s)
If you’re mainly playing for the story though (and that’s generally a good reason to play Final Fantasy XIV), these are sacrifices you should be able to live with. And if you ever decide those limitations are too burdensome, you can remove them by buying the Final Fantasy XIV Starter Edition, which gives you access to the same playable content as the free trial and only costs $20.
Download the free trial here and without further ado, here are some tips and tricks for the new Final Fantasy XIV player.
Creating a Character
This is where it all begins! First things first…diddling around in the character creation menu. Choose your race, starting class, name, features, and when you’re ready, select a server. Due to overloaded servers, you may not be able to get into the server your buddy is in however if you save your character profile and keep an eye on when the server opens, you can make it in. It might take some time but just be patient. It’s a really unfortunate process for new players who want to be on a specific server with their friends, but it works. If you do happen to make a character and wish to transfer to your friends server, you can do so by purchasing a server transfer from the Mogstation.
It’s also important to note when creating a character that your star sign and starting class doesn’t matter much at all. The star sign doesn’t affect your character in any way and one of the coolest things about Final Fantasy XIV is you can play every single combat (and crafting) class on the same character and you can switch classes pretty much whenever you want. All you need to do is switch out your weapon and set up gear presets in your character panel (more on that below)!
Try Out Different Classes
Unlike most other MMOs, single characters can play all of the classes and you are only limited by your motivation to level the class you want. Very little people find their main class on first try and most don’t stick to just one class, they’ll learn several and play them whenever necessary, especially for end game savage and ultimate content. If you’re interested in learning how to get involved in savage raid content, check out my guide here. Savage content can be stressful and daunting at first, but it’s fun and rewarding for players seeking a challenge after completing the main story quest.
Currently, you can choose from four different tank classes, four healers, five melee dps, three ranged dps, and four magical dps. But there are also gathering and crafting classes all of which can be leveled up to 90, same as the damage classes! The gathering classes are botanist, miner, and fisher and there are eight different crafting classes.
If your starting class wasn’t fun for you, don’t worry! Once you reach level 10 and you complete your first level 10 class quest, you get to take any other class from that point onwards. Once you have done that quest, then you can freely switch classes by just going to whatever guild you want and talking to the NPCs there. You will receive the weapon for that class and by equipping it you will change to that class. For more information on what class you must level to achieve the requirements for your desired job class check out this handy guide here and for quick reference:
Lancer, Conjurer, and Archer are in Gridania
Gladiator, Pugilist, and Thaumaturge are in Ul’dah
Marauder and Arcanist are in Limsa Lominsa
In Final Fantasy XIV, sufficient mastery of a class will open up the path to one or more related jobs and their respective actions. Also, if you’re unhappy with your character’s appearance, you will receive an item in-game called Fantasia as a 30-day veteran reward (a one month subscription reward). Fantasia will let you completely change your race and appearance (face, skin color and even gender). If you want to purchase another Fantasia, they can be purchased on the Mogstation.
Try Crafting and Gathering
Final Fantasy XIV has eight crafting classes and three gathering classes that you level separately like regular combat classes (and they even have their own storylines)! If you plan on leveling more than one of them—and you should—don’t vendor or sell your gear for these classes once you’ve out-leveled it. You can use the same gear for all crafting and gathering classes. In other words, once you’ve leveled your carpenter to 80, you can use almost all of the same gear to level your culinarian, and so on.
You’ll also find that leveling your crafters and gatherers goes a little hand-in-hand, by which I mean you’ll need a gatherer to collect materials for your weaver, and a weaver might require a crafted item from a leatherworker, and so on. I recommended leveling all at the same time, if at all possible. The easiest way to level your Crafters and Gatherers is through Levequests. If that isn’t enough to entice you, you should know that crafting and gathering in Final Fantasy XIV is one of the best ways to make Gil.
The Main Story Quest
The Main Story Quest (MSQ) icons look like a gold and gray meteor with an exclamation point. These quests will move the story forward and are one of the fastest ways to level up, so complete them as soon as you can to unlock content.
I think the Main Story Quest (MSQ) is what confuses new players the most and they quickly become overwhelmed with the available quests they see on their map. To unlock important things in the game such as dungeons, unlockable classes, realms, etc. you must progress through the MSQ first. The MSQ is very, very long but the story is actually quite good so it’s worth your time. If you find yourself in a situation where you can’t play something because you don’t meet the requirements, you’re probably not far enough in the MSQ (usually…there are exceptions). This is a Wiki guide (click) that I share with all new players that will help you unlock important content along the way. It explains what level in the MSQ you have to be, the quest name, and it explains the importance of the unlockable content all the way up to Endwalker, the latest expansion. I highly recommend it.
Understanding Different Quest Types
As you adventure through Final Fantasy XIV, you’ll meet dozens of NPCs with different icons over their heads. At first, all of these quests will no doubt look very similar and you won’t know the different. When starting the game, always focus on the quests displayed in your main scenario guide, shown on the top left of your screen by default. This will always highlight your next main story quest in the tab next to the red meteor icon. If you have a class/job quest, it will be displayed below your main story quest with a red exclamation point. When all else fails, the quests listed here will always move your story forward.
Another quest type to keep an eye on are quests that unlock new features or your next class/job quest. These will be a gold and blue icon with a plus and exclamation point. Above is a level 60 Summoner job quest and on the left you can see several different quest icons. Unlocking new features isn’t required to beat the story, however certain quests, like the one that unlocks a mount, are worth keeping an eye out for. The character who gives you class/job quests will have a new one for you every five levels. You may need to level up in the main story quests or take on side quests to level up before your next class/job quest becomes available. Keep in mind that by unlocking class/job quests, free gear will be rewarded and new abilities, so it’s definitely worth your time.
Leveling, Gear, and Item Level
Along the way, you may run into a problem where progressing on the MSQ requires you to be a certain level before you can accept or complete the quest and some dungeons will also require a level or item level before entering the instance. Your character’s level and item level are separate things. To achieve the level required for the MSQ you can do something as simple as playing the highest level dungeon you can get into through party finder. This will grant experience points that will level your character. Increasing your item level is a little more complicated than just entering into a leveling roulette, however.
In the photo above, I’ve provided an item comparison window that shows a stronger weapon with a higher item level on the left and on the right is an example of a weapon with a lower item level. You can see that the weapon with the item higher level has higher stats (and materia that I melded myself). If you run into an issue where your Item Level is too low to enter a dungeon, you have a few options.
- The Main Story Quest (MSQ) will provide new gear as your progress
- Locate a Vendor/Merchant in the main cities (Gridania, Limsa Lominsa, or Ul’Dah) and purchase higher item level gear
- Clear the highest level dungeon you can get into and equip new gear
- Craft your own gear
- Purchase gear off of the market board (I don’t recommend this as it’s usually a waste of Gil)
Increasing the Item Level of your character is incredibly helpful because it will boost your stats. If you are a low level tank and you have a better Item Level, chances are your Vitality is much higher, and so you can sustain more damage from pulling monster packs in dungeons and raids which makes you considerably easier to heal and your healers will thank you. By increasing your Item Level as a DPS, you increase your damage done to monster packs which will kill them more quickly, and your healers will thank you. Increase your item level as much as you can so that everyone can have a good time but don’t spend Gil to do it…increasing your Item Level as a new player is incredibly easy and shouldn’t be stressed over. The MSQ will also provide new gear for you as you progress.
Dungeons, Trials, and Raids
As you progress through the MSQ, you will accept quests which require you to clear dungeons, trials, and raids, otherwise known as instances in Final Fantasy XIV. These cannot be skipped and by using the Duty Finder, the game will automatically match you up with other online players to complete the instance. Dungeons, trials, and raids all require a set party limit. For instance, dungeons require a team of one tank, one healer, and two DPS players.
Dungeons require a team of four players: one tank, one healer, and two DPS.
Trials will have eight players and you will face off against one enemy and maybe a few monsters if there is an add phase.
There are actually two types of raids: normal/savage raids and alliance raids. Normal and Savage raids require eight party members where you will face off against one boss and maybe a few monsters if there is an add phase. An alliance raid is a 24 party member instance where teams of eight are split into three alliance parties. There are several monsters to defeat much like dungeons and a few bosses to defeat along the way.
Configuring Hotbars and HUD
In Final Fantasy XIV, you aren’t limited to HUD layout and key bindings so you can tailor it to suit your taste and needs. Of course, the larger your display, the more flexibility you have, but for those with a smaller display size, this is certainly an excellent feature, too. In the Setting menu, you can change your HUD layout to customize the placement of your hotbars, map, etc. and you can also makes changes to your keybinds and macros, and more. In Character Configuration, I personally recommend turning on Legacy camera. It makes it easier to turn your character.
Additionally, I recommend navigating to your Keybind settings and remove A & D (default set to Move Left/Move Right) and change this keybind to Strafe Left/Strafe Right. By doing this, you make it easier on yourself to dodge gaze mechanics that could petrify or stun you and this allows your character to cast abilities/spells without needing to manually turn your character around. It won’t spin your camera around either, which is also a plus.
Everything else is pretty much up to you. I recommend dragging all of your abilities on to your hotbar, set a keybind for them, and practice in an easy dungeon or two until you become accustomed to the keybinds you’ve set. Eventually, you won’t have to think about what keybind is bound to what ability, it will become second nature. If you use an MMO mouse, I recommend setting that up too. Take your time and see what all is in the System Configuration/Character Configuration settings and make any necessary adjustments to make the game easier for you.
Making friends in a Free Company or starting your own is fun and worthwhile! If you’re not sure how to join a Free Company, you can look in the party finder window or try right clicking on other users who are already part of a Free Company to see additional details. There are also several groups that are looking for new members on Reddit and in the Final Fantasy XIV Discord. If you’re looking to start your very own Free Company, you must have purchased the game (this will not work with the free trial) and you must first unlock Grand Companies at level 25. In order to start a Free Company, players must talk to the Free Company administrator at the grand company headquarters and select the “Found a Free Company” option.
Once you’ve done this, you get to choose the preferred name and tag for the Free Company. Players are allowed 15 characters for the name, and five characters for the tag. The player must then acquire three signatures on a petition from other players or friends. Once the player has three signatures, the player must then pay a fee of 15,000 gil. After the fee is paid, the player’s Free Company will be founded and you can start inviting other players to join.
How to Effectively Use Party Finder
Party Finder is a tool in-game to use if you’re looking for a pre-made group to clear content. If you join a group in party finder and you don’t know what the mechanics are for the dungeon, or if you’re unsure what mechanics the group is doing, just ask. Other players in the game are usually more than happy to explain things to you.
Through the Party Finder, you can either search for a party to join, or recruit other adventurers to form a party of your own. This feature is unlocked upon completion of the quest “It’s Probably Pirates,” and can be found in the Social section of the main menu. The list of parties that are looking for members will be listed on the upper side of the Party Finder window and you may check the details on what kind of members they are looking for. To join a party immediately, select “Join Party.” You may also send a /tell to the party leader.
You can search for a party to join by setting a number of conditions such as objective and play style. When recruiting members to join your party, you will have the option of setting various recruitment criteria. Fields include duty type, average item level, roles, play style, and language. Players who are recruiting for a party will have a distinct status icon.
While the Party Finder’s primary purpose is to set up a party, the comment lines is sometimes used by players as an unofficial billboard to advertise crafting services or recruitment drive for Free Companies.
I often get asked the question when I’m streaming “What are you doing?” (Savage Raid content) and “How do I get started doing savage content in Final Fantasy XIV“? A lot of people come to my stream and express interest, but they don’t know where to start, and the idea of doing difficult raiding in the game fills them with anxiety.
There are plenty of multiplayer activities to do in Final Fantasy XIV, because it is, in fact, a multiplayer game. However, you can take this a step further if you’re interested in doing the really hard endgame content with other players—I’m referring to Extreme Trials and Savage Raid content. If you’re one of the many players interested in finding a group, or you just don’t have any clue how/where to start, read here! I’ve put together a helpful article on how to get started doing endgame content like extreme trials and savage raid content.
General Tips for New Players
I spent some time asking acquaintances and friends “When you started playing Final Fantasy XIV, what do you wish someone had told you sooner?” and I made it into a list. I answer all of these questions and a few extra that I came up with on my own. I hope these tips help you on your journey!
- Attune Yourself To Every Aetheryte You Come Across
A big mistake that I learned rather quickly was the importance of aetherytes in Final Fantasy XIV. Attuning yourself to an aetheryte will allow for quick travel and you can even set favorite locations that you can quickly return to for free or at a cheaper travel cost. When in a large city, you can travel between smaller aetherytes, using them sort of like subway stops. To travel between aetherytes in a city, you must first locate different crystals and attune to all of them. Then you can travel to those crystals for free within the city. Traveling between aetherytes in different major cities and locations can consume Gil(in-game currency). For someone on the free trial that can’t sell items on the market board fear not—you can sell items to regular NPCs. And just so you know, there really isn’t anything you should be purchasing in-game with Gil early on because the main story quest will give you just about everything you need: food, gear, and potions.
- Register a “Home Destination” On An Aetheryte
If your character dies in the open world, you’ll have the option to teleport back to your registered Home Destination. You have the option to set this in major cities and you can change this destination throughout your progress in the game. For example, if you start in New Gridania and eventually move to another city like Limsa Lominsa, you can make it so that instead of reviving all the way back in New Gridania, you can revive in Limsa Lominsa instead, closer to where you died in the open world. This is super helpful.
And by registering a Free Destination, you can teleport for free because honestly, who doesn’t like to save Gil?
- Rested Experience Points
In Final Fantasy XIV, returning to a sanctuary or an inn and signing out of the game will reward you with an extra rested experience (EXP) bonus. This is super helpful if you want to build experience points and level even faster in the game. It’s also especially helpful when you know you’ll be gone from the game from an extended period of time. The longer you rest, the more rested experience will accrue. So the next time you log out of the game, be sure to go to an inn and click “Go To Bed” to get that rested experience bonus!
Take a look at your experience bar—if there is a half-moon symbol next to your experience bar, then you can safely logout of the game and receive rested experience. Just remember in order to get the full rested experience bonus, you’ll need to talk to an Innkeep and select “Retire to an Inn room” and select “Exit game” by selecting the bed. The Inn room also has a retainer bell, a glamour chest, the crystal bell to change your appearance (the Aesthetician must be unlocked through a quest first), and more!
- Macros Aren’t Always Necessary
Macros are really great if you find yourself using the same abilities in repetition, but it can clog up the chat box quickly and the flashy noises it can set off can be very confusing for other players. Macros also create a delay in actions which can be really annoying if you need to use an ability in an instant. Generally, be kind and don’t use macros for fights. However, if you’re a tank I do recommend setting a macro for shirking to your off-tank, and as a healer, setting a macro to let the other healer know you’re raising a party member can also be very helpful. But that’s it! Don’t get carried away, okay?
If you’re new to macros and you don’t know where to start, try using the macro I’ve provided above. Simply navigate to the System Configuration panel from the main menu and select User Macros. From there, type in whatever you like and choose whatever icon you like and drag it to your hotbar. And voila! you’ve got yourself a macro.
- Watch The Enemy’s Castbar
When targeting an enemy, try hitting Alt-F on your keyboard. By hitting Alt-F, Focus Target will be applied, and it will become easier to keep track of an enemy’s attacks. The bar will remain up on your screen and it will display what the selected enemy is casting—this is especially useful if you’re a tank and you’re sitting on your stun to use against one special boss ability that could potentially wipe the team. Unlike some other multiplayer games, enemy-casted spells are not even closely tied to their animation. By seeing the castbar fill up, you can get in the habit of timing your abilities and getting yourself in the correct position for the next mechanic! Also get in the habit of actively casting and slide-casting and moving during battle.
- Read Your Tooltips
The majority of the Final Fantasy XIV player base is pretty patient with new players but it’s when they don’t read what their abilities do that makes some players really frustrated. I don’t mean to scare you off, it’s just the truth. Imagine sitting down to play a card game and one person hasn’t read how the game works even though you told them to a week in advance. Frustrating, right? As you level up, you’ll unlock new skills. Whenever you get a prompt telling you that you’ve unlocked a new talent, read what it does. Newcomers sometimes miss out on key interactions between new skills, such as the first time they gain skills that combo into each other. Other classes have moves that can only be used alongside other talents. It’s not clear that these interactions exist until you read each skill descriptions.
You can find a list of every skill you can learn on your selected job by opening the Main Menu, navigate to Character and finally Actions and Traits. You can even drag and drop all of these abilities on to your hotbar. You can also read your Traits to learn what they do as well. Traits cannot be placed on your hotbar but you should know what they do regardless.
If you haves questions about your abilities and what they do, ask a friend, ask in the comment section below or on my Twitch channel, or join the Final Fantasy XIV Balance Discord server (invite link). When you join the server, read the rules and select your role in the #Role_Selection channels. Wait a moment for the server to refresh, and ask your question in the appropriate #Role_Questions channel. The mods are there to help you so don’t be shy with your questions! Remember, there are no stupid questions.
- Give Player Commendations At The End!
At the end of every dungeon, you’ll get an opportunity to give commendations to other players for good gameplay. If you do this several times a week before the weekly challenge reset, you’ll get a very generous experience bonus!
- Complete Your Challenge Logs, Hunting Logs, and Crafting Logs
There are so many ways to get extra experience to quickly level the different classes in this game—by giving commendations, doing daily roulettes (such as the leveling roulette unlocked once players reach level 10 in the main story quest), or by completing logs such as the hunting log (seen above) or the gathering and crafting logs for Disciples of Land/Disciples of Hand. Also, if you complete these logs, you can get some cool miscellaneous in-game rewards such as a new title to show up to your friends and other players!
In addition to the Challenge Log and the Hunting Log, there are dailies that reset once daily or once per week that grant an experience bonus, tome bonus, etc. These can be viewed under the “Duty” menu and select “Timers”. Weekly crafting bonuses (called “Custom Deliveries”) reset once per week and there are a few other examples such as the Fashion Report, etc. that also reset once per week. To see your daily resets for battle instances, such as the leveling roulette, look under the Duty menu and select Duty Finder.
- Consider doing the Novice questline
If you are absolutely lost and have no idea what you’re doing, I recommend taking part in the Novice questline found in all major cities called “Hall of the Novice”. Hall of the Novice is a series of challenges designed to prepare new adventurers for party combat in Final Fantasy XIV and it’s incredibly helpful for those who don’t know where their abilities are or what they do. Upon completing the Hall of the Novice, you will receive a thirty-percent experience bonus ring that will boost your experience gain up to level thirty and you will receive some gear.
Take Your Time and Have Fun!
Most importantly, take your time playing Final Fantasy XIV. This is an incredibly huge game and there are so many different routes you can take to make the most of it: sink your time into the main story quest, finish your daily challenge and hunting logs, level one of the many different classes, or join a Free Company and make some friends! It’s all up to you! And even if you do purchase the newest expansion (Endwalker) and catch up on the main story content, there is plenty of end game content such as savage raids to keep you occupied until the next expansion.
I really love this game and I hope you will too! I play on the Primal data center and I am on the Hyperion server. My character’s name is Miss Moonie and I stream Final Fantasy XIV savage content every Friday and Sunday! I love helping new players and answering questions, so if you have time feel free to drop by my Twitch channel and hang out. I also stream Final Fantasy XIV and other games throughout the week.
I work as a freelance editor/writer for various publications such as IGN and How to Geek. Feel free to follow me on Twitter to get notifications on my published works here and elsewhere!
Image Credits: Square Enix
I was on the brink of quitting this game after 3 days in but this post has set me on a good path with a substantial foundation of knowledge and cohesive direction. The game was extremely overwhelming with so many new mechanics to learn. Every 20 minutes I had to learn a new system of mechanics, it was becoming daunting and I was getting fatigued. Now I have a good sense of direction and flow to best optimize my player experience. Thanks.
Wow…That’s great! I’m so so glad this article could be of some help to a newer player. Thank you so much for your kind feedback and welcome to Final Fantasy XIV!
Baddie. I found this guide to be of exceptional quality. I have not said out loud (until meow) but I have found your tips and tricks to be very worthwhile as I have leveled my pulgist to around 30. The tips provided in regards to how or level, hot bars and free company explanation I have found very, very useful. Thank you so much for creating such a well written beginners guide to ff14 it is obvious that you have a huge passion for this game and people.