I have made no secret with the fact that following Wildstar’s shut down and the let-down that was World of Warcraft’s latest expansion, Battle for Azeroth, that I’ve been left without an MMORPG to call home. Thankfully, my wandering soon took me to my new home, Final Fantasy 14, which I’ve now been playing for a couple of months. For those who are looking for a new MMORPG, here are my early opinions on FF14 from the perspective of a new player.
Starting out in an already established MMORPG is a daunting prospect for many, and I certainly had my fears when logging onto FF14 for the first time. However, I have found the game to be surprisingly beginner friendly. For those who are completely unfamiliar with the game, a player starts by creating a character with a choice of race and feature customisations. The player then choses a starting class from the following options:
Gladiator – Tank
Marauder – Tank
Arcanist – DPS (Ranged)
Archer – DPS (Ranged)
Lancer – DPS (Melee)
Pugilist – DPS (Melee)
Rogue – DPS (Melee)
Thaumaturge – DPS (Ranged)
Conjurer – Healer
Each of the above classes have their own quest chain in which the early quests will teach you all the skills you need to get a good grip on the class’s rotation and style of play. The class you choose at the start, you will have to stick with for the first 10 levels, once you reach level 10 a quest will be unlocked that will allow you to swap between classes. This means that instead of needing to level new character to experience different classes, in FF14 you can swap to any class you have unlocked by just switching your weapon. New classes are unlocked by simply visiting their guild, once you reach the required level, and starting the class quest chain.
New combat classes aren’t the only thing unlocked when you hit level 10. There are also a number of gathering and crafting roles on offer. The crafting system in FF14 is expansive and can prove quite a distraction for new players, taking you away from the main storyline. Luckily, FF14 is available on a trial which will allow you to play for free up to the level of 35, so time isn’t really an issue in the early game. To this point, I’ve started all but one of the gathering and crafting jobs. Once you progress off the free trial and onto the paid service, crafting, particularly the raw materials such as ingots, can prove quite a good money spinner for new players. So, if you have your eyes on getting that apartment as soon as you hit 50, this is the way to get the required Gil.
That being said, a number of crafting recipes require resources crafted by other crafting/ gathering roles which can lead to an avalanche of roles if, like me, you refuse to purchase off the market place (other players) what with a little effort you could make yourself. Crafting and gathering roles added a lot of time to my journey from level 1 to 50, as each role will level independently. If you are easily bored by gathering and crafting then it might be better not to start it right away, and to concentrate on getting one combat class to level 50/60 or 70 before going back to explore the crafting and gathering roles. For me, I find these roles a welcome change of pace as well as a good source of income.
When you start your first class, you’ll also start the main storyline quest chain. It’s important to remember that this main quest chain can currently only be played through once per character which needs to be taken into consideration when choosing which class to level first. As with many MMORPGs dungeons and other group content is quicker to access with a Tank and Healer role as those are more in demand. Playing as a DPS will bring some lengthy dungeon queues, many of which have to be completed as part of the main quest chain. Many players advise that a player level a DPS class first, to make the most of the experience and equipment rewards of the main quest chain as levelling new classes without the main quest chain will mostly rely on random dungeon queues and repeatable quests (Fates/ Levemetes). However, the lack of the benefits of the main quest chain when levelling new classes has been offset by a EXP bonus granted for any class below a character’s highest.
My first role levelled was a tank and while I have found levelling a subsequent DPS class a struggle, when you hit 50 with any combat class, as long as you have the game’s expansions registered to your account, Heavensward and Stormblood, then you can access two new classes, Red Mage and Samurai, both DPS and both of which start at level 50. This has proved a handy addition as before you can start the first expansion’s content, Heavenward, you need to complete the end game quest chains for A Realm Reborn which is an additional 100 level 50 quests. Having more roles to choose from does make this slog easier. While I found the community very friendly and tolerant of my novice tanking, tanking the 8 man dungeons and trials that pop up at level 50 was a step beyond what I was willing to do on a first attempt, and so I passed the content by DPSing 8 mans and tanking 4 mans.
As mentioned above, I found the FF14 community to be very friendly and welcoming and while part of this is certainly down to the playerbase it is helped along by SquareEnix’s design of the grouping and dungeon system. A new player starts with the novice tag which displays a seedling icon next to their name showing that that player is new. There is also a novice chat group which allows new players to as veteran players for advice. This system also, at least in the early game, seems to group new players in dungeons with a mentor (a volunteer veteran player) to help new players get to grips with the dungeons tactics and mechanics. Further to this, the first time a player completes a dungeon the whole group gets a bonus to EXP, Gil and at level 50 tokens to recompense from the need for a slower run. This is a very clever way to reduce the frustration and the “Gogogo!” mentality shown frequently in other MMORPGs when veterans and new players are mixed in group content, as having new players in a group drastically increase the reward gained on completion. This make starting out in FF14 dungeons a surprisingly painless experience in contrast with many other MMORPGs.
All in all, as I complete the end of the A Realm Reborn quest chain and ready myself for the content of the first expansion, I have to say that I am enjoying myself immensely in FF14. I would advise anyone currently looking for a new MMORPG to try to give the trial a whirl, either on PC or PS4.