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Final Fantasy 14 beginner's guide and tips

The sprout's syllabus
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A Final Fantasy 14 beginner’s guide is almost essential if you’ve never set foot in Square Enix’s MMO game before. Eorzea is vast and complicated, and FF14 doesn’t exactly fall over itself to help get newcomers started, let alone offer advice to make the experience smoother once you know what you’re doing.

Our Final Fantasy 14 beginner’s guide lays out some handy tips to make your life in Eorzea a bit easier while you’re getting up to speed.

If you're after more Final Fantasy 14 help, check out everything we know about the Xbox beta and how to change your appearance if you want a fresh look.

Stick to the story

A Final Fantasy 14 questgiver stands near a low stone parapet

If you see a quest with this marker, it's not essential.

Final Fantasy 14 throws so many side quests at you within the first 30 minutes alone. Every new settlement you reach has a rancher who’s too decrepit to fetch their own items or some disgruntled peasant who wants you to kill some monsters for them. These quests are usually well-written and have some nice lore attached, but you can – and should – pick and choose which ones you want to complete. If you’re leveling one job, maybe two, the main story quests will give you enough experience where you’ll rarely have to grind quests and dungeons to keep up.

Side quests are marked with an exclamation mark in a gold oval.

Keep up with your job (quests)

The exception to that story quest rule is your job questline. You unlock new job quests every five levels, and while they reward you with experience, they also unlock new job skills. Once you hit level 30, you’ll unlock the advanced version of that job – Rogue to Ninja, for example – though don’t forget to equip the corresponding Soul Crystal once you get it. Otherwise, you’ll still be in the original class.

Embrace your Fate(s)

A Final Fantasy 14 map showing a nearby FATE

Fates are marked by blue circles and pink icons, though some Fates in cities only have the pink icon.

Fates are like world events in other MMOs, challenges or battles that pop up in fixed places on rotation – raiding a bandit camp in the Black Shroud, for example, or defeating X number of monsters outside Limsa Lominsa. You get a sizeable chunk of XP, guild, and Grand Company currency for contributing and a smaller amount of each if you contribute, but don’t actually complete the objective. Fates are an excellent way to level up outside dungeons, so if you’re below level 15 or get fed up with the same dungeons, make sure to track down some Fates.

Visit the Hall of the Novice

The name might sound patronizing, but the Hall of the Novice is an excellent way to learn your combat role, which is a smart thing to learn, even if you’re playing solo. The hall has extended tutorials for damage, tank, and healer classes, where you can pick up basic skill rotations and good positioning to help you in tough battles.

Consider grabbing a grimoire

The grimoire-wielding Arcanist is an excellent class for beginner and even more advanced players. Arcanists have a smidge of support and healing at their disposal and a set of skill rotations that’s comparatively easy to pick up – good training for more complex jobs later in the game. It’ll easily see you through story encounters, and once you hit level 30, you unlock Summoner and Scholar simultaneously.

Create gear sets

A Final Fantasy 14 character menu with the gear set option highlighted

Gear sets, aka your ticket to not getting almost naked every time you change jobs.

Equipping new armor every time you change or update a class is a pain, but creating gear sets makes it much easier to deal with. A gear set records your job’s current equipment, and you can swap between sets with a single click on the character menu. Make sure to update the set once you get a new piece of equipment, too.

It’s not dangerous to go alone

Final Fantasy 14 might be an MMO, but it’s more single-player friendly than ever. As of Patch 6.55, Final Fantasy 14’s duty support system extends to almost all the main story dungeons in every expansion. Duty support lets you put a team of NPCs together to tackle dungeons with, so you can deal with each challenge at your own pace, anxiety-free. You don’t miss out on anything this way either, so pick whatever method you prefer.

Get your glam on

Barring a few exceptions, Final Fantasy 14’s early-level equipment looks awful. If you’re tired of walking around in giant sacks with oven mitts on your hands – for example – you can turn them into something else with glamours after reaching level 15 and completing the right quest. Glamour prisms are Final Fantasy 14’s transmog system. They let you put the appearance of one item on another without altering their stats, and while you need to actually own the item whose appearance you want to use, you can buy some from the market trading board with gil.

Save your gil

If you’re as RPG-brained as I was when I first played Final Fantasy 14, your first instinct might be to splash out for new gear when you reach new levels. Don’t. Equipment is expensive in Final Fantasy 14, and you can get much better equipment as dungeon loot. It might take several runs of a dungeon to get the items you want, but since you get gil and experience for completing dungeons, it’s not just a waste of time.

Activate your aetheryte

A Final Fantasy 14 Aetheryte

These crystals are how you get around cities quickly.

Most major settlements have one large aetheryte crystal, and the big cities have smaller aetheryte shards as well. The big ones are fast travel points that you can return to from the map or "teleport" option - for a price. The little ones help you get around more quickly, and if you unlock them all, you automatically unlock fast travel points for a city's main entrances as well. You'll be doing a lot of wandering around these locations, so it's a good idea to activate every crystal and shard to help get your business done more quickly.

Try before you buy

The free trial might exclude you from item trading, PvP, and a few other things, but it really is worth taking the free trial route anyway. It includes three expansions – the equivalent of three full Final Fantasy games – and enough of the MMO’s other features to give you a solid idea of whether you want to pay for a subscription.

Customize your hotbars

You can tailor your hotbars and layouts in whatever way suits you, and you should. You start with plenty of space for skills and items, but it fills up quickly. Easy access to your important abilities and restorative items makes the difference between winning a tough battle and getting chucked out to try again, so spend a few minutes to create a configuration that works for you.