Beginning Final Fantasy 14 Online is a huge undertaking, but we’re here to make it easier and faster.
With hundreds of hours of gameplay available, this massive game can feel daunting. You’ll encounter dozens of quests and questions while embarking on your adventure — even before the next expansion, Endwalker, arrives later this year.
In this FFXIV beginner’s guide, we’ll help you through some of the most important questions and decisions you’ll make as you get going.
Table of contents
We’ve organized our guide into several sections.
First, we explain what’s behind the game — things like what you should know before you begin, what you can get for free, and what you should (and shouldn’t) expect at the (very long, but also free) beginning. Then we show you how to build a character, pick a class, and choose between quests. We finish up with a selection of our best tips and tricks for FFXIV.
- What’s included in the free trial?
- The big caveat about starting FFXIV
- How to create a character
- How to choose a class
- Understanding quests and icons
- Understanding dungeons, trials, raids, and online play
- Tips and tricks
What’s included in the free trial?
For new players, start with the game’s free trial. It offers hundreds of hours of gameplay and introduces the game’s world. It’s better to see if playing something as involved as FFXIV is worth it before you spend a single penny on new expansions and a monthly subscription.
The free trial of FFXIV includes A Realm Reborn (the game’s base story), and the first expansion, Heavensward. Together, these two stories — and the several patches in between, which act as short stories that bridge the gaps between expansions — are easily over 100 hours of content. New players can play A Realm Reborn through Heavensward for free, without restrictions or a monthly fee.
Once you advance beyond that point, you’ll need to purchase new expansions and a paid subscription.
The big caveat about starting FFXIV
The base game, A Realm Reborn, is a bit of a slog. It’s a hard sell to tell beginners that the first 50 hours are going to be a bit slow before the game gets great.
The current version has been trimmed down by at least 13%, but it still can seem slow.
For those who stick through it, there’s a huge game and community waiting for you on the other side. Findings friends to play with will make the game more enjoyable. Both of the veterans on staff bounced off the game a few times before falling in love with it, and it didn’t stick until finding a partner to play with.
We realize that not everyone may have friends to play with, so if you’re going in solo, keep in mind that the FFXIV’s community is very welcoming to newcomers. Starting players will have a sprout icon next to their character name. Experienced players treat new players with respect and are often eager to help.
How to create a character
Creating a character in FFXIV is one of the most important decisions you’ll make because you’ll spend hundreds of hours with this hero.
You’ll have several options:
- Race determines how you look, but it doesn’t have a large effect on your stats. Pick a race that looks interesting to you like the human-like Hyur, the adorable Lalafell, or the beast-like characters the Hrothgar and Viera.
- Clan offers slight differences between each race, but in the long run, these won’t matter much.
- Gender doesn’t offer any differences in how each race performs, but the Hrothgar are only male and Viera are only female.
Once you’ve made those decisions, you can begin designing your character. If ever want to change how your character looks later, you have plenty of options.
The last step to creating is choosing your birthday and patron deity. As far as our experience shows, these decision will have no effect on your game.
Once your character is created, you’ll need to choose a data center. Unless you plan on playing with friends on specific servers, feel free to pick whatever server is available in your region. There are bonuses for choosing lesser populated servers, so keep that in mind if you don’t have a preference on what server you play on.
How to choose a class
Choosing your starting class is the biggest early decision you’ll make. Your class determines the play style you’ll experience for dozens, if not hundreds of hours of play time. The class you choose at the beginning of the game also dictates where your story begins.
You can eventually switch classes later in the game. In fact, you can play every single type of class on a single character, but to start, you should pick one class archetype and stick to it while you get comfortable.
Understanding roles, classes, and jobs
You have a choice between classes that fall into Disciples of War and Disciplines of Magic. Those distinctions are helpful, but it’s more important to understand their combat roles.
Every character type in FFXIV fits one of three combat roles: tanks, healers, and damage dealers known as DPS. Knowing these three archetypes is important because multiplayer portions of the games, like dungeons, will rely on those roles when matching you with other players.
Tanks lead the charge in battle and have blue character icons. They draw attention in combat away from their team and are able to withstand punishment. Most tanks have skills that allow them to support themselves and stand in the face of enemies without fear.
Healers support their team with spells that keep their allies alive and have green character icons. Their abilities restore health in a large burst or over time, and they use shields to protect themselves. Healers can also dispel any negative status effects that enemies cast on the party. While healers can participate in combat, their main focus is keeping an eye on their party and supporting them.
DPS characters come in three styles: melee, physical ranged, and magic ranged, all of which have red character icons. Damage dealers all excel in attacks that whittle away at their opponents’ life. Attacks might focus on a single target, a wide area, over time, or derive from a summoned companion. DPS characters may have some abilities that can support their party, but their main goal is attacking enemies.
Close-range fighters have a unique quality to their combat: positionals. Some attacks are are more effective if they hit enemies from a certain angle, like their backs. So in addition to getting up close and personal to fight, melee DPS characters also need to be mindful of where they are hitting their enemies.
There are nearly 20 different jobs to choose from in FFXIV. To help you decide on the best one to pick, check out our FFXIV job guide.
Understanding quests and icons
As you adventure through FFXIV, you’ll meet dozens of characters with different icons over their heads. At first, it isn’t clear who you should be accepting quests from.
When starting the game, always focus on the quests displayed in your main scenario guide, shown on the top left of your screen. 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.
Main scenario quests
As a beginner, focus on the main scenario quests (MSQ).
Main scenario quest 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.
New features, next class/job quest
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. 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.
Hall of Novice quests
If you want to master FFXIV, then seek out the Hall of Novice quests, represented by a gold icon with a green sprout. These short tutorial missions train you to play the game and master the responsibilities of the role your class/job falls under.
You’ll also run across dozens of side quests that you can do for smaller amounts of experience, but you can mostly ignore them. Side quests are displayed with gold icons with exclamation points.
You can find a full list of other icons you might see while adventuring on the official FFXIV guide.
Understanding dungeons, trials, raids, and online play
You can play large parts of the main story quests on your own, but you must complete dungeons, trials, and raids with other players. These cooperative events happen frequently throughout FFXIV and are mandatory to move the story forward.
Dungeons, trials, and raids match players based on their role types. For instance, most dungeons that take place in the story require a team of one tank, one healer, and two DPS players. (Class and job don’t matter.)
Dungeons are story missions that take place in a specific area. Think of them like levels or maps in other video games. The party of matched players will navigate the maze-like dungeon defeating enemies, solving small environmental puzzles, fighting a few mini-bosses, and completing the adventure by defeating a boss at the end. As the game progresses, the dungeons get more complicated and the bosses will have unique mechanics that all players need to be aware of to survive.
Trials are difficult boss encounters that require a team to overcome. The enemies you fight in trials are large-scale adversaries that demand teamwork. The combat in trials will test your ability to pay attention to a boss character’s special attacks more than you would during dungeons. Trials might also have special mechanics that you need to juggle while fighting the boss.
Raids are combat encounters that require multiple parties to team up to overcome. You won’t take part in any of these early in the game, but they do become more common as you progress through the game. Normal raids requires eight players and are similar to trials, although they are far more difficult. Alliance raids are large-scale encounters similar to dungeons, but require 24 characters to participate.
Once you encounter several of the cooperative challenges, you can do roulettes and replay them whenever you like. These are a great way to level up fast. You can find your available roulettes in the Duty Finder from the main menu.
FFXIV tips and tricks
To help you get the most out of the game, here are several FFXIV tips and tricks worth knowing.
Interact with Aetheryte for fast travel
Whenever you enter a new area, you’ll have to get everywhere by foot. At the beginning of FFXIV, you do a lot of running around. It’s annoying until you find Aetheryte — crystals that act as fast travel points between the game’s massive map.
Whenever you find a new Aetheryte, interact with it, and you’ll become attuned to it, which means that it becomes a teleportation point. Once you do this, you can fast travel.
Large Aetherytes are usually found in cities and settlements across the world. Using the Teleport command, you can travel to these for a distance-based fee. You’ll automatically learn this skill once you attune to your first Aetheryte out in the open world.
When in a large city, like the ones your story starts in, 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 them. Then you can travel to those crystals for free within the city.
Always eat first
Before starting any quest or dungeon, be sure to eat some food. You can find food from various vendors all over each settlement and town. Eating food gives you the Well Fed buff for 30 minutes. This status effect increases all XP gained by 3%. It’s not a ton, but it’s a best practice to do before any adventuring to level up faster.
Learn what your skills do before using them
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.
By default, new skills are automatically added to the next available slot in your skills menu. Highlight the skill and get an overlay that appears explaining what the skill does.
You can also go to Main Menu > Character > Actions & Traits to look at your skills. You’ll find a full list of your current and future talents. Highlight the skill you want to check out and read the overlay that appears.