I thought I might share a few tips about Square-Enix’s Final Fantasy XIV, now that it’s in Open Beta. I am NOT an expert on the game but I’ve played enough to figure out some of the frustrations newbies have.
First let’s talk about pacing. FF XIV is 1 part MMO, 1 part adventure game. The pace of it is pretty slow, there’s lots of text to read, lots of in-engine cut scenes to set the mood. Lots of conversations with NPCs, plenty of story to uncover. If you’re looking for a fast-paced game, FF XIV probably isn’t right for you. On the other hand, if you love single player Final Fantasy games, FF XIV will be right up your alley.
Second, interface. Hot topic. FF XIV uses its own interface. If you’re used to mouse-driven MMO’s you’ll hate the interface here. You will use the mouse, but the primary control device is the keyboard. Tab will select a target and Enter will interact with that target. (You can click on a target if you prefer.) To progress a conversation, hit Enter again. F toggles between fighting and passive stances. 1 on the numeric keypad toggles between walking and running. R toggles auto-run. – on the numeric keypad opens the main menu. Spacebar opens the chat input window. Basically it’s worth having a look at the keyboard bindings in the configuration menu.
The mouse is mostly used for camera control. At least, that’s how I’ve been playing.
[The following assumes you've started as an adventurer class, not a craftsperson.]
OK so you finally start the game, create a character, enter a city… the first bit you’ll go through is like a prolog that sets up how you’ve arrived at this new city. This is an instance and no other players are in it. It’ll end with a battle. Once you finish that you’ll zone out of the instance. There’ll be some NPCs nearby (green names). Talk to them. No, they won’t have ! over their heads. One will offer to escort you to the adventurer’s guild (I’ve done 2 of the 3 [?] starter cities and am assuming they all start the same.) Accept and a cut-scene will show you arriving at the destination.
Once you get to the Adventurer’s Guild, talk to the nearest NPC. He/she ought to give you the option of “Small Talk” (back story, basically) or a quest name. You can always open the main menu and check your Journal to find out who you need to talk to. Once you engage this person (and yeah, you might need to talk to a couple NPCs before you find the right one) s/he’ll chat you up and then send you out to a camp in the wilderness. This is the start of a chain of quests that teaches you the game.
Finding your way might not be easy. There’re two maps you can check. Hit M to see a generic map of the area, and check your quest journal to show a map localized on your destination. Step 1 is getting out of the city. I’ve been in two starting cities. The one that’s a port town was a bitch to get out of. The desert town was much easier. Anyway, finding your way around the city is part of the game; there’s not a lot of hand-holding here. Once you get outside it should be relatively easy to find the camp you’ve been directed to. Look at the Quest Journal’s map and compare the landmarks with your ‘big’ [M] map. Off you go.
When you get to the camp you’ll find a big crystal in the middle of it. When you get near it you’ll notice (or not) an icon floating near the top of your window. What I do at this point is open the main menu (- on the numpad, or click the icon) and at the top of the list you’ll see Aetheryte or whatever this crystal is called. At about the same time you contact from the Adventurer’s Guild will be talking to you via text chat.
Bottom line is, you’ll get a bunch of options off this crystal. First pick the Tome one…that’s a quickie user manual. Take the time to read it. Yeah I know, you want to kill. Read it anyway. Once that’s done, initiate the levequest from the crystal. You should be offered a buff. Accept that too. You’ll be prompted for a difficulty level. Pick Solo. The levequest will be to kill a few mobs…and now you’ll see a glowie arrow on the edge of your minimap. Follow that to the area where the mobs are. You’ll see them as pulsing orange circles on the mini map when you get near.
Time to fight! Target the mob, then hit F to go into Attack Mode. Right now you have 1 attack, bound to the 1 key. So hit it and you’ll attack the mob. Hit it again and again. You’ll see there’s a stamina meter that goes down but I’m not sure it’s possible to run out of stamina at this point. There is no auto-attack; you have to spam that 1 key. Position counts and if you really want the practice you can try to circle-strafe behind the baddie but it probably won’t be necessary.
Between fights if you need to heal, hit F to go out of attack mode.
If the mob drops loot it’ll go into your inventory. Don’t bother trying to click on the corpse. As far as I can tell that does nothing (maybe later you might be able to harvest from it?).
Once you’ve killed your requisite # of mobs a glowy spire will appear next to you. Interact with that (Main Menu, top choice) to reap the rewards of the levequest and teleport you back to camp.
OK you’re done here, time to run back to the city, to the adventurer’s guild. Your contact will tell you about actions. Yup, you weren’t paying attention but you earned some new skills.
Setting up skills is obtuse as hell.
1) Open the main menu, then Actions & Traits
2) On the right panel you’ll see an empty dropdown menu. Drop it down to reveal Sword, or Axe, or Bow, or whatever your weapon is.
3) Choose that weapon and you’ll see you’ve got 2 or 3 new skills that aren’t slotted
4) On the left side, click on the box next to your default skill. We’re going to bind a skill to the 2 key, that’s the second box
5) Now click the skill you want to bind over on the right side.
6) A pop-up window appeared, outside of the Actions & Traits panel. Awkward! Click “Equip in Main Hand” to bind the skill to the 2 key
Well, unless you have a shield skill or something, then I guess you’d equip it in your off hand.
Now talk to your Adventurer’s Guild contact, and s/he start you on a series of quests to explore the city.
I guess that’s enough for today. Hope this helps you get started and helps you avoid some of the frustrations that you might encounter.
Note: Final Fantasy XIV is not going to be for everybody. In fact, it isn’t going to be for most people. If you tried it and hated it, that’s fine, but don’t post a comment here. I’ll remove it if you do. There’re plenty of places on the web to bitch about how much FF XIV sucks.
I’m trying to put together a place where people (like me) who are enjoying the game, or are willing to give something different a try, can come and get a bit of help and/or ask questions. I don’t mean to come across as an ass but, well, I just want this to stay on topic, and the topic is helping other fans of the game learn to play.