So as mentioned in my last post, I went back to playing Final Fantasy XIV. I kind of resist admitting to “Flavor of the Month” temptations since it feels like there’s a negative connotation to that phrase, plus it gets thrown around a lot. I hear my friends referring to FFXIV as “FOTM” that everyone is going back to, but at the same time most of the chatter I see on Twitter is about going back to WoW to get ready for the next expansion and from my perspective that’s the game that “everyone” is going back to.
Not that any of this matters. What matters is having fun. If you find it fun to change MMOs twice a week then go for it, flavor-of-the-month or flavor-of-the-week accusations be damned! Anyway I’ve always been fond of FF XIV. Fond enough that I’ve been subscribed since launch even though months went by without me playing it. It was always something I intended to play ‘any minute now’ and so when I saw Dusty talking about the game it finally got me to log in. He was playing on Diabolos, I think, so I decided to roll a new character there. I got my dude just the way I liked him but oops, Diabolos was locked for new characters. So I randomly picked Marlboro.
At the same time Scarybooster was playing and he was determined to get to level 20. Only he was on Cactuar. Meanwhile Dusty went on vacation. So after a couple days on Marlboro I re-rolled AGAIN on Cactuar to lend moral support to Scary. That was Monday the 11th.
When I played FFXIV last Fall I got to about level 18 before running out of steam. My issue with FFXIV is that dungeons are mandatory. Let me explain that. Features of the game unlock as you play through the main story quest, and to do that you have to complete quests that require you to do dungeons. I had originally rolled a Gladiator not realizing it was a Tank (ie high stress) class so I really balked at doing the dungeons. I’m a determined solo-ist and I’m fine with skipping dungeons in most MMOs, but FFXIV pushed me out of that comfort zone.
Last Monday I rolled a Thaumaturge and quickly ran him up to 16 or 17 but I wasn’t really feeling it. I never play casters but I was just trying something new. So I switched jobs to Pugilist and he is now 22 and has done the first three mandatory dungeons. I did them with PUGs and they were all pretty fun once I got in them and got going.
I find that my anti-social anxiety actually peaks while waiting for the Duty Finder to pull together a group. I almost canceled my first dungeon queue several times, but once I got in there the group was asshat-free and it was a good time.
The second one was less so but I found that as a DPS as long as you’re not stupid people at worst don’t notice you. Not stupid, at these low levels, basically means don’t run ahead of the tank and activate dormant mobs, really. I can do that. I got a Player Commendation doing that dungeon so I must’ve either done something right or someone took pity on the new kid (when you roll a character in FFXIV there’s a little sapling icon next to your name so people know you’re new).
But what has really surprised me is that in a week I’ve leveled one job to 17 and a second to 22 and I’ve pushed the main storyline well past where I had it last fall at launch, even though I played for much longer at launch.
I don’t know if Square-Enix has reduced the leveling curve or if it’s because I’m playing differently than I did back then, but I wanted to share my playstyle with others because I seem to level faster than my friends newly come to the game (one evening I was playing at the same time as a friend was and in the time it took him to gain 1 level I gained 4).
My new system boils down to: Don’t be a completionist when it comes to Quests. Follow the main storyline quests and do just enough other quests to keep you at a good level for the main storyline. If you’re level 15 and you’re doing level 10-12 side-quests you’re both wasting your time and you’re ‘using up’ quests you might want if you decide to switch to another class later.
You can get a lot of experience doing Fates and completing your Hunting Log, as well as doing Guildleves the 1st time (you get bonus exp the first time you do them ) and doing them via the Duty Roulette (again, bonus exp for doing them that way). Eventually you’ll unlock the Challenge Log and that’s another good source of exp.
For your gear, keep it upgraded by buying gear from NPC vendors. It’s cheap and you’ll outgrow it really quickly. If there’s a level-appropriate quest that gives you gear you need, by all means do it, but it seems to me quests give you the same gear that vendors sell, at these low levels.
Once you start doing the dungeons you’re likely to get gear from them that is better than solo quest and NPC sold stuff, and you get tons of exp doing those things. So you might want to re-run them (again, using Duty Roulette for bonus exp).
In addition to gaining levels there’s a bunch of stuff you can unlock as you go. I found this great list at GamerEscape that tells you when and how to unlock stuff. Via that link I was prompted to go unlock the silly dances, the wolf and coerl (cat) minions (non-combat pets) and the oh-so-flamboyant Aesthetician (Barber). Not only are these unlocks pretty easy and a fun diversion, they also give you experience.
Basically it feels like everything you do in FFXIV is giving you experience and quests are only one of many ways to earn it. So don’t bother doing quests that are lower level than you unless they unlock something specific you need, and you’ll level up like the wind!