So let’s keep rolling on, assuming that you’ve been progressing along in the main story to unlock the other two “intro” dungeons. These three dungeons are all a bit on the tedious and tutorial side, but they at least unlock your low-level roulette (immensely valuable) and start you down the road to understanding the game’s dungeon mechanics. It’s a game of easy enemies and hard bosses, and the next leg of the journey demonstrates exactly how much emphasis is placed upon the boss battles.
Stage 5: Embers and Companies
The main scenario quests that lead you to the Bowl of Embers introduce you to a very important part of FFXIV: trials. These are long, extended boss fights that are very mechanics-heavy while doing away with nonsense like trash pulls altogether. A lot of them show up in the endgame, but during the main story you wind up in three that introduce you to the concept. Don’t panic; your first trial is pretty simple and requires only basic group coordination.
After you’ve hacked up a Primal, you’ll be given the opportunity to join a Grand Company. The short version is that your choice of company is largely cosmetic and political, with more long-term impact related to which nation you most closely align with. You can also change your grand company later if you like; the only restriction is that you can’t wear gear from a Grand Company you aren’t currently a member of.
More relevant to the leveling process is that your Grand Company unlocks your first real alternate currency in the form of Grand Company seals, which can be exchanged for pretty good gear to fill a variety of slots as you level and rank up. Earning more is as easy as taking part in Grand Company levequests, which can be performed only solo but are usually quite rewarding for time spent otherwise. Using normal levequests and grand company levequests in concert can make leveling other classes an absolute breeze.
Around the same time that you unlock all of this, you can also unlock your first optional dungeon, Halatali. There are five dungeons that you can “miss” insofar as you might not pick up the quests as you’re leveling along; fortunately these quests are chiefly located in Vesper Bay, which you will come back to frequently. Halatali is worth doing for a bit of extra gear, experience, and the later hard mode.
Stage 6: Ventures, management, options
It’s easy to miss everything else pushing forward, and it’s honestly not your top priority when you first hit level 17, but you can expand your retainer functionality by picking up a quick quest in any of the three major cities dubbed An Ill-Conceived Venture. That quest unlocks the option to send your retainers on ventures, which is a great way to get some extra items and gil.
Ventures allow you to set your retainer up with a selected class and equipment, so long as you’ve unlocked the class yourself. Your retainer is stuck a few levels below your own in the class until you hit 50, which coincidentally means that if you choose your main class for your retainer, your hand-me-down gear will work for a good portion of the leveling process. Ventures can be bought for Grand Company seals or received as rewards from levequests randomly. (There are a few other ways to grab them, but they’re largely irrelevant while leveling.)
By this point, you’re probably humming right along with leveling, since you have a lot of options when deciding what to do. It’s quite possible that if you’re doing a bunch of leves for Grand Companies and ventures, you’re going to be hurtling past the main scenario quests in terms of level. When that happens, it’s honestly best to focus on the main scenario and leave any sidequests uncompleted; they’ll be useful for leveling later classes, since quests cannot be repeated. And don’t forget your class quests every five levels!
Stage 7: Jobs and onward
When you hit level 30, your class quests wrap up. That’s just a thing that happens. You also have the option of unlocking your Job. Jobs are more focused versions of your existing classes and allow you access to very powerful abilities at the cost of flexibility… by which I mean that there’s never any reason not to use your Job outside of very, very narrow situational builds.
Each Job can equip abilities from two other classes and requires one other class at level 15 in order to unlock. In no particular order:
- Paladin: Gladiator 30, Conjurer 15 (also uses Marauder)
- Warrior: Marauder 30, Gladiator 15 (also uses Pugilist)
- Ninja: Rouge 30, Pugilist 15 (also uses Lancer)
- Dragoon: Lancer 30, Marauder 15 (also uses Pugilist)
- Monk: Pugilist 30, Lancer 15 (also uses Marauder)
- Bard: Archer 30, Pugilist 15 (also uses Lancer)
- Black Mage: Thaumaturge 30, Archer 15 (also uses Arcanist)
- Summoner: Arcanist 30, Thaumaturge 15 (also uses Archer)
- Scholar: Arcanist 30, Conjurer 15 (also uses Thaumaturge)
- White Mage: Conjurer 30, Arcanist 15 (also uses Thaumaturge)
While you are not absolutely forced to go back and level something else to get your job as soon as possible, it is highly recommended. This also allows you to pick up some vital cross-class abilities as well; a large number of the most important abilities are either before the 15 mark or very close to it. Swiftcast is the most vital casting ability that can cause issues with casting classes, as it’s earned at level 26 and can be nigh-on necessary for endgame play as a White Mage or Scholar.
Once you have your prerequisites unlocked, you can go and pick up the intro job quest, which will earn you a soul crystal. Equip that on your character and voila: Now you’re in a Job. Each quest unlocks another ability, and earning experience as your Job funnels back into the main class, so you have no real need to swap back and forth unless you’re doing solo leveling stuff as a Summoner while focusing on Scholar.
From there on out… there’s more to cover, but this should help you get your feet underneath you in the game even if you’ve never played before. Feedback, like always, is welcome in the comments below or via mail to email@example.com. Next time around, I’ll be talking about the Gold Saucer after having at least a little time to play around with it.