I’m going to assume that no one needs any suggestions about finishing the content that’s already available in the game; if you haven’t done the Hildibrand story yet, well, there’s enough content to keep you occupied for a week or so right off the bat. But let’s assume that you’ve kept up with the story and within a week of the second half of this patch, you’ll know what there is to be done. What can you use to fill in the gap other than grinding?
Level a secondary character
Perhaps you’re one of those weird roleplayers who likes having multiple characters, perhaps you want to experience the main story again, or perhaps you just want to try being a roegadyn without quaffing a Fantasia. If you’re dedicated, it’s not going to be all that difficult to get a totally new character to 50 before the expansion hits, and you can probably even clear your way through the main story along the way. Not without some difficulties, but still.
It’s a kind of weak way to fill up the content gap, of course. “Just roll another character” is a tacit admission that you have nothing left to do in terms of content. But it can be a fun sideline and something to do when you’ve eaten through the game on your main character, not to mention that it’s your chance to see the storyline from starting nations you may have skipped over in the past.
Learn how to make money
Other people have pointed out that there’s no such thing as telling people “this is how you make money in Final Fantasy XIV” because the market is, well, a market. If I tell everyone that Bronze Ingots are big money, even if it happens to be true on every server at the time, then people flood the market with Bronze Ingots and suddenly they aren’t worth anything. Making money in the game is less a matter of knowing items and prices and more about understanding systems.
You have to learn how to maintain a steady income in the game, and studying the markets during the downtime is as good a time as any to start understanding how everything flows together. Yes, it’s almost certain — and by “almost” I mean “completely” — that the best ways to make money will change between 2.55 and 3.0. That’s part of the point. You want to learn how you can make money and apply it to the future so that when the patch rolls around, you’ll be ready to generate cash in the new world.
If you intend to be crafting in the expansion, you’re going to need shards, crystals, and clusters. There are some common crafting materials that you may or may not need, but it can’t hurt to have them on hand in a reasonable stack. Some lower-level potions wouldn’t go amiss. Perhaps you’d like to have seals in hand for when the new jobs are yours so you can kit them out… or just so you can fling yourself up new ranks as fast as possible.
I don’t really consider this pure grinding, although it’s a close cousin, but it’s really just stocking your larder for a predictable upcoming rainy day. Even if you have no intention of crafting or gathering in a serious capacity, you can nab some low-level gear for the new jobs and possibly some materia to give them a jump in power. It’s not ideal, perhaps, but it’s enough to split the difference.
Hunts and PvP
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that odds are low you’re still super-fixated on hunting, and PvP has never been a major draw for most of the game’s players. It’s a long climb up those ranks, after all; it’s the sort of thing that’s perfect to do when you have a big stretch of time and not much else going on. Oh look, here we are, there’s a long gap and plenty of cosmetic gear to be earned, and whatever shall we do?
While it’s quite possible and even likely that neither side will be directly relevant on your overall performance or care about PvP, there’s a lot of cool-looking stuff to grab, and the equipment from Wolf Marks is pretty. As long as you have a whole chunk of time during which nothing else is taking place, it makes perfect sense to fill out those gaps piece by piece.
Try something you’ve never cared much about
As has been said many a time by others, it’s hard to be done with the content in Final Fantasy XIV. You can be done with the stuff that interests you, but you can hardly be done with everything. So odds are good that the lull will see you with at least a few pieces of content that you have yet to complete.
Now’s the time to give all of that a shot. Try the Extreme Primal fights. Take part in Ultima’s Bane, which is great fun if kind of pointless. Spend some time gathering Triple Triad cards. Train your chocobo, even! With the specter of progression no longer hanging over your head, you might find it far more fun than you had previously considered.
Feedback, as always, is welcome by mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) or via the comments below. Next time around, a look at where we are now in the story and my speculation about where we’ll be when the chips finally fall.