Wisdom of Nym: Why does Final Fantasy XIV feel so much better now?

Ideas face challenges when born.
It took me a very long time to cap out everything in Final Fantasy XIV when Heavensward was current. Until the moogle questline was introduced, my crafting jobs languished pretty badly. I could have gotten more materials and worked on them, but some of that required leather, and since my options were farming that myself or sending out retainers on ventures… well, that meant leveling Warrior, I didn’t want to bother, it didn’t happen. It took a long time.

By contrast, right now with Stormblood, I’m already halfway done with the leveling of combat jobs. My overall goal of leveling everything to 70 plus all of my alts should be done by mid-November. I know that later today, I’m going to be getting at least two more levels, maybe more, and I’m well on my way to my goals. And I’m not bored or putting in the time, I’m excited.

I’ve seen this sentiment going around from other people, too. There’s a general sense that leveling and just playing is much more fun with Stormblood. So what’s the difference? Why is it that now leveling up seems like less of a chore, when the usual methods of leveling quickly (FATE trains) have basically dried up to nothing?

More roulettes and options

This took a lot of doing.When Heavensward launched, you realistically had one option for leveling via group content, and that was the leveling roulette. It was slow, it was once per day, and it didn’t really offer much of an experience boost. You’d still do it because it made sense, but it didn’t exactly light anyone on fire. It was good enough for what you needed (experience) but not terribly compelling.

At this point, though, your options for daily quick content are leveling, 50/60 dungeons, and trials. By the time you get level 50 (and all of the new jobs start right there), you have all three options available, and they provide an aggressive stream of experience. And that’s just for the starting point. You have Hunts available that provide useful and welcome rewards out of the gate rather than gating everything behind some vanity pets and upgrade items to very slowly bring your uncapped tomestone stuff up to par. You’ve got FATEs that can spawn with experience bonuses. You can even dip back into Palace of the Dead if you’re so inclined.

While FATE grinding was always efficient, it was never really very fun. It was spamming AoEs and watching things die. By adding in the random experience boost, the era of the FATE party seems to have largely died off in the open world; it makes more sense to jump in on a FATE that seems particularly rewarding rather than just circling and hoping. And when you have so many other options for leveling? You’re more inclined to do different things, to queue up, to get into other bits of content.

This, then, is definitely a part of why it’s more fun to level up now. Even though we don’t have the beast tribe quests that I am sure will come along with patch 4.1 (and probably will work like Heavensward quests by allowing you to sync the quest to your level), you have a surfeit of options that allow you to make real progress on an aggressive timetable. That alone encourages more play and more leveling.

Better class play

All that extra salt makes Dragoons tastier, too.I have no doubt that Machinist was better in terms of actual damage output in Heavensward. But it’s a lot more fun now.

There are a lot of threads about how most jobs have wider “dead zones” for abilities than before, but the big difference I’ve noticed – which is very relevant in dungeons – is that pretty much every job gets a quicker introduction to its core gameplay mechanics. That means that lower-level dungeons feel less like playing a hopelessly reduced version of the job and the meandering middle portion is usually bypassed fast enough that you don’t notice the dead zones too badly. You can do stuff.

More to the point, the addition of job gauges has, at worst, just refined what you already do with the job. In most cases, it means that the gameplay focuses more around enjoying the feel of the job and less about exploiting obscure timing rules. There’s less emphasis on precise timing for oGCD abilities and more emphasis on the strategy involved in execution, planning your next move, figuring out your rotation and making the most of it.

Put simply, the whole thing just feels more fun. There are jobs that I feel have lost small bits of what made them fun along the way, but even those jobs feel more fun to play overall. Monk might not have gotten a massive overhaul, but the subtle shifts to it have made me enjoy playing it far more than I had in Heavensward. Leveling Paladin felt like filling out my toolbox and getting new tricks that fit together logically, rather than getting a mire of abilities at odd levels with often questionable utility.

Some people are going to be less happy with their jobs; I know that there are some long-standing Summoner complaints about the new interplay between Dreadwyrm Trance and other Aetherflow abilities, which is going to be hard to get over if you’re used to the job. But for my money, if you get used to the way things feel now, they seem more fun to me.

This goes for crafting and gathering, too. Crafting abilities feel like upgrades, rather than strange additions I had never wanted that have questionable use in most situations; they’re not always absolute 100% upgrades, but you see how they work. But some of that falls under the next header, as well.

Fewer chores

The definition of a chore is, of course, variable.I think one of the most illustrative faults with Heavensward crafting was a quest requiring you to make an HQ hammer… only to reward you with an NQ hammer. Not finishing the quest was a more substantial upgrade. That is messed up.

Heavensward was better about some of this than the base game, but it still had a whole lot of arbitrary and generally unwelcome chores. Not just with crafting, either; gathering quests felt arbitrary and often far harder than they needed to be, combat jobs had to slip back to often inconvenient locales to advance stories and actual learn new abilities, and so forth. Heck, crafting also required elaborate side-trips to get old materials just to make new things.

By contrast, Stormblood crafting and gathering quests task you with crafting and gathering things that are only there for those quests, usually more easily than if you had to make something on-level. The combat quests only offer one ability at 70 and a full set of left-side gear. You get the sense that while these quests are sometimes a bit tedious, they’re not being drawn out or made more tedious just to test your patience.

And I think that’s ultimately one of the big things I take away, what makes me feel eager to keep leveling along and progressing. I don’t feel like I’m being constantly asked to stop what I’m doing and go fulfill a chore to be rewarded; another level is its own reward. Doing the quests involves getting rewards that feel, well, rewarding. It feels like a lot of things have combined to streamline things without ever making the world feel smaller or simplified.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to go get some leveling roulettes in on one of my alts. You can leave your comments down below or mail them in to eliot@massivelyop.com; it’s really all up to you.

The Nymian civilization hosted an immense amount of knowledge and learning, but so much of it has been lost to the people of Eorzea. That doesn’t stop Eliot Lefebvre from scrutinizing Final Fantasy XIV each week in Wisdom of Nym, hosting guides, discussion, and opinions without so much as a trace of rancor.

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Major Glitch

Maybe someday I’ll fall back in love with FFXIV, but sadly, today is not that day. I keep reading Eliot’s articles hoping some bit of new info will reignite my passion for the game, but after a year away I think I’m starting to realize and accept that I am over it. Eorzea is a beautifully designed world full of fascinating characters and rich in lore, but sadly Eorzea is also a BORING place to live. IMHO, FFXIV’s biggest problem is that playing it even semi-seriously feels like having a job. A job in which you’re tasked with grinding gear, and once you’re done grinding out a set, you’re rewarded by being given access to “new” dungeons so that you can start grinding out different tomes for newer gear. And do you want to own your own home? Well forget about it. Thanks to limited availability and sky-high prices, home-ownership in Eorzea is a fantasy. I’m amazed and impressed with how FFXIV has turned things around from it’s initial launch, but as it stands currently, FFXIV is not the game for me.

Matt Redding

You forgot PVP. Pvp ignores gear and build and gives everyone a job-based static ability bar now and the XP is pretty good. Frontline and Feast are both hopping. My RDM is 58, he gets about 58k xp for a loss in Feast and double that for a win.


The game just feels like a real in at this point at the end game. I was hoping for bigger changes instead of tomestone grind, primal/raids, and 3rd dungeons. I’ll just resin at another time

Krenian Kandos

I think, after reading a lot of people’s comments below, people are completely missing the mark on Eliot’s article:

There is more to do in order to level up and get your classes up to 70 than there was, content wise, at 60 in Heavensward.

That’s essentially what exactly is going on here in the article. I feel like a lot of you missed the point. Not anywhere did Eliot once speak about endgame content. At all. He spoke about what made the game more fun in the sense of leveling your classes to 70.

* He specifically points that it’s no longer just a FATE grind but you can do multiple pathways to get to 70.

* He specifically states that there are rewards that feel a lot better when finishing up a quest unlike in HW, where you essentially crafted an HQ item for a NQ reward. (Crafting quests were absolutely notorious about this in ARR)

* While he touches upon the classes in question, detailing that they feel a lot more fun, this is about the only point I’ll slightly disagree with. While Paladin felt solid through and through, Dark Knight feels like you are missing a huge chunk of your kit until you literally hit 70 and get The Darkest Night.

I’m a bit baffled by the comments stating “Well he’s in his biased honeymoon phase because it’s more of the same endgame”. He never ONCE spoke about endgame in the article, people! This article is literally about leveling different jobs and how it feels less tedious and people took the option to slag him for being biased and not mentioning the endgame is the same as it has been and that further content will put little added content.

Is the 70 content great? One can argue that no, there isn’t much left.

But this is strictly an article about leveling. Nothing endgame related at all. While i get people are annoyed that they’re using the same article, why do people feel like they have to voice their opinion about it in an article that doesn’t even reference it. It’s more fun to LEVEL the jobs in the game. That’s all this article is about.

Sheesh. Times like this, I’m happy I didn’t pursue a career in online writing; I don’t know how many time I would have blown up on comments. While I totally get the comments that argue the article’s points, the comments about left field arguments is just incredibly asinine to bring up.

Yes, I fully agree: The endgame is left to be desired. But as always, this game was built to play all jobs on a character. If you’re playing one job and are not interested in anything else, of course you’re going to get bored of it so quickly. Myself, I have SAM, WAR, DRK, PLD, ARM and FSH at 70 and not once did I feel like it was a chore; I actually enjoyed leveling the classes! First time in a little while, too.

Try playing the other jobs instead of thinking and focusing ‘only’ on one job. You might find it more enjoyable. This MMO was never meant for someone to just focus on one job. You’re missing out on a significant amount of gameplay if you do.

Just food for thought, folks.

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I think people are saying “who cares if you can level to 70” more easily if end game hasn’t changed enough to be worth it. And they’re basically suggesting that this is an elephant in the room that Eliot is deliberately avoiding because he is a massive fanboy. And they’re really cross about it.

Krenian Kandos

I feel like the fact of the matter is this:

Final Fantasy XIV has never ever been about the endgame.

There. I said it.

Personally? I think that the ‘endgame’ in a game is a bit of a paradox: Endgame signals the end of a game. Technically, what everyone is asking for is a continuation of a game at it’s final stage. It’s a bit of a oxymoron to me.

The game has so much more to offer than endgame content. It always has. But people are absolutely so focused on the endgame product that they shy away from the core of what a game is and why exactly one plays a game.

So many times, we complain about how we want a game to break from the norm that was set by World of Warcraft. And when a game does, we immediately cry out in frustration that it isn’t the tried and true method of World of Warcraft. It’s baffling sometimes to hear people argue certain ways and yet other times wish for something different.

Final Fantasy XIV has never been an endgame focused game. For the select few that have everything capped at 70 at this point and have gone through the game and what it has to offer, then fine, you have a legit point: You’re done the game and have nothing else to do. But that’s an exceptionally few amount of people.

In essence: Eliot tries to point out that there are other worthy content in the game and it has made the game better; but the game has never tried to leave what it was: A gaming experience with a rich story with multiple sidestories to enrich the world and its Warrior of Light. And in that retrospect, the game has improved significantly.

I just wish, honestly, that people would get out of the “There is nothing to do at the endgame”. This game NEVER WAS about the endgame. Ever. So where you are saying there’s an ‘elephant in the room’, others like myself say “There’s no elephant because the game never promised any of the elements that people are complaining about.”

The content is there. Whether or not one enjoys the content is entirely on the player themselves, but in the end, you can’t fault a game for doing something different and focusing on a different aspect of gaming, by which in this one is the story, and then cry because it doesn’t follow the standard of gaming that everyone’s gone use to.

I don’t care how much money other games have made. I came to Final Fantasy XIV to get away from the norm. And to me, it has done more than enough to do so, while still incorporating themes of modern MMORPGs to make myself enjoy it.

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I didn’t say there was an elephant in the room. I said other people are saying that.

I just spent a month finishing Wings of the Goddess quests and Abyssea achievements in FFXI, so you’re preaching to the choir here ;)

Krenian Kandos

Hah. Fair. =)

Grim? Darhk

Elliot still seems to be in the honeymoon phase with ff14. A shame really, I’d like someone a little less biased to be writing about it as well.


Well at least he’s not doing WoW articles anymore which seemed to constantly reference FF14. He does come off as someone who just started playing the game in the last 8 months.

Mr Poolaty

I realized I joined ffxi late in winter 09 but the excitement I got from playing that game I just can’t get in ffxiv. Honestly it pisses me off that I can’t find the enjoyment in 14…
To be honest I haven’t found the excitement since I left ffxi…

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I disagree entirely, Eliot. I leveled RDM to 70 with the MSQ in Stormblood, got my left-side job gear, beat the last boss (no spoilers), and then — for the first time since 1.x — cancelled my sub once I was hit in the face with yet another tomestone grind. Didn’t even do the 2 lvl 70 dungeons.

It doesn’t feel better, because I’m not interested in more of the same. It was okay in 2.0. It was forgivable in 3.0. But it just seems like they’re not even trying now..


Dunno if it feels much better.
Pretty much all classes have been utterly gutted until 60+, you have even less options than before with the (terrible) leves going up in smoke.
Now you can grind 3 endgames dungeons, a 4 bosses raid… and 2 already obsolete primals I guess.

Or you can just do what you did, grind the same shitty fates (now with even more RNG spawn and potential DAYS of waiting for some of them), boring hunts, and spam the dungeon finder again and again, like you had to do during the MSQ and its constant breaks forcing you to level up more.
Oh, and the Palace of the Dead. It’s trash, but you can just faceroll it with a full DPS group, no need for that pesky trinity system here.

But with 4.1 comes new content!
Like dailies, where there are none today.
Or ONE new dungeon.
And whatever else side content they’ll throw in, let’s hope for more quality than PotD, Diadem or… pretty much everything else, really.
Maybe you’ll even get yet another difficulty mode for the same raid with one boss! Or for the already regurgitated primals.
Maybe another difficulty mode for the paper-thin dungeons?

“So much content.”

Sushi Maru

Honestly everything described here has always been in the game, nothing to me seems new or different, just more of the same. Glad the OP is having more fun, but really nothing has changed a whole lot in terms of game systems and things to do….

A Dad Supreme

To me, FATES and Hunts both seemed like the same thing.

Someone shouts, “It’s up”, everyone runs to an area, AOE, XP. Rinse, repeat.

The only difference was that Hunts usually took you out of the zone to a different zone and FATES you pretty much stayed in one.

Both bored the hell out of me after a couple of months.