Wisdom of Nym: Final Fantasy XIV Shadowbringers early access survival guide

    
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The other side.

It’s the final countdown, people. Final Fantasy XIV will throw wide the gates early in the morning on Friday, and we’ll all be off to the First when that happens. But, of course, I’m writing this well before we have patch notes or anything, so all I can do is speculate about how things will go and be excited.

And, you know, offer you valuable advice about how to spend this last week preparing for the expansion.

Sure, I’ve already written an article about the larger things to take care of in advance, ages ago, but this week – and, really, the next few days if we’re being precise – is the last chance you’re going to have to get prepared for Shadowbringers. So let’s make the best of the time we have and figure out what to do as we count down the hours, shall we? And, yes, I could probably have copied and pasted a good chunk of what I wrote in advance of the Stormblood launch, but I’ve opted to go a different route this time.

Pictured: Magic, probably.

Figure out a plan of attack

There’s a lot to be done once the expansion access kicks off. There are a lot of jobs to level. There are two new jobs to level. There’s a main scenario to get through. There’s crafting to be done. There’s stuff pulling you in every direction, and if you’re some sort of absolute nitwit who has a bunch of alts you have even more pressure for going in different directions. It’s easy to log in and be stuck with choice paralysis, or even just going with the first thing that seems important (the MSQ) when that’s not what’s actually important to you.

So what do you do? You figure this out ahead of time. You sit down and determine what personally matters to you before the early access starts up.

This does mean a certain amount of ruthless prioritizing. After all, spending an hour leveling Gunbreaker means, by definition, that you’re not spending that time leveling one of your other jobs or progressing the main story. But knowing what matters the most to you is going to pay dividends in the long run. It is entirely valid to, say, decide that what you want first and foremost is to level Dancer, knowing – or not caring – that you’ll be hitting the level cap more slowly as a result.

And, ultimately, you’ll have a lot more fun if you’re going in with a plan that you’re eager to undertake than one that you feel obligated to act upon. Whatever things you’re putting lower on the list will still be there in a week, or two weeks, or even a month.

Where am I going to put all of these...

Prepare your materia and inventory

Main stat materia is going to stop working. Get that out of anything you have it melded into, which mostly means tank accessories but could just as easily involve you having something melded with INT on Ninja for some reason. (I don’t know why you’d do that, but your life is your own.) Extract that and trade it in for materia of some actual value, especially since we have strong hints that we are going to be getting Grade VII materia with this expansion.

We don’t have confirmation of that, of course, but it’s reasonable to expect. Filling your melds with things that will remain useful is better than just leaving it until the last minute, because it means less time spent ramping on to the expansion once you start seriously playing.

Similarly, clearing out some space in your inventory and armoury chest is good practice, especially if you’re planning to level a new job or two. If it’s something you know you want for glamour purposes but isn’t actually going to be used, toss it in your dresser for now; you can always retrieve it later. Make a point of having your food, potions, and necessary reagents like aetheryte tickets and dark matter in your inventory; crafting materials or old tokens can go on retainers.

This is the easiest step to overlook, of course, because it’s not actually much fun; it’s a chore more than anything. But preparing for this now means less time spent fussing about with it later, which is ultimately more important.

Throw wide the gates.

Choose where you’re logging off

Let’s assume for the moment that yes, you intend to start off with the MSQ. You have a pretty good idea that you’re going to be starting the MSQ in Mor Dhona, since that’s where it left off. All well and good. So do you log off in Revenant’s Toll or not?

This sounds like a really simple question, but it isn’t for a variety of reasons, starting with the fact that loading times are a thing. If everyone’s logging off in Mor Dhona, you’re going to be facing more loading times when you get in, even if that’s not inherently going to make life easier or harder when you have to get there anyway. However, by the same token you have to ask if you should world visit another server ahead of time. If you know there’s an underpopulated server, swapping there and doing the early parts of the quests could help you out and make things smoother…

The reality is that whatever you pick, you are gambling a bit. There’s no such thing as a sure course. You could pick a low-population server and log off in Mor Dhona there, only to find out that everyone else had the same idea and now you’re swarmed. But the key thing to do in that situation, I think, is to take a deep breath and not do the obvious thing of changing your plans.

Yes, I know, you’re thinking that maybe now you should head back to your home server if this one is a mess. But trying to change what you’re doing midstream is more likely to cause you to run into a mass of people all trying to change gears after the fact, which leads to further problems, and ultimately it doesn’t actually smooth anything out. Pick how you’re going to approach this, accept that you may be wrong, and commit. It might wind up slowing you down a little, but sticking it out is faster than frantically trying again.

Set your alarms

All right, you can at least up your chances of things going smoothly if you’re on those servers like white on rice when the clock turns over. 5:00 a.m. EDT, folks, set your alarms, get up, and get your computer loaded. Assuming that you have a job that lets you get away with this nonsense.

Although that one’s not really advice. It’s like “have an SSD for your computer.” Definitely helpful, but not really something you can probably fix in a couple of days.

Feedback, as always, is welcome in the comments down below or via mail to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week? Recapping the experience, of course. You know that, I know that, let’s not front.

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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Krista Allen

Set my Alarm for 4am, gotta do the pre-download. I want to get on the Aether Data Center though. Ahhh, gonna be que’s for days!

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Toy Clown

I’ve been thinking about taking a couple of weeks to a month off playing FFXIV. Never been one of those that found the thrill in trying to do the same content everyone else is doing at the same time. It brings the worst out in people.

When I do play, the plan is to experience the new content as a Viera. Maybe a Viera Dancer. Or Red Mage. Or White Mage. I dunno yet!

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Krista Allen

Dancer is a very good support class. The class patch notes are up on the Lodestone

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styopa

Not meaning to imply criticism of anyone, but honestly I’ve never understood the sort of ‘racing blocks sprinter’ preparation that people have going into expansions.

Particularly with FF14 where the pace and richness of the game welcome a more sedate progress.

I’ve deliberately left myself old MSQs to progress through with my main once the new level cap is open (I hit 70 basically just before doing the Imperial Menagerie), why explore the story past that point, when I essentially would be wasting the xp? The story will still be there levels 71+.

Hell, the best advice above and in the comments below are that MD, Limsa, and Gridania will be login-zoo’s (and thus I’ll be logging in Uldah, thanks). I’ll probably spend the first week or two of the new content just leveling up those crafting jobs I haven’t paid enough attention to. It’s an MMO…barring some niche content, all that stuff is going to be there in weeks, months, a year from today. And, if my long experience with MMOs is any lesson, likely by the time I get to it, it’ll be less buggy than for the sprinters.

Then again, FoTM classes, world firsts, being the first one to power through endgame content, etc have never even slightly interested me.
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James Campbell

It’s not a racing block per-se, but there are several people in the community who participate in different content than you do at regular intervals. For example, raiding starts a mere two weeks after ShB is released. I raid myself, and I LOVE raiding. I don’t care about being world first, but I love working with my friends in a solid team and getting the stuffing kicked out of me 5000 times before we *finally* snag that clear.

It’s the best, most wonderful feeling in the world to me personally. Raiding is high end content, usually end game only content for the current patch, so that means I have no choice but to hit the ground running. Lots of people have no choice. Also, the restoration of Ishgard is a thing.

It’s a grand melee of a crafting and gathering contest between all worlds on data centers. And, if I want a shot at getting a spot in the top 100 on my server, and win my free company a possible spot in a mansion Ishgard, then I have to be tip top shape as at least one 80 crafter and one 80 gatherer ASAP. Which invariably means I have to complete the MSQ asap, to the best of my ability, considering you can only level your crafter and gatherer as high as your main battle job is in game and no higher.

Only yet another reason for me to hit the ground running, considering I’m the leader of an FC, and I want my members to have free, unlimitated access to all the best gear, food, gardening items, housing items, etc in the game as quickly as possible. This will put us up on the Gil making food chain, will give my new players a serious boost, and make my FC stronger.

Therefore I have to get my all omni crafting and gathering up from 70-80 ASAP. (8 craft classes from 70 to 80, 3 gather classes from 70 to 80.)

SO. There are reasons to go. They are valid reasons. Just because they don’t fit with your narrative or your personal playstyle, doesn’t mean you’re the winner and everyone else who enjoys different aspects of the game is a loser.

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styopa

“There are reasons to go. They are valid reasons. Just because they don’t fit with your narrative or your personal playstyle, doesn’t mean you’re the winner and everyone else who enjoys different aspects of the game is a loser.”

Reading a bit much into my comment, aren’t we?

Did you miss the part where I said “…Not meaning to imply criticism of anyone…”? Did you notice that I carefully *only* talked about what *I* do and like, and that *I* simply don’t understand the ‘sprint’ mentality?

I’m pretty sure I edited carefully to avoid any implied criticism of anyone, and ABSOLUTELY didn’t imply either that I’m a “winner” or anyone else is a “loser”.
The image at the end was meant to only suggest that even turtles can win their own races.

    Saying I’m taking it slow and still feel I’m enjoying the game.

Maybe turn down the hypersensitivity to criticism a notch or two?

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Jeremy Barnes

Cleaning out all of my retainers was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do..

JonBuck
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JonBuck

I did that after giving up on crafting, and promptly started filling it back up with gear for other classes as I level them.

JonBuck
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JonBuck

Be prepared to be #482 in the login queue. I’ve finally gotten a second Job near 70–Bard at 69 right now. I do have Fisher at 70 too, but that doesn’t count. :) I’ve maxed out on Poetics, not so much on the other tomes.

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Ruby Lancer

One of the things that is being said folks can also do is if they’re going to be race changing into Viera or Hrothgar (or even just to one of the current races on the start of EA for some reason,) to make sure that they’ve stripped all their gear off of them that is possible, and drink that Fantasia before they log out.

I’m not sure how well this might end up handling on the start of Early Access from there, if it might not end up causing some issues, but it will let you avoid having to go through the queue twice.

As for logging out the night before, the three biggest spots are going to be Revenant’s Toll for MSQ purposes (if you can log out and end up inside the Rising Stones themselves that might be the best spot to help with some loading,) Limsa Lominsa for unlocking Dancer, and Gridania for unlocking Gunbreaker. I don’t know if they said -where- in the cities the new Jobs will start, just those are the places.

The only other spots I can think of that might be useful to log in at would be Idyllshire and Rhalgar’s Reach, if only to speed up picking up gear to finish off anything you might have at level 60/70 and ease the transition into ShB. You might end up having to go to Revenant’s Toll to swap old tomestones out for Poetics, but you should do that after you’ve drained out your Poetics on gear first. Don’t forget to pick up the upgrade items as well.

If you do a lot of crafting and/or gathering, you can possibly make quite a bit of money by making the weapons for Gunbreaker and Dancer from 60 to 70 and putting them up for sale, especially the glowing Primal variants. You won’t be able to do any of the new stuff from 70 to 80 without doing the MSQ first, but don’t forget that there are folks even now that are dumping gil on last minute prep, and will still be doing so even through Early Access.

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Stephen Malone

I fantasia’d(?) going into Heavensward and I had no problems. It was also really cool to be the only Au’ra around for a few days.

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Java Jawa

I’ll be at work, probably won’t login till late weekend to let some of the rushers barrel through the earlier zones. Should have a bit smoother experience then.

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Jeremy Barnes

I don’t think that’s going to really help you. The starting zones are going to be packed for at least a week.

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BigAngry

Don’t forget also that you should probably stock up on lv60-70 tank gear if you’re planning on leveling GNB, or possibly(?) both lv60-70 ninja or brd/mch gear for leveling DNC. I’m sure the local crafters will appreciate your patronage on the market boards.

I’m mostly set. XIV’s on an m.2 SSD for fast loading, I’ve got alarms set, Machinist selected, armoury chest space, and I’m ready to learn How To MCH again!

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Ruby Lancer

They long ago said that Dancer is using the same gear as BRD/MCH, so there’s no need to keep excess NIN gear around. Accessories and belts sure, because that’s what all the Dex Primary stat users use, but none of the main gear.

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BigAngry

Ah, okay. I hadn’t heard that they confirmed it. Thanks!