Wisdom of Nym: A letter to new players and old hands in Final Fantasy XIV

It burns, burns, burns.

The population surge in Final Fantasy XIV must be stopping. It absolutely must be nearly over at this point or already over. It absolutely cannot be filled with surging population any longer at this point. I cannot believe it. And then literally as I typed this line and went over to check, the server page could not load because of “unusually heavy load.” When it corrected itself a few seconds later, yeah, there were three servers in the North American cluster available for new characters.

Yeah. That’s it. Three. Three servers.

So the important thing at this point is that there are new people around. And since despite my absolute certainty that this cannot last through until November, I also feel as if I have absolutely no understanding or ability to predict what is happening. I felt like writing an open letter to both new and old players about this particular population surge. Please read the appropriate section for whichever one applies to you. Or read both! I’m not your parent.

Hello, peoples.

To new players

Hello, new players! Welcome to FFXIV. It’s really fun here. If I were more timely or better at writing guides, this might be the place where I would place a whole new player guide to the game, but the actual fact of the matter is that I don’t think you really need one, and certainly not from me. There are things that trip up new players a lot, like how gathering and crafting classes are… you know, classes and have their whole progression paths and gear and all that rather than just being a side activity you do while murdering things.

But none of that is what I want to advise you about today. No, I want to give you a very simple, very small piece of advice that will hopefully enhance your experience, and I hope you take it to heart.

That advice? Slow down and don’t worry.

I don’t mean that just in the broadest sense that taking things slow is more likely to avoid mistakes rather than cause them. That’s true, but it’s not my primary goal with this advice. No, my goal is to get you to not worry about the fact that you’re level whatever and other people are level 80 and doing endgame stuff and you have to catch up because that’s where all the fun is.

That way of thinking is totally understandable because of how MMOs work, but it’s also wrong here. It’s not how this game works. The endgame is not where the game starts; level 1 is where the game starts, and it begins as it means to go on. When you hit level 50 is going to be the one time in the entire game when you get introduced to a new style of content in the form of 8-person Trials and 24-player Alliance Raids, both of which you’ll need to do to advance the story, but past that, you will have seen the game’s tricks.

And those players at level 80? They will be joining you.

Some of them will be joining you because they’ve got jobs to level that aren’t at level 80 and the various roulettes are the fastest way to do that. Some of them will join you just to get more tomestones. Some of them will join you for giggles. Some of them will be clearing things for the first time just like you are, depending on the dungeons you’re trying to run.

Yes, I know, there’s a boost right there, and it’s tempting to say that you can just skip past all of that lower-level stuff. But the boost option is a mistake, and it’s a mistake born of misunderstanding how the game works. The boost option is the equivalent of wanting to get into a new show produced in the last decade and just starting on the latest season without watching any of the previous ones, figuring you’ll pick it up as they go along.

Television doesn’t work like that any more. FFXIV doesn’t work like that. The first 70 levels teach you a lot – not just in terms of story, but in terms of mechanics, job rotations, and expectations. There’s a lot to learn along the way, and jumping to the end right off the bat is holdover thinking from games where the level cap is where all the players are and where all the fun, if any, is to be had.

Don’t rush yourself. Take it slow. Watch the cutscenes. And don’t let anyone hurry you along. Tell people you’re new, and watch as at least half the players trip over themselves to welcome you into the game.

Yes, we're all very impressed over here.

To existing players

Hello, fellow players! We have a fun time here, right? And I probably don’t need to tell you to be nice to sprouts because while there are people who aren’t, they are far and away the minority. The majority of the community is happy to help new players, let new people watch cutscenes, explain mechanics for people who don’t know, and generally try to welcome new people. Even those not willing to help generally don’t seek to actively hinder, and that’s all good.

So here’s my actual advice for helping new players get into the game. It’s a really simple one and also a really important one, and it goes beyond dungeons. One of the things that we like to say a lot is that FFXIV has a great community and generally does better than other MMOs in that department, right?

Well, now is our time to shine. And we shine by showing off how welcoming we can be when nobody walks up saying, “Hey, I’m new, can you help?”

Be silly in dungeon runs. Ask if anyone is new when you’re leveling. Make jokes and be talkative. Offer giveaways to random people in a city – if you’ve got plenty of gil, just give some away to new players. I assure you that a level 10 player getting 10,000 gil for no reason is going to feel really welcomed by this community, and it will have no impact on you.

Push for people to let new players watch cinematics. Encourage them to do so, even. Congratulate people after doing tricky boss fights. Sure, you know these fights by heart, but the new players don’t, and feeling welcomed is more important than you stroking your ego and saying that it’s not that hard. Just be positive. Talk about how much there is to look forward to.

Make friends. Be a personal guide for new players even if you aren’t a mentor. Encourage them. Show them neat stuff. Fly them around old zones if you can! Give them a tour of what awaits further on.

Above all else, encourage them to have fun. Do things that are a little bit inconvenient for you as a veteran to help them have a more pleasant experience stepping into the game. Because even if this surge has to level off and decrease at some point in the near future, that doesn’t mean we can’t demonstrate the positive force of the community in the process.

Feedback, as always, can be left in the comments down below or mailed to eliot@massivelyop.com. Next week, let’s talk about what could be added to healers in Endwalker.

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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