Let’s get this out of the way first…
I was like you once.
What I mean by “you” is that, at some point in my past, like some of you in the present, I thought MMORPGs like Final Fantasy XI and Final Fantasy XIV were undeserving of their sacred roman numeral in the “mainline” franchise.
Why did I think this? Well, if you had asked me then I’d have probably thought a couple minutes before mumbling “something something multiplayer.” Fortunately I caved from that position and took the plunge – eventually spending thousands of hours in both XI and XIV, with great memories of friends and feats alike.
What I would ask my younger, more naïve self is: “what about a great Final Fantasy experience does a multiplayer-focused game inherently inhibit?” To this day, I can’t convince myself of anything that meaningfully rebukes either game’s claim to “numbered” status. If anything, I’m convinced that – like many great things in life – the experience is better when shared.
Before I get too off-track, we’re here to talk about you.
I understand the barrier when it comes to approaching some multiplayer games – especially ones that require you to coordinate with others of differing skill levels. I totally get the apprehension, even anxiety.
However, if that’s something that’s keeping you back from XIV, it’s worth overcoming. Here’s why:
Many of the instanced combat duties are exciting, some my favorite being the many varied Primal (summon) trials. Think “bring your popcorn, ‘cause shit’s going down” fights. Don’t even get Erren started on The Praetorium dungeon or The Final Coil of Bahamut, I can’t count how many times she’s cleared them. (It’s why she goes bonkers every now and then and tweets the lyrics to Answers.)
It’s great stuff that’s endeared us and many Final Fantasy fans alike. It’s not all the game has to offer, but it’s a big part.
Final Fantasy XIV’s main scenario and much of its content revolves around working together with others to achieve objectives. Yes, there’s solo content, but the game will typically have you team up with anywhere between three and twenty-three other players. This is the bread and butter of the XIV experience, tied hand-in-hand with its ever-expanding main scenario – which easily tops one-hundred hours at this point.
Personally, the biggest hurdle to clear is to learn how you function in a group. One single person can’t fulfill every role, so they’re divvied up into three different categories. Mastering how these roles interact with each other, as well as learning the basics of your class or job, is key to building confidence in multiplayer cooperative content.
For your first fifteen level-ups in A Realm Reborn’s story you’ll be doing things primarily solo, but when you strike it out on your own from your designated starting city-state, you’ll start encountering multiplayer dungeons to continue the story.
Class quests and guildhests can be used up until that point to practice with the few abilities you’ve learned, but they don’t really prepare you as well as they should. Luckily, with the advent of The Gears of Change (known as Patch 3.2), it just got a lot easier.
Roll the Hall of the Novice footage!
At Level 15, you’ll be able to find a Smith in each city-state’s Adventurers’ Guild. They’ll point you to the Hall of the Novice in Western La Noscea, as well as get you started on various instanced single-player trials that will teach you the basics of your class’s combat role.
It’s worth pointing out that the Hall of the Novice won’t teach you everything about your class. That’s ok. You’re not going to need to learn “advanced” skills like tank swapping on day one. You’ve got to learn to walk before you can run. However, that brings me to my next point.
One thing that’s criminally understated in many discussions about “getting good” in MMORPGs is how to start building a support network. This umbrella term includes any real-world friends you may be playing with, in-game friends and acquaintances via free company “guilds” and “linkshells”, as well as newly-minted Mentors.
Mentors are Final Fantasy XIV veterans who meet certain high-level requirements and will know how to speak knowledgeably on various aspects of the game. Once someone gains Mentor status, they’ll be able to invite you to a special chat called the Novice Network. Here, mentors and other novices exchange questions and advice.
Reaching out to your support network for advice is absolutely essential not only in learning basic and advanced gameplay systems, but a great way to make friends to enjoy the game’s varied content.
Of course, that all comes with “the nature of the internet” disclaimer. No one should have to deal with harassment, especially in a game of all things. While Final Fantasy XIV has a great community, if you ever find yourself in a situation where you feel you’re being harassed – it’s best to stop communicating with that individual(s). You can use in-game tools to blacklist their messages and/or report behavior to in-game moderators using the Support Desk.
With the inclusion of the Hall of the Novice and the Mentor system in Patch 3.2, as well as the ever-growing library of great content, I think every Final Fantasy fan should (at the very least) try this game – especially if you’ve been put off by MMORPG or multiplayer labels before. It’s not worth missing out on the great experience XIV has to offer.
These days, it’s increasingly easy and inexpensive to do so. Here’s how:
You can participate in a 30-day free trial. Right now A Realm Reborn hovers between the $20-30 price range (with the Heavensward expansion similarly priced). Buying the game the first time also entitles you to another 30 days before a subscription is required.
Final Fantasy XIV: A Realm Reborn and the Heavensward expansion are available now for Windows PC, PlayStation 3, PlayStation 4, and Mac.