Life in Final Fantasy XIV: Part 1 - In the Beginning...

Final Fantasy XIV is a game that doesn’t hold your hand through anything. There are a few tutorials here and there, but for the most part, you’re left to figure things out on your own, so it is really a learning experience for everyone. To that end, perhaps to get the word out about how it really isn’t that difficult to learn things from scratch, I’m going to share some of my experiences in leveling a new character (now that I think I finally decided on a character to play).

Before I begin, a disclaimer real quick: I’ve been playing FFXIV off and on for almost two weeks, but only real heavily for the last few days. This isn’t my first character, but it took me a while to decide on one to settle on.

I started in Gridania – the city in the forest filled with magic, elementals, funky mushrooms and frolicking moogles. Yes, if you’re a fan of moogles, like I am, you’ll want to start your character in Gridania, kupo!

After the intro cut scenes, you’re deposited in a rather lovely building, which is the main center for adventurers in Gridania, and honestly, after seeing all the Adventurer Guilds in all three starting cities, this one is the most awesome. I’ve decided this, so it must be true. There are stained glass windows highlighting the ceiling, surrounded by the dark hard-wood walls and floor. The atmosphere is lovely, and fits right in with the rest of the city, which I can only describe as a laid-back, and sprawling piece of civilization amidst The Black Shoud – the expanse of forest surrounding Gridania.

Now, when you make a new character, you have zero gil. This is unfortunate, because there are so many other player characters with fancy bazaars up selling all kinds of goodies. Ignore all that, you can’t buy any of it now. First things first, my little friends – we must complete the first story mission so we actually have some cash. Doing this story mission in its entirety will take roughly about an hour. There are various points you can stop and do other things throughout, but if you do the entire thing, you’ll earn yourself about 8000 gil, not to mention drops from a few enemies that you’ll fight along the way (each of which I killed in one shot from my archer).

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There isn’t a lot of combat, most of it is story, but it is rather interesting, even if it does pose more questions than it answers. Still, the characters are likable and the cut scenes are definitely Square-Enix quality. Typically during the first mission for any starting city, they briefly teach you all about guildleves, so once that initial mission is over (or during it at a stopping point, if you can’t wait), you’ll pick up tons of guildleves from the Adventuer’s Guild.

Just FYI, there’s always one of these that is a pain in the tail, and I happened to start with this one. It may have been because I was still only level two, but I died thrice. Luckily, I went into the battle wearing the god-awful-ugly Onion Helm that came with the collector’s edition, which cuts down resurrection sickness to a fraction of what it normally is. In fact, below I’ve stashed a video of my character doing her first carpentry-based guildleve. As you can see, I gain a lot of experience and carpentry skill every time I complete a successful synthesis. The crafting in and of itself is a whole other article altogether.

But enough about those – let’s talk about my stalker. I’m playing a Miquo’te, and they are only female. While I was out and about in the forest doing a couple botany guildleves, I was being stalked by another character who followed my tail all through the forest. Finally, I inquired if he needed something. He said he didn’t know what to do, so he was following someone. I told him he was following the absolute wrong person, because I was still getting my bearings, as well. He proceeded to follow me around more and I told him to stop.

Now, this dude (a male elf) struck me as one of those 12-year-olds who just got this game because it was the new “in” thing this week, and had no idea how to even play an MMO this deep. Perhaps he had played World of Warcraft and expected things to be spoon-fed to him – I don’t know. But he was annoying. I finally asked him if he had any quests, and he said no. So, I ushered him back to Gridania to the Adventuer’s Guild and went about my business. In reality, he probably followed me because my character is female and his hormones took over.

Anyway, there is a lot of running in this game! Don’t get me wrong, the scenery is gorgeous, but good Lord I hope my cat-chick has some comfy shoes. After the first set of guildleves near Gridania, I decided to head out and explore the world beyond The Black Shroud, which is a pretty huge place. But, before I get into that, let’s do some listing. There are essentially a series of steps that you really should go through each time you create a new character. Although, really, how often are you going to do that, if one character can do anything and everything? So, let’s take a look…

  1. Complete the first main story quest in its entirety (which will net you roughly 8000 gil).
  2. Pick up the first set of guildleves and complete them (you should be able to get four battlecraft leves, two leves for each gathering profession (fieldcraft) and two or three for each crafting profession (handcraft). In reality, you can take all the battlecraft ones, and just pick one gathering and one crafting set of leves for now (and don’t forget to pick up the tools for any jobs that you’ll need to take part in!).
  3. Once these are done, you probably have stockpiled quite a few items and crystals or crystal fragments. Go back to the Adventurer’s Guild and find the NPC that lets you hire a retainer – a personal slave that acts as your bank.
  4. After your retainer is hired, either find the market ward in your starting city (if you want to offload some stuff to your retainer now) or just continue on.
  5. Travel to the other two cities and do their guildleves.

Alright, we’ve discussed a few of those, but now we’re at step #5 (the retainer and market wards are, again, a topic for a whole other article). Why is it important to travel around early on? For a couple different reasons. First off, you can only pick up and complete up to eight guildleves per city in every 36-hour period. So, you’ll quickly exhaust your available quests in whatever city you start in. Secondly, after the first trip to all these other cities, travel suddenly becomes much easier because you get attuned to the athyerite crystal in each city for instant teleportation.

So, I headed south out of Gridania to make my way through The Black Shroud and into Ul’dah’s area. The trip between most cities is uneventful, if you stay on the road and avoid any mobs that look dangerous. You seriously need to take in some visual cues to protect yourself, because if you see an ant-like creature several times the size of your character, you know darn well the thing is going to try to eat your for dinner.

As I entered into the external zone around Ul’dah, I was greeted with some awesome scenery. Now, typically this area is pretty boring and uneventful because it IS a desert. But, at dusk the lighting is just awesome. It actually reminds me of being in the desert as the sun goes down and is pretty amazing-looking. Of course, this sunset quickly turned to bloodshed by time I hit Ul’dah and got raped by a huge dragon-like thing that was hanging out right next to the road a dozen paces outside the city gates. I apparently didn’t have enough sense to avoid it. Go me, I completely ignored everything I just wrote about avoiding things that look like they want to turn your character’s face into jelly.

Needless to say, after that dirt nap, my poor little Miquo’te needed a good night’s sleep in this dusty, ol’ city.

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Chad Awkerman

Chad joined the DualShockers staff in mid 2009 and since then has put much of his time into covering RPGs, with a focus on the Japanese side of the genre, from the obscure to the mainstream. He's a huge fan of iconic games like Secret of Mana, Final Fantasy VI and Persona 4 yet enjoys the smaller niche titles, as well. In his spare time he enjoys experiencing new beer, new foods and keeping up with just about every sci-fi show on television. He's married to an intelligent, beautiful Southern Belle who keeps his life interesting with witty banter and spicy Cajun cooking.

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