Guide for Players Coming from World of Warcraft
This guide is for players starting out in Final Fantasy XIV after having been active players of World of Warcraft.
- You can play all classes, jobs, and professions on a single character. You don't need an alt for every new class you want to try.
- The combat starts out a bit slow (It has a 2.5 second GCD as opposed to WoW's 1.5 second GCD), but it gets more fast paced as you get more abilities, including off-GCD abilities that you can weave in between your GCDs.
- The game is built very tightly around the main story, and everything is gated behind the main story to some extent.
- The story of each expansion leads directly into the next expansion. Thus, you have to complete the entire main story campaign of a given expansion, including the max level end game, before you can proceed to the next expansion.
- Mind your manners with other players. Square-Enix is much more stringent than Blizzard when it comes to policing harassment and toxic behavior.
You will probably enjoy FF14 if:
- You want to experience a deep, intricate narrative saga spanning multiple expansions.
- You find the community in WoW to be too toxic, and are looking for a friendlier community.
- You don't like the "raid or die" mentality of WoW's endgame design.
You are less likely to enjoy FF14 if:
- You are not interested in the story and just want to rush to endgame.
- You are solely or primarily a PvP player. PvP does exist in FF14, but it is relatively lacklustre compared to the PvP in WoW.
One of the key features that sets FF14 apart from pretty much all other MMORPGs is the Armoury System. Unlike nearly all other MMORPGs, the character you create is not limited to playing the class/job that was selected during character creation. Shortly after beginning the game, specifically after completing the level 10 class quest for your starting class, you will be able to unlock other classes, and once you have done so, you will be able to switch classes whenever you want, with some limitations (I.e. you can't switch while in a dungeon or raid).
As a result, you don't need to roll alts if you want to try other jobs. In fact, with the exception of the level 1-15 starting story (There are 3 different starting stories, one for each starting city), you can experience nearly everything the game has to offer on a single character.
Professions are very highly developed in FF14. They function more like full-blown player classes, with their own gear, abilities, stats, stories, and quests. The act of harvesting resources or crafting items is even turned into a minigame. It's not a simple act of clicking a resource node and getting resources, or clicking the craft button and getting a piece of gear 2 seconds later.
Gatherers, called Disciples of the Land, have abilities that help them locate resources, gather more efficiently, reduce the likelihood of failure, gather more resources from a given node, and acquire special rare items. They also have stealth which enables them to work without being bothered by monsters out in the world.
Crafters, called Disciples of the Hand, craft items, as their name suggests. After selecting what to craft, they will need to use their abilities to complete the item without breaking it, while also maximizing the quality of said item. Having better gear and stats will make this easier.
Main Story Campaign
Final Fantasy XIV is first and foremost a Final Fantasy game, and like other Final Fantasy games, it is heavily focused on the story. As such, the game is very heavily built around the main story, and progressing in the main story campaign is essential to unlocking pretty much anything and everything in the game.
Final Fantasy XIV tells an epic linear saga that spans the base game and all expansions up through the upcoming Endwalker, and the story from one expansion leads directly into the next. The base game, A Realm Reborn, leads directly into Heavensward, which leads into Stormblood, then Shadowbringers, then Endwalker. When you complete the leveling main story campaign for any given expansion, you will have to complete the max-level endgame campaign before you can move on, as it contains critical narrative that leads into the next expansion. In other words, on reaching level 50 (Max level for A Realm Reborn), you can't just immediately jump into Heavensward, you have to complete the A Realm Reborn endgame campaign first.
That said, there is an option to purchase a skip from the store, allowing you skip directly to the start of a later expansion. If it is your first time playing through the story, it is strongly recommended that you do NOT skip any part of the main story. It should be noted that many players consider parts of A Realm Reborn (Levels 1-50), and especially the endgame story (Level 50) to be a bit of a drag, so patience is advised. The story is generally considered to become more exciting as you get into the expansions.
Unlike in WoW, where the player base is split between the Alliance and the Horde, with separate duty finder queue pools for each faction, and where the faction conflict is a major part of the game, there is no such conflict in FF14, at least nowhere near to the extent as in WoW. There are three main city states: Limsa Lominsa, Gridania, and Ul'dah, with their respective Grand Companies (Military forces): the Maelstrom, the Order of the Twin Adder, and the Immortal Flames, but they are allied with each other. They are not enemies. Players can group together regardless of their Grand Company.
It should be noted, however, that there are "Frontlines", which are 3-faction battlegrounds between each of the three Grand Companies. The reason for this is explained in the level 30 quest Like Civilized Men and Women (Maelstrom) and its equivalent for the other 2 Grand Companies, which unlocks said Frontlines. Certain strategic areas are disputed, and the Grand Companies have made a mutual agreement that hostilities would be strictly limited to those areas, and that killing would be strictly prohibited. Also, in the interest of keeping queue times reasonable, you will not necessarily be grouped with your own Grand Company while in a frontline, i.e. a Twin Adder member may be put on the Maelstrom team. It is basically like Mercenary Mode from WoW being permanently on for everyone.
After completing the level 20 main story quest A Hero in the Making, you will have to choose which Grand Company to join: the Maelstrom, the Order of the Twin Adder, or the Immortal Flames. This system is comparable to the Covenant system in WoW Shadowlands. However, your choice of Grand Company does not affect player power in any way, so feel free to choose the Grand Company that appeals to you the most, without having to worry about choosing the "wrong" one for your class or job. It's not like in WoW, where you might want to choose Venthyr or Necrolord, but have to choose Night Fae or Kyrian because they perform the best for your class.
Also, your choice of Grand Company has extremely little impact on the main story, mainly being used for a few side activities, and you can change your Grand Company later on should you so desire.
Player vs. Player
Like WoW, FF14 has instanced PvP. However there are several key differences in the way PvP combat is handled in FF14. The two most important differences are as follows:
First, you get a completely different set of actions, with its own action bars, for PvP. Many of these actions are very similar to their PvE counterparts, even having the same names and animations, but they are designed and tuned specifically for PvP. The rotations are simpler than their PvE counterparts, but you receive the full set of actions immediately on unlocking PvP, regardless of your level. You will also be able to select 2 PvP talent abilities.
Second, and perhaps most important, all players of any given job are equalized in power. In PvP duties, your max HP, attack power, or all other attribute will be fixed, and will not be affected by your level or gear. Even your max HP will be a fixed round number (I.e. 20,000 for tanks). Also, as previously mentioned, you will get your full PvP action set immediately on unlocking PvP. As a result, a level 30 player who just unlocked PvP will be on equal footing to a level 80 player decked out in high-end gear, so who wins will be purely a matter of skill, not gear or level. Apart from talent choices, every warrior will be as powerful as every other warrior, every white mage as powerful as every other white mage, and so on and so forth.
It should also be noted that there are no PvP servers, War Mode, or open world PvP in FF14. All PvP is in instanced duties.
Glamour / Transmog
FF14's equivalent to the Transmogrification system is called Glamour.
User interface customization
FF14's user interface offers plenty of built-in customization options. You can choose between a dark theme, light theme, or retro Final Fantasy blue theme. You can also move, resize, and customize individual elements using an interface that is very similar to the element positioning interface in certain WoW addons such as ElvUI.
Rules and Enforcement
Mind your attitude when interacting with other players. Square-Enix is significantly more stringent than Blizzard when it comes to policing player behaviour, especially with regards to harassment and toxicity. A permanent record is kept of all violations, and repeat offenders are punished more severely. More details may be found here.
Also, vote kicking (Called "vote dismiss" in FF14) a player without justification is a punishable offense, and the vote dismiss prompt displays a warning to that effect.
Damage meters and other third-party addons
There is no official addon support, and damage meters (Equivalent to WoW's Recount, Skada, or Details) and other third party software are against the terms of service. Unlike Blizzard however, Square-Enix does not actively scan your computer for third party software.
It should be noted that especially among high-end players doing difficult content, such as Savage and Ultimate raids, it is common for them to use third party damage meters (which shall remain unnamed in this guide), even showing them on stream, and Square-Enix tends to turn a blind eye to such usage, so long as they aren't bothering anyone else. If you choose to do this, do not mention them in game, and especially do not meter-shame other players, even if their performance is absolutely awful.
Report toxic behaviour!
As previously mentioned, Square-Enix is much more stringent than Blizzard with regards to policing player behaviour. Many acts of harassment and griefing that may have been ignored by CMs in WoW will not be tolerated in FF14.
Here are some examples of toxic behaviour that is punishable and should be reported:
- Insulting players and telling them to uninstall the game
- Posting story spoilers in any non-private chat channel, including the Novice Network
- Telling players that their DPS sucks and to f---ing Google their job rotation (This also violates the ban on damage meters)
- Kicking players from groups without justification
- Pressuring new players to skip cutscenes in group content such as dungeons
- Offensive or inappropriate names (This includes names for player characters, chocobos, free companies, player houses, apartments, airships, submersibles, etc.)
- Griefing via in-game mechanics, such as deliberately aiming a boss cleave to kill the party or using Rescue to pull a player into deadly AoE
- Rolling Need on an item after having previously agreed to only roll Greed
- Win trading, match fixing, or deliberately losing in PvP
- Racial, ethnic, religious, homophobic, ableist, or other slurs
- Real money trade
To report a player, open a support ticket through the Help menu. Square Enix generally responds to reports within less than an hour, so stick around if you can.