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How To Maximize A Monthly Subscription

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Final Fantasy 14 characters stand in the snow while looking at a massive gate.

Final Fantasy XIV is a gargantuan experience, and that’s saying something for the series’ standard. The MMORPG is soon to welcome its latest expansion, Dawntrail, on June 28 for those who pre-ordered it. If you’re starting to get FOMO and you want to discover what all the fuss is about, there’s quite a bit of ground to cover before committing to a monthly subscription.

If you’re an upcoming player who bounced off after a few hours or a brand new Warrior of Light looking for their next adventure, this guide covers a number of activities you can do in a month, and afterward, if you stick to the game.

Alternatively, if you’re already caught up on the main story quests and you’re just waiting for the new expansion or looking for endgame activities, here are the 10 things to do before Final Fantasy 14’s Dawntrail expansion.

First, let’s talk about the Free Trial

You’ve seen the memes time and time again, and for good reason. The FFX14 Free Trial allows you to play up to level 70 without a restriction on playtime. In short, you’re able to access the base game—A Realm Reborn, or ARR for short—as well as the first two expansions, Heavensward and Stormblood, without having to worry about paying for subscription time.

On paper, this is the method to opt for if you’re planning on starting from scratch. In practice, there are a few caveats that can be substantial in the long run: lack of social options to play with others and group up with fellow Free Trialers, and intricacies when it comes to your platform of choice are the main obstacles.

If you bought FFX14 in the past and forgot about it, you won’t be able to access the Free Trial with that account on your platform of choice. It sounds fairly obvious, but it’s worth mentioning, especially for some special cases like Steam.

You can create different FF14 accounts and join the Free Trial, which is what I did last year to help a friend. But once you inevitably want to move to the full paid experience, your Steam account won’t allow you to do so unless you return, and resubscribe, to your original account. Alternatively, you can purchase the base game and expansions again within Square Enix’s app, but why would you? As a rule of thumb, at least on Steam, the first account you make on a platform will likely be the one you’ll have to stick to for the foreseeable future.

Here’s the main thing that got in the way of enjoying the Free Trial as a party of two who aren’t subscribed: Your social actions are very limited—you can’t send private or global messages, and most crucially, you can’t create a party. A workaround is to go to a city capital and ask in the general chat for people to create the party for you both. And they’ll often do fairly quickly. The main missions, however, will constantly ask you to disband the party for specific encounters.

It’s a tiring process. If you can have somebody tagging alongside the group that has access to the full game, it’ll be a much more amicable experience all around.

Image: Square Enix

You could potentially tackle most, if not all of ARR

Another preconception about FF14 you might be familiar with is that ARR, which is basically the base game and first batch of patches, is a slog. As somebody with the same worries once who got through it, well, it kind of is. Most quests are unmemorable, and you’ll be spending a while talking to characters you won’t care about.

Toward the end, however, the story significantly ramps up, and you’ll have a great overview of what veterans of the game always praise when it comes to the writing and narrative elements of the MMO. You’ll also get access to quite a few additional quests, activities, and rewards as you trek along.

If you’re consistent and you have a good podcast backlog, it’s feasible to tackle all 160-ish quests of the base ARR. You’re then looking at another 80 quests or so, which were originally released as patches. Some are shorter than others, so don’t let the numbers intimidate you. The first dozen hours might present the biggest hurdle, as you’re walking around all the time, but once you’ve already gotten a mount and a few fast travel points, it all becomes more manageable.

Now, it’s important to note that you don’t need to burn yourself out. Tackling all of ARR in a month is possible, but it’ll depend on your availability and willingness to sit through very classic MMO tropes when it comes to questing. You can take your time—just keep in mind that the more you progress into the main story quests, the more FF14 will open up, offering new activities to tackle that get increasingly more interesting.

Get a feel for dungeons and raids

Among those activities are dungeons, trials, and raids. While going through ARR, a big motivator for me was knowing that I had a new dungeon or trial upcoming after tackling X number of quests. (The Main Scenario Quests list of the Wiki helped me to keep track of what was ahead.)

For ARR, raids won’t become a thing until much later in the story. But there are many dungeons and trials to tackle. The first is what you’d expect: taking groups of players with assigned roles (usually one tank, two DPS, and a healer) into all sorts of labyrinthic spaces. They start fairly simply, but quickly begin to showcase mechanics, puzzles, and boss encounters that require sharp reflexes and clear coordination to take down. Trials, on the other hand, take you straight to a boss fight, which is usually quite the spectacle.

These activities provide a good testing ground for your Jobs, and can help you decide what type of role you’re enthusiastic to master moving forward. Once unlocked, switching Jobs is super easy, so you can always get the feel for something new, especially when you inevitably replay previous dungeons and trials for the Daily Roulette.

Improve your crafting and gathering classes

Not only does FF14 have a long list of Jobs to discover and level up, but there’s a different category that doesn’t always get the spotlight. Disciplines, or what the term “job” usually means in any other MMO, allow you to become anything from a carpenter to an alchemist.

There are 11 Disciplines to pick from, each with its own features and purposes. Disciplines of the Hand are all based on crafting things like armor and jewelry or prepping food. Disciplines of the Land are all about fishing or finding metals and other rare items out in the wild.

Some Disciplines can become quite lucrative in-game if you’re willing to spend the time on them. They’re all also very fun, and a nice change of pace from your smackdown duties.

A Final Fantasy 14 character stands wearing armor.

Image: Square Enix

Play mini games at the Gold Saucer

Once you’ve reached level 15 and gained access to the expanded travel options, head to Ul’Dah and speak to Well-heeled Youth, who has the quest “It Could Happen to You” up for grabs. It’s a fairly straightforward task, and you’ll be at the Gold Saucer in no time.

The Gold Saucer is a frankly overwhelming casino-type establishment that is optional, but shouldn’t be completely ignored. It has a ton of mini games to discover, including a few big ones like Triple Triad from Final Fantasy 8. While they’re great ways to pass the time, you’ll also be rewarded with Manderville Gold Saucer Points, or MGP, a currency used to buy special minions, mounts, outfits, and so on.

If you get invested, make sure to take part in the lottery system, Cactpot, which runs both daily and weekly. You’ll be getting dozens of rewards in no time.

Scratch the roguelike itch with Deep Dungeons

If you didn’t get an invite to Hades II’s Technical Test, there’s another roguelike option for you inside of FFX14. Deep Dungeons are procedurally generated dungeons that sprawl across multiple floors. You can tackle them by yourself or with a party of up to four players, and they can get quite hard the higher you climb.

The first you’ll encounter is the Palace of the Dead, which has 200 floors to plunge through. The trick is that everybody starts at level 1 and gains experience as they make progress. Different Deep Dungeons have different level requirements and restrictions. For the Palace of the Dead, you only need a level 17 character. Then, Heaven-on-High requires level 61, while Eureka Orthos requires level 81 instead. You’ll get there eventually – Zagreus believes in you.

Or just learn an instrument

If anything else fails, you can become a Bard at level 30 and inspire others with your music. Surprisingly, there are more than 20 instruments available in FFX14, from harps to electric guitars, each with its own special control layout so you can mimic the real thing as much as possible. I once listened to somebody play “Careless Whisper” on a saxophone to extreme precision and my life hasn’t been the same since. You could inspire others like this, too, by picking up an instrument in FFX14.

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