Final Fantasy XIV: One of the Greats

Ryan Hall

More stories from Ryan Hall


What makes a game good? Some say it’s an excellent story,  tight and fun gameplay, or just a stellar soundtrack. Well, Final Fantasy XIV has all of that and more. Final Fantasy XIV is a massive multiplayer online, or MMO game developed by Square Enix in 2010, initially for PC, Steam, and PlayStation 3. 

When it was released, it didn’t receive the acclaim the team had hoped for. The game itself ran on an engine that wasn’t suited for a large scale game like Final Fantasy XIV, and boasted a wide array of game-breaking glitches and bugs. When all hope was lost, Naoki Yoshida stepped up and took over as head director. Under Yoshida’s guidance, the game was broken down and built back up into possibly the greatest MMO to grace the gaming scene as a whole. Further along in its life, PS4 support was picked up, and PS3 support dropped. In this game, players explore the wondrous fictional world of Hydaelyn, battling a wide variety of monsters, and try to save a world ravaged by a great calamity years prior. 

Nearly five years ago, the second moon orbiting Hydaelyn, Dalamud, began to change color and slowly descend onto the world. Once close enough, Dalamud opened revealing Bahamut, the Dreadwyrm. Everyone has a different story of what happened, but everyone remembers vaguely a group of heroes who stood against Bahamut, called the Warriors of Light. 

Players take up arms as the new Warriors of Light and work together through many different dungeons and face magnificent challenges.

These challenges often entail different objectives. There are four main types of content in the game, trials, dungeons, normal raids and alliance raids. Trials often have four to eight players come together to fight a giant beast or someone who just happens to be standing in the way. Dungeons typically see four players join forces to make their way through a stronghold, cave, or some other large location. Normal raids are a blend of both dungeons and trials. In normal raids, eight players work together to clear a handful of puzzles, before fighting an incredibly strong foe. Finally, there are alliance raids. 24 players divided into three parties of eight work together to tackle a massive dungeon, fight waves after waves of enemies, before finally taking down. 

However, these new Warriors of Light aren’t innately powerful. Final Fantasy XIV features the series staple, the Job system. This allows players to independently level and play a wide variety of different Jobs.

Jobs themselves are broken up into different roles, Tank, Healer, Physical Damage Per Second (DPS), Ranged DPS, and Magical DPS. Your character equips a special item called a Soul Crystal that changes their job. When playing as a specific job, you can only equip that job with its specific equipment and weapons, and use that job’s specific skills. Jobs define what your character does, and each role does their gimmick differently. Each job can be independently leveled up to level 80, as of the current expansion.

Final Fantasy XIV is broken up into four major sections, being: A Realm Reborn, Heavensward, Stormblood, and Shadowbringers. The game’s free trial includes both A Realm Reborn and Heavensward.

A Realm Reborn is the base that’s initially available when you buy the game. In patch 5.3 which released on August 10th, 2020, this part of the game was streamlined and changed from the version that’s existed since 2013. Many of the quests that were unimportant to the main plot were removed. Mechanics such as flying and swimming that were initially introduced in later expansions were added to make the whole game a better and more cohesive experience. 

In A Realm Reborn, a majority of the game’s jobs were added, being Warrior and Paladin, tank jobs, Dragoon and Monk, physical DPS jobs, Bard, a ranged DPS job, Black Mage and Summoner, magical DPS jobs, and Scholar and White Mage, healer jobs. These jobs are unique, because opposed to the rest of the jobs in the game, are obtained by leveling up an initial class. Respectively, these are Gladiator, Marauder, Lancer, Pugilist, Archer, Thaumaturge, Arcanist, and Conjurer. Arcanist itself splits into Summoner and Scholar, and they both level at the same rate. If you level Summoner to 50, the level cap for A Realm Reborn, Scholar will also be level 50, without having to even play the job.

Paladin, one of the two tank jobs in A Realm Reborn, uses a one-handed sword and shield, and utilizes the power of light to attack and combat foes. They have a lot of whole party support and damage mitigation. They have an invulnerability skill, called Hallowed Ground. When this is active, Paladins become completely immune to damage. 

Warrior, the other tank job, is nearly the opposite. They use a gigantic axe, and the power of rage. Their whole gimmick is standing down enemies and just taking the brunt of the damage. Warrior’s invulnerability skill is called Holmgang. The Warrior chains themself to an enemy, halting the enemies movement, and preventing the Warrior’s health from dropping below one. 

Dragoon is one the physical DPS jobs. Dragoon’s use a lance as their primary weapon. They specialize in leaping high into the air to combat dragons. These skills are referred to as jumps, and as of Shadowbringers they have four major jumps. Utilizing both their jumps and the power of the dragons, Dragoons are one of the higher damaging DPS classes in the game.

Monk, another physical DPS, fight with gauntlets. Monks are the strongest DPS job in the game, if used correctly. Most of Monk’s skills have a positional bonus, meaning that to get the most out of them, you need to be on the flank or back of an enemy.

Bards are A Realm Reborn’s ranged DPS job. Starting out as a simple archer, Bards use a bow to inflict damage over time, and play songs on their instruments to grant special effects to help out the party, such as increasing damage, player speed, among others.

Black Mage is one of two magical DPS in A Realm Reborn. Black Mage has a fire magic phase, where they spend all of their magic points on extremely powerful fire magic, then once it’s magic points run out, it switches to an ice phase where it very quickly regenerates magic points. 

Summoner is the other magical DPS in A Realm Reborn and half of the Arcanist class. Summoner summons small versions of the game’s Primals, or gods of a specific element or race, called egis. They control these egis, and can order them to use special abilities. Every time they use these special abilities, the summoner gets closer and closer to being able to summon an egi of Bahamut. When the Bahamut egi is summoned, the summoner can spam a wide variety of heavy damaging spells, until the egi disappears. 

Next is Scholar, the second half of Arcanist, and one of two healer jobs in A Realm Reborn. Scholar works similarly to Summoner, in that they have a pet to assist them in their gimmick. Scholars can summon one of two different types of fairies, that aid in healing. Scholars can use abilities that heal a lot if any party loses a lot of health, and specializes in preventative healing by giving party members extra health points on top of their current health. 

Lastly is White Mage. They specialize in healing skills that can heal the entire party to nearly full health. Their damaging spells are also surprisingly great, and can outpace the lowest damage dealing DPS class in some regards. 

All of these classes are great on their own, but they really shine in the proper party formation. All of the content in the game revolves around some version of the four man party. These, referred to as light parties by the game, consist of one tank, one healer and two DPS. Full parties, typically used in trials and raids, consist of two tanks, two healers, and four DPS. 

Jobs aren’t just used in combat however. Final Fantasy XIV has an extensive system involving crafting and gathering things.

Crafting and gathering jobs, referred to as Disciples of Hand and Disciples of Land, account for nearly half of the game. If the dungeon conquering and monster slaying isn’t your speed, then the crafting and gathering system might be. As a Disciple of Land, you take up the mantle of a miner, botanist or fisher. While playing these jobs, you gain the ability to see pockets of resources you would be unable to see otherwise. Interacting with them yields a plentitude of resources like ores, plants or special fish. The gathering system itself has a wide array of mechanics that all blend together superbly to make an overall great experience. 

But once the Disciples of Land gather these resources, it comes time to refine them as a Disciple of Hand. Crafting jobs take the resources gathered by the Disciples of Land and refine them. 

As one of eight unique jobs, carpenter, blacksmith, armorer, goldsmith, leatherworker, weaver, alchemist, and culinarian, Disciples of Hand can make a wide selection of items that otherwise couldn’t be obtained. There’s typically an overlap in terms of items needed to make the end product, incentivizing you to pick up and play all of these jobs. In general, the carpenter makes furniture used in the game’s player housing, blacksmith creates weapons, armorer and goldsmith make equip able armor and jewelry, typically superior to their equivalents that can be found in dungeons, leatherworker and weaver work together with Carpenter to make furniture among other things, alchemist makes helpful potions that can either increase your abilities, hinder the enemy, or heal your wounds and culinarian prepares special dishes that can add special bonuses to your character for a short amount of time. 

A Realm Reborn, among the already massive sea of content, added several playable locations in the continent of Eorzea.

In Eorzea, there are the three major city-states which are the starting place for all new characters. These include Ul’ Dah in the dry desert of Thanalan, Limsa Lominsa on the island of La Noscea, and Gridania in the dense forest of the Black Shroud. As well, there’s Ishgard in Coerthas, a land put in an eternal winter due to the fall of Dalamud years prior, and Mor Dhona, a small crystalline cliffside of Coerthas is the home of  alliance raid for A Realm Reborn, the massive Crystal Tower.

Following A Realm Reborn, the first expansion for Final Fantasy XIV was released, Heavensward.

Heavensward was released to the public on June 23, 2015, Heavensward continued the story that A Realm Reborn started, and opened up the fourth city state, The Holy See of Ishgard, located in Coerthas. The city of  Ishgard itself has fallen on hard times, with the advent of the Dragonsong War with Dravania, the country of dragons.  The player has to leave Eorzea for personal safety, they seek refuge in Ishgard and end up helping with the Dragonsong War.

Mechanically speaking, Heavensward took what A Realm Reborn did right, and expanded upon it. Heavensward added many new features that are still utilized in the game five years later.

Among what Heavensward added, it allowed players to fly through the game’s explorable areas. A Realm Reborn, prior to patch 5.3, was rife with backtracking through the same handful of areas for hours on end, for example, making players trek back through the same long stretch between the nearby city and your hideout in the middle of the desert nearly at least twenty times in the main story alone. Due to the large nature of an MMO, these trips between the same two points with no skip travel capabilities, would take a grueling amount of time. Heavensward saw that situation and addressed it. Now players could use the mounts they got from the story, trials, or raids, and they could glide through the air at incredible speeds. The flying would become a staple of movement in the expansions to follow. 

Heavensward added new jobs. They are unique because they do not require an initial class to level up in order to obtain them. This set a standard for all new jobs added in the future expansions. The new jobs added in Heavensward included Astrologian, healer, Machinist, ranged DPS, Dark Knight and tank. 

Astrologian is a very unique healer compared to how scholar and white mage works. The astrologian utilizes the stars to heal. They have an astrolabe that they use to cast healing magic. They also have two different modes, diurnal sect and nocturnal sect. In Diurnal, their spells have a regen ability that slowly heals the target over time. In Nocturnal, their spells apply a shield to the target, granting them additional HP beyond their maximum. They also can draw cards from their tarot deck that they can use to apply bonuses to other party members.

 Machinists use a large musket and different gadgets. As they use their skills, it builds points in the overheat meter. When that fills up, you get a massive damage bonus, and can use a wide variety of skills to deal a lot of damage rapidly. 

The dark knight wields a giant two-handed longsword, and uses the power of darkness. It is a very selfish tank, in that it has very little support for the party. Dark Knight has a blood gauge that it builds by doing its normal sword swipes. When it fills the blood gauge, they can perform a very powerful attack called Bloodspiller. 

Alongside The Holy See of Ishgard, the Heavensward expansion added two major regions (Dravania and the Sea of Clouds) to explore in Hydaelyn, outside of the pre-established continent of Eorzea.

Dravania consists of the wooded Dravanian Forelands and open cliffside of the Dravanian Hinterlands. The Sea of Clouds consist of many floating islands, sitting above the clouds for as far as the eye can see. It also houses the alliance raid for Heavensward, the Sky Pirates.

With the advent of patch 5.3, the Final Fantasy XIV free trial was updated. Previously, it gave a very small sliver of what the game was like, letting you only play until level 35, rather than the level cap of 80, disabling many of the games community features, including the free company system, which allows players across the world to connect and play together, and limited how far you could get into the story mode. When patch 5.3 released, the free trial got an even larger rebuild than A Realm Reborn did. Both A Realm Reborn and Heavensward were completely free, and the level cap was raised from 35 to 60, where Heavensward’s main story ended.