When I played the original FFXIV, it was horrible. The menus were a mess and there wasn't much of a social element any more.
Now the remake "Realm Reborn", despite the nasty launch where "early access" was pretty much voided, everything is made much smoother. Having played the original FFXI over 10 years ago the game is also much, much easier and less laborious for an MMORPG in comparison. It is much more casual.
In a way, it's much like World of Warcraft in the sense that you don't need to wait for parties to level up, which is good news for Damage Dealers (DD, or DPS) since they usually have the hardest time finding parties. There is a Duty Finder that automatically pairs you up with other players from other servers so it's quite quick rather than constantly shouting to arrange your own local party.
With the new FATE system where random enemies or bosses appear in the wild, you can max out a class in 2 or 3 days compared to the 6 months or so in FFXI. On top of that, you even have "Rest XP" granting you a bonus whenever you gain XP just for logging out for so long. As if that wasn't enough, there are side quests called, "Leves" that give you another way of earning XP if you ever run out of quests so there's really no need to wait for a party while you're levelling. It's so easy to level that it's not uncommon to see players that have levelled everything to 50.
There are also no death penalties to drag you down whereas in FFXI, you can de-level for dying. De-leveling was quite common and you were literally risking your avatar's life if you were mining in the higher level zones where, you constantly had to keep an eye on your Invisibility and Sneak buffs from running out.
Obtaining the next set of gear isn't a worry either as you gain it all easily as you complete story quests. Even end game gear is highly accessible as everyone simply needs to farm dungeons for a currency to buy what they need rather than wait for that rare drop. Downside is of course, everyone has the same gear and it no longer has that special sense of satisfaction from them as opposed to FFXI's Dynamis and "Sky" NM runs.
In FFXI, after gaining a few levels, you'd probably have to go find a way of making enough Gil to buy your next set of gear and spells/skills. You'd need a bit of income just to travel too as there were no mounts. FFXI quest rewards weren't worth much and spells/skills weren't learned automatically. You had to buy scrolls to learn them and as the spell level increased, so did the amount of Gil you had to save. Mainly because the scrolls were dropped from mobs. It was quite sad to see some players that hadn't progressed because they didn't know how to make the Gil they needed.
And this was also the point where you had dominating "elite" Linkshells that kept exact times of when Notorious Monsters (NMs) were going to spawn and monopolised them which, made it even harder to earn gil.
FFXIV:ARR in comparison pretty much spoon feeds players until the end game bosses and so it's quite sad to see players whining from a few wipes or, "rage quitting" as they say.
But anyway, moving on...
Crafting is more fun and less stressful. Where FFXI was purely based on luck, you have much more control in FFXIV:ARR as you can see the progress and success rate with a variety of skills to make the process more fun. No more sorrow after you saved up millions of gil to buy crafting materials only for it to fail...
So what else would I have liked to see?
Well, Inventory management is a mess at the moment. There's no sort function and, as much as I like being able to customise my own virtual servant, using retainers to manage storage is a pain compared to FFXI. In FFXI you bought furniture for your room and you'd have one big inventory to store everything. For FFXIV:ARR, the flow goes like this - Remember which retainer you stored something in, summon him/her, choose retrieve items, flip through pages until you find it, reverse through steps to close everything. Where were the UI designers when they came up with this?
Next point, everyone can teleport and has their own mount so you no longer have to pay mages for teleports now which again, dampens down the level of labour in the game. When you didn't want to pay mages, you either levelled your own job (which you then had to switch in your room) or just run from zone to zone.
What I really missed were the flying airship or sea ships in FFXI where you could just gaze over the scenery and sometimes get attacked by monsters. If you were low level you had to hide under the decks or get slaughtered with some XP loss. A proper adventure.
FFXIV:ARR doesn't have much end game content either and perhaps that is the reason why they set a weekly cap as to how many stones (the currency you need to buy end game gear) you can obtain and, how many times you can enter Coil. If there was no cap, you'd probably have left after the first "free" month of the game.
Fighting the Primals in hard mode are fairly fun in itself but short-lived. So is the Coil because the runs don't last too long, Bosses are too similar and the presentation of the Coil looks like an after-thought.
FFXI had many more tough NMs to fight with different tactics.
I suppose I enjoyed the original FFXI more because the effort you put towards the items also meant you appreciated it all more. It might have been laborious but there were parts of the "journey" that was memorable. So when you finally saved up 1 million gil or so to join Dynamis with 39 other players then win something, the satisfaction was a lot greater - "Woohoo! I finally got this piece of gear!" Whereas in FFXIV, it happens too fast. The only thing players will remember after leaving FFXIV:ARR will probably be how hard Titan HM was with PUGs.
Then again, MMORPGs are games. They are supposed to be fun, not laborious and for that reason FFXI has been tamed down a lot and perhaps more so for FFXIV:ARR. Hopefully end game content builds up more variety through the major updates every 3 months.
Starter's Guide (FFXIV v2.0 and Earlier)
This is based on playing on Cerberus server so some parts of this guide may not apply to your server.
Leveling & Traveling
For your first class, you will want to work through the main story quests because you will obtain gear along the way. It will also let you teleport between places and give you your airship pass at level 14, at the Adventurers Guild that will let you access other zones. Once you've done that, you'll be able to go to the more popular areas for the following Fully Active Time Events (FATEs) and level up fast.
The downside of levelling by FATEs is you won't get any gear from quests so I recommend doing quests for your first class until you reach 40 or so. Or, if you can't be bothered running from place to place you can level up fast and just farm the dungeon instances for gear.
As you level by completing quests, be sure to complete the Leve quest givers (they have a big card on their head) which will save you unlocking them later. I recommend saving these Leve quests for crafting and gathering if you plan to do any.
You should see large groups of players standing around near the crystals waiting for FATEs to spawn so, if you shout that you're looking for a FATE party, you usually get an invite quick since the setup doesn't matter much. Either hit the speech bubble icon and choose "Shout" or, type something similar to the following:
/shout Level 20 DPS LF FATE PT
For the story quest dungeons, you can use the Duty Finder to queue automatically and join a Pickup Group (PUG) of random people or, shout in the local chat.
When logging out, be sure to logout at places that are sanctuaries. You will see the message, "You have entered a sanctuary." if are in one. These are either the inn rooms in one of the main cities (you must talk to the inn keeper at the Adventurers Guild) or a place with the Aetheryte Crystals.
Be sure to attune to any Aetheryte Crystals you come across along the way for teleports which again, is unlocked as part of the story quests. You can also use chocobos at stables which automatically run you to a nearby destination but you will give a quest to unlock your own mount at level 21.
So, where to go for FATE farming? The main idea is to go for the FATE bosses that appear in zones because they give you the most XP so, it can be a good idea to keep the map open.
Limsa Lominsa, Western La Noscea - Aleport
Gridania, Black Shroud - Quarrymill
Lookout for the ones in the north of the map, "Keeping the Hive".
Limsa Lominsa, Eastern La Noscea - Costa Del Sol
For this, you want to lookout for Cancer which is the boss that can give you up to 100K XP.
Coerthas Central Highlands - Camp Dragonhead
Svaras is the main boss here and is part of a chain of FATEs in the northern area of the map, near Steel Vigil.
Ul'Dah, Northern Thanalan - Ceruleum Processing Plant
There is another set of chain quests here where lots of Followers spawn for a very long time but, stay behind for a few other FATEs afterwards for more XP.
Classes & Jobs
It's a bit confusing at first but, you can think of "classes" as junior jobs that give you a taste of what the actual job will offer. They also kind of act like the way you use sub-jobs from FFXI so that you can use another class' abilities. In fact, you can select abilities from more than one other class.
Most people level the Conjurer class for Protect and Cure so that even Warriors and other DPSes can heal themselves while soloing.
So, once you hit level 30, you can unlock your main job by returning to your guild and completing the job quest. After that there will another quest every 5 levels that reward you with new skills and gear specific to your job.
To switch classes, simply equip the weapon associated with that class after you will have to visit a guild to unlock it first. You can't do this until you've finished a number of class specific quests for your first class.
Once you have another class levelled, simply go into Actions and select the sub-class abilities to slot and use them.
Free Companies & Linkshells
Free Companies are the "guilds" of FFXIV:ARR. As with any MMORPG, you either shout to see if anyone's recruiting or, you use a forum. By joining one you usually get benefits such as an FC buff that gives you extra XP in battle or crafting.
Linkshells on the other hand, work like they do in FFXI. They are just used for chatting with friends but you can now have multiple ones. To save switching between linkshells to chat you can do the following:
To type something for FC:
/fc Hello FC!
To type something for Linkshell 1:
/l1 Hello linkshell 1!
Storage and Selling Items
Extra storage outside of your inventory works a little odd. You must hire a retainer from any of the major cities - a maximum of two retainers. You can then summon them using a bell next to the retainer hiring NPC or, from an inn room. You'll also be putting any items you want to sell on these retainers.
Still Strapped for Gil?
As I mentioned in my quick review of the game, making gil isn't much of a laborious task. Selling items you can exchange for philosophy stones are a common way of making gil. Usually there are some crafters looking to buy something at Revenants Toll so that they can craft items beyond level 50.
Selling directly saves the market board tax too which, can be really hefty for expensive items.
Crafting & Gathering
So, hopefully you've been saving your leve quests!
Gathering classes are fairly easy to level. You can use your rest XP for every item you manage to successfully gather and while you're doing this, you're also carrying out a leve quest.
Once you hit level 50, you gain access to "unspoiled" gathering points at various level 50 zones which are needed to craft 1 star and beyond items. These gathering points appear at Eorzea Times 1am, 5am and 9am - 10 minutes apart in real time. You can click on the clock on the top-right of the screen to switch between ET (Eorzea Time).
For crafting classes, you will want to do charity type leve quests which usually ask you to submit 3 of a certain item. These allow you to submit quest items 3 times thus giving you 3 times the reward XP you'd normally get. You won't have access to these type of quests until you reach level 20 and, you'll know if it's a charity quest if the card has a picture of two women in it, one is an old woman weaving.
You can also leave your avatar churning out items automatically while you go AFK to do something else but, I recommend manually crafting items as you can get 10 times more XP per item and, you have better chances of HQing items which you will most likely need later for your crafting quests.
Rare FATE Bosses
The two main bosses that are similar to FFXI's NMs are Bahamut who appears in the Coerthas Highlands and, Odin who appears in South or Central Shroud in the Black Shroud.
Bahamut you pretty much need someone camping to know when he spawns but always to the far west of the map. For Odin, you know he will spawn when the weather in the Black Shroud has strange balls of glowing light floating around you.
These bosses have some nasty AOEs and can kill level 50s with end game gear easily. You will want the regular party setup to help win and survive. If you're not alive when the boss is down, it does not count as a win. With a good party setup, you also have a better chance of scoring a gold rank which will reward you with Bahamut's horns or, Odin's cloth which you can exchange for goods at Revenants Toll.
Lag can be very bad during these fights because pretty much the entire zone will be gathering together to fight them. PS3 owners struggle handling all the extra players so you will need a fairly decent machine to compete.
This is when you reach level 50 - finished the story quests and watched (skipped?) the credits. By running back to Waking Sands, you can now fight the Primals you battled during the story quests again but in Hard Mode (HM). Be sure to speak to the NPC Nedrick Ironheart outside to unlock the Wanderers Palace and Amdapor Keep too. You can also start your relic weapon quest by going to the Hyrstmill, northeast area of Fallgourd.
Some Darklight (DL) gear will help in the HM Primal fights. To obtain this gear, you must farm the last two dungeons Castrum Meridianum (CM) or Praetorium (Prae) for Philosophy Tombstones - hence why you see people rushing you to skip cutscenes if you're there for your story quest.
Each run gives you 100 philosophy stones and by travelling to Revenants Toll and speaking to the sisters, you can exchange them for your DL armour. What you don't get is a DL weapon which is only dropped by the Tonberry King in Wanderers Palace but, the weapon that drops from the HM Primals are better anyway.
When you're after your first pieces of DL gear, I suggest starting off at CM or Prae and they aren't gear demanding.
While you're farming for stones, you might want to soul bind different pieces of gear and convert them to materia. This is done simply by wearing a piece of gear and using it. As you should know from your relic weapon quest chain, you will need 2 level 3 materias to upgrade your relic weapon later and they can be very expensive.
To be able to convert 100% soul bound gear to materia, you need to complete the level 19 quest, "Forging the Spirit" in Central Thanalan, Black Brush (24,13). All you have to do is go talk to the NPC then after that, you can right-click a 100% soul bound item and choose convert.
I won't write about tactics for fighting the HM Primals here as you'll find plenty of guides and YouTube videos out there showing off kills. You will probably want to farm (i.e. fight over and over) the Primals until they drop your weapon before moving onto the next one. After defeating a primal, return to Waking Sands and unlock the next HM Primal.
By getting a Primal weapon, you can go onto doing Wanderers Palace or Ampakor Keep. These will give you Mythology Tombstones that give your artifact +1 gear and your relic +1 weapon. Be sure to set aside 900 myth stones as you will need them to exchange for the materials to upgrade your relic weapon.
You are limited to 300 myth stones per week and this quota is reset every Monday 8am PST or, 3pm GMT.
HM Primals, Tips for Titan
The HM Primal versions of Ifrit and Garuda are pretty straight forward. It will most likely be Titan HM you will be stuck on as most people die from the giant plume AOEs. Lag can be a big killer in this fight and constantly moving around helps. Once the heart is broken, it's down to remembering his sequence of attacks.
So, presuming you have a group of DL geared party members and no one has relic +1 weapons...
You will also want to join or form a local party because you only need one tank, two healers and the rest damage dealers. The Duty Finder on the other hand requires two tanks which can work but they will have to be over-geared. That's why you will most likely see some FCs selling "Titan HM" kills.
Titan HM can bring out the worst in players and you will see lots of frustrated players that leave or rage at each other after a single wipe and that is the main problem. To save the grief of repeatedly going through all that, you should stick with players who show potential in improving from wipes and build up the party from there.
Everyone should survive until the heart is broken to save healers MP (if there is no bard) and also keep the DPS high enough to break it. Be sure to be within range of AoE heals when Titan stumps.
Both healers are also a key part of the fight until after the heartbreak. You can still win with one healer and only a few surviving DPS after the heartbreak.
After the heartbreak, watchout for a party member being jailed in a gaol. If they are jailed then gather together behind Titan, activate sprint and, run out towards the edge when you see him do Mountain Buster (the move where he lives up the ground on tank). This will help keep the plumes in one place and Mountain Buster helps signal you when to dodge them.
Watching a video of the fight after the heart phase helps to know how to dodge attacks but, you still need to play for some actual experience of the fight. After all, a video does not lag and the players that put the video up don't put those videos up until after they pretty much perfected their techniques.
Beyond Primal HMs, The Coil
Once you've defeated all the Primal HMs, congratulations! You will be able to go upgrade your unfinished relic weapon to a glowing +1 relic weapon. Go exchange the 900 myth stones you saved up at Revenants Toll for 3x Thavnairian Mist and buy some Grade 3 Carbonised Matter from the Market Place. Now look at your relic weapon description to see what crafter is needed to upgrade. You can usually find someone offering melding services.
Return to Waking Sands to get the quest to unlock Bahamut's Coil. Entrance is at Wineport.
Enjoy your FFXIV:ARR adventures!