As Endwalker MSQ thunderclaps are fading in the horizon, leaving the most pleasant aftertaste and a crave for more, I am back to the pre-expansion routines – focusing on exploring and leveling alt jobs.
My primary goal today is leveling my main’s alt jobs – monk, samurai and dancer, then I plan to catch up with my Lalafell – she has a story to do up from Doma on her machinist and her own set of alt jobs – black mage, bard and ninja.
As I wrote previously, the most effective way to level characters in FFXIV is MSQ (main story questline), without distractions, on the main class/job (the best advice a newcomer could ever have), and chain dungeon runs on alt classes/jobs. You can weave in FATEs (world quests), and normal quests, and exploration to while the queue time away and help with XP a bit, but the bulk would still be dungeons.
The Case of Normal Quests
Normal quests are an interesting and unique case in FFXIV. In all other MMOs, we’re used to think quest hubs. You arrive at a new village, you accept your normal range of quests like kill-me-ten, bring-me-ten, which may or may not unravel into investigation, character development and what not questlines of different personal value and different epicness, but basically you’re required to complete them to gain gear upgrade, a number of crafting mats and the essential XP to progress further. By the time you complete a leveling zone, you have almost all one-time questing done with an exception of few side questlines.
However tedious and uninspiring this model may seem or feel at times, it serves one major and vital goal: world immersement and knowledge. When you leave the said pattern village, you leave it with knowledge of who the locals are, what the village lives on, what’s their troubles and sorrows, what problems and foes happen here. In other words, you make the problems of the locals your own, and this helps you to feel yourself a part of the world, and zone name and map are no more blank: every spot becomes meaningful and is tied to your personal adventures there.
Let’s take an example: you pass a flock of bears roaming near the road on the way to a village. The only thing you know it’s, well, bears, a creature of level 10 which is easy/hard to kill accordingly to your current gear level. By the time you finish the bear themed questing, you may learn that:
- Bear skins are important to keep the local houses warm in winter
- This barmaid cooks the best bear stew
- Her cousin from the neighbour village loves it so much!
- Bears are harassing the livestock, so their population must be kept in order
- This small guy wants to become a bear hunter like his father
- Bears may have caught an unnatural disease/intelligence which may be a work of dark forces, necromancers and cultists, which is another step to understanding the big enemy!
So after that, you never walk past the same bear as a creature level 10, it has stories and meaning attached! See how the mundane quests helped to build the people’s lifestyle, terrain and the world, however trivial this might be in the bigger picture?
Final Fantasy, due to design, is not so if you travel through MSQ only. For example, if you take Churning Mists in Dravania, you’re focused on Estinien/Alphinaud/Ysayle journey, and moogles are but a nuisance, just a means to the end, and you help them with just the bare minimum – only so that they helped you on your quest. Of course, you catch the spirit of the overall course of events and local troubles, but you never get to “live” there like it is required with other mmos and games, you don’t feel the land as thoroughly.
Luckily FFXIV is not devoid of this benefit, and there are no less world building quests than in any other MMO – it’s just best to put them aside for the time of the main story run.
And this is what I’m doing now: the normal/side questlines!
Having completed four Dravania zones and Mor’Dhona in full – because this is where my samurai/monk are by level – I must say that it was totally worth it, because that’s exactly the world building I was lacking during MSQ. I understand the zones now a lot better, I got acquainted with the locals and learned their stories (often moving or hilarious!), I know what air they’re breathing and how they live. For instance, Churning Mists is not some zone with aimlessly roaming dragons, seats of Hraesvelgr and Nighogg and a couple of moogle enclaves anymore – I know what they’re all doing and how they’re communicating, I learned about the ruins and the lifestyle, I know which creatures live where and what they mean for the locals – well, everything.
And so I intend to complete all the side quests as a close goal, starting from capital city quests level 1. But of course, I’m trying to do zones corresponding my job level first – because it helps with XP, sometimes upgrades my gear, and grants the gold I’m despreately lacking.
By the time I completed Endwalker MSQ, I finally had 500k+ in gil (gold), and was available to purchase an apartment!
As with the Bard’s music performing, the system immediately struck me as intuitive and well-developed. All the range of furnishings and interior, to every possible taste. The only drawback? It costs as much as like it costs IRL, and you could spend all your savings very quickly, lol :)
I’ve spent about 150-200k for some very basic furnishing, and I cobbled up some place to live – mind you, not the option that I’m heading to, but the option that I had money for :)
In smaller apartments zoning is a challenge and a king, and this is nowhere close to where I’m heading to. So far, it’s a big hall/kitchen by the door, and private chambers bedroom and bathroom. I already have a plan how to design an apartment of my dreams, but it requires a lot of gold :)
Well, a great feature to play with, and that’s where my gold goes now.