Final Fantasy XIV (FFXIV) will be eight years old come this August, and the community cannot be any more active if they tried. With A Realm Reborn being the game’s initial starting point, it is easy to see why fans adored the game right out the gate, even with its uneven padding and dialogue-heavy fetch quests and cutscenes. A Realm Reborn does an exceptional job at setting the stakes and making you care about your character and job, as well as the plethora of characters you meet throughout your journey. Fortunately, it only gets better from there with the three massive expansions that follow and offer even more incredible things to do and see. However, Final Fantasy XIV would not be half of what it is without the wonderful community that has been behind it every step of the way.
I finally decided to dive into Final Fantasy XIV this past December. After some serious consideration, I decided against skipping directly to Shadowbringers and chose to start from level 1 as well. I wanted to take in the beautiful world of Eorzea and take my character through the story I heard get so much love from the community. Thus began what is truly an unforgettable experience and one that I will cherish forever. In my now 115+ hour experience, I found a community that not only wants to help out newcomers but is also incredibly patient with them. Right from the start of my experience, I met the most friendly people trying to help newbies make sense of everything. I even got invited to a Free Company full of newbies like myself and veterans who are essentially biding time for the Endwalker expansion later this year. That mix of players makes the company unique for many reasons. The newer players can seek out help whenever needed and usually get it, whether that’s a question on how crafting works, how to obtain better gear, or if anyone can help with a dungeon. No one is “too good” to help out, and that rings true throughout the entire community, not just in the Free Company I joined.
One of the best experiences I ever had in Final Fantasy XIV was when I was nearing the end of A Realm Reborn. Members of the Free Company I was in asked me where I was in the story and what I was doing. Little did I know, they were setting up a little surprise for me. After a series of cutscenes and dialogue with some NPCs, I finally accessed a new area after eighty-some hours in the base game. Foundation is where you travel to when you finish A Realm Reborn and access the game’s first expansion Heavensward, and there were a handful of my new friends I met in the Free Company. All were congratulating me and applauding my efforts and my arrival. It was a truly surreal experience that I genuinely have not experienced in any game. How important that moment is, in general, was suddenly escalated by a group of incredibly passionate and friendly adventurers that fully understand the achievement of making it to the first expansion. This community is responsible for many heartwarming moments for me personally already, but this may very well be at the top of the list. Just how willing they are to go out of their way and enhance others’ experience is truly remarkable. The thing is, this community is overflowing with adventurers precisely like that, which makes Eorzea’s magical world somehow more magical and wonderful.
Additionally, veterans of the community have been an enormous help for me to understand better the mechanics I otherwise would have missed or ignorantly discarded. Something as simple as having what essentially acts as a second main questline but for your job was wholly lost on me. It wasn’t until I mentioned needing suggestions on what to do on Twitter when a kind stranger reached out to me and explained that system to me. He invited me to his Discord group and explained everything there, even going as far as crafting me better armor and accessories before he left. That allowed me to learn a bunch of new abilities and become a Dragoon! It was beneficial and something I probably would have gotten frustrated with down the road, but the community proved wonderfully helpful once more. The head of the Free Company I joined then took the time to explain how obtaining armor changes in the expansions, something the game never explains to you. Or, at least, not very well and is a significant help if you know what you’re doing. In the base game, A Realm Reborn, you will start receiving currency called “Allagan Tomestone of Poetics” and can’t use them on much of anything. They’re easily forgettable and might not seem all that useful. But that’s far from the truth. These Tomestones are used to craft weapons, armor, and accessories in the expansions – specifically gear for level 50 and above characters – and the best way to obtain them are from Daily Quest Roulettes. I genuinely never would have done that. Having that explained to me allowed me to get every piece of my equipment to level 110, which increased my overall item level to 110 and enabled me to receive better drops and rewards from quests in the future. These two things have helped me tremendously, and I probably would have been a bit lost without either of them!
I am now level 60 and still pushing forward in Final Fantasy XIV, and I have no plans of stopping. Even at level 60, I sometimes mess up in a dungeon or die in a boss fight. Still, even then, the community is welcoming and encouraging, which says something, especially compared to the other gaming communities out there. I have done many dungeons at this point, and every single one of them had encouraging veterans in them. When the squad wipes, and we have to start a boss fight from the start again, there is never anyone shouting or pointing fingers at another player. Instead, they are giving strategy or words of encouragement to players who felt it was their fault. Everything about FFXIV is refreshing and welcoming. Even in situations where you get paired up with twenty-three random adventurers, the experience is smooth and inviting. It is astonishing how this community conducts itself. It genuinely feels like this community gets it and all they want to do is see everyone have a great experience at all costs. It’s everyone’s understanding of what makes FFXIV great that drives everything forward, and what makes it great is how effortless it is to get involved with the community. If you need help, you will get it and then some, which makes FFXIV such a great experience.
When I first decided to take the plunge and give Final Fantasy XIV a fair shake, I never would have anticipated it grabbing me as hard as it did. Especially since MMOs aren’t typically my style of game. But, thanks to its single-player-esque layout, engaging story, satisfying combat, and top-tier community, it has quickly become one of my favorite games of all time, and I’m nowhere near done with my journey. Everything just clicks into place, and you feel like you are part of the bigger picture even if you just joined. When an entire game’s community is part of the experience, both core and meta, and that same community is as welcoming and friendly as this one, the experience will always be exceptional. There are many reasons to dive into Final Fantasy XIV, everything that is there is worth exploring, but if the community around it were toxic or uninviting, none of it would be worth seeing through to the end.
Ultimately, my lance-wielding cat girl is a better adventurer because of those around me in the world. Because they are the ones who helped get my own feet underneath me and encouraged me to push forward with the base game and see it through. They were right, and it is worth seeing and worth experiencing. Even in the game’s lulls, there are still reasons to be engaged in that world and story. I would have missed out on so much if I just skipped to the newest expansion and jumped to level 70. I would not have joined the Free Company I did or interact with several people online who were also friendly and willing to help me understand what was going on or needed to be done to learn new skills. This community is special and honestly the best I have ever encountered in a game. It’s their love and passion for the game that bleeds into Eorzea. It is infectious and potent but authentic. Everyone involved just wants to have fun, and even the veterans want to make sure the newcomers have a great time as they once did. I have a long road ahead of me, and I am beyond excited for Endwalker, but it’s all thanks to this phenomenal community that I want to continue my adventure.