The Final Countdown – Tips for An FFXIV Expansion Launch and What You Can and Should Do Now

Endwalker’s maintenance schedule has been announced and confirmed, which means short of a catastrophe in real life on part with the Final Days, Endwalker is release-ready and we’ll all be playing Final Fantasy XIV 6.0 next Friday.

Given that there are a lot of players who visit here that will be in the situation of their first-ever FFXIV expansion launch, expectations should be set about what you can do now, what you should do now, and what you should hold off on until the patch goes live.

Do: Preorder If You Want Early Access

Starting on Friday December 3rd, FFXIV is Endwalker and the official release date might as well be non-existent in any real capacity. In order to get Early Access-access, you need to be preordered for Endwalker, with the EA key added to your account in Mog Station. I won’t tell you that you have to preorder (and the discussion of how preorder hype has impacted gaming is not due here) but if you intend on playing Endwalker, it’s worth considering. If you want to wait for early reviews or impressions, you can preorder during the Early Access window and still get an EA code to use. Early Access is full access to Endwalker without restrictions – if you don’t add a valid full purchase code by a specified deadline (usually 7-10 days after Early Access starts), you lose access to Endwalker content and any character in that content is basically stuck there until you add a full expansion key. If you did a digital preorder and paid in full already, you should have a full code to add and won’t need to worry about that!

Do: Prepare Your Bags

Joking aside, having inventory space cleared is an easy way to prepare for the new content. If you are still only really playing the combat side of the game, this is less significant, save for perhaps Armory Chest slots for new gear, but if you are a maxed-out gatherer ready to get new materials…you’ll want the space! For bags in FFXIV, remember that in addition to your inventory, you have the Chocobo Saddlebag, Armory Chest, and the inventories of your one to eight Retainers to mind, along with being able to dump gear you use for glamour into the Glamour Dresser or Armoire at an Inn.

Do: Any Last Minute Mogtome Farming You Want to Do

The current Mogtome event ends when the servers go down for maintenance, meaning that you will no longer be able to earn the current Mogtomes and those rewards will be lost to you. If you have a goal you are targeting from the event, now is the time to bust out those duties, and keep in mind that you can repeat the duties on a loop to keep earning tomestones for the event. If you have enough leftover stones to buy a reward, future events will usually have a category to buy the old items, but you cannot earn additional old Mogtomes so whatever you have when maintenance starts on Thursday December 2nd is what you’ve got and no more. Most of the items from the Moogle events are not unique to the event, save for the capstone 100 tomestone purchase (in this case, the Inferno Jacket), so if you don’t really want the jacket, there’s no need to rush through as many Praetorium runs as you can stomach!

Don’t: Immediately Liquidate Your Crafting Materials

If you’re used to WoW, where each expansion’s crafting is an island unto itself of materials with no crossover save for simple vendor basics, FFXIV may confuse in this regard – but materials tend to remain relevant across expansions. Because we don’t have full recipe lists or the like, it is hard to say what items from Shadowbringers will stay relevant in Endwalker, if any (and from a lore perspective, items remaining useful from a world that no one else can get to doesn’t really make sense), and so I would hesitate before hitting the market boards with retainers full of Dwarven Cotton Bolls. Having said that, this week may be one of the best weeks to sell such items as people return to the game for Endwalker prep, and the materials can still be easily gathered in Endwalker if needed, so it may be worth selling them now.

Don’t: Farm Excessively for Gear Unless You’re Close to a Major Upgrade

Tomestone farming is the cornerstone of FFXIV’s endgame combat gameplay, so this may sound counterproductive. However, when 6.0 rolls out, the gear on the current Shadowbringers tomestone vendors will convert from the current tomestones to Poetics, which means that going to undue effort to cap Shadowbringers tomestones in this final week is likely to be wasted – unless you are in spitting distance of a big upgrade. Once Early Access is live, you can immediately buy current item level 520 gear with Poetics and that gear is very likely to last you until around halfway through leveling, if not more. If you’re fresh to level 80 in this final week, even better – you can leapfrog straight from the item level 420 Artifact sets to 520 vendor gear for a small amount of effort. If anything, going into the patch with Poetics capped at 2,000 is a good way to ensure you can get your money…er….tomestone’s worth in gear.

Do: Take A Minute to Adjust Hotbars for Jobs

With Media Tour, we have a good outline of what the jobs will get in the trek from level 80 to 90, and what is being scrapped. If you have a less-played job (or, like me, were an idiot with hotbar and UI settings backups at some point in Shadowbringers which made you give up on about a dozen jobs because you couldn’t remember the rotations and didn’t want to redo them just yet), it’s worth checking in on how the job will change and adjusting hotbars to avoid confusion. Like in major changes in WoW, your hotbars won’t just remove spells and abilities that are taken out, but instead will show them as they were with greyed-out buttons that are X’ed out, just in case you couldn’t tell the ability was gone. At the same time, if you aren’t planning to play a job for a while, don’t worry too much about it, but do focus on your main jobs and make sure that everything is where you want it!

Do: Backup Your UI and Hotbar Settings

FFXIV offers two different options to save backups of your game configuration, including hotbar assignments, so that you are never without your precious buttons. The first is a local backup, which allows you to save and restore settings to your desktop. This options is accessed through the game’s launcher, by clicking the gear icon in the top right corner and choosing the Backup Tool option.

The second option is available after logging into the game, but before actually entering the game with a character. After hitting Start at the main menu screen, there is a gear icon at the top right corner (sound familiar?) and clicking that allows for server-based backups of your FFXIV client settings, hotbars, and the like.

The big difference is largely down to where the backup is stored and how much data is stored. The local backup is generally just UI settings and character-specific options, while the server backup initiated in-game is much more robust and will backup nearly everything save for graphics settings. If you’re using the Server Backup options, please note there are two backup settings – one with the topmost set of gears, and one with the icon next to your character name, with the character settings including hotbar mapping tied to the character options. If you want to have a comprehensive backup, it is best to do both.

There’s no real alarmist reason to backup prior to an expansion launch, however, it is a generally good practice to be in and you won’t really find it necessary until you are missing that backup (I speak from my personal experience!). Better to have it than not!

Do: Run The Endwalker Benchmark

FFXIV changes relatively little about system requirements between expansions, and a lot of the big changes that have occurred of late have been server-side or code optimization rather than flat-out higher requirements. That being said, running the benchmark will give you a performance rating that will tell you if your PC is still up to snuff, and it is also a flashy show of content from the upcoming expansion that includes lots of new abilities and other things the team wants to show off. It is also a source of early datamined info, which…I won’t discuss here!

Running it is pretty simple, you just need to download and extract the ZIP file from the official site, run the Benchmark executable, and you can configure settings and go when ready. There’s a button to easy-import your client settings for FFXIV so you can get a score at your current level of settings and if you want to play with character creation for male Viera in advance, the options are there in the Benchmark as well. As a tech nerd, I find it fun, but it will also tell you if your PC is up to the task of running the game at your settings or not. If you don’t get a Good score, stepping down your settings can help increase performance and keep things running smooth!

Do: Update your PC Drivers and Windows OS

While the game, again, changes relatively little about the engine between expansions, ensuring you have the proper graphics and hardware drivers can make sure your system is in top shape before the expansion, along with ensuring minimal interruptions to your play for system updates.

My list of driver updates to check for would be graphics card, motherboard chipset, and network adapter at a minimum, as all of those can improve performance and remove bugs that cause issues.

On the Windows front, forcing an update check prior to early access can ensure your PC doesn’t hit you with a reboot fresh into a long login queue and will ensure everything is running smooth prior to the big day. There’s no need (and indeed little value) to upgrading from Windows 10 to 11, especially for gaming (unless you have an Intel 12th gen Core CPU), so just get your updates for your current version and you should be set!

As a last sidenote to this part, if you run low on storage where FFXIV is installed, make sure to clear space for the Endwalker patch download. Until maintenance, we won’t likely know how big the patch is going to be, but I would make sure to have at least 50 GB clear for it, and more is always better in that case! If you don’t have a storage or external drive to use, one good practice would be to use a cloud photo or storage service and pull your screenshots to the cloud to make room, especially if, like me, you use the PNG option in FFXIV to get crispy, high detail screens.

Don’t: Feel Compelled to Rush

I love FFXIV and I play it for the story, but I’m also going to be rushing towards level 90 with my all on White Mage (I was going to start with Sage, but I need the story beats first!). There’s nothing in the design of FFXIV that will force you towards the endgame and whatever pace you find best suits you is what you should do. If you’re still leveling through prior content, keep on that at your pace! If you want to finish a relic weapon grind before moving on to new content, do that! If you want to cross off all the normal difficulty duties including standard and Alliance raids before moving forward, that is a cool way to keep the story in-context!

Old content in FFXIV is always going to be getting players because of the rewards that exist for it, and the Endwalker launch window will be one of the best times to need leveling dungeons because people will be clearing through them for XP to keep to the path. If you aren’t in a hurry to get to endgame, that is absolutely great and a very valid and fun way to play. Don’t let the hype about Endwalker force you to no-life through the last decade of the game in the next 5 days – keep on your path, whatever that may be, and you’ll get there. The FFXIV community is mindbogglingly good about spoiler discipline, so you’ll be just fine – just mind any spoiler tags or declarations where you see them out in the wild!

Do: Prepare for How FFXIV Handles High Volume Playtime

We’ve all seen over the last year how FFXIV login queues work, and that isn’t really different for an expansion launch (just bigger). If things go like Shadowbringers launch, however, there is one other thing to prepare for – zone instancing.

If you’re used to WoW and phasing, this is very pleasantly different, but FFXIV will, at periods of high traffic, split zones into numbered instances in new content areas. When you zone in to such a place, you’ll be given a prompt to select an instance from the list, with the player count in each instance shown. If you’re playing alone, it doesn’t really matter, but if you’re playing with friends, you’ll want to choose the same instance.

This will also affect Hunt spawning and Hunt trains. If you are familiar with the Hunt, in game there are strong world mobs that spawn and offer larger rewards (gil/hunt currency/tomestones) and there are trains on each server of players that roam around to these epic beasts. When instancing is on, they’ll specify what instance they are in so if you follow such a train, make sure to watch chat for the calls on what instance they’ll be in!

Do: Prepare to Be Grounded (On Mounts)

For the start of the expansion, it’ll be back to the ground until you can unlock the full assortment of Aether Currents, which come from a mix of exploration of a zone and quests (which always come with the blue plus sign indicator, but the early steps of a chain may not have that indicator, so keep an eye out!). Unlocks are per-zone and are expected to work the same as they have since Heavensward, so it won’t be long before you take the skies again. If you want to keep some speed on the ground, you can grab the SDS Fenrir mount off the item shop, which has a faster ground speed than other mounts and will provide you some benefit early into the expansion. Until the content is out, we don’t know how many Aether Currents or what the mix per zone will be, but guides will likely be out quickly as people do discover them, including finding any quest chains where early steps are not clearly marked as unlocks!

Do: Keep Maintenance Times In Mind

Maintenance for an expansion launch is a 24 hour affair, starting at 1 AM PST on Thursday, December 2nd, with maintenance concluding and Early Access for Endwalker beginning at 1 AM PST the next day. If you have goals in mind prior to launch, like leveling jobs to a round level to avoid XP loss, tomestone farming, or Mogtome rewards to buy, you only really have until Wednesday to do so before the game goes down for Endwalker. At this point, as a result, you have 5 days and change to hit any last-minute goals! The patch will likely become available prior to Early Access and the end of maintenance – the game’s subreddit and most fan communities will sound the alarm, and if you plan to be there right at 1 AM on Friday (like me), then pre-downloading the patch is a must to ensure you aren’t stuck at the back of the line.

Do: Be Mindful Of Spoilers, For Yourself and Others

Once patch data is in the public realm, it will be mined for spoilers and that info will be floating around. If you want it going in, it won’t be hard to find if you search it out specifically. Great care is generally taken across the board to ensure spoilers are sealed up where they cannot accidentally be found, but each player has a role to play there. If you’re in a linkshell or Free Company, check to see what their rules are about posting to ensure you’re not spoiling anyone else, and similarly be careful of what you say when talking about things in local chat channels in-game, as the presence of characters in a zone even can be a spoiler depending on the story beats of the expansion. If you want to watch the launch trailer, be aware that it may contain some amount of spoilers, although it is edited carefully and deceptively in order to prevent things from getting out of hand!

With all of that said, the wait for the Final Days is shorter now than ever, and I personally cannot wait for next Friday!

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