This post is spoiler-free!
Endwalker has officially been out just over a week, and nearly two counting early access.
As I was doing in the lead-up to the expansion, goal planning is one of those things that you can do really well in a good MMO – figuring out what is important to chase after, focusing your gameplay in on that, and reaping (ha!) the rewards. Particularly as FFXIV continues to face massive server queues to just login and play, having a plan for how to make the most of that time has been key for me in keeping things interesting.
One of the best things about an FFXIV launch is how much stuff is ready to be done immediately. You’ve got job leveling with 20 combat jobs counting Blue Mage and 11 tradeskills to top it off, all of which can be done on a single character. You’ve got Aether Currents in the new zones, FATE grinding for Shared FATE ranks as well as currency, gathering collectables for scrip turn-ins to be able to detect the rare nodes, and building that perfect crafting set with pentamelded Materia. You can run Expert dungeon roulette until your pocket is brimming with Allagan Tomestones of Aphorism to buy the next step in your gear progression after the Artifact armor and weapon you get at level 89 (this time!), and the two Extreme Trials are available for limitless farming, for regular drops and totems to be able to buy the gear that doesn’t drop or to save the 99 totems to eventually buy their mounts in a couple of patches, unless you get really lucky and get a mount drop, of course. There’s side quests, Studium quests, and role quests all to do and achievements for doing all the Studium and Role Quests, at least.
Basically, there is a lot – expansion launch is content-dense with dozens of options you can chase after, and I haven’t even mentioned the MSQ!
So I wanted to spend today on an upbeat note, talking about my goals for the Endwalker launch and how I’m doing against each of them with the raid coming out next week being the first bit of content to add-on to the list!
Finish the MSQ – Done!
For me, the biggest priority and thing I was most excited about with the Endwalker launch was the MSQ, such that I shelved my plans of being a Day 1 Sage player for it, opting to go White Mage to start instead so I could see the story unfold first. That was a great decision in my opinion, and I am so glad to have done it. The story was excellent and so much of that experience still illuminates the gameplay with a warm glow of enjoyment. This goal was the first I met, completing it within the Early Access window and marking the first time I’ve completed an FFXIV MSQ prior to the official launch!
Level All Jobs To 90 – In Progress
Not a bad amount of progress made for just under two weeks of leveling, either:
My focus on leveling has been pointed towards the great economic benefit to myself, which has meant leveling jobs that can make me money either through their direct contribution (gathering, crafting, queues for Adventurer In Need bonuses) or indirectly (focusing on the jobs my Retainers have first so that I can send them on Ventures to level and bring back materials).
Given that, I did my original White Mage main first (which is also the job of one of my Retainers), then went to Warrior, Bard, and now Black Mage, with the first 3 on that list at 90 and Black Mage at level 81. After Black Mage is leveled, it will be time for Monk and Dragoon to close out that list, as 3 of my Retainers are Disciples of the Land (and thus already able to begin leveling to 90).
For leveling, I’ve tried to take a low-burnout, low-grind approach. I learned you can level 80-90 in Bozja, which is decent XP per hour but felt tedious to me when it was current content much less now (plus, I tried an undersized Castrum Lacus Litore run last night, which went…not well at all!). I’ve tried to avoid excessive grinding of FATEs or Trusts, although once I was near the finish line on both Warrior and Bard, I did push more dungeons via Trust so I could get in, control the pace, and get the experience and gear rewards as I went. I usually do my daily roulettes sans Expert on the job I’m currently leveling, and then do my Expert on White Mage (I should try tanking one or playing Bard in one, but I haven’t as of yet), so at the point I run out of Roulettes, I can either focus in on Challenge Log entries for bonus XP, pick something to do a little bit of to break through another level (a couple of FATEs, some side quests, etc), and then usually stop and move to crafting leveling or go out and gather some materials.
It’s been a good approach, and of the 30 jobs available to level to 90, I currently have 8 done!
Level Sage and Reaper to 90 – Not yet
I unlocked Sage and did their starter quest – I like it but there’s clearly going to be a lot to learn there, so no sadness over holding it for later. Reaper, though – I haven’t gone to unlock yet. I’m excited for both, but I’ll admit that seeing other Sage and Reaper players has made me a little wary of jumping right in with them. Sage seems to be a very different style of healer, and in a way where their true shine isn’t uncovered until you do a lot of legwork to learn, while Reaper has the Curse of Maiming Gear, as every Reaper I’ve seen has been a floor-tanking, mechanic-ignoring, uptime-obsessed weirdo who puts a lot of undue stress on their healer (it’s me, the healer!) just like Dragoon before them. I’ll probably unlock Reaper today just to have it done and waiting, but it will likely be a minute before I focus in on either job, given the number of other jobs I’m working to level and other goals I have to work towards.
Level and Gear Crafting Jobs to Prepare for Savage Raid Launch – In Progress
I have two crafters at level 90 with Goldsmithing and Armoring both maxed out and my other crafting jobs between 85-87. My goal here is simple and two-fold – I want to have my crafters as well-prepared as can be for the Savage raid launch on January 4th, so that they can craft High-Quality versions of the crafted raid-level armor, which is generally BiS going into Savage. This means leveling all the jobs to 90 on the crafting side, it means getting the current BiS crafting gear with pentamelded Materia to ensure I can use the proper rotations for safe HQ crafting, and it means having Scrips ready by the launch day for Savage to buy any necessary Master Recipe books for each tradeskill to get the new recipes.
To that end, I have burned through my leve allowances (literally logged out of yesterday’s session with 0 allowances haha) in the process of leveling and have been pushing the Studium quests in batches, looking in the Crafting log to make the items they need in advance with maximum Collectability and trying to maximize EXP gain that way while still getting the story. I haven’t really followed any of the optimal route guides for minimizing leve requirements or maximizing Studium and Collectable turn-in EXP, because I kind of wanted to play it for myself first to see how things felt and if my instincts were right on certain things. By the time of 7.0, I’ll probably be a guide-user, but since this is my first expansion leveling crafting the right way (I was able to get 80 on all in Shadowbringers through the good graces of the Firmament in Ishgard Restoration), I wanted to see what the gameplay experience was like (and document it for later).
Generally, I started out trying to level omnicrafting – doing the same number of leves across the board per skill in order to keep everything close together – but last night, I finally decided the right approach would be to start knocking them out as they got high enough to push to the finish line, especially since the Studium quests cover multiple jobs each and thus ask you to make a choice about which skill to apply the gains to by being the active skill at crafting and turn-in.
As a funny note, the 5 million gil nest egg I built prior to Endwalker in order to level crafting to 90? Yep, that’s gone. While I did a ton of gathering, the material cost includes a lot of prior expansion stuff from Shadowbringers that I sold on the Market Board prior to launch, so while I made a good chunk of change, I am also a fool for it! That being said, it hasn’t actually been that bad to level and I’ve made the investment in leveling my crafting specifically because it will make me and save me money down the road – make money via sales and being ready to capitalize on new recipe launches, save money via self-repairs and materia melds on my level 90 gear.
Complete the Full Shared FATE Ranking for Endwalker – In Progress
When they added the bicolor gemstone FATE systems in Shadowbringers, I kind of didn’t pay them mind, as the game has been drifting away from FATEs slowly as-is. I did a few FATEs, had a couple of gemstones, but never did any zone to max rank and never unlocked the full Shared FATE vendor in the capitols.
I’m intent on at least trying to do it in Endwalker, both because FATEs are decent EXP now that I can fly between them, and because I want to rank up the final zone to 3 at least for the orchestrion with its zone music! So far, the benefit of bicolor gemstones has largely been to prop up crafting by being able to buy the zone materials that are kill-only, like various leathers and meats, and more FATE farming would mean more access to that stuff!
So far I’m rank 2 in 3 zones, rank 1 in Thavnair, and have yet to do a FATE in the 5th zone. This one is sort-of an unfocused goal, because I’m not minding it much short of just doing a few FATEs and then noting my progress, but eventually as other goals begin to close out, it will be valuable to chase!
Tomestone Gear My White Mage – Almost There
The tomestone gear for Aphorism is item level 570, a step above the current Expert dungeons and a step below the accessories and weapons available at 580 for the current EX trials. 570 is, to me, a good compromise for being ready for Pandaemonium next week and at this point, I just need a weapon and two accessories to complete that gearing for my White Mage, which will then also work as my other healing jobs hit level 90. After that, I’m likely going to work towards tank job gearing in the same fashion, and then the rest as fancy strikes.
Finish Most Endwalker Side Quests – In Progress
Endwalker’s MSQ is one of the most poignant, fascinating fictional narratives I’ve ever engaged with, and a big part of what supplements that is sidequests that have weight with the story at the center of the game. I’ve never been one for sidequests in FFXIV (I’ve only done a few in ARR and Stormblood to break leveling walls for the MSQ progression) but Endwalker has a lot of very great moments tucked into the sidequesting. Since I have a lot of DPS jobs to level, the best way forward is to mix roulette waiting times with sidequests and FATEs, and so on top of the story reasons for doing so, I have a gameplay reason to mix them in as well!
To this point, I’ve mostly just done the Old Sharlayan quests, slowly moving up towards the top of the zone while waiting on roulettes, although I’ve also done a few in Thavnair which were pretty cool.
In Closing – Goals Make the Gameplay, For Me
In the past, something I’ve constantly hammered on this blog is that the core of MMO gameplay as I see it is being free to self-direct, to choose goals with value to you and pursue them at your leisure. What I love about FFXIV, especially at expansion launch time, is that there are so many goals and options for you to be able to chase, and the game is very open about letting you jump in and grab as much or as little as you want. That gameplay feels rewarding and fun because the game outlines a rough idea of where I can go and I get to make those choices, so nothing I’ve done feels excessively chore-like or tedious as a result.
And, given what my staple MMO diet has looked like for much of the last year, that is a welcome reprieve!