FFXIV Getting Started

There are lots of help videos for Final Fantasy XIV on Youtube. But most of them assume you have already started to play the game. How do you get started playing the game in the first place? I suggest starting with the Benchmark to see how it will run on your system and then starting with the Free Trial. Here’s how you can do that.

Start with the Benchmark

First find the FFIXV Benchmark page here. This will show you how the game will perform on your machine. I suggest not using a laptop. While the game is somewhat forgiving and the graphics can be downgraded quite a lot, it’s still a modern game, so it’s going to cause a lot of strain and heat on your laptop unless you have a high end gaming laptop.

The benchmark is about 2 GB. Very much smaller than the full game, which is about 40GB. I suggest you load the benchmark, and the game, onto an SSD – Solid State Disk – if you have one. Also, you probably want to install the benchmark and the game into a folder such as “C:\FFXIVBench\”. Here’s a video with all the steps to install and run the benchmark.

All the Steps to Installing the Benchmark

Here’s a video showing all the steps for installing the FFXIV Benchmark.

Installing the FFIXV Benchmark

Running the Benchmark

When you run the benchmark you’ll see scenes from the Shadowbringers Expansion of the game. This will look very intense and very exciting. It’s what you will look forward to, not what you’ll see at the beginning as you play the game. But this benchmark is not a pre-rendered movie. It’s actual game play by robots, including the character that you can make or the built in one. So if you were watching or playing Shadowbringers, this is really what it looks like and how it plays. I’ve been there. Yep, it’s really that exciting.

Some folks complain about how slow FFIXV gameplay starts at the beginning. The Devs at FFXIV know this and I think one of the reasons that they released this benchmark is to show how exciting the game actually is after you play to a higher level. And obviously, dropping new folks into this level of play would not work well for most folks. So enjoy and prepare to be patient and learn to enjoy this kind of play.

So at this point I suggest running the whole benchmark, then unless you get a failing result, you are good to download and start the trial. But you can do one more thing with the benchmark software before you move on.

Create a Character Or Several

In the benchmark you can create a character or a few to get used to how the character creator works. Right now, a few choices are not available in the Trial, but after 11 August, in the next patch 5.3, all the choices except Viera and Hrothgar will be available in the trial. Viera and Hrothgar were added with Shadowbringers and require that expansion to play. If you purchase the game after you play the trial, you’ll probably get it with Shadowbringers. The subscription is about $15 / month so getting the full game is not that much more.

The Entire Game including Shadowbringers

Start Your Free Trial

So now that the benchmark has run, you have tried the character creator to see what character you would like to play and you do not have sticker shock over the price of the game.

First let’s consider where to get an email for your account at Square-Enix. I do not use my personal email for game accounts. You may want to get a new free anonymous email at one of these services. I use GMX and can recommend it. I’ve also used Yahoo mail, but over the years it’s gone through so much upheaval, I suggest staying away from Yahoo. GMAIL has difficulties with using more than one account on the same computer. It seems to want to look for all the accounts you have and combine and confuse you, so I suggest staying away from Gmail for additional anonymous accounts. I have not used the other services.

Now that you have an anonymous email for your gaming account, let’s go find the trial. The easiest way to do that is just click on the button in the benchmark program:

Click the Start Your Free Trial in the benchmark program.

Up comes a webpage to allow you to make a free account and then download the trial – which is actually the whole game. It’s about 46GB on my disk right now. So be patient. As you make your account on Square-Enix for playing FFXIV you’ll be using your anonymous email and a password. Remember that you’ll be typing this password into the FFXIV Launcher program every time you play the game, so don’t make the password too complex. I suggest a couple of short capitalized words and some numbers or special characters that are easy to remember. You don’t want the password to be easy to hack, but you don’t want it so long and confusing that it’s hard to log into the game every time you play. Unfortunately, the launcher does not support password managers such as LastPass or Dashlane.

Minor Issues with the Trial

After you play the trial for a while, you can buy the game and pay for a subscription. You will not lose any progress with your characters when you do that. But there are a few things to remember as you start the trial:

  • Alts are much less of a thing in FFXIV than with other MMO Games. Alts – alternative characters – are required in other games to play all the classes. In FFXIV each character can play all the classes, or jobs, so there is no need to have Alts to play all the jobs. Also you get to do all the crafting jobs too, not just one or two at a time. So no need to have Alts to do all the crafting jobs.
  • In the trial, you can only create one character on each world. So you may want to leave Alts to later if you want to play all the races. When you have the game, you can create up to eight characters on each World. With a paid subscription, you can create up to 40 characters on your account.
  • Currently Trial Accounts are limited to level 35, which allows you to have a mount at level 15 or so and play all the jobs in the first expansion. After 11 August 2020 in patch 5.3, you’ll be able play the trial up to level 60, finish the Heavensward expansion and fly your mount in A Real Reborn – the beginning regions- and Heavensward at level 50.
  • Here’s a complete list of limitations on the trial account. Basically, the limitations restrict trial accounts so that they cannot spam or troll the game. Other than trading with your friends, the restrictions do not affect your play very much so you’ll be able to experience the game and decide if you’d like to join the fun.

Choose a Data Center and World

Data Centers and Worlds

As a trial you can only create one character on each world. So if you create alts in the trial, you need to scatter them around on the Data Center you have chosen. While you can “Wander” to other worlds to play with your friends, this is a pain, and you cannot Wander between Data Centers. In the NA region, there are three Data Centers and each has about 10 worlds. Find out where your friends play to choose the right Data Center and World.

And Have Fun

So, all you have to do now is create a character and start playing. You’ll find folks are very helpful and friendly. So ask questions of anyone along the way.

At this point, if you are new to MMOs, you may want to find a Youtube tutorial for FFXIV to get you started with Job choice and other things. There are plenty of those. This post covers the things that I noticed were missing from those videos.

Removing the Benchmark

After you’ve installed the game and no longer want the benchmark on your hard drive, you can just delete it. The benchmark is not “Installed” using a standard Windows installer, so there is no “Uninstall” function. Just select the folder in the file explorer, such as “C:\FFXIVBench\” where you put the benchmark and then use the Delete with SHIFT to delete all the files permanently. Using just the DELETE key may put all the files in the Trash, so they are still taking up space on your hard drive / SSD. Be careful with SHIFT/Delete, since if you delete the wrong folder, there is no way back.

May you walk in the light of the crystal,

Nobody paid me to recommend anything. This is my best advice at this point.