Final Fantasy XIV is an MMORPG and features a persistent world in which players can interact with each other and the environment. Players create and customize their characters for use in the game, including name, race, gender, facial features, and starting class. Unlike in the original release, players may only choose to be a Disciple of War or Magic as a starting class—Disciples of the Hand and Land are initially unavailable. Players must also select a game world for characters to exist on. While servers are not explicitly delineated by language, data centers have been placed in the supported regions (i.e., North America, Europe, Japan) to improve the communication latency between the server and the client computer and players are recommended to choose a server in their region. Regardless of server or language, the game features a large library of automatically translated game terms and general phrases which allow players who speak different languages to communicate.
Final Fantasy XIV'
s PC interface, navigated by a point and click widget
'Final Fantasy XIV's PlayStation interface, navigated by a cross-bar system
The user interface and game controls are unified across the PC and home console versions. Players have the option of using any combination of a keyboard, mouse, and game controller to play; the former two are achieved on PlayStation 4 via wireless or USB keyboard and mouse. By default, the system is navigated through drag and drop windows on PC. Navigation on the PlayStation version of Final Fantasy XIV is accomplished with a XrossMediaBar-like interface due to platform users' familiarity with the set-up. This bar is used to access all menus, maps, logs, and configuration options. The head-up display for both versions includes a message log, party status menu, mini-map, and action bar. The player may customize the location of all of these elements.
The action bar and battle command input method differs slightly between the PC and PlayStation versions. The PC version supports both point and click and keyboard selection of commands or macros from the action bar. Macro commands are customizable sequences of actions that allow players to execute desired abilities at a specific time. The PlayStation version instead maps the action bar and macros to the "Cross Hotbar"—sets of four icons arranged in a cross shape. These are the grouped and accessed through a combination of the L2 and the R2 buttons and the directional pad or the face buttons. Using each shoulder button to cycle through the cross sets, players have quick access to commands. This interface is also available to PC players who use controllers.
Players are able to improve their characters by gaining experience points (EXP)—when a set number of experience points are accumulated, the player's character will "level up" and gain improved statistics which further enhance performance in battle. The four primary sources of experience points in Final Fantasy XIV are through completing quests, exploring instanced dungeons, participating in Full Active Time Events (FATE), and slaying monsters which exist in the game world. Quests, including the "main scenario" questline, are generally short, specific tasks given to the player by non-player characters which reward items and EXP. Completing main scenario quests progresses the overarching plot of the game. Guildleves are a type of repeatable quest which may be undertaken using leve allowances. These allowances are limited but regenerate over time. Instanced dungeons are confined locations with specific objectives that must be achieved within a time limit. These dungeons require multiple players to form a party before entry is granted. Some dungeons are for lower-leveled players to gain EXP quickly while others are for experienced players to collect rare items and equipment. FATE is a new gameplay mechanic where a large number of players may participate in the same event, regardless of party status. These location-specific events include battles with notorious monsters, defending a location from invading forces, culling hostile local wildlife, and assaulting enemy fortresses, among other types. Finally, slaying monsters for EXP is aided by the Hunting Log, which tasks players with defeating specific enemies in exchange for EXP bonuses. Upon reaching the level cap, character progression shifts to improving item level by acquiring new and better equipment. This equipment can be gained through a variety of sources including endgame dungeons, crafting, raids, primal battles, and elite mark hunts.
In addition to these player versus environment (PvE) challenges, three forms of player versus player (PvP) combat exist in Final Fantasy XIV. The first type, the Wolves' Den, is an arena featuring structured four-versus-four battles; players may queue into a battle with up to three teammates to challenge another four-person team. The second type, Frontlines, is a large battleground instance in which players form teams of up to 24 characters. Teams are delineated by players' allegiance to one of three Grand Companies and the team which reaches the target number of points first wins the match. Three modes are available, each with differing locations and rulesets. Within the fiction, Frontlines is presented as an organized set of military exercises between the three nations with the ulterior goal of jockeying for dominance of regions rich in magical artifacts. The third type, Rival Wings, is a battle arena mode where players manipulate minion waves and pilot mechs to destroy enemy objectives.
Battles and party system
Players fight enemies using a combination of physical attacks, weapon skills, and magical attacks; these battles form the basis of party play in Final Fantasy XIV. Most battle content in the game requires parties of a specific size, including four players for instanced dungeons and eight players for boss battles. The "Duty Finder" is an automated matching feature that sorts players into parties for selected instanced content across different servers. The "Party Finder" is a server-specific bulletin board where players may recruit other players for any kind of content including dungeons, raid battles, FATE parties, and more. Members of a party fill traditional MMORPG roles like tank, healer, and damage dealer. Tank play revolves around the concept of "enmity", which is an indication of how hostile an enemy is toward a particular player. Enmity is generated by performing offensive actions and lost using certain abilities. Each enemy will focus its attacks toward the player with the most enmity and management of enmity is important for successfully completing tougher encounters. The tank must draw the enemy's attention away from other party members who generally have weaker defense by generating large amounts of enmity. Teamwork and strategy are required to defeat the strongest enemies. "Limit Breaks" are special abilities that can only be performed if members of the party excel at their roles.
Player-run guilds come in the form of Free Companies, organized bands of adventurers under the auspices of one of the three Grand Companies of Eorzea. Free Company members may gain access to a shared company chest, a private chat channel, and Company Actions which are 24-hour buffs to certain aspects of gameplay, such as increased EXP gain or reduced gear damage. Free Company members may also pool their resources to purchase a house in one of the residential districts. In addition to decorating the house, players may use the grounds to grow unique items through the gardening system, train their chocobo companion, embark on airship expeditions, and purchase a private room for personal use. Linkshells are another form of in-game networking; whereas players may only belong in one Free Company, they may join up to eight linkshells which act as private chat channels for interested sub-groups.
Armoury and Job system
Under the Armoury System, a character's equipped weapon determines the character class and players may change their class at will by changing weapons. Classes are divided into four disciplines: Disciples of War, masters of physical combat; Disciples of Magic, practitioners of the magical arts; Disciples of the Hand, crafters and handymen who synthesize and repair items; and Disciples of the Land, gatherers who collect resources from the environment. Combat classes may equip additional actions based on their party role, such as tank or healer, whereas crafting and gathering classes gain access to certain abilities from other classes to expand their proficiency. The Job System builds upon the Armoury System for Disciples of War and Magic. It allows access to powerful skills, magic, weapons, and armor exclusive to the job corresponding to that class. These jobs, many based on classic Final Fantasy character jobs, are more suited to party-based combat.
The virtual economy of Final Fantasy XIV is largely player-driven. The exchange of items is facilitated by retainers—non-playable characters who assist in selling items on the Market Board, gather items through ventures, and provide additional item storage. A small transaction fee for all sales serves as a gold sink to regulate the inflation of prices in the economy. Players of any class may contribute to the supply of the economy: Disciples of the Land acquire raw materials from gathering points throughout the game world; Disciples of the Hand craft the materials into useful items and equipment; and Disciples of War and Magic are able to procure rare materials through completion of dungeons and other instanced areas, such as Treasure Maps. Players are also able to contribute by purchasing materia with various in-game currencies, or they may sacrifice equipment that has gained enough "spiritbond" to generate a piece of materia, which can then be used to improve the statistics of other equipment or can be sold to other players.
The mechanics of crafting and gathering have changed between the original release and A Realm Reborn. Most of these changes are geared toward reducing the randomness and guesswork involved in these processes. For Disciples of the Hand, all recipes of the appropriate level are unlocked by default in the Crafting Log. Crafting abilities have been rebalanced to allow successful high-quality synthesis without requiring multiple mastered Disciplines of the Hand. For Disciples of the Land, players are allowed to select which item they would like to attempt to collect at a gathering point, whereas before, the results of gathering attempts were randomized. The Gathering Log also displays the names and locations of items that can be gathered in the world.