Every Tuesday, Thursday, and Monday night, I go through my raid checklist for Final Fantasy 14. Do I have all of the items I need? Is my gear repaired? Am I ready to practice new ways to optimize damage? Sometimes, our group can spend hours wiping to the same thirty seconds of a fight, and after a while, it can really wear on me. My attitude about the game goes sour, and I don’t log in as much. I’m irritable some mornings over a lack of sleep from long nights of progression. In Final Fantasy 14, I may be considered a “hardcore raider” to some folks, and while I love it, I don’t think that’s what keeps me hooked sometimes. My actual favorite Final Fantasy 14 pastime is finding a new player and guiding them through Eorzea – something I’ve been doing more of recently.
“I don’t know where I am, I’m standing between two naked guys dancing and a really tall girl with bunny ears,” my friend frantically private messages me. She continues, “there’s a big blue crystal here, I think I’m supposed to go find someone at a guild or something, but I don’t know how to open my map.” I tell her what hotkeys to use, she finds them, but pulling up her map and asking her to read it is an exercise in futility. When you don’t know what any of the icons mean, a big drawing of Limsa Lominsa, one of the game’s major city-states, is kind of useless. “I don’t understand where to go,” she shyly admits, and I’ve decided we’re going to fix this.
That’s okay. I teleport from the end-game area I’m hunting monsters in and come to the rescue. We party up and I walk her tall Elezen all the way to the Gladiator’s Guild, where I explain how she will complete quests here to become a Warrior. I don’t think it clicks, but that’s still okay, and we begin to work on her log of main scenario tasks.
Now my friend has to kill three rats and she’s still as lost as ever. “I’m not sure which exit I should use,” she tells me, and I realize Limsa has like a million ways to leave – none of which I have used since I learned to teleport years ago. I lead my new gladiator friend out of the bustling city to a little plain with rats and other low-level monsters. She’s got a tiny leaf icon next to her name – we call them sprouts in Final Fantasy 14. They indicate that a player is new to the game, so you should be helpful. I have a crown beside mine, letting players know I’m a veteran that can provide aid, but I don’t think most know what that means.
In our quest to gain a few levels before sending her back to work on the main story, we meet a couple of low-level players. One has died after taking too much damage from a giant frog. There he lays, awkwardly chatting from the floor and trying to figure out what to do. I swap over to one of my healing classes and raise his poor Lalafell body off the ground. The two of them are thankful because, like my friend, they have no idea how to get back out here and are playing for the first time. I decide to invite them to my party, and I am now the proud mother hen of three babies.
I’m asking each of them what’s the next quest in their journal and outlining instructions. I teach them how to mark locations on their map and what glowy icons to watch for. I explain what it means to check the item level of their gear, and I advise them on how to use experience buffs. Some of it clicks, some of it doesn’t, I find it easier to take them places in my rare four-seater mount. They don’t even have flying or mounts unlocked yet, so I chauffeur them everywhere.
I spent that night guiding them for hours. I got so into it that I put together a care package for each of my little sprouts that included a few hundred-thousand Gil, food for leveling, better gear, and a couple of minions to show off. They’re all over the moon about it, and I find myself wishing I had the same sort of bewilderment when walking around these low-level areas.
When it’s time for all of us to go, my little posse of new players asks if I’ll be on tomorrow and we exchange friend requests. I have a raid, and I explain to them I’ll be fighting one boss for four hours straight. It’s a fight that’s almost 13 minutes long, but I have only made it through the first three. My goal is to see four minutes in our next day. “That sounds better than doing newbie dungeons,” the little Lalafell sprout comments, but honestly, I wanted to join them instead.
The best part of my raid group is that it’s with friends, but I’m definitely not as into raiding as I used to be. When they offered, I desperately wanted to postpone my level 80 content plans and help them try to make it to level 20. Playing with adventurers seeing Eorzea for the first time always gives me a new sense of appreciation for the world. They’re amazed the first time they see fancy mounts like the Regalia, and they excitedly report back to me every time a new story moment unlocks. My sprouts spam emotes and proudly take their first screenshots in new dungeons, and I feel oddly protective of these strangers when someone infringes upon their experience.
The truth is, I think these new players really do more for me than I ever do for them – I’m always just glad they’ll have me, and I hope they remember me later on should our paths cross again.
Next: When Will Final Fantasy 14’s Warrior Of Light Stop Tanking And DPSing? Make Him A Healer Already
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Andrea Shearon is a news editor at TheGamer who loves RPGs and anything horror related. Find her on Twitter via @Maajora.
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