FFXIV: Option paralysis

46 hair styles.
12 voices.
4 tails.

But I’m getting ahead of myself.

I logged into FFXIV ready for the challenge of character creation, but first had to decide on a few things. The first was choosing a Data Centre aka regional server. The choices were US, EU, and JP. While Japan makes the most sense geographically – and hence maybe a better ping – I chose US mainly for the (assumed) language barrier the JP servers might present.

Next I had to choose a Server, which seemed random. They were bunched into subzones, so I chose Primal, then Hyperion (Legacy). A quick lookup told me that the servers tagged Legacy were from the original launch, so I figured they might have a bit more player history to them. As it turned out I ended up on another legacy server (Excalibur – some kind of genre crime happening there maybe?) as Hyperion was full, which made it strange that it was ever presented as an option.

I do wonder at the wisdom of MMOs making this kind of choice before anything else, as you really don’t know what to choose or why. I guess if you have friends you’re joining it’s easy, but if not they may be better served just assigning you to an appropriately populated world. The ‘onboarding’ isn’t as smooth as you might wish for, but we’re all used to it I guess. And the era of a single virtual server for all players can’t be far off.

After choosing the server, I finally arrived at the character creation. There were eight races on offer, and it was mildly disappointing to find that they followed the SWtOR model: basically humans. Human humans, tall humans, (very) short humans, cat humans, ogre humans, and dragon humans.

The final two races – Hrothgar and Viera – were locked down to Shadowbringers expansion owners. Which was unfortunate as a web search revealed that the Hrothgar were the only non-human race by the looks, being male-only lionlike felines. Strange how the first definitely non-human race in SWtOR (the Cathar) were also feline – what is it about cats?

One of these is not like the other

The Viera on the other hand: ick. Basically nearly naked female-only rabbit eared humans? It’s a little unforgivable that they are only women (even if it’s lore-sound), that they are pretty much undressed, and that it sure seems to be pandering to a particular fan. Maybe it’s just the screenshots – I couldn’t see the real thing in game. I’ll give Square-Enix the benefit of the doubt, barely.

For the other races, there are both sexes, and at least the men are as handsome as the women, albeit in far stronger poses for the most part. The Au Ra male at least was nicely fey (something Warcraft tried and abandoned with the Blood Elf males, from memory).

There’s a muscle slider from smooth to chiselled

I settled on an Au Ra female, as they seemed at least a little non-human (part dragon, if the myths are to be believed). And then came the options. The many, many, many options.

Women have bust size, alas men don’t have an equivalent

If you’re like me, creating the right look for a character is very important to feeling a kinship with them. I’ve deleted countless character builds in SWtOR, Warcraft, and GW2 due to a slight miscalculation at creation – wrong horns, skin tone not right, tattoo misplaced – which only shows up once you see the character in motion, so I have to admit to a slight panic when faced with the FFXIV setup.

Then I remembered that this is a one month project, and if I decided I liked the game enough to pay for a sub after that, I could spend as long as I needed to get the character just right. Though I suspect I will bond with my first character pretty fast.

Buoyed by this plan, I worked my way through the options until I had something satisfactory. I even quite liked her by the end of the process, so I either got lucky or the options are clever enough to make most things look good.

Amazingly there was still more to come. I had to choose a birth month from an astral calendar, then a deity (who unfortunately you couldn’t see a visual of), and finally my class.

Class is normally a fundamental choice you face at the start of any game. It informs everything that comes after, and can have a huge impact on whether you enjoy the game or not. Accordingly I’d normally heavily research this choice before starting a game.

Whilst I haven’t played or researched FFXIV in any depth, I had read many blog posts from people like Aywren and Blessing of Kings, and updates on the more general gaming news sites, and from those I think I gleaned that in FFXIV you can basically play all of the classes (or is it ‘jobs’?) on a single character, swapping between them freely. I’m not sure if that’s quite accurate, but it’s enough to make the initial choice far less weighty.

So I chose a Gladiator, because nice armour and shining outlandishly-sized swords are usually a fun place to start. It was either that or a ranged Archer type (pets are usually good company for a solo player), but I’ll start with swift slaying and reckless attack and see how that plays.

Interestingly the class choice, rather than race, seemed to determine starting city, so I’m off to the desert city of Ul’Dah to start my adventuring.


6 thoughts on “FFXIV: Option paralysis”

  1. Good luck and have fun in Eorzea!

    In case you missed it, Gladiator (later Paladin) is one of the tank classes, so while you can solo and quest with no problems, in a dungeon (starting at 16ish) you will always be a tank. So if that’s not your thing exclusively, you should probably start another class. It’s really easy and awesome to switch so quickly, I leveled Bard + Marauder + Conjurer at the same time when I started.

    AFAIK the only race to have a pet is the Summoner, but from Level 20ish you can get a chocobo “companion” that will fight with you if you feed it with NPC-buyable Gysahl Greens.

    1. Ah-ha, this is great information. I didn’t realise you were locked into a role based on the class choice – so Gladiator’s can only be Paladins? Interesting. I like tanking, but probably not a good first choice – learning brand new dungeons in a brand new game as DPS makes a lot more sense.

      By starting another class do you mean a whole new character? Or can I switch on the one I created? Research required it seems!

      1. Ah sorry for the slightly unclear sentence – no, you’re totally good with your one character. I think it’s even 1-2 bucks per month cheaper if you only take the “one char”-plan (I suppose you’re on your first month that came with the base game, you’ll see this later).

        Anyway, I’m not 100% sure when you can take up a new job, might be at Level 20, but maybe I just waited so long and it’s possible earlier.

        On this page you see which “first job” gets to be which “real job”: https://ffxiv.consolegameswiki.com/wiki/Job (I love this wiki in general, it has 90% of all the info I needed.) – only the jobs in the base game start at Level 1 and get a second job (without a choice), the ones added in the 3 expansions start at 30/50/60 respectively, but you already need to reach that level once with a job to unlock them.

        Also note the Armoury bonus, which means the additional jobs you choose will level faster if they are lower than your highest one, this should make it even easier to catch up to your Gladiator: https://ffxiv.consolegameswiki.com/wiki/Experience#Armoury_Bonus

        One last tip, try to join the Novice Network on your server, you just need an invite. They seem to be hit or miss, but the one on my server is super awesome and they’ll answer all your questions (and only behave like Barrens Chat once a day for 5min 😉

        1. Wow this is really helpful, thank you! That wiki is very good indeed. I’ll rethink my plans, and definitely check the Novice Network. I’m glad they didn’t call it Noobs Network…

  2. For what it’s worth on looks: there’s these potions called Fantasia that will let you re-create how your character looks. A good option for those that might like to tweak their character (outside of a hairstyle) such as race, or overall look.

    1. Thanks for the tip! I was wondering what those were – the launcher has a promotion to get a free one if you subscribe for two months I think. Having played my character for a while, I’m surprisingly happy with the choices I made, but it’s good to know there’s an option.

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