I decided to write this after coming back to the game after a long break (8ish years) after I realized that there were about a bazillion new things going on and I didn't even know where to start.
Once I remembered how to dress myself again and what a macro was, I started digging into FFXI's new systems that had been introduced over the course of the last decade. I thought I'd put this together for returning players to help them catch up to how Vana'diel works today.
This guide will NOT cover current endgame activities. It's aimed at helping returning players reacclimate to the basic game systems. Basically it's the stuff I wish I'd known when I came back and didn't even know which questions to ask.
With all that out of the way let's dive right in.
Trusts are basically NPC party members. These NPCs are different from your Adventuring Fellow in that their behavior and equipment are set by the game and not customizable by you. There's also no time limit to their use, though they will vanish if they die or you change zones. Trusts run the full spectrum of jobs and will make use of the spells, skills, and abilities of those jobs in combat, each in their own way.
The initial version of the Trust system that you'll unlock comes with some limitations. Notably the party size. At first you're stuck at 3 Trust NPCs summoned at a time (making a party of 4 with you). This can be expanded through the Rhapsodies of Vanadiel missions, discussed below.
Trust NPCs also have some notable AI limitations. They will only take action if you have your weapon drawn and have melee attacked a mob at least once. This means that even if you're a mage, you need to get in there and bash things with your stick or your Trusts will just sit there and watch you die. If you put your weapon away, they will immediately stop taking action. And I mean immediately. They'll stop mid-cast. Trusts will also follow you in a line unless you're engaged in battle. This is something to be aware of when pulling mobs to a camp. There's always going to be some bozo behind you that you're going to have to run around if you don't want to get bitten by the thing you just pulled.
That all being said, Trusts do have the advantage of not drawing aggro from wandering mobs. They can parade in front of every goblin in the world and nothing bad will happen to them. They can, however, attract the attention of mobs that link. A linked mob will aggro them the same way they'd aggro anything else if that behavior is being triggered.
tl;dr: Trusts behave like especially lazy players that mysteriously can't aggro things. Good for when you just need bodies in a party, such as EXPing, bad for precision encounters.
At this time Trusts can be used in most, if not all, story missions including missions that involve battlefield fights (summon them inside the battlefield).
So blah blah blah, how do you unlock them? Well by doing one of these quests:
Trust: San d'Oria from Gondebaud in Southern San d'Oria L-6
Trust: Bastok from Clarion Star in Port Bastok K-7
Trust: Windurst from Wetata in Windurst Woods G-10
To completely unlock the trust system, you have to do all three quests. But keep in mind which one you started with, because that's the NPC that will unlock future trusts for you from Ciphers. Personally I unlocked mine in Bastok. The NPC is right by a home point making for easy teleportation.
Once you've completed the whole quest chain, you'll have access to the following trusts:
- Naji - 1h Swords, uses Provoke, not actually a tank
- Ayame - G.Katana, will attempt to close skillchains specifically with you
- Volker - 1h Swords, uses Provoke
- Iron Eater - G.Axe, will Provoke off you, but not other Trusts
- Excenmille - Polearm, uses high-enimity abilities
- Curilla - 1h Sword and Shield, an actual tank
- Trion - 1h Sword and Shield, a much better tank than Curilla. Acts like a PLD
- Kupipi - Club, a decent healer, will only WS with Starlight or Moonlight. Won't attempt to SC at all.
- Nanaa Mihgo - Dagger, carries TH1 and Gilfinder, one of her WS is a conal AoE.
- Ajido-Marujido - Non-weapon attacks, he's a BLM/RDM that will chain-nuke things until he runs out of MP
- Shanttoto - No melee attacks, she's a BLM that will chain-nuke until she's out of MP and then stand there uselessly
A little reading between the lines up there will suggest that my preferred party from this set of Trusts is Trion, Kupipi, and Nanaa Mihgo or Ayame depending on the campsite. Nanaa Mihgo does a little more damage but her AoE WS can be dangerous in the wrong places.
Other Trusts are unlocked with Cipher items that can be obtained all kinds of ways that are outside the scope of this guide. Give the Cipher to the NPC you started the Trust questline with, they'll do a short cutscene and you'll unlock the corrisponding Trust.
Experiment with new Trusts and find your own perferred setup. It usually doesn't take too long to decide whether or not you hate a particular Trust's living guts or not.
Records of Eminence
Records of Eminence are a system that allows certain in-game activities and achievements to confer extra benefits like bonus EXP, items, Trusts, etc. Things like "killing 100 bad guys" or "being a level 30 BLM" or "completing Windurst mission 3-1" that kind of thing.
Setting a record of eminence is as simple as opening your quest menu, scrolling down to the Objectives List and selecting the records you want to undertake. You can have 30 of these active at once and many of them are repeatable for additional rewards.
Unlocking this system is as simple as talking to one of the A.M.A.N. NPCs standing around in the three nations. They are:
- Rolandienne in Southern San d'Oria G-10
- Isakoth in Bastok Markets E-11
- Fhelm Jobeizat in Windurst Woods J-10
- Eternal Flame in Western Adoulin H-11
Once you're unlocked, feel free to flag all the records you've already completed such as AF quest completion or Mithra exit quests. Just go through them and go nuts. You'll get credit for them right now. This does mean that bonus EXP is going to be awarded to you, probably quite a lot of it so make sure you're on the job you want to be getting a bunch of EXP on.
One thing to keep in mind too is that Sparks of Eminence (the currency from this system) cap at 99,999. If you earn more sparks than that, they'll just be lost. So avoid capping these by talking to the A.M.A.N. NPC of your choice (any of those 4 will be fine) and cashing them in before you get to the cap.
So which pieces of sparks gear are useful? Well keep the following in mind when it comes time to cash out your sparks:
At level 99 there are full gear sets available that cost about 20k sparks to purchase. There's also one of each type of weapon available for purchase for 7k sparks each, and accessories for 10k each. If you need starter level 99 gear or you're about to hit level 99, give these sets a look and make sure you're not spending sparks you're about to need for something else.
Skillup books can be purchased for 200 sparks a piece. These are used to help level up your various combat skills. Very helpful for skills that can't keep up with the current pace of leveling like Summoning Magic or Singing.
If you just want cold hard cash, well you can have that too. The item you're looking for is the Acheron Shield at the bottom of the 71-98 list. This sells to a vendor for 26-28k gil depending on your fame. If you have max fame in Norg, that's the best place to sell them for the maximum gil/spark ratio.
I want to briefly touch on Unities as they relate to the previous two topics.
The Unity Concord system is like a global linkshell, which is not super useful per se, but it confers a couple of interesting bonuses that you should be aware of.
Bonus the First: At a high enough Unity standing (achievable after about a day's worth of exp'ing and completing records) you get access to the unity leader as a Trust NPC.
Bonus the Second: Each unity has 5 record of eminence categories for you to complete that award lots of unity accolades (the currency for the system) as well as the other things records give you like EXP and sparks. These reset daily and so are a good source of extra EXP and sparks even if you don't care about the unity accolades necessarily.
Unlock the system by speaking to one of the Unity Concord NPCs who are:
- Urbiolaine in Southern San d'Oria G-10
- Igsli in Bastok Markets E-11
- Teldro-Kesdrodo & Yonolala in Windurst Woods J-10
- Nunaari Bthtrogg in Western Adoulin H-11
They tend to be standing right next to a Records of Eminence NPC, so if you want to just take care of both of those at once.
As for which Unity to join, it depends largely on your Trust needs. My personal recommendation is Apururu or Yoran-Oran as they're both more competant healers than Kupipi is.
So when I left the game the Mog Locker was about the best you could do on "free" storage. Hoo boy.
So now we have WAY more storage options than we did before. I want to run down some brief notes on all of them:
Mog Safe 2
- Unlocked through completion of all the Mithra exit quests
- Same size as your normal Mog Safe Mog Satchel
- Unlocked through possession of the Square-Enix Security Token
- Physical token or mobile token, doesn't matter
- Same size as your normal inventory
- Available outside the mog house Mog Sack
- Purchase from the Artisan Moogle for about 10k gil
- - Southern San d'Oria M-6
- - Bastok Markets H-7
- - Windurst Woods G-10
- - Ru'Lude Gardens I-9
- Same size as your normal inventory. If you expand your inventory, talk to the moogle again to resize the Sack
- Available outside the mog house Mog Case
- Unlocked for free
- Same size as your mog safe
- Available outside the mog house Mog Wardrobes
- First 2 unlocked for free
- Same size as your mog safe
- Only stores gear
- May equip from it either directly or with macros
The wardrobes are the specials ones here. While you're able to move things into or out of the Satchel, Sack, and Case while out in the world, you're actually able to equip things physically inside the wardrobes. This frees up your inventory space from holding gear. Wardrobes 3 and 4 are unlocked by paying SE extra money per month. It's possible that doing this would eliminate the need for mules that specifically hold gear. Though it does not grant you the AH space those mules represented, so the choice there is your's.
Depending on how long you've been away you may not be familiar with the Valor system. Basically it takes the form of a book sitting at the entrance to most zones that has a list of pages with monsters on them. You select the page you want and it'll tell you to go and kill X number of those monsters. Each time you complete the objectives (they can be set to automatically repeat) you'll be given a bit of extra EXP, gil, and a currency called Tabs that can be used to purchase various boons from the books themselves like 10 minutes of sneak/invis or teleportation to another book or your home nation.
The books themselves are pretty self explanatory, so the really useful thing is a chart with all of them on it... well here's that:
So the days of traditional exp parties where you flag up, wait for a tell, and then travel to some horrible spot in Crawler's Nest are basically over. EXPing is largely a solo affair these days. With the help of your Trust NPCs, there's simply no need for traditional EXP parties below max level.
This is nice because you get to do things like get up and pee without annoying other people or creating a bad reputation for yourself.
So if the old school EXP camps are basically no more, where DO you go to get EXP? Well let's look at what we've got. The first thing to determine is what kind of level range are you looking for. Looking over the Valor system charts gives you all sorts of level ranges to pick from. I would say that if you're stuck with 3 trusts, stick with mobs about 3-5 levels above you. As you get access to more trusts at a time you can start reaching into the 5-7 level range. I'd avoid going after mobs more than 8 levels above you unless they're worms or something. That's a rough range to be dealing with if you don't need to or if the mobs aren't especially squishy.
Once you've figured out where you're going to go, you need to decide who to take with you. Your available trusts will largely determine this but the key questions you're asking are:
- Are AoEs safe?
- Is there something special about these mobs I need to care about?
Can you AoE safely in the camp you've picked? If you're fighting in the midst of a bunch of other mobs, the answer is No and you need to pick trusts accordingly. Avoid BLMs in these situations particularly as they tend to not be super careful about their AoE spells.
Do you need to care about something? Some mobs like Beetles can have annoying status effects for themselves and some like Cockatrice can put annoying status effects on you. If you're going to fight something like this, come prepared with a source of Dispel or Erase. It's awful to get to a camp and end up fighting the first mob for 10 minutes because you didn't anticipate something about it. If something isn't working out, change camps.
I thought it might be useful to provide my personal list of campsites. This is by no means exhaustive, just the path I personally prefer:
- 1 - 10: Starter zones - Flag pages if you feel like it, not super important, you won't be here long
- 10 - 20: Buburimu Peninsula - Camp near the outpost and kill everything that moves. Page 1 is a good one here
- 20 - 30: Lower Delkfutt's Tower - Ground floor. Page 1 is good, bats and goblins. When the bats start checking DC to you, start on giants until you're level 30
- 30 - 40: Sea Serpent Grotto - Right inside the entrance. Page 1 again, bats and leeches. There's 1 sahagin that wanders around the area, he's in the level range though so just kill him. Bats and leeches will link with other bats and leeches so be aware of that. Around 37 move toward Norg and kill crabs and skeletons, don't bother changing pages
- 40 - 50: Labyrinth of Onzozo - Right inside the entrance again. You're going to be here a while. Start with page 1 (goblins and leeches). Both are linking and goblins are obviously aggressive. There's an elemental in the tunnel with the leeches. If it's in there and you yourself are a spellcaster (trusts can't draw that kind of aggro remember) then do page 2 instead (goblins and cockatrice). At around level 46 you're going to have to switch to cockatrice anyway to keep EXP chains going. Move further in for higher level goblins too
- 50 - 56: Labyrinth of Onzozo - Did you think you were done here? God no. Switch to page 4 (goblins and mantas) and move further in. Mantas mercifully do NOT link with each other.
- 56 - 63: Kuftal Tunnel - Right inside the entrance. Page 1 (crabs and lizards) is your target here. Lizards will link with each other and the crabs are aggressive so pick targets carefully
- 63 - 69: Kuftal Tunnel - Switch to Page 6 (raptors and goblins) and grab Circumspection from the grounds tome because you're going on a trip all the way to L-8 (Map 2) near the Tachi: Kasha WSNM
- 69 - 78: Zeruhn Mines - It's not actually that far in, just head south from the main path. Page 4 (bats and worms) is the goal here. Stick exclusively with the worms until you're 71ish as they're far less dangerous than the bats. Nothing links or aggros here, though the static positioning of the worms may make AoE undesirable.
- 78 - 85: Outer Horutoto Ruins - Enter from West Sarutabaruta F-4. Page 7 here (bats and slimes). Stick with the bats exclusively until the higher end of this range as the slimes have a super dangerous AoE (fluid spread) that they CAN spam if they feel like it. The bats are non-linking, non-aggressive but they're bunched up in a few places.. be careful with your AoE
- 85 - 93: Dangruf Wadi - ALLLLLLLLL the way in the back. Page 8 (crabs and opo-opo) is the target on this one. Crabs will link, but otherwise this is a nice relaxing level range for once
- 93 - 99 on a job that can pull: Kuftal Tunnel page 8 (worms and tigers). It's a super tight room with 2 tiger spawns and 1 tiger that wanders nearby. If you can't pull the tigers reliably, don't bother with this one. If you can then the exp chains with the worms are pretty tasty
- 93 - 99 on non-pully jobs: Gustav Tunnel page 8 (worms and turtles). It's not as good as the Kuftal camp but if you can't pull things then there isn't much you can do. The turtles are aggressive and have high physical defense (duh) but the worms can still be chained quite readily
Feel free to experiment with different camps than these. This is just the route I've been taking lately because it worked, not because it's the best. It probably isn't.
As you're going through, remember to poke absolutely every home point, survival guide, and geomagnetic fount you come across. You can teleport between home points and survival guides easily and can teleport TO (one way) founts from Waypoints later.
Rhapsodies of Vana'diel
I just wanted to touch on a couple things here because RoV is actually super important, mostly because of the trusts you get and the key items.
This is the wrap-up story for FFXI that ties up all the expansions and gives you a nice send off. The story is pretty good but what I want to talk about are the rewards from the missions because they're REALLY good.
First know that some Rhapsodies missions can't be completed if you haven't progressed far enough or have progressed too far in one of the other expansions. Mostly it has to do with the availability of certain important NPCs. If the NPC is off doing something, then they aren't available for their Rhapsodies role. Personally I ran into a point where I had to complete Treasures of Aht Urghan before I could continue because of an NPC who couldn't stop getting herself captured. If you've completed all the expansions then you have nothing to worry about. Just know that it's a thing.
The major key items here are the Rhapsodies, so named by their color (Rhapsody in White, Rhapsody in Puce, that sort of thing).
The Rhapsodies are awarded for completing certain RoV missions and all of them adjust your gameplay in specific significant ways. For instance they all confer a 30% EXP bonus... and that stacks. So there are 9 Rhapsodies, totally a 270% bonus to EXP once you've got them all. Certain Rhapsodies also do other things, for instance the very first one that you get after a handful of cutscenes and talking to people gives you:
- 30% bonus EXP and limit points
- 100% increase to combat and magic skillup rate
- 1 additional Trust NPC to be summoned
- 80% reduction in gil costs for home point teleports (to 100g per teleport from 500)
- The Curio Vendor Moogle will sell you all kinds of things
- Reduces the amount of tabs and gil used by Survival Guides and Valor book boons
All that for going through a few cutscenes. Now EVERY Rhapsody isn't quite that amazing, but the're all good and you should get as many as you can.
You also get trust NPC summons from the RoV missions to add to your roster. And the story is pretty good. So go have fun.
Well that was a lot. I'm sure I've forgotten things. If you see something that should really be added, please let me know. If you see something that's just flat out wrong, please let me know that too.
Thanks and welcome back to Vana'diel!
Edited, Aug 26th 2016 7:32pm by Callinon