My 10 Year Final Fantasy XIV Journey

It's hard for me to believe, but last month marked 10 years since I began my journey in Final Fantasy XIV. A lot has happened during that time, and looking back now I see just how different my life was when I first started. Not once did I think "where am I going to be in 10 years?" Nor did I think I'd end up at this point in my life; living on my own, married, etc. If you told newbie FF14 player me all of these things, I wouldn't believe you! These are things I never thought would be in the cards for me. But with that being said, a lot has happened within the world of Final Fantasy as well, and I can't help but look back on it all with fond memories. 

Sure, there was drama from time to time, but overall I wouldn't change a thing that happened. All of these memories helped shape who I am today, and I'm also stronger because of that. 

Anyway, Final Fantasy XIV became a huge part of my life that weekend I first started it up, and someday I hope to be looking back on the last 20 years. Because honestly, I can't see FF14 not being there.

Since this game is such a huge part of my life, today I wanted to take a look back and share my story of playing the game over the years. How I got into it, some of the major moments, and maybe a funny story or two. I know this is going to be a bit long, but I hope you are willing to stick with me to the end, and I'd love to hear your story as well! 

Now with that being said (I don't want to waste too much time with this intro), here's the story of my 10 year Journey in the world of Final Fantasy XIV.

The Original

The first time I actually heard about Final Fantasy XIV was with it's original release. I saw that it was an online game, and I really didn't have much interest at the time. I was huge into MMOs, sure, but being a poor college kid without a PlayStation 3 or a good PC made me just assume it wasn't going to happen. I was one of those people who passed it off as being "not" a "mainline" game as well, despite what a college friend of mine tried telling me about it.

"But it is a main Final Fantasy!" He said. "It has a full story and everything!" 

I was used to fetch quest MMOs with stories you clicked through, so I really didn't expect much different out of FF14. Again, it sounded cool to me as at that time I was starting to get more into Final Fantasy back then, but I knew I'd have no way to play it. The next game I was focused on was Final Fantasy Versus XIII, and even then I'd need a PS3 to play it. (Side Note: Versus XIII never released, and was eventually turned into Final Fantasy XV for the PlayStation 4 many years later.) 

Later on I found out how bad the original game was, and heard about the plans to completely scrap it and start anew. College student me still didn't really care, but it was something I was going to keep my eye on in the future. If by some off chance the remake was actually good, then maybe it could be worth it after all?

Introduction to the Beta

That future eventually came after the release of the PlayStation 4, and after I had my first full time job. Now able to buy whatever I wanted, yet still living at home, a game like FF14 was no longer out of the question. I still didn't have a lot of interest in it, as I had other online games to play, but when a Beta Test was announced I decided to give it a chance. And man, I'm so glad I did!

My first character was Netto Saito, and I actually started the game up using my PlayStation Vita to remote play it. I liked the idea of playing an MMO on a handheld, so this was a pretty nice feature for me. I was completely confused on what I was doing or what to do, but I found myself enjoying exploring the world and just following the main story quest. I remember I tried to go out into the world to do some level grinding as well, but eventually put that on hold to return to exploring. It didn't take much to make me want to preorder the game, so I made sure to as soon as the Beta Test ended. I was a bit let down to see the game didn't have built in voice chat, but I was still excited to become a part of this new online world and join it's community once the game released! It would be my first ever paid MMO, so that was pretty exciting as well. (No item mall and pay to win!)

The First Easter

Final Fantasy XIV released on PS4 in 2014 on Easter Weekend. Because it was a holiday, I had nothing else going on that Friday or Saturday, with some family members coming over on Sunday, so I had plenty of free time to spend on the game! I actually dug out my USB Keyboard and Mouse so I could have an easier time playing it (the controller setup wasn't for me), and setup a TV tray in my room so I had somewhere to put everything. I then spent the next who knows how many hours just betting absorbed into this world, and found myself completely blown away at the first real in game cutscene! It was at this moment I realized just how right my old college friend was, and I couldn't wait to see what happened next.

Well, failing... That's what happened next.

You see, I wanted to use swords so I went with the only sword class in the game -- that being a tank class. Guess what? I've never been a tank before in an MMO! The first dungeon paired me up with a group that was understanding and tried to teach me the ropes, but I had a hard time of it. We did manage to beat the dungeon, but I quickly realized my class choice wasn't for me. So I did the only thing I saw fit, and switched over to a lancer class. Dragoons were cool, and I wanted that armor set! It reminded me of the JRPG .hack in a way, with how Haseo eventually upgraded into a dragon like armor set. Of course Final Fantasy came long before .hack, and I also really liked Kain as a character in Final Fantasy IV, so Dragoon sounded like the perfect choice. But then I stopped playing.

A little Break

I didn't get too far into the game playing on my own, and keeping the keyboard and mouse setup in my room was a bit of a pain. So FF14 was something I decided to step away from for a bit, while I focused on some other games that were out at the time. Overall it wasn't that long of a break, but 2014 was a pretty busy year for me so sometimes it feels like it was an eternity.

Rejoining with a Friend

One day I was talking to a friend of mine named Nick. I've known him since I was in high school, and he was one of my two friends that I'd play MMOs with. I completely lost count of how many MMOs we tried over the years, but it was nearly every free to play game on the market from 2006 to roughly 2012. We also got into Xbox Live games later on, but I feel like we played more MMOs together than anything. So when I brought up FF14 randomly, he was instantly like "okay let's play it!" 

Back then the free trial for the game was only up to level 30, and limited how far you could progress in the MSQ. Me being freshly level 10ish however, made it seem like level 30 would be a long ways away. Of course, we found out pretty quickly that wasn't the case, because within a single weekend we had flown through the main story quest, did all the side quests, unlocked our first jobs, got a chocobo, and was at a roadblock. Nick said he planned on getting the game at some point, but he wasn't sure when, so we were just going to be stopping there. At least we would've if I didn't step in!

Nick was the first friend I bought FF14 for. He was still in college at the time, and I had a full time job with nothing better to spend my money on. I paid for the base version of the game for him (HW wasn't out yet), and the two of us got to continue playing. We got pretty far into the main story, but we stopped right before what I consider the turning point of 2.0. (The moment that leads to you meeting Cid.) We didn't stop because we got bored or anything though, nor did we run out of time. It's actually because Destiny was releasing on PS4 that week, and we were both excited to jump in and play it.

Yeah, Destiny replaced FF14 for us for a bit. We were both Halo fans, so it was a must for us. Funny enough, it's a game neither of us would stick with, and by the time we came back to FF14 Nick's sub had expired. 

One Year Later... Surviving...

Once again life got in the way, and FF14 got put on hold. I was starting to think that the game was something I'd never get back to, as more and more kept piling up in my life. Work was really stressful, I was dealing with vertigo (random dizziness) for awhile, and I was still trying to figure out what I wanted to do with my life. Yes I was working, but now what? What was next for me? I worried a lot about dumb random things that year, and then I also had a major health scare to top it all off... I actually thought my Birthday in 2015 could've been my last...

It was Easter of 2015 -- a year after I started FF14. I remember staying up late that Saturday night playing the newly released Bloodborne, when I finally figured it was time for bed. I'd say that was around 2:30 AM. I didn't think anything of it, but I remember I went to the bathroom before going to bed because my guts felt a little weird, and I then went to sleep. What I woke up the next day to was the most horrible pain I've ever felt in my life! My back hurt, my sides hurt, I felt like puking, and it was just.... Horrible... This pain would last for nearly a week, and I'd soon find myself getting non stop tests ran on me to see what was wrong.

I got tested for everything you can imagine, including rare genetic conditions, but thankfully everything turned up okay. I'd go to work in pain, sometimes come home early, and other times I'd show up to work just to be called into the doctors for yet another test. It was a bad time in my life... And then they found something.

My liver enzymes were very high. Me being someone who has never drank in his life, had a liver of someone who had just gave themselves alcohol poisoning and taken a blood test during it. It wasn't good. They didn't know what caused it, but they began checking me weekly to monitor my levels, while also recommending what I should or shouldn't do. I cut out all soft drinks, stuck to mostly water and tea, I started eating a lot healthier, and stopped taking over the counter medicine that would damage the liver. It was a long, LONG, process, but shortly after my birthday I got some good news. My liver was finally back into the normal range.

I'd have to keep going back for tests for the next year, but summer of 2015 was the first time I had any relief from the constant worry, and with that relief came something new... A new PC.

Windows 10

In July of 2015 Windows released Windows 10, the so called "final" version of Windows. At this point my computer was 4-5 years old, but it still met the requirements to download and install the new version. It wasn't a very "strong" computer, so it really couldn't do much game wise. Integrated graphics card, the model I had was prone to overheating, and I didn't have a lot of RAM. Sure, some games worked okay, but other than that, it was mostly there for work and school. Well despite the Windows 10 update being successful initially, I soon found out that none of the drivers I had supported the upgrade, and I was then met with constant Blue Screens of Death.

That kinda made the decision for me on what I would do next.

Since I had a little bit of vacation time at work, I decided to take a week off as a mini "Summer Vacation." I was planning on spending most of it out at the pool, and my mom also had off so I figured I could do some things with her, but there were a few other things happening that week that made it a perfect week to call off. We had family coming from out of state at the end of the week, my mom was planning on visiting my aunt during the week, and one of my best friends was going to be back around Friday to visit as well. With my PC dying though, I decided to throw one more thing into the mix; I'd build my first ever PC.

I didn't know the first thing about PCs back then, so I spent the weekend before my week off studying up and asking for help online, and then that Sunday I went ahead and placed my order for parts I would need. The problem? Not everything I needed could be bought online. The solution? I was going to go with my mom to visit my aunt in another state and pick up some of the parts myself.

Getting the parts to the PC wasn't too difficult overall. Rare Replay also happened to come out on Xbox One that week (my vacation tarted at the end of July) so I used that to keep my mind off of the stress of what I'd have to do building the thing, but once all my parts arrived I still froze. I was worried I'd do something wrong, and just couldn't do it... Now days I'm a lot more comfortable opening them up and changing out parts, but for a first time it was a nightmare. 

I ended up finding a PC shop a few towns over (where I now currently live) that could put it together for me, but they warned me that it wouldn't be covered by their warranty. I was of course fine with that (as my parts themselves were covered), and thankfully everything went okay with the setup. I took my new PC home, installed a new OS for the first time, and got things rolling. This is when my friend Ryan got into town as well, so we actually spent more time hanging out and playing games while my PC attempted to download everything from the cloud.

That was a fun day! After it was over though, my PC headache wasn't quite finished. 

The next two days was spent running around trying to find a new monitor, and find the proper cables to connect it. My HDMI port wasn't working unfortunately, so I had to settle for DVI which I didn't have a cable for. Managed to find one at a local shop, but it didn't take long for me to discover that my new monitor had a bunch of dead pixels. So once again I was driving an hour away to buy a replacement, and this was all while I needed to be helping out before our family arrived. We learned that my family wanted to throw a surprise party for my cousin's youngest son, so the end of the week suddenly became busy. Eventually I did find a new monitor (thankfully), and we did get things ready for the party in time, but by then my vacation was coming to an end.

As for the last thing I did on my break? Well...

My (funny) Return to Final Fantasy XIV

Now that I had a new PC, it was the perfect time to jump back into FF14. I downloaded the game, renewed my sub, played around with my graphic settings, and then started exploring the world. My friend Nick still didn't have the game, and said he wasn't sure when he could come back to it, so I decided to do something different. Instead of playing the game as Netto Saito, I decided to use an alternate female character I created named Claire Light, with hopes of using her as a refresher. 

My plan was to simply replay through the story I had already seen and get used to the controls again, but then something very awkward and unexpected happened... I got hit on.

The first thing that happened to me when I logged in was some creep spamming messages at me telling me how "hot" I was, and that he'd pay me money if I put on a swimsuit. I'm sure he expected newbie me not to have such a thing, but I had actually received the swimsuit items from a previous event and grabbed both the male and female versions of them. 

I transferred the female swimsuit over to Claire, and just kept it on her in case I ever decided to use her. Well after I put that swimsuit on I saw a trade request pop up, and the next thing I knew I had a ton of money given to me! I don't remember the exact amount, but this single trade event is why I never ran low on cash in the game, and it made Claire hundreds of time richer than Netto had ever been even after months of playing as him.

(Yes I have the Swim Suit Event Screenshot, and no I'm not showing it!)

So newbie rich Claire started the game on a great note, and things only went up from there! Walking through the town was enough to get me invited into a Free Company (FF14's guild system), and I went ahead and accepted because "why not?" Next thing I knew the entire FC was freaking out over the new member, and they were all jumping to help me. They were giving me items, offering to help power level me so I could unlock the Ninja job, and in the matter of a couple of hours I had already passed up Netto in nearly every single way. I then used my newfound power to speed run the early parts of the story, and quickly catch up to where I had previously left off.

I couldn't believe it. All that hard work as Netto was accomplished and greatly passed all within a single day. I was speechless. It was quickly becoming obvious that Claire should just be my main, but what really sealed the deal was what this FC did for me next; they gave me the chocobo of my dreams!

You see, to get a chocobo in FF14, all you have to do is finish the My Little Chocobo quest. This isn't a big deal, but all chocobo gained will start with the default color of yellow. This is fine and all, but if you want something different you really have to work for it. You have to get a house (which there is limited market space that everyone shares), grow a garden (which takes multiple days), and then feed the fruit to your chocobo to change it's color pallet. 

It's basically an invisible color slider where different fruits will bump your chocobo towards different parts of the spectrum, but what I wanted was even harder than most colors to get. I was hoping to one day get a white chocobo, which requires the most amount of fruit so that you can max out all colors and turn them "white." I happened to mention that it was one of my goals to achieve this chocobo color during a conversation, and when I unlocked my chocobo my fellow FC members sent me everything I needed. Again, I was beyond speechless!


Moving forward I found myself really getting into the game, more so than when I was playing on my PS4. Because I was enjoying it so much, I started talking to my friends about it non stop, and actually convinced a LOT of them to join me! I ended up buying the game for my friend GlacialLeaf, while the others I just had to give a little nudge to show them that they'd love it. 

One of them, I'll call Cheerful, REALLY got into the game though, and is still a dedicated player today. He actually got more into the game than I did, and jumped into basically all of the classes! I still remember the time we spent an entire Sunday running the primal fights over and over and over again trying to get the horses. We didn't manage to get them all, but at least we got some of them? I eventually just got too exhausted and quit for the day. 

Overall we had a lot of fun playing together, but it eventually became just me and GlacialLeaf left in our starting server. Everyone else transferred out, and went on to join their own FCs.

Road to Stormblood

When Stormblood was announced, me and GlacialLeaf rejoined the game after a short break, and joined forces as we attempted to speed run every piece of content the game had to offer. We had some Main Story Quests we needed to finish, but we also had extra modes and dungeons we wanted to finish off as well. We spent the next handful of weeks doing everything we possibly could, and spent pretty much every moment of every day talking about the game nonstop! It was a really fun time, and we also made some new friends in the process.

See, the FC we were both originally a part of actually fell apart. There was major FC drama where the leader and his wife were having health issues at home and couldn't keep up with the game. This was fine and all, but when some FC members got upset over something I wasn't involved with, the leader lashed back, kicked everyone out of the FC and ran off with all the FC resources and money. I told one of the old FC members I'd try talking to him, so I tracked down the new FC he joined and joined it myself. Well the moment he saw I joined he bailed, and I decided to stay -- because they were awesome. 

The FC was called the Skydragons, and it was/still is filled with wonderful people. They are a group that always has your back, and made coming back to the game and playing a joy. I found them because I was chasing the malice that one FC leader created, but instead found a place where I felt like I truly belonged.

(I love you Skydragons! I'm sorry I can't be as active now days, but I want you all to know how grateful I am to you for letting me be a part of the family!)

After that me and GlacialLeaf began talking to them every single day as well. We joined the Discord Server, and met a lot of great people! We were all excited for the upcoming Stormblood, and both of us were excited to tackle the story along side our new friends. Heck, it became a part of my daily routine to spend my lunch break at work just talking to them! 

Everything was great, but sadly, an incident occurred.

Now I just want to say this right now. I don't blame anyone for what happened, and the person involved was actually removed from the FC because they were mentally attacking everyone... It's a shame it happened, and a part of me still feels like throwing up when I think about it. This next part is honestly still hard to talk about, but I'm going to do my best to explain it. 

It's taken a lot of debating to decide if I even want to include this honestly, and the memories have kept me up late at night. Should I tell this story? Should I not? I've never told it to anyone other than those involved. I've tried telling people, but I clam up and can't get the words out. I tried telling my wife but I actually broke down crying and we changed the subject. (If you're reading this I'm really sorry. I know you understand.. I'm sure you even remember that day...) And then I think about the others who I could've told in person but didn't? What if they also read this and find out this way? I don't want it to go like that, but I literally can't get myself to speak this story out loud. I just break down. Anyway enough rambling on this... This is me just talking to the world right before hitting publish on this article as I still debate if I actually want to do this. So I have to stop myself now. (Sorry. Should I delete this too?) Anyway...

I won't name anyone by names, but one member of the FC we all became friends with was "W." W was a bit older than most of us in the FC and was apparently a part of the military. The base he was stationed at actually wasn't too far away from me, so I thought that was cool, and he'd often share pictures. We had no reason to not believe him, and we all cared about what happened to him. When he had to go overseas for something, we worried, and when he was having issues with his wife, we all legit cared about him. Everyone tried to help him get through his ordeals, and when he ended up in the hospital we were all scared to death. We cared about this guy. He was a part of the family.

Well, things changed for me.

One day he told us that he was going on a tour, and he didn't know when he'd be back. He basically said to pray for him, and that he'd hopefully see us again. That alone was pretty emotional because he made it seem like he might not return. He didn't go into details what it was (obviously), but me being me tried to lighten the mood a little and sent him a message. "OPERATION SNAKE EATER IS A GO!" Me referring to none other than Metal Gear Solid, and then wishing him the best of luck. Harmless. Right?

A day or so later W messaged me and said he was in trouble. According to him, he messed up and had his phone with him and that Discord message I sent made a sound and got him caught. In his words, he basically said he had to kill the guy when they were originally planning on just sneaking by. It was my fault he was dead. Do you have any idea what it feels like to think your actions lead to someone's death? That someone was taken out of this world because your stupid mistake? They had a family, they had friends... They were a person! It's not a video game, they don't come back. It's real life. They're gone. You did it. Not directly, but they are dead because of you. I was a mess. I felt like I was in a nightmare I couldn't wake up from. One minute I was joking around, and the next this? 

I couldn't do anything but think about it, and think about who this person might've been. I could hardly eat, sleep, and for sure couldn't play games. I did my best to hide what was going through my mind, but it was becoming harder and harder to focus on anything. People try to say that video games can turn people into killers because of the violent acts you commit, but speaking form experience, it does not. Killing something in a game, and you thinking you caused someone to die are NOT the same. And remembering that feeling still makes me sick...

Well, W's stories continued from there, and eventually he was kicked out of the FC. There was one incident that pushed things over the edge, and everyone finally got tired of going through the mental attacks they received from talking to this guy. His stories also stopped making sense, with even him "killing someone" also being in question. Logically, he should not be able to have his phone with him. It being a "mistake and bringing it" does not sound likely at all. At the time it did, and really there's no way to know for sure if it was a lie, but considering we proved other lies of his... It most likely never happened. It's something that still scares me from time to time when the thought of it being true crosses my mind, but I have to tell myself that everything he told us was false. I have to believe that, and there's more than enough proof that it was so.

I'm really thankful to the FC for helping me through this whole ordeal also. They helped bring his lies out, and they were there for me. It's because of them I was able to get past it.

Anyway, I don't hate W. I didn't even delete him from Discord. If he were to message me again, I would talk to him, but I wouldn't believe anything about being in the military.

Vacation and Stormblood

The whole W thing actually happened right before the start of my vacation from work. I remember going to get a Snow Cone from a local place as I tried to keep my mind off of things, and then got ready for the next day's release. My plan was to wake up early and play pretty much all day! While I did get to "play" all day, there was a major issue that kept me from actually advancing. Server overload, and the first "instanced" objective.

Although most quests in FF14 happen in the main play area, there are multiple ones that are boss fights, dungeons, etc, that load into new areas and are self contained parts of the story. Thanks to how many players were trying to get into the game, the very first story quest that required being loaded into an event failed to load! You'd try to join the quest, and nothing would happen. Eventually someone came up with the idea to form a line (and what a sight that was to see!) and have everyone take their turn, but even that didn't work. What it evolved into was spending all day trying over and over again, and hoping for the best.

As for me, this wait began at 8 AM in the morning, and wasn't something I was able to pass until 12 AM the next day.

For an entire week, Stormblood was my life. It was playing Stormblood when I was home, going to my grandparent's house to swim around noon, coming back to Stormblood at night, and then taking a few trips out of town to go out to eat and stuff. Overall it was a really nice vacation, and I managed to clear most of the expansion during that week! GlacialLeaf was there as well, and it was a lot of fun talking to the FC about the game also. We would even join up from time to time to tackle dungeons, and share our experiences with the new expansion. After I put aside what happened with W, it was one of my favorite vacations from work!

On another note, I also picked up playing Ingress on the side.

Being off for a whole week was also the perfect chance for me and my friend Derek (who I went to school with) to fully jump into the Pokemon Go developer's original game Ingress. Like Pokemon Go, the game has you travel the real world capturing areas, and defending them from others. We both joined the same team, and began going out to our surrounding towns to capture whatever we could! It was a nice break away from my PC, and something great to do while I went swimming or was out getting food. I also had to get my driver's license renewed that year (and take the test...) so I ended up driving to places I didn't usually go to. 

Again, it was a fun distraction and helped keep me from burning myself out on Stormblood, but Stormblood remained my main focus that week.

Over the Years

Continuing from Stormblood, FF14 remained a constant in my life. It's not something I'd play all the time, or come back to every single month, but I would always make sure I completed all of the events at least. By this point FF14 was such a huge part of who I am as a person, I couldn't possibly just let it go. I continued to love the story, the gameplay, the people, and pretty much everything about it! I fell behind here and there, and would then race along side GlacialLeaf to catch back up, but it wasn't until Shadowbringers was announced that it once again consumed me. This expansion was looking to be better than ever, and I couldn't wait to see what happened next.


With Shadowbringers I was sadly not able to take a vacation. I was working at a new job without vacation time to use, and I knew it would be dumb to call off just for a game. The week before the game came out however, we got an inspection call that I had to go out on, and it ended up being a multiple hour visit. This put me way into overtime, and because of that I got to go home around noon on Friday the day the expansion came out. So happy me rushed home as soon as I could, jumped into Shadowbringers, and spent the entire weekend being spirited away to a new world.

I loved it. Still to this day I consider Shadowbringers to not only be my favorite FF14 expansion, but one of my all time favorite JRPGs.

I could go on and on and on about my adventures through this new world, but I'm sure my experience there is similar to everyone else's. I stayed up late every single night playing it, and it was the first thing I did when I returned home from work. I spent all day talking to friends about it, and convinced one of my new work friends to give the game a shot as well! (He didn't stick with it very long thanks to WoW Classic releasing.) I have nothing but good memories from Shadowbringers, and currently that's sorta where my FF14 journey ends. Kinda.

Where I am Now

Now days I'm not playing FF14 quite as much. It took me some time to finish off the patches for Shadowbringers, and now I'm living in my own house and married. The game continues to be something I come back to at night before going to bed, but I haven't really gotten the chance to go through Endwalker. A lot of other games (including games both me and my wife enjoy) have come out and occupied my time, but with the release of Dawntrail coming soon I hope to fix that. I still buy FF14 merchandise and books (my wife has even bought some for me! She's awesome!), and I still spread the word about how great the game is, but finding the time isn't always easy. I guess that's a part of growing up though, right? Being forced to adult?

Anyway, that's my Final Fantasy XIV story. I'm sorry it got so long winded, and obviously I had to leave some things out or else we'd be here all day. But I still wanted to share my story with the world, and I greatly appreciate those of you who took the time to read it! It's been quite the journey.

Post a Comment

Previous Post Next Post