When you think about Final Fantasy 14, the critically acclaimed MMO with a free trial up to level 60, your mind may wander to its four expansions that have spanned a decade-long story and the beloved cast of characters introduced along the way. It may bring to mind a host of memorable dungeons ands raids, or even the passionate community. One of the many reasons Final Fantasy 14 thrives though is because it lets its player base choose between a collection of activities that aren’t solely focused on the Main Scenario or grinding high-end content. I’ve never felt required to play every day for fear of missing out on my daily rewards and Square Enix has previously encouraged players to take breaks from the game, especially after long play sessions. The game has a perfect balance of content for both hardcore players and casuals and offers something for every mood.
As someone who enjoys grinding dungeons and raids every week as much as the next player in order to get my tokens and gear, there are days when I don’t feel like doing anything in the MMO – instead preferring to sit idly in one of the many gathering spots to chat to other players, or explore the housing districts while watching a Netflix series on my second monitor.
There are a number of communities within the Final Fantasy 14 player base, each consisting of Warriors Of Light that enjoy various activities in the game. There’s the PvP crowd, the hardcore raiders, the casuals, the role-players, and even the interior designers. Gathering and crafting has its own community too, with some players dedicating countless hours of their time to farm and produce a diverse selection of goods for personal use or profit. This activity, in particular, has also been a great source of relaxation for not just me, but many other players as well. Farming materials and crafting miscellaneous objects can be the key to winding down after a long day or simply taking a break from the main content of Final Fantasy 14.
For one player going by Soul Solid, it gives him the opportunity to go on “auto-pilot” after work, and with the limited two hours of free time he has during weekdays, he usually ends up fishing or crafting. “I’m a lazy person. I love being able to turn off my brain and sit still, maybe even watch a movie or lore dive video or two as opposed to spearfishing and mining/botany, where one has to go from node to node,” Soul explained. “Perhaps it’s the same reason I’m so fond of crafting too.”
Another player, Neeya, feels similarly,. She loves PvE content as well, but feels like crafting and gathering don’t require as much attention and brain energy. “It’s way more chill and you won’t lose or make your team wipe because you watched a random video on the side. You can take as much time as you want to finish your craft or gather your item (except with pops but in general) without having a malus from it. It’s a way to relax the brain a bit without doing nothing after being focused for a long time,” she said.
Others have expressed that PvE can sometimes get stressful and they’d take a break from it in favour of the fun and exciting experience of the activity. Speaking to NME, Erin explained that since there is no Savage tier or World-First in crafting and gathering (referring to the raiders who race to beat duties first) she doesn’t feel like it’s rushed or competitive. “You just go out and find your stuff, bring it back to your favourite place and make things,” she said. “It’s relaxing, and crafting I can do anywhere. Like the Crystarium’s music? Park in a corner and make ingots for half an hour. Want to run around in Ultima Thule without being bothered by mobs? Go collect some cotton and enjoy the music.”
While gathering and crafting might not be for everyone, in Final Fantasy 14, it’s treated as one of the main ways to pass time. This form of “passing time” has become almost habitual for some players when they’re looking for something to do that isn’t too physically taxing in the MMO, but still lets them hang around community spots in Eorzea. Some players may spend hours upon hours in the week – chopping wood and mining ore – while others prefer to spend a single day completing their tasks as a way to let their minds wander.
“I like to spend at least one day a week with it. Don’t tell my manager, but it’s usually something I do while working from home,” Erin explained. “I spend some time gathering wood or ore or whatever I might want to work on, then park in the Crystarium and craft while I do things at work. I main DPS, so I’ll also spend time with it while waiting in queues for duties, or sometimes if I just can’t decide on anything else to do. So maybe 10 hours a week or so, to put it in more concrete terms, but it can vary.”
“While, obviously, I like my ultimate and savage raids as much as the next guy, there are some days where I just take the entire day to sit down and hunt specific fish I haven’t gotten around to,” said Soul. “It’s become a habit for me to just sit down whenever the main story is done to say, ‘okay. Now we craft, let’s do this.'”
Despite the fact that there are specific communities in the MMO, the player base as a whole is far from divisive. Every activity is accessible to every player and it makes finding new interests quite simple. Some communities even crossover from time to time, allowing players interested in different activities to interact together every once in a while.
“I’d say it’s [the gathering and crafting community] very similar to the hunting community, at least on our server,” Soul said. “Most of the people that I have met there I have seen doing fishing as well. The community is composed of people spawning S ranks, Raiders who finished their weeklies and people who hunt for achievements. These communities often very much go hand in hand.
“Whenever there are Legendary nodes or fish windows popping up, usually there is a person or two up for a short chat. And when it comes to fishing, people usually cheer each other on when they catch a really rare fish (looking at you ruby dragon, one day I’ll get my hands on you).”
The vast world of Eorzea has only become bigger since its initial launch in 2013 with A Realm Reborn. Players are now able to journey to the Far East and visit the Kingdom of Doma, or even traverse worlds and discover the wonders of the First. There are countless locations to explore in Final Fantasy 14, and like how Hunts operate, it has opened up new experiences for its crafters and gatherers.
“It’s such a nice way to explore the world,” Erin said. “I ‘no-lifed’ the main story to get to Endwalker as fast as I could so I didn’t get spoiled, and that means I missed out on kind of a lot while I was going. Doing crafting and gathering sends me to parts of maps I might not have spent time with otherwise, and lets me get involved with beast tribes and meet or get to know some NPCs better.”
“I love how so many of the guild masters, NPCs, and storylines all touch on conservation and taking care of nature, having respect for the animals you kill for leatherworking, respecting the wood used in carpentry, looking into the changes in the habits of fish; all of these things have real-world reflections and get an important message across in a natural way that doesn’t feel pushy or like ‘an agenda’, as some people might want to call it. It shows how aware the storytelling is in the game, and I hope that people carry that with them away from their computers and consoles as well.”
On top of there now being entire worlds to explore, in patch 5.2 of Shadowbringers, Ocean Fishing was introduced to Final Fantasy 14 and further enhanced the gathering experience for those of the fishing profession. This duty allows a party of players to set sail across Eorzea to catch some of the rarer fish and also opens up new opportunities for new player interactions. According to Soul, who prefers fishing over any gathering Job, he thinks that the addition of Ocean Fishing has made the activity more accessible to new players.
“There have definitely been a lot more people attracted to the content as it’s easier to get into now, with some good quality of life improvements,” he explained. “I’ve seen moments where people organize community events, point races or party finders to get one specific achievement from ocean fishing on a daily basis, so it’s definitely become way more active.”
Even though it’s otherwise considered a relaxing activity, gathering and crafting have even been labelled competitive in the Final Fantasy 14 community and has become a sort of running joke, with players naming the process of selling items and making the most profit as “Market Board PvP”. However, this doesn’t deter from players finding comfort and enjoyment in the process.
“Every hour as my retainers are back from their ventures, I put some new items to sell or check what I’ve already put, to see if I’m the cheapest price of the market board,” said Neeya. “If not, I usually undercut it by only one gil, or make the number round. And when I sell something expensive despite the competition, it always gives me a big smile on my face with a lot of satisfaction.”
For Neeya, the process is also an easy way to make gil, but also to help other players who may be new to the scene. She explained that, when she has the time, she creates items for the players who would otherwise struggle to obtain or craft them. “Their happiness is the best reward I can get!”
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