One of the best parts about Final Fantasy XIV is that you can literally be every possible class be it crafting or battlecraft on the same character. One of the worst parts of Final Fantasy XIV is that for the most part leveling alt jobs has been a pretty grindy proposal. When you first set down to level in Final Fantasy XIV, you have all of these side quests and main story quests to keep the game feeling fresh and keep the content moving forward at a decent clip. Unfortunately when you sit down to level any of your other Jobs you find out just how much of your original quest experience came from that unrepeatable main story. As always I leveled my Warrior first because well… like it or not I am a tank at heart and for three expansions now I have not deviated from that mission. There was some brief flirtation with potentially going Dark Knight, but in the end Warrior just suits me best. However now I have reached that point where I have functionally geared the warrior as far as I can without the aid of Omega drops, and as a result I have turned my attention to trying to run my first DPS up. You can tell by the above image that my DPS of choice this go round is the brand new Samurai job. The only problem there is… quite honestly leveling as a DPS without the aid of the Main Story Quest… is butts and highlights some of the problems that Final Fantasy XIV still has when it comes to a lack of reasonable alternate leveling paths.
Previously in A Realm Reborn era especially… I used to hop in a FATE grinding party and move on with life. There were fabled zones like South Shroud or Northern Thanalan that were largely devoted to groups of players running around and trying to kill the FATEs as fast as possible. Unfortunately with the transition to Heavensward, there was a massive nerf of FATE experience and with it the grind party devotees started to disappear. When Palace of the Dead was introduced it gave us a ladder to follow to slowly bring those alts up to speed through grinding sets of 10 floors at a time. Unfortunately however the PotD experience is pretty horrible with the bar barely moving at level 61. There is a bit of a FATE presence in The Fringes, but everyone is fairly disorganized with no groups available through the party finder. There was some talk over the weekend of maybe starting up a guild FATE party just to get all our various alts leveled in a reasonable manner. My current MO has been to queue for a dungeon or roulette and grind FATEs until it pops and in the grand scheme of things this has worked well enough. Over the weekend I went from 60 on my Samurai to 65 as of last night, which a huge chunk of that happening during recording the podcast and simply bouncing from FATE to FATE until we finished. I remember that is also how I leveled my gathering professions, since while I am podcasting I can seem to grind something without even noticing it. I would also try this with Palace of the Dead, but before long I would find myself running circles in Quarymill while we recorded… much the same as I used to run circles in Dalaran.
I honestly thought I was being clever in this expansion, and after the end of Raubahn Savage… I found myself up enough in experience that I started attempting to ignore every side quest and only push through with a laser focus on the main story. My thought was this would ultimately help out the first alt that I leveled, and over the weekend I returned to Ruby Sea where I had dozens and dozens of quests to complete. Unfortunately… these quests provide next to no experience and simply only add bits of story to help flesh out the world a bit. I spent about an hour and completed a dozen or so quests… when I realized that my experience bar had moved less than if I had gotten gold in a single FATE. Hell to be truthful just wandering the world grinding random mobs seemed to be better experience than the side quests were providing. In the past this would be the moment that I would start leaning heavily on Battlecraft Leves… but unfortunately much to my frustration it seems that they simply do not exist in Stormblood. There are crafting leves in Kugane but neither there nor Rhalgar’s Reach have anything for the battlecraft jobs. I mean leves were a horrible experience in Heavensward and the thought of having to keep popping back to the Foundation between rounds was maddening. However they were there if you got desperate and there were many times I got desperate enough to see some steady progress on the experience bar. There are hunts of course, and I have been doing my daily hunt logs but again… while they are an excellent source of seals… they are a pretty crappy source of experience.
If I am playing a tank or a healer… then this whole question of how to level becomes moot. You simply queue for dungeons and ride the constant string of instant queues until you hit 70. However there seems to be something missing to help the DPS get a leg up. Now the leveling roulette and 50/60 roulette seem to go significantly faster than queuing for a specific dungeon. Over the weekend leveling roulette seemed to be about a 10-15 minute queue for dps, and 50/60 somewhere in the neighborhood of 20 minutes… with queuing for an individual level and gear appropriate dungeon taking somewhere in the neighborhood of 30-40 minutes. If I was able to run FATEs while waiting on the queue to tick down it did not feel too horrible, or at least it felt like I was making steady forward momentum. However if I happened in one of the patches where the folks were not touching the FATEs at all… it was noticeably dragging. Compare that to the experience of playing a healer or a tank… with their push button get dungeon mechanics and it just feels lousy. At least with Palace of the Dead providing reasonable experience, you could skirt a lot of the issues and get by just fine with four dps parties in there. I am not sure where it is on the roadmap, but I am really hoping we see the next iteration of Palace of the Dead launching with 4.1. Until then… I think once I finish leveling the Samurai I will probably focus on my other tanks and my healers before returning to the DPS queue hell again. This is also why I have been trying to offer my short tank queues whenever possible to the free company… because leveling DPS is butts.