It's the halfway point of September 2021 as I write this, and that means Square Enix is ramping up the hype efforts to the next Final Fantasy XIV expansion. Endwalker doesn't land until November, but that isn't stopping Square Enix from tossing information out left and right, including regular streams from developers and more.

And considering how wild the demand for this game has been lately, there's a good chance a lot of folks are showing up for the first time this year. And if you're new you have two options. You can start from the beginning and work your way up, or pay to skip the story (don't do that one).

As daunting as the task looks, there are ways you can keep your journey as quick and efficient as possible without missing anything good.

How to Catch Up in Final Fantasy XIV

Stick To (Mostly) MSQ

This seems like obvious advice, but if you’re trying to speed your way from A Realm Reborn through Shadowbringers, you’re going to decide whether or not to engage with sidequests. 

Truth be told, many of Final Fantasy XIV’s side quests are light on interesting content and more about getting money and experience. Since you’re likely packing an exp-boosting earring if you just bought the game, those will only overlevel you.

That said, if a quest icon has a little plus mark on it, you might want to check it out as they usually lead to things like Aether Currents (to open up flying) or unlocking features.

Utilize Community Resources (Gamer Escape, YouTube)

The most time-consuming part of early Final Fantasy XIV (or any MMO really) is figuring out what to do. Luckily there are plenty of community resources, and one in particular we recommend is Gamer Escape.

It’s kind of a mix between a wiki and a traditional gaming website, and it’s full of great information. When it comes to boss fights, some of them can be frustrating, especially if you’re having a hard time figuring out their mechanical gimmicks.

Looking up boss guides on YouTube is a good idea there if you want to cut corners, since they’ll lay out exactly what’s expected of you based on your role.

Related: The Daunting but Rewarding Task of Returning to Final Fantasy XIV

Pick One* Job and Stick With It

Speaking of roles, for now you should pick one and stick with it. If you’re trying to reach Shadowbringers by Endwalker time, you probably don’t have time to try all the jobs. The good news is you can always go back and do that later and still have a good time, or even make a second character to make your way through at a more leisurely pace.

Related: A Guide to Classes and Jobs for Final Fantasy XIV

*All that said, swapping from the base jobs to more advanced jobs after a certain point is a big part of the game and encouraged, so look a head a bit there to figure out what you might want to change to.

Don’t Worry About Gear

Gear drops are a huge part of MMOs, and Final Fantasy IV is no exception. However, there’s so much stuff in the older parts of the game you can access as a new player most of the loot is moot.

Allagan Tomestones, a special currency you earn just from playing dungeons with other players, can be traded in at specified NPCs for armor that will absolutely carry you through the story.

Relax and Have a Good Time

Honestly, unless you’re really worried about FOMO or are trying to catch up to some friends you plan to play with, I think catching up quickly isn’t worth it.

There’s so much fun to be had just bumbling your way through Final Fantasy XIV, and the low pressure community environment means even if you struggle against a boss nobody is gonna yell at you for it. The vibe is far too chill.

You don’t need to go for 100% completion or anything like that, but don’t be afraid to take your time. Endwalker will be there when you get there, and as long as you’re having a good time and play consistently you’ll get there soon enough. Final Fantasy XIV, by design, doesn’t leave new players hanging.