With four expansions now under its belt, Final Fantasy XIV has seen its level cap go from 50 all the way to 90 — unless you only have the FFXIV free trial. That’s a lot of levels to fight, chop, and craft your way through, but we have some essential tips for the hardcore or casual player who is in a rush to maximize gains and reach the cap fast.
Over the years, Final Fantasy XIV has introduced a dizzying number of ways to gain EXP. It's not as clear-cut as the classic MMO days of grinding the same mob cluster for days on end. The most time-efficient method is to rely on daily and weekly bonuses. Those with ample time on their hands, plenty of snacks, and maybe a spare screen for some Netflix bingeing can master all the avenues to grind their way to the top. Here's how to quickly reach the max level in Final Fantasy XIV.
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Final Fantasy XIV is built around battle content. You can absolutely live your life as a crafter or gatherer once you hit the level cap, but you’ll need to do so in a single battle class before you can turn your life around like that. You have to plod through the game’s main storyline before you’re truly free to do your own thing.
There are plenty of ways to level up in Final Fantasy XIV, but new players should focus on the main scenario quests, something we touch on a bit in our FFXIV beginner’s guide. This way, you’ll level up and experience the game and its locations as the developers intended. It won’t be a fast journey, but you’ll have to complete the main quests to do the top-tier stuff anyway, so you might as well just go with the flow.
Items that boost experience points are available — like the “Brand-New Ring” awarded through the Hall of the Novice questline at level 15, a headpiece through Recruit-A-Friend, or several signature outfits bought with real money through the online FFXIV item shop.
Final Fantasy XIV is different from most other MMOs. A single character is free to master every class, meaning sidequests will eventually run dry. To aid that, any battle class under your highest level class will always gain experience points at 100% of the usual rate, dropping to 50% at level 70 and above. It’s an invisible buff we call the Armory Bonus, and it magically cuts the grind of leveling subsequent classes by a good margin.
But sidequests aren’t the best way to grind levels on subsequent classes. They can send you on a goose chase for not a lot of EXP. So what do you do? Well, there are a bunch of ways to level subsequent classes, and while some are faster than others, they’re generally far more repetitive, risking player burnout that much faster.
The ideal leveling process incorporates daily bonuses that make playing in bursts generally more favorable than rushing through the experience. But if you absolutely must grind your way to the finish line, choosing between FATEs and Deep Dungeon runs tends to be the go-to route.
Before Shadowbringers released, running a dungeon at the unlock level offered the best EXP gains thanks to the Chain Bonus.
You won’t get that addictive, time-limited EXP buff these days, but dungeon EXP was boosted to make runs less chain-focused and intensive gauntlets. What that means is dungeons are still a good way to grind EXP, but with new ones being around three levels between each other, the repetitive runs can get old fast.
You’ll get a bonus for your first run of each dungeon on a single character (not class), so if you’re new to the game, you’ll have plenty of bonuses to get from the dozen or so dungeons you’ll unlock at each previous expansion’s level cap.
If you’re not in the mood to run with real players, running select dungeons with A.I. squadron members can fill in.
You’ll have to contend with some wonky A.I. from time to time, but the raw killing power of these NPCs paired with massively increased EXP rates can make short work of the 18 to 50 portion of the Final Fantasy XIV level grind these days. Reach the Second Lieutenant rank with your Grand Company to access them.
Once the bastion of level grinding, FATE farming isn’t quite the behemoth it used to be. Still, it’s a decent way to push through levels when you’re between optimal dungeon runs and/or waiting for a queue to pop. FATEs are found all over the game world, can usually be easily soloed with appropriate gear, and award a decent chunk of your EXP bar for the few minutes they can take to complete.
In Heavensward zones and above, these can sometimes offer up 2x their normal experience points. Just look on the map for those 2x bonuses. Better yet, if you see the mention of the “stench of death” attracting a Forlorn Maiden to the field during a FATE, be sure to kill it to get a buff that will award 2x EXP on your next FATE clear. The boosts can really add up over time.
Unlike the last relic-specific zone we had in Stormblood — called Eureka — the Bozjan Southern Front won’t have us gaining experience independent of our main level. Any class level 72 and above is welcome. The typical relic grind it’s expected to deliver will double up as an easier way to get secondary classes caught up with our max level roles.
Hardcore grind method : If you’re up for playing 12 hours a day, FATEs are, as they always have been, the way to go. Regular and Deep Dungeon runs are good, too, but they’re harder to double up with a source of entertainment — like a Let’s Play series on your phone. You can carry this on all the way to 80 or jump into the Bozjan Southern Front at 72 to add a bit of variety to the final dash.
Casual grind method: If you only have a few hours to spare each day, the game’s daily/weekly bonuses can get you a lot of EXP fast. Rely on Squadron dungeon runs and the Hunting Log to reach level 50 while avoiding matchmaking queues. Switch that up with FATEs if you run out of Grand Company currencies.
Get the Guildhest and Dungeon first-time bonuses when they’re relevant to your level, clear your weekly challenge logs, and focus on burning through any extra rested EXP you’ve accumulated while at work, etc. At 50 and above, the hardcore method comes into effect again, but take it easy once the weekly bonuses have been spent, as you’ll notice things slow considerably after this point.
Final Fantasy XIV has slowly introduced more and more ways to boost experience point gains. By stacking as many of these equipment pieces and consumables with the Armory Bonus, you can boost your experience point gains from battle up to as much as 250%.
- Armory Bonus (100% below level 60, 50% thereafter)
- Rested (50%)
- Free Company Action or Squadron Battle Manual (Up to 15%)
- Wearable items (varies)
- Food (3%)
A subset of classes in Final Fantasy XIV, Disciples of the Hand are a collection of crafting-based classes like Blacksmithing, Culinarian, and Goldsmithing. There are a total of eight crafting classes right now, and we don’t anticipate another arriving anytime soon. Leveling these classes can be a difficult and time-consuming process, but each one can help with the other that remain, making each new class a little easier than the last. Just like combat classes, there are a few different ways to go about leveling.
Craft one of everything
While not absolutely necessary, new crafters can enjoy a burst of experience points simply by crafting an item for the first time. Notice that little checkmark next to that item you just whipped up for the first time? You can do that for any item on your recipe list, and doing so grants a one-time experience point bonus.
You’ll want all the practice you can get if you’re new to crafting, so ticking off each item isn’t a bad way to chip away at your experience bar. The more you raise the item’s quality, the more EXP you’ll get when you finish the craft.
Available at around level 50, these weekly turn-ins are quick and easy to pull off. Simply check the week’s delivery list, buy the necessary items from the appropriate vendor, and craft six of the requested items as best you can. You’ll earn plenty of experience points when delivering these items, and you’ll even get “scrips” used to purchase powerful crafting gear.
Grand Company turn-ins
Often overlooked these days, your chosen Grand Company will request a random level-appropriate craft from you each day at the turn-in counter. Just like levequests, handing in a high-quality item will net more experience points. It’s a quick and easy way to get some bonus experience each day.
Probably the best (and cheapest) way to level any crafting class at this point is to devote yourself to Levequests. These repeatable quests task players with delivering certain items to NPCs for a generous amount of experience points. They come in a few flavors, but “Charity” Guildleves, denoted with the image of two female crafters, tend to offer the greatest time/experience ratio as you can turn in three sets of items at a time.
The experience point rewards are generous and multiply for high-quality crafts. Better yet, most will reward you with the materials you used to craft the item in question, making it that much easier to repeat the Levequest over and over. If you’re rolling in Gil, you can even buy the required items and pass them off as your own.
Casual grind method: There isn’t much reason not to abuse Levequests all the way to the level cap. They’re fast, convenient, and award a metric ton of experience points compared to other methods.
Custom deliveries offer quick and easy bonus experience each week, and the scrips are an added bonus. Feel free to complete those if and when you’re able. Beast Tribe dailies like the Namazu and Moogles can offer a reliable boost each day.
Hardcore grind method: Craft, craft, craft. Preferably without using Quick Synthesis.
Like any class in Final Fantasy XIV right now, crafting classes can utilize a bunch of buffs to increase their gains. Stacking them will make for a much faster crafting experience and should be in effect at all times. They won’t do much when turning in Guildleves, but they’ll really help speed things along when doing actual crafts.
- Rested (50%)
- Company-Issue Engineering Manual (50%)
- Free Company (guild) buff or Aetherial Wheel (Up to 20%)
- Food (3%)
The final type of Final Fantasy XIV class is the humble Disciple of the Land. With just Fishing, Botany, and Mining available right now, these gathering classes are far fewer than their crafting counterparts – but they go hand in hand in numerous ways.
Leveling these classes will be fairly uneventful, but their predictability and relative simplicity make them great candidates for things to level while you watch a movie or listen to a podcast. Grinding still won’t be the fastest way, but it sure is less demanding of your attention. For those willing to pay a bit more attention, Leves will be the way forward yet again.
Grind by gathering
Similar to crafting classes, discovering a new item awards bonus experience points. If you see any “unknown” items on the gathering list when you open up a node, successfully gathering them for the first time will uncover their true identify and give a decent amount of bonus EXP compared to each swing at the same item.
Chain bonuses for successful swings at the same item in a single node means farming the same Ash Log might not actually be a bad idea. Just uncover each new item in a new area and then go after the one with the best gathering chance. A simple swing and a miss will reset that beautiful chain bonus. Just stick a movie or audiobook on in the background and get to work.
Gathering Levequests – or Guildleves – usually asks you to gather a specific amount of items from a specific amount of nodes. Too many failed gathering attempts can lead to drastically reduced EXP rewards.
It’s a good idea to burn Gathering Points (GP) on abilities during these missions to increase gathering percentages, so stock up on Cordials, bring some decent stat-boosting food, and hope the odds are in your favor. They’re not all too different from regular gathering, but they do require some simple math to ensure you hit their goals.
Locked behind the game’s first major expansion, Collectables feel like a combination of traditional grind gathering and Levequests.
Available through timed nodes, time management is key as you follow the clock around zones and rely on your class abilities to gather specific items. Get lucky with your appraisals and you’ll turn these items in for some very impressive experience points. Better yet, the scrips you earn for doing so can then be exchanged for some simple endgame gathering gear.
Fishers have a unique way to reach the cap faster. Previously one of the more long-winded classes to grind, the Ocean Fishing mini-game has turned it into a breeze.
Whether you’re hardcore grinding or taking a more casual approach, hopping on the boat each hour Ocean Fishing starts up will net you the best gains. That’s a little fish pun for you there.
Another repeated activity, custom deliveries are just as good for gathering classes as they are for crafters.
Identify the requested item on the list, locate it out in the field, and gather it at the highest collectability value that you’re able to. Turning in six of these gets you a big chunk of weekly experience points and some scrips to boot. You can use these on new equipment or books that will unlock gathering nodes, some of which are exceptionally rare and valuable.
Casual grind method: Until about level 15, you can hit several new nodes. Until level 60, roughly, you can rush Levequests. Collect some valuable gear, and then focus your attention on Collectibles and Custom Deliveries. You’ll find that you can get a significant bump up through Beast Tribe dailies like the Namazu. If you’re an angler, focus on tackling Ocean Fishing as much as you can.
Hardcore grind method: For this method, players should continue hitting the maximum level node they can chain comfortably. Be wary, though; that action could have a negative effect— players will face the consequences for the swings they miss mid-combo. Fishers, keep leveling up by hitting level-appropriate holes. Eventually, you can try spearfishing between Ocean Fishing runs. At that level, you’ll find the game is pretty similar to other gathering classes.
If you’re a gatherer, you can speed up the game and up the ante by using experience-boosting tools, a lot like the crafting classes. Don’t waste the bonus items you win this way. These items have critical value for gatherers, unlike crafters, because you have to gather during Levequest grinds. To move quickly, we advise stacking as many things as possible and making sure you keep any Company-Issue Survival Manuals. Those disappear very quickly.
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