Final Fantasy XIV is one of the best MMORPGs around, but its long list of content updates, subscription model, and densely interconnected systems make it a tough sell for newcomers. No longer, though. Although FFXIV has always had a free trial, the previous version only allowed players to try the game for two weeks and level their character up to 35. The August 2020 patch 5.3 expanded the free trial, removing the time restrictions and upping the level cap while including more content.
To get you started in Square Enix’s landmark MMO, we’ve put together this guide on the Final Fantasy XIV free trial. From the level cap to restrictions to the included content, here’s everything you need to know before you start playing.
Read up on Final Fantasy XIV
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First things first, how to actually start with the Final Fantasy XIV free trial. We have steps for PC and PS4 for downloading the game, but once you’re ready to dive in, we recommend having our FFXIV beginner’s guide handy. Final Fantasy XIV is a big game with a lot of mechanics, so you can save yourself the hassle of learning through trial and error by using our guide.
Before getting to the steps, note that you’ll need a Square Enix account that hasn’t previously used the free trial (that includes any version of the free trial, not just the latest one). You’ll have a chance to sign up during the install process, and we recommend taking advantage of it even if you already have a Square Enix account. Trying to start with an old account can cause problems, even if you never registered for FFXIV.
There are two versions of Final Fantasy XIV on PC: Steam and Square Enix. Both offer a free trial, but they’re not equal. As mentioned, you’ll need a Square Enix account that hasn’t taken advantage of the free trial across both versions. The difference: Signing up through Steam is a long process that doesn’t always work, while the Square Enix version is a little more straightforward. This is because you’ll need to use Square Enix’s launcher regardless of the platform you choose, and as most Steam players know, Steam doesn’t always play nicely with launchers.
Make sure you know which platform you want to stick with before signing up. Steam and the normal PC version don’t work together (see the last section for more details). Regardless of the platform you choose, follow these steps:
- Download the free trial (Steam, Square Enix)
- Create or log in to an account (we recommend creating a new account even if you have an existing one)
- Start playing!
Setting up the game on PS4 is a lot simpler because you don’t have to deal with multiple versions. To get started on console, follow these steps:
- Open the PlayStation Store
- Search for “Final Fantasy XIV”
- Select Final Fantasy XIV Online Free Trial (linked here)
- Download the game
- Create or log in to an account (again, we recommend creating a new one)
- Start playing!
The Final Fantasy XIV free trial is surprisingly robust, allowing you to take on a huge part of the game with little to no restrictions (we’ll get to the specific limitations in a moment). As of patch 5.3, the free trial includes everything from A Realm Reborn and Heavensward for free. That includes the main quests for the base game and its first expansion, of course, but also a slew of side content.
You’ll find dungeons throughout the story, and although most of the raids are focused on players above level 60, you can still participate in 10 of the 23 currently available raids. It’s important to note that the trial includes all of Heavensward, too. That includes 94 quests on top of A Realm Reborn, as well as another 44 quests released after Heavensward launched, detailing the Dragonsong War.
Additionally, you have side quests and, more importantly, class and job quests. The class/job system in Final Fantasy XIV is what sets the game apart, allowing you to build your character in several different ways after the first few hours. Although you can’t max out jobs in the free trial — we’ll get to why in the next section — you can complete all of the class quests and get a head start on maxing out each job.
From a content standpoint, the short of it is that the Final Fantasy XIV free trial functions as if you’ve purchased A Realm Reborn and Heavensward. Short of a long but minor list of restrictions, you can do just about everything that a paying player can.
The Final Fantasy XIV free trial has a level cap at 60 (up from 35 over the previous free trial). Of course, more levels means more time in-game, but it also opens the leveling system and offers all of the improvements brought in Heavensward.
For leveling, you’ll choose a class when you first create a character. The classes are standard fare for any MMORPG — conjurers cast healing magic, while rogues are focused on melee DPS. It doesn’t really matter which class you choose, though. Once you reach level 10 with any class, you can switch to another class by talking to a different trainer and swapping your weapon. Once you reach level 30 and complete the “Sylph-management” main quest, you can evolve your class into a job and continue leveling it up.
With the previous level cap at 35, you can see where the problem was. With the new level 60 cap, you can actually explore the different job quests available and experiment with your build. If you’re feeling really ambitious, you can even level up each of these jobs as much as possible before buying the full version.
The higher level cap also opens up Heavensward. That means all of the quests and content included in the expansion, but also three new jobs and the ability to fly.
Gauging playtime in any MMO is tricky. Even with the free trial, it’s not as if Square Enix suddenly closes your account once you complete the final quest in Heavensward. You can play Final Fantasy XIV for as long as you want, even for free, so long as you’re willing to deal with a few restrictions on what you can do. Still, we have some rough estimates on how much playtime you’ll get out of the free trial.
Using the user reports from howlongtobeat.com, you’re looking at around 200 hours of playtime between the Heavensward and A Realm Reborn. Including side content, that number jumps to over 400 hours. These estimates don’t really have any context — for example, one playtime may include 50 hours of interacting with the Market Board, which isn’t allowed in the free trial. Even so, you can expect hundreds of hours of content out of the Final Fantasy XIV free trial. The current level cap is 80 with the paid version, and the free trial lets you play up to 60. That should give you a pretty good indication of just how much is included in the free trial.
Final Fantasy XIV’s free trial is incredibly generous, but it has some limitations. We’ll list all of them, but outside of the level cap, the most important restrictions come in partying and trading. Free players can’t add friends or create a party, but they can join a party created by a paying player. Trading is a little more restricted. Free players can’t trade at all, and they can’t use the Market Board. Outside of those two, though, the limitations are fairly mild:
- No microtransactions
- Eight playable character limit, one per Home World
- Level 60 cap
- Gil cap (previously 300,000, but it doesn’t matter since you can’t use the Market Board)
- No /shout, /yell, or /tell chat options
- No Market Board
- No trading
- No Moogle Delivery Service
- Can’t hire Retrainers
- Can’t create Linkshells (but can join them)
- Can’t create or join Free Companies
- Can’t create a party (but can join them)
- No access to the official forums
Final Fantasy XIV is one of the few remaining MMOs that still charge a subscription fee. Thankfully, free trial players don’t need to worry about that. There’s no subscription fee on the free trial, no matter how long you play. You shouldn’t confuse the free trial with the Starter Edition in this regard. The Starter Edition comes with a free 30-day trial of the full experience, but the free trial itself has no such restriction.
You will have to pay if you decide to upgrade, though. The Entry tier runs $12.99 per month and comes with the same character restrictions as the free trial — eight total characters, one per server. The Standard tier ups that to 40 total characters and eight per server at $14.99 per month. You can also buy up to six months of the Standard tier at once, bringing the monthly price down to $12.99.
Given Final Fantasy XIV’s tumultuous history, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that there are various versions of the game, and navigating them can get confusing quick. The Starter Edition is $19.99 and includes A Realm Reborn and Heavensward with a 30-day free trial of the subscription service. The free trial, on the other hand, includes the same content for free with no subscription fee at all. See the problem?
The difference is that Starter Edition doesn’t have the restrictions listed above. In nearly all cases, it’s better to use the free trial and upgrade to the complete version of the game — which includes two more expansions, Stormblood and Shadowbringers — rather than buy into the Starter Edition. The free trial includes all of the same content, and although it comes with a few restrictions, you won’t have to pay a subscription fee for the first hundred or so hours of content.
With so much content, you’ll want to bring your free trial character over to the full version of Final Fantasy XIV if you decide to upgrade. Thankfully, you can. Upgrading on PS4 is simple. No matter if you started the free trial on PC or PS4, you can transfer your character by logging in to your Square Enix account after you buy the game. The same is true for the PC version of the game. After you buy a copy, log in to the Mog Station with your Square Enix account to transfer your character.
None of that applies to the Steam version, though. If you downloaded the free trial through Steam, you can only transfer your character to the full Steam version, not through Square Enix’s launcher. Similarly, you can transfer your PC free trial character to a full account on PS4, but you can’t transfer that character to the Steam version. In short, PC and PS4 play nicely together, but Steam lives in its own world.
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