A new year means a fresh chance to develop an MMORPG addiction, so why not start with Final Fantasy XIV: A Real Reborn? It’s one of the few surviving (and thriving) subscription MMORPGs on the market. The game has an amazingly supportive community, and it looks beautiful across a wide range of specs, so you don’t need a beast of a computer to play (PS4 players are welcome too!). Final Fantasy XIV has been around for a few years now, but that doesn’t mean it’s too late to join in. In fact, now is the perfect time with the game’s welcoming attitude towards beginners and the new Stormblood expansion arriving in June.

Final Fantasy XIV
You'll be fighting with the best of 'em soon enough. 

The game makes it easy to play catch up.

Final Fantasy XIV ensures that it’s easy to catch up to high-level players, so you can dive into end-game content as soon as possible. The development team releases regular “catch up patches” when new content is released. This makes it easier for new players to breeze through older raid content so that they can enjoy the latest battles and story developments. You won’t have to worry about spending months grinding before other players move on.

Final Fantasy XIV
It's a race to the level cap. 

It’s a Final Fantasy game done right.

A Realm Reborn** has been a surprise success, yes, but it’s also [classic Final Fantasy](https://www.inverse.com/article/24343-final-fantasy-video-games-iconography-square-enix) all the way through. The game has a well-crafted story, and there’s plenty of fan service sprinkled throughout the world to keep dedicated fans happy. ARR* tells the story of a country threatened by a technological superpower and the pocket of fighters hoping to thwart them. But the main story isn’t the only focus. Job classes and crafting guilds all have their own separate things going on. It’s easy to sense that Eorzea is a fully realized world.

Recent patches and updates have made it easier to enjoy the story, as the developers have eliminated some fetch quests and really streamlined quest content to make it more enjoyable. The focus on weaving tales ensures you’ll be heavily invested by the time you catch up to the level cap.

Final Fantasy XIV
'Stormblood' will expand on 'Final Fantasy XIV's' story. 

Stormblood will add new jobs.

Red Mage has been confirmed for the Stormblood expansion, but the job class isn’t accessible until level 50. The good news is, you can play as a Red Mage right at level 50, so there’s no need to start at the beginning as a level one Red Mage if you want to go that route. That gives aspiring Red Mages plenty of time to level up and catch up beforehand. The class is one of the most popular, both for its fashionable, scarlet attire and accompanying rapier, and for its fast magic casting abilities and versatility. A second new job class will be announced later on.

Final Fantasy XIV
Choose the Free Company that's the right fit for you. 

Come for the chocobos, stay for the community.

As a newcomer, joining an MMORPG fresh can be daunting, especially if you don’t know anyone. Luckily, FFXIV: AR’s community is one of the friendliest and most supportive. Most people are willing to help out new players in some way, and there are a number of Free Companies (Aorzea’s brand of guilds) that are open to players of all levels and skills. Look around the Final Fantasy XIV forums or do a Google search, and you’ll find a host of Free Companies with an online presence who can help you get set up. Many will be willing to help out with early quests, gear, and teaching you the ropes in general.

Final Fantasy XIV
'Stormblood' will unleash players on the city-state of Ala Mhigo.

The expansion opens up a brand new city-state.

Stormblood will largely be set in Ala Mhigo, a territory captured by the enemy Garlean Empire. The new desert setting is expected to offer a fresh glance of an occupied territory as people fight from within to overthrow the Garleans. You’ll be able to buy a home in this new city, and you’ll be able to explore the outlying areas as an added bonus.

Final Fantasy XIV
Prepare yourself for some seriously crazy monsters. 

Stormblood’s new 24-person raid is designed by the creator of Final Fantasy Tactics.

Final Fantasy XIV revels in massive raids with vicious bosses, and Stormblood is trying to one-up past raids with its new “Return to Ivalice” raid designed by Yasumi Matsuno, the mind behind Final Fantasy Tactics. The raid returns players to Ivalice, with monsters designed by Shin Megami Tensei IV artist Keita Amemiya. It’s sure to be a spectacle, and if you jump in now you’ll have enough time to catch up by the time Stormblood launches in June.

Final Fantasy XIV has been around for a few years now, but now’s as good a time as any to jump in. Many of the kinks that hindered the game earlier in its life have been remedied, and it’s very easy to catch up to the majority of the playerbase thanks to initiatives by the development team to ensure everyone has access to the most recent content. With Stormblood just around the corner, now is the perfect time to give FFXIV a go.

Final Fantasy XIV
Gridania is one of the first locales you can explore. 

Photos via Tom's Hardware, VentureBeat, GamerEscape, Giant Bomb, Final Fantasy Wiki, USgamer, Game Informer, PC PowerPlay

Jessica is a freelance writer based out of Cambridge, Massachusetts. You can read other stuff she writes on VICE, Rock Paper Shotgun, and Geek & Sundry.

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