The Loser’s Guide To Victory In Final Fantasy XIV Online PVP

The Loser’s Guide To Victory In Final Fantasy XIV Online PVP
Image: Renee O'Flynn/Final Fantasy XIV

Final Fantasy XIV Online introduced a substantial PVP overhaul in its recent 6.10 patch. Unlike the recent real estate woes, this update seems to have gone over well in the community. The FFXIV subreddit is awash with Crystalline Conflict memes and people singing its praises. There are many, many guides on how to play the game’s PVP modes and how to “git gud” but that’s not what this guide is about. This guide is for those who aren’t exactly sure if they want to dip their toes in, or just want more information before giving it a crack. So, what does FFXIV PVP consist of, and what if I’m terrible at it?

ffxiv pvp
A chance to show off silly adventure portraits. Image: Renee O’Flynn/Final Fantasy XIV

What is FFXIV PVP? 

Let’s start with the basics. PvP means player-versus-player and is the heart of all of FFXIV‘s competitive game modes. But what does it entail? FFXIV has four PVP modes. They are The Feast, Rival Wings, Frontline, and Crystalline Conflict. The Feast and Rival Wings are currently offline and cannot be completed until their new seasons start.

The Feast is a 2v2 game in which teams compete for medals. 

Rival Wings is based on the MOBA genre. If you’ve ever played League of Legends, you’ll be quite familiar with how it works. The first team to destroy the other’s Core wins.

Frontline is a 72-player, big team mode. Three groups of eight make up either the Maelstrom, Immortal Flames or Twin Adder factions as a single alliance, and must work together to secure victory against the enemy alliances.

Crystalline Conflict is the new addition and the one everyone is talking about. A 5v5 twist on the Payload mode popular in games like Overwatch, teams try to push the crystal past two checkpoints to claim victory.

ffxiv pvp
And mine is completely boring. Image: Renee O’Flynn/Final Fantasy XIV

Why play PvP? 

Crystalline Conflict has coaxed a lot of new people into the FFXIV PvP space. The dev team has completely overhauled how PVP is played as well. Button bloat has been massively reduced, meaning players often only have five or six attack buttons and three or four defensive or healing buttons at their disposal.

On top of that, victory in PVP grants access to items players can’t get elsewhere. The current Garo PVP event is very daunting if players aren’t competitively-minded. Source: Me, very intimidated. The reason I keep going back however is that players are rewarded, even if they fail. It’s half the amount you get for a win, but it still feels like progression. The rewards also aren’t exclusive to winners, it just requires a bit more grinding to get them. A losing streak still sucks, but players can at least feel like every round matters.

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Red team Astra starting location from Crystalline Conflict. Image: Renee O’Flynn/Final Fantasy XIV

But what if I suck? 

Take it from a regular FFXIV PVP loser like me: in Casual, it doesn’t matter. There will be times when you feel like a great player and there will be times you will be frustrated. That’s the nature of the game and competitive play in general. In modes like Frontline that have a massive number of players, one person will not make a huge difference. Individual performance matters more in modes like Crystalline Conflict because there are fewer players, but that also doesn’t mean people are expecting one player to carry the team. Players will most likely experience more losses than wins overall, but what matters most is trying to find the job and playstyle that suits them the most. Go in aggressive with a Melee DPS? Hold the line as a tank? Not heal as a healer? (For reasons passing understanding, only the white mage can heal in PVP at the moment.) 

The Wolves’ Den Pier, where a comforting gesture looks more like a slap. Image: Renee O’Flynn/Final Fantasy XIV

Getting started 

So now that PvP looks a little more appealing, how do you start? Unlocking the Wolves’ Den requires ticking a few boxes. Players will need to have upgraded their class by acquiring a job stone. They must also have attained a high enough rank with their Grand Company. You’ll know if you’ve reached that point: a quest called “No Longer A Pup” will become available at your Grand Company base. Completing this will unlock the Wolves’ Den Pier.

This is FFXIV‘s PVP hub and it’s where players can exchange Wolf Marks for gear, emotes and mounts. Most importantly, it is the place to set up your PVP hotbars. Using the PVP profile, players can arrange their abilities on the hotbar located at the bottom of the screen. Any class with a job stone will automatically change to the PVP hotbars in Wolves’ Den so don’t panic if your hotbar is suddenly full of crosses that can’t be used. The PVP profile will also give access to the series’ malmstones (or ‘mile stones’ in English). These are rewards earned as PVP is played. The Wolves’ Den has three NPCs that will give out more information on any of the three team-based modes. 

Look Ma! No actions! Image: Renee O’Flynn/Final Fantasy XIV

Do not enter any PvP without setting a hotbar first. While it is possible to enter PvP via the duty finder, unless a player has used that job before, they will have no available actions. It would then be a scramble to set the hotbar up before the match starts and it’s not exactly conducive to thinking logically. 

When setting the hotbars, you may find that certain actions cannot be assigned. This usually means they are conditional and can only be used in connection to another ability. This keeps the number of actions down, making it a lot easier to manage. Take time to read what each action does, as some will have bonuses like bind or silence. Crowd control effects like these can be the difference between living or dying in battle.

Unlike dungeons, PVP has no tank, healer or DPS requirements, so players can have whatever job they want. What works in PVE may not work in PVP, though. Best to try everything. One of the best things about PVP hotbars is that every job will have a sprint, guard, elixir, heal and purify ability.  

It is customary to annoy friends setting up their PVP hotbars. Image: Renee O’Flynn/Final Fantasy XIV

Sprint is sprint, but for some reason, PVP has its own separate sprint (just Square Enix things) so don’t forget to add it. Once turned on, it will stay on until another action is used. 

Guard reduces incoming damage and ignores pulls and pushes. It also slows the movement speed of the person guarding. Using another ability turns it off. So, try not to guard and then recuperate straight after as it will cancel the guard. 

Elixir replenishes HP and MP to full but takes 4.5 seconds to use. During that time, a player can’t move or use their actions. If they are hit, the cast is interrupted. There’s no limit to how many Elixirs one can use. However, the long cast time offsets players using them constantly.  

The spell Recuperate grants an instant 15000 HP heal but uses MP. It has no cooldown but is only available to use when there’s enough MP to go around. This is the main healing ability for all classes. White Mage also has access to Cure II and Cure III, but they are very limited.

Purify is very important. Players can be affected by status effects. Purity removes them and prevents them from affecting the player for a few seconds. Sometimes. (This ability seems to need a rework as it doesn’t always provide the immunity described). 

While it’s not necessary to know how the game modes work before jumping in, it will give a slight advantage. At least for the first game. Or two. Possibly three. 

 

Team-based game modes 

Crystalline Conflict 

FFXIV‘s newest PVP game mode is also the quickest. Matches will take around five minutes depending on the teams. Two teams of five face off to move their crystal from the middle of the arena to their enemy’s side. Players are on either the blue team Umbra or the red team Astra. Like all PVP, there are no job requirements. The objective is to push the crystal, which is performed by standing near it. If an opposing player is also on the crystal, it’ll stop moving until either only red or blue are on it. If you’ve ever played a Payload game in Overwatch or Team Fortress 2, you’ll recognise this design immediately.

Unlocking Crystalline Conflict is as easy as doing the aforementioned “A Pup No Longer” quest. From there, speak to the Crystalline Conflict NPC to get started.

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A very close match taking place on The Volcanic Heart. Image: Renee O’Flynn/Final Fantasy XIV

At the time of writing, there are only three available Crystalline Conflict arenas. Palaistra is the base arena, Cloud Nine is wind-based, and the Volcanic Heart is all about fire. Each arena has a slightly different layout. Palaistra has L-shaped sprint zones, while the Volcanic heart has T-shaped ones. These sprint zones allow players to run faster than normal to maintain mobility. Often these are the long way around allowing players to move around quickly when not pushing the crystal. There will also be potions, one per side. Players only need to run over it to pick it up. It’s worth picking up a potion if at full health so the enemy can’t use it but if a teammate is running towards it, and will get there first, it’s best to leave it for them. 

Cloud Nine has wind portals that quickly move a character from one area to another. It also has turbulence, which throws players into the air after a countdown. This can be countered by using the Guard ability. The other way to counter the damage is to try to be on top of one of the Chocobo markers. Players will still be flung into the air but will be given a black Chocobo feather, negating any fall damage. Only one person is given the black Chocobo feather, so if two people stand on the same marker, one will still take damage. 

Palaistra Arena. The green lines on the map are the aforementioned sprint lanes. Image: Renee O’Flynn/Final Fantasy XIV

The Volcanic Heart appears to be at the base of O’Ghomoro Mountain. From time to time, players will receive a warning about incoming igneous matter. Firebombs will show up, cutting off two corridors in a cross. This includes the crystal’s path. You then have a choice: take the hit and lose three-quarters of your health to keep the crystal moving, or dodge the explosion to save health and pick off any surviving enemies. A common strategy is to try and Bind enemy players so they get caught in the attack. After the explosion, red spheres will be left behind. These are a stacking damage boost. If there are any nearby, it’s best to grab them. You want to increase your own damage output, and deny the enemy the same boost. This is my least favourite arena by far. I hope to see one representing each of the elements eventually.

The arenas change every 90 minutes. In FFXIV‘s PVP Duty Finder, it will say which arena is currently active, how long until the arena change, and which one it will be. It will also list the last arena and how long until that one is available in the rotation as well.

Cloud 9 Arena with its special weird wind-based jump arrows. Image: Renee O’Flynn/Final Fantasy XIV

Rival Wings 

This is a MOBA based PVP mode. It’s currently off-season so I haven’t played it but going by my experience in the gold saucers Verminion, I would be terrible at this too. It might be changed, it’s unknown for now what’s happening with it until it opens up for its season.  

It only requires completing the “A Pup No Longer” questline and speaking to the Rival wings attendant in the Wolves’ Den to unlock. 

The general play is that two teams compete to break the other’s core. The core is protected by two towers that must be destroyed first otherwise the core will be protected by a shield. It’s fairly standard MOBA gameplay.  

Frontline 

Frontline are large-scale war games between the Twin Adder, the Maelstrom and the Immortal Flames. They are a series of Capture The Flag style battles, but each one takes place in a different location, with different rules. The team that reaches the point limit first, wins.

Unlocking Frontline requires completing the “Like Civilized Men and Women” questline from your Grand Company, as well as speaking to the Frontline NPC at the Wolves’ Den. 

The starting point of Danshig Nadaam for the Maelstrom. Image: Renee O’Flynn/Final Fantasy XIV

Kills gain points and deaths remove them. These don’t matter in comparison to the main goal of each game. Staying with the group and trying to achieve the objective is the most important factor. Next would be trying not to die, and then getting those kills. It’s very easy to tunnel-vision, and then overextend, allowing the other alliance to pick people off. Always keep the map open as being able to see where the enemies are is incredibly helpful.  Mounts can be used in Frontline which allows for faster travel in the bigger arena.

With all this general advice out of the way, what are the rules of each game mode? 

That yellow thing in the distance is worth a lot of points. Twin Adder and Immortal Flames were fighting over it for at least 7 minutes, possibly longer. Image: Renee O’Flynn/Final Fantasy XIV

Secure 

Secure takes place on the Borderland Ruins. It requires the teams to occupy locations on the round island. There’s also a large tower in the middle of the battleground. Occasionally, enemies will spawn in the centre and must be killed. The bulk of the match will be trying to hold at least two of the six locations, but don’t forget about the enemies in the centre! You’ll get 25 bonus points for small enemies and 300 for large ones. Players only need to stand in the location for the flags to be removed and then changed.  

Shatter 

Shatter takes place on The Fields of Glory. Each Grand Company will have a base. Avoiding other companies from taking this base is imperative. Iceliths will activate randomly on the map. It will either be several small ones or a big one with a few small ones. Big ones are worth more points. Players need to break these iceliths and will be allocated points depending on how much damage they do.  

Baham-butt. Baham-butt everywhere. Image: Renee O’Flynn/Final Fantasy XIV

Seize 

Seize takes place on Seal rock. Relics called Allagan Transfer Tomeliths will show up on the map. Players need to activate them to transfer the data to their Grand Company. Similar to Secure, other grand companies can come in and change it to theirs. This will mean a reduction in points for the original company that had it. Tomeliths will either be triangular, diamond or pentagon-shaped with the latter being worth the most points. The pentagon ones are often hotly contested and will require serious defending.  

Danshig Nadaam 

Danshig Nadaam takes place on Onsal Hakir. Ovoos will appear on the map randomly. They will be symbolized by a triangle, diamond or pentagon, slowly filling along the outer lines. They’re also coloured coded. Blue is common, yellow is uncommon and gold is worth the most. When the shape is filled, the Ovoo can be claimed by one of the free companies. Like Shatter, once claimed they cannot be taken. This makes this mode very aggressive.  Only run this mode if you really want to get your elbows out.

When the blue triangle fills up, it’s time to lay claim to that Ovoo! Image: Renee O’Flynn/Final Fantasy XIV

Frontline is the biggest FFXIV PVP mode, so it is very easy to get lost and not know what to do. Follow the group, play the objective and try not to get pincered.

Modes change every 24 hours at the daily reset. It’s worth getting acquainted with each type of game as it’ll be a while before it changes to another.

PVP via the Duty Finder. Image: Renee O’Flynn/Final Fantasy XIV

The Feast 

Like Rival Wings, The Feast is currently in its offseason, so it can’t be accessed as of patch 6.11. Unsure if that is because changes are inbound or not. We won’t know until it opens. The Feast is a 2v2 game in which teams must collect medals.

Teacher takes babies on a school excursion to a volcano. With knives. Image: Renee O’Flynn/Final Fantasy XIV

So: now you have everything you need. Are you ready for FFXIV PVP? Has this guide alleviated, or added to, your fears? I think it’s worth at least giving it a go as the rewards can be pretty sweet. Plus, if a PVP loser like me can do it, anyone can. See you on the pier!

Final Fantasy XIV Endwalker is available now on PlayStation, Xbox, and Windows PC platforms.

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