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FFXIV Trials: How to Get Started

FFXIV Raiding

If you find yourself getting stressed out over how you’re a total noob at trials in FFXIV, don’t be. Final Fantasy XIV – the one with the free trial with the critically acclaimed Heavensward expansion [insert rest of copypasta here] – has a healthy FFXIV trial scene that caters to any players’ skill levels in one way or another. While this game has a range of PvE difficulties, the most competitive is Savage trialing, upgraded forms of the Normal Trials that tie into side stories alongside the Main Story Quest (MSQ). These are FFXIV’s equivalent to Mythic trialing from World of Warcraft and feature more complicated mechanics and skill checks. They are a significant focus for players trying to up their PvE game, and the game doesn’t always assist players in preparing for taking on content at this level of difficulty. So, we’ve put together a guide to help those new to FFXIV trials land on their feet, including information about Savage Truaks and ways to give our readers every possible advantage they could get as they experiment with the feature.

Getting Started with FFXIV Trials

FFXIV trials generally consist of a single boss fight and can be one of six difficulties. The most common casual trial difficulty that players tend to experience is Savage. As long as you have relatively recent gear through crafting or the latest brand of tomestones, you should generally be appropriately equipped. Savage requires a general knowledge of the job you are playing and tends to come with some personal responsibility in the ability to do mechanics correctly and meet (usually lax) DPS checks.

Let’s talk about how you can prepare yourself for success as a new raider with a set of general guidelines.

Study The Trial

The first step to being a good raider is knowing what you’re up against. Some groups do “blind prog,” meaning they will go into a fight without prior knowledge about it for fun, but most groups in party finder will expect you to have some general knowledge about the fight you’re doing. This is important because sometimes, specific roles will be tasked with doing special stuff to complete the fight.

Static vs. Party Finder

Party Finder is great for some players, but others find it hard to get meaningful progression in these parties since it requires seven other random people to be at an appropriate experience level for the FFXIV trial you’re trying to do.

That isn’t to say that Party Finder is a lost cause – I got a large portion of my Ultimate progression and my first clear for it in a group of randoms – but it can certainly feel like you’re hitting walls sometimes. That brings about the concept of “statics,” dedicated trial groups that meet up at specific times to trial. On average, this brings about more consistent pulls and requires significant scheduling and time investment, so go for whatever works best for you. Familiar places to find statics are the r/ffxivrecruitment subreddit and the Balance Discord server.

Have General Knowledge of Your Job’s Rotation

You don’t have to be perfect, but you'll be just fine if you can practice and follow your rotation closely. You can find information on your job’s rotation and best gear at the Balance Discord server, listed below in the resources section.

Don’t Stress Too Much About Trials

You’re going to mess up some stuff, and that’s okay. All veteran raiders did the same thing when we started. Most seasoned raiders are very patient with new ones, so don’t stress if you accidentally cause a wipe. Just take what you learned about that pull and apply it to the next ones, and you’ll eventually find yourself doing fights better and better.

Food and Potions

These are essential additions to any raider’s arsenal. Food provides passive stat bonuses that can add to your survivability during a pull, and potions are valuable tools for passing DPS checks and optimizing your damage. I’d focus less on potions if you’re a new raider, but check the best-in-slot for your job on the Balance to see which food is best for you.

A BIS is the best possible piece of gear of each type for your job. This goal is a bit farther out unless you already have some clears under your belt, but knowing what pieces of gear to get and stats you should be aiming to boost is vital to your survivability and efficiency. You can undoubtedly get clears without best-in-slot, but it’s something to keep in mind as you continue through fights.

Gear Prep is A Must

Even if you don’t have excellent options for equipment, there are plenty of options to get what you need, whether through the latest version of tomestones, Alliance trials, or buying the latest gear on the market board if you have Gil to burn.

Melding Gear With Materia

Materia is kind of like jewel sockets in WoW. To put it simply, most pieces of gear have at least one slot where you can insert a stat-boosting jewel called materia, and you can see how many slots your gear has by hovering over it in your armory chest to see the tooltip. In most builds, you’ll probably be maxing out your Critical Hit, Direct Hit, and Determination, though healers and specific jobs may meld something different. Check the Balance for more information on your job. You typically need to visit a materia melder in major cities and pay to have your gear melded, but crafters can meld their own, and you can request someone with a crafter leveled to do it for free.

Getting Help

Before we send you off to try FFXIV trials, I’d like to provide you with some resources to help make dipping your toes into trialing a bit easier. The first is the Balance Discord server. This server has a list of the best gear and rotations for every job and many sections for asking questions about fights, jobs, recruitment for statics, and much more. It’s a one-stop shop for all levels of trialing and an invaluable asset for anyone looking to get started that might need some guidance.

The second resource I’d like to share is the Advanced Combat Tracker. For those coming from other MMOs, this is a damage meter with support for plugins like DeadlyBossMods from WoW. At base, though, it tells you how much damage you and other party members are doing and compares healing for jobs that provide that support. Below an Ultimate level, I’d say ACT isn’t a necessary resource, but it certainly can provide insight into your performance at your party. This is important because there isn’t a tool in-game that can provide that level of feedback and constructive criticism. Stone, Sky, and Sea provide a dummy with hp and a time limit, but it doesn’t measure your effective DPS while obeying mechanics, so it’s not a good resource.

While we’re here, I’d also like to mention that using ACT is against the game’s ToS, but the developers have taken a very “hear no evil, see no evil” approach. Unless you’re actively griefing other players about their damage or mention it often in public in-game, the odds of getting punished for it are minuscule.

ACT has a partner website called FFLogs, a repository for uploaded fight logs recorded with ACT that lets you compare to other players and note your personal bests. Many players, including myself, find going for good “parses” to be a fun pastime, as it feels like a competition against others and ourselves.

In the vein of ACT and FFLogs is XIVAnalysis. This resource can take logs uploaded to FFLogs and analyze how you play during FFXIV trials to provide personalized feedback. This is very useful because it can point out things that you didn’t even notice during fights – like how I was only using my Displacement/Engagement 80% of the time I could have been when I started trialing as a Red Mage. It’s not perfect since it doesn’t take fight-specific downtime into account, but it can shed some light on hidden problems that you might not have noticed.

What Are Savage Trials?

New FFXIV raiders should know a few things once they’ve started taking their first step into endgame content. They should know how the development team handles trialing in terms of release schedule: each other major patch – generally X.0, X.2, and X.4 – releases four new trials with savage counterparts with more complex mechanics and DPS checks. These are referred to as “tiers” and are denoted in the party finder based on their name’s first few words. For example, Shadowbringers’ trial tiers are Eden’s Gate, Eden’s Verse, and Eden’s Promise, and you’ll see them ordered accordingly in the Duty Finder, with the most recent tier of Savage content always appearing in the “High-End Duty” tab.

Each tier raises the maximum item level obtainable in the game, with the gear that drops from the Savage fights having some of the best stats. However, even if a trial tier is “outdated,” it’s still very playable. Plenty of groups is available in the party finder to complete them using the game’s item level sync feature.

For now, the current Savage tier trial that we have is Asphodelos. Most Savage mechanics are on par with those from Extreme trials, with the average complexity increased by a bit. Doing these fights is like casually running a 5k instead of a morning jog – there’s a bit of a difficulty spike, but not enough that you should find yourself completely overwhelmed with good prep. In the last tier or so, each fight generally has one or two mechanics that give each player some responsibility, which isn’t necessarily difficult but requires you to be alive.

For example, in the 9th Savage Eden trial, Umbra, one mechanic requires all eight players to be alive to stand in towers to soak damage and avoid a party wipe. These fights also tend to be a couple of minutes longer than the average Extreme trial, usually between eight and ten minutes long. The last fight of each tier is a bit longer due to cutscenes and different phases.

As for loot, gear is locked for the first patch after a tier is released for Savage trials. This means that chests might not always spawn. It works like this: your loot unlocks when the weekly server reset happens on Sunday morning. If you join a party where everyone has their loot unlocked, a boss will drop two chests full of loot to be rolled on. If half of the party has already cleared the fight this week – even if you didn’t win any loot – only one chest will appear once the boss is killed. If less than four party members have their loot unlocked for the week, then no chests will spawn.

Now, gear isn’t as RNG-dependent as you’d initially think. Every time you clear a fight while you have unlocked loot for the week, you collect tokens to trade for the gear you need. So, getting good gear ‘fast’ is not just RNG-dependent because you’ll eventually get what you need.

What Rewards to Expect from FFXIV Trials

While FFXIV trials are primarily done for fun and recreation, these fights also offer additional rewards that many players find worth the effort to obtain. These fights, when current, provide the best gear in the game for their level – and often with style. Savage Gear, in particular, also tends to have good cosmetic value to the point that many players go out of their way to do extra runs of it for gear, especially in the last expansion with the Eden trials.

Up there with cosmetic value, the last fight of each trial tier often gets special attention by some players, as they drop pretty sick mounts related to either the story or the fights of the tier they’re in. For example, to wrap up the Eden series of trials, the mount from the last trial drops a miniaturized Eden as a mount, with a unique action to fire a space laser from its head.

Don't Stress Too Much About Trials!

That’s everything for now. Whether it’s for fun or glory, everyone has their reason for trialing. There’s no better feeling than finally defeating that frustrating trial wing after hours of hard work. Our guide isn’t necessarily for those who need convincing to try trials – you have to make that decision yourself. But if you already do, this will give you a solid base to start your adventure. Have a great time, and good luck getting started with FFXIV trials!

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