Final Fantasy XI Beginner's Guide, Day 3

Day 3: MMO Boot camp

If you've never played an online RPG before, be prepared to change the way you think. Sometimes it seems like the game bashes you over the head with rules - written and unwritten. So why do people bother? Because it turns out these rules actually help more than they hurt, most of the time - and the games are so addictive, anyway. In Final Fantasy XI, many of the rules are designed to force players to play with one another, and others simply aim to get them to spend more time playing. Today we'll clue you in to a number of these conventions, as learning about them on the fly can often result in an untimely death.

Battle Concepts

While Final Fantasy XI may have much more gripping story than most MMOs, you'll spend a much bigger chunk of your time killing monsters for experience points than watching cutscenes. The battles have a pretty rigid structure, but FFXI 's own special gameplay mechanics build on that.

First: Checking Monsters

You see a monster walking around the world. It doesn't look so tough - in fact, it might even look a lot like a monster you whooped hours ago. Be careful; you can't judge a monster just by its appearance. To find out just how badly it might eviscerate you, "Check" it.

Targeting a monster from a safe distance and selecting "Check" from the action menu will tell you the monster's relative strength, in the following loose categories.

Too Weak
Easy Prey
Decent Challenge
Even Match
Very Tough
Incredibly Tough
Impossible to Gauge

Watch out - the game uses the difference in your level and the monster's to figure out who's going to lose. Some of the more difficult monster types may be deadlier than the game may communicate.

Too Weak monsters give no experience points, so don't even bother. When playing alone, you'll generally want to fight monsters labeled Even Match or below, while six-man parties generally aim for Incredibly Tough monsters, or sometimes rapidly kill Very Tough monsters. Monsters that are Impossible to Gauge are "Notorious Monsters," and they could be easy or hard - find out more about that particular monster before attacking it, because it could go any way.