Final Fantasy XIV is built in such a way that if you only want to experience the main story — alongside the dungeons and trials that come with it — you absolutely can. You’d still get a satisfying chunk of the game, and be well on your way to Endwalker if you caught up on MSQ and didn’t touch anything else. But there is so much more to the world of FFXIV — a lot of which is legitimately high-quality, S-tier optional content that the FFXIV team often puts as much effort into as the primary questline.
Deep and engaging stories are told through raids and side quests, which further enrich your understanding of FFXIV. Several aspects of the world-state and cultures that make up the game’s multiple regions are fleshed out here. So many cool characters, both new and returning, take the spotlight to create memorable moments and provide insight into FFXIV’s lore. It’s also wild to think that some of the best boss fights are tucked away in these side stories. A lot of this content is just a ton of fun to play through, too.
While Endwalker is already here, I’d highly recommend you to tie up some of these loose ends before shipping off to the moon. Story threads in these questlines will only make the Endwalker experience more impactful. Besides, you should take your time! But if you’d prefer to circle back on optional content after finishing Endwalker, that works too!
Below is the short list we’ve gathered for important optional content we strongly suggest you play through regardless of where you are in FFXIV. Long-time players have likely done most of the stuff highlighted below, but if you happened to miss something, that’s what we’re here for. Chances are you’ll come away appreciating the world of FFXIV even more — perhaps with a better perspective on plot points that may come full circle at the conclusion of the Hydaelyn and Zodiark story arc.
The Binding Coils of Bahamut
Starting Quest: Primal Awakening (from Urianger)
Location: Waking Sands, Thanalan
Requirements: Finish A Realm Reborn
This is the first eight-player raid series from A Realm Reborn. It’s also deeply rooted in FFXIV lore, particularly our understanding of what happened at the conclusion of FFXIV 1.0, when that game was wiped out of existence by the moon of Dalamud. It’s pretty awe-inspiring to venture into the remains of Bahamut and Dalamud themselves — the very things that destroyed the realm and brought about the Seventh Umbral Calamity.
For the most part, you follow Alisaie through each raid while she provides perspective on the ancient Allagan technology you scour. Especially for those who weren’t around for 1.0, this is how you come to understand and appreciate Louisoix Leveilleur, the twins’ grandpops who sacrificed himself to limit the destruction caused by Dalamud.
Considering it’s a level 50 raid series, it’s still pretty challenging to do as a synced party. Not to mention it’s impossible to get started through the Duty Finder. You need to assemble or find a custom party to do the Binding Coils, and you’ll likely do so unsynced for simplicity. You can do them unsynced with just a friend or two — which is probably the way to go if you’re in it for the juicy lore. Many of the Turns (distinct phases of the raid series) are easy to solo, unsynced, as a level 80 player. Yet some Turns need at least a small party to handle mechanics that cause automatic party wipes.
The whole series is broken up into three parts: The Binding Coil of Bahamut, The Second Coil of Bahamut, and The Final Coil of Bahamut. The first consists of five Turns and the others feature four, leading to a total of 13 separate raid instances.
Starting Quest: Disarmed (from Slowfix)
Location: Idyllshire, Dravania (x: 7.0, y: 6.0)
Requirements: Finish Heavensward
It’s always a good time when Biggs, Wedge, Cid, and the Garlond Ironworks gang are up to no good (or good, for the most part). Alexander is that big ol’ mechanized giant in the middle of the river in the Dravanian Hinterlands, which serves as center stage for the eight-player raid series included in Heavensward. It follows the story of a rogue Au Ra girl named Mide, a group of goofy pirate Goblins called the Illuminati, and some seriously destructive technology. It’s also got some real good time travel nonsense that’s heavily referenced in everyone’s favorite dungeon, The Twinning.
This raid series literally has you venture inside the different parts of Alexander itself and fight through several imaginative bosses. As you make your way to Alexander’s heart, you’ll uncover some wild truths and revelations about its purpose. In the process of averting destruction with the power of a primal-like Alexander falling into the wrong hands and seeking the Enigma Codex, you’ll experience a bittersweet story while broadening your perspective on FFXIV lore. The whole raid series comes with a bunch of sick tunes, like the ska-inspired Brute Justice, to boot!
You can run these fairly easily through matching up in the Duty Finder. Even as synced level 60 instances, your party will take down the raid bosses fairly easily.
Starting Quest: The Hunt for Omega (from Wedge)
Location: Rhalgr’s Reach, Gyr Abania (x: 12.6, y: 12.4)
Requirements: Finish Stormblood
Oh, you wanted more Garlond Ironworks shenanigans? Well, enter the Interdimensional Rift of Omega, the eight-player raid series in Stormblood. As far as level 70 synced instances go, it provides a decent challenge without too much stress. I’d also argue it’s some of the best optional content for several reasons.
For one, anything with Nero tol Scaeva is premium content, especially when he’s annoying the shit out of Cid while they both somehow put their scientific minds together to save the world. The banter, pettiness, hostility, and admiration between the two will warm your heart and get a few giggles out of you. They’re basically a divorced couple that still has to work together and take care of a child — that child being Alpha. And oh my god, Alpha is so cute, like the cutest thing in all of FFXIV. Few things are cuter than a magical baby Chocobo with big ol’ eyeballs who is the key to all the answers in this extensive storyline.
Okay, anyway, the Omega raid series is very serious with major implications about an aetherial power that can create beings strong enough to dominate the realm. This is all in light of the destruction left behind by the primal Shinryu in the Stormblood story. Through each instance of the raid, you’ll fight recreations of some of the renowned bosses in Final Fantasy V and VI like Exdeath, Chadarnook, and Kefka, just to name a few. You even fight the Phantom Train, but it’s a shame there’s no Duty Action to suplex the damn thing. You also get great remixes of the boss themes from the aforementioned games that’ll pump you up for each fight. The last leg of Omega takes a turn for unique boss fights with some wild designs and fun mechanics to work through, leading to the conclusion of a wonderful storyline tucked into a dope raid series.
Starting Quest: In the Middle of Nowhere (from Anxious Crystarium Guard)
Location: The Crystarium, Norvrandt (x: 9.7, y: 12.3)
Requirements: Finish Shadowbringers
The latest eight-player raid series, which accompanied Shadowbringers, is a love letter to Final Fantasy VIII and features some awesome boss fights that mix up some of our old favorite icons. I swear, I got chills the first time I heard “Blue Fields” playing in FFXIV; what a beautiful song. And that orchestral arrangement of the boss theme?! Fam. Don’t trip, there ain’t no Junction system in sight, though.
In a post-Shadowbringers world, Ryne, Thancred, and Urianger feel the need to further investigate aethereal imbalances in Norvrandt — but this time all the way out in the middle of nowhere. In the process, you meet Gaia, a mysterious girl with whom Ryne develops a complicated relationship throughout the raid’s storyline. (Editor’s note: They’re girlfriends.) Like most things in FFXIV, there are implications about the true nature of oneself, defying fates, and the power of friendship alongside some awe-inspiring battles. It’s also nice seeing your progress in Eden reflected in the game world itself.
Not gonna lie, I think someone was cutting up onions the first time I did that 12th and final raid instance. By the time you finish up this raid series, you’ll want to bake a batch of coffee biscuits as you reflect on this emotional journey with a tear in your eye.
Ivalice Alliance Raids
Starting Quest: Dramatis Personae (from Keiten)
Location: Kugane, Hingashi (x: 12.2, y: 12.3)
Requirements: Finish Stormblood
The 24-player Alliance Raids can be intimidating with the sheer number of things happening at once in any one instance while you try to process the responsibilities of your alliance group. But if you can learn how to handle the challenge, Alliance Raids make for some top-tier FFXIV content. With the Crystal Tower raids being mandatory, all players who make it past A Realm Reborn will get a taste of what Alliance Raids are like. With that said, I’d strongly recommend giving the Ivalice raid series a go once you’ve finished Stormblood.
First-off, it’s a retelling of the Final Fantasy Tactics story that also incorporates key elements of Final Fantasy XII in the process. Basically, FFXIV has its own version of Ivalice and Dalmasca that very much mirrors the source material. Folks who got love for those games will be geeked about what’s in store in this raid series. You go through recreations of Rabanastre, Ridorana, and the Orbonne Monastery. Yasumi Matsuno (director of Tactics and XII) even helped create this raid’s storyline.
Some of the fights in the three instances of this raid can be quite challenging (and you’ll have to do some damn math in the Ridorana Lighthouse). But they’re a ton of fun to run with some great music that will be a jolt of nostalgia for those who played the games in reference. What’s just as important is that completing the Ivalice raid series is required for unlocking one of the greatest chunks of content: The Bozjan Southern Front (more on that later).
NieR Crossover Alliance Raids
Starting Quest: Word About Komra (from Gossipy Dwarf)
Location: Kholusia, Norvrandt (x: 12.9, y: 8.7)
Requirements: Finish Shadowbringers
Sooooo, NieR just kind of exists in the world of FFXIV. When this raid series (formally called YoRHa: Dark Apocalypse) was first revealed in the lead-up to Shadowbringers, I was like, “oh, cool!!” But now that I’ve completed it, I look back and think to myself, “holy shit, NieR is in FFXIV?!” And if you have as much love for NieR as I do, you probably just won’t get over it.
Somewhere in the backyard of Kholusia out in Norvrandt, the Dwarves stumble upon a mining ground that leads to the remains of the world of NieR: Automata. The story that follows is tragic, goofy, and heartwarming, and kind of shocking considering how core narrative elements from NieR Replicant, NieR Automata, and even Drakengard are used throughout. From the abandoned factories to the dilapidated stations to the tower you climb at this raid’s conclusion, you’ll find thematic parallels and straight-up recreations of things from the source material. The way Yoko Taro and the FFXIV team were able to integrate the world of NieR into a story within FFXIV is nothing short of incredible. But the story isn’t the only appeal, for the teams have also built intricate, challenging, and fantastic raid instances and boss fights with mechanics that stunningly reflect some of NieR‘s best elements.
The absolute emotional rollercoaster of hearing some of NieR‘s best music remixed and rearranged alongside, and even within, some of FFXIV‘s best music…like, I don’t know what to tell y’all. A few fights within this raid series can be quite difficult, especially with the tears in your eyes obscuring your vision as you try dodging waves of enemy AoE attacks. But my god, is it worth doing.
The Bozjan Southern Front
Starting Quests and Locations:
- Hail to the Queen (from Keiten), Kugane (x: 12.2, y: 12.3)
- Path to the Past (from Marsak), Yanxia (x: 16.3, y: 8.5)
- The Bozja Incident (from Ironworks Engineer), Rhalgr’s Reach (x: 11.8, y: 11.8)
- Fire in the Forge (from Gerolt), Gangos (x: 6.3, y: 5.0)
- Where Eagles Nest (from Marsak), Gangos (x: 6.4, y: 5.7)
Requirements: Complete the Ivalice raid series, finish Shadowbringers
I’m pretty confident in saying the Bozjan Southern Front is the best optional content so far in FFXIV. With its own deep storyline, multifaceted raid-like instances, and unique gameplay mechanics, it almost feels like this whole content package could’ve been an expansion on its own. The Bozja storyline, formally called Save the Queen, builds off of the conclusion of the Ivalice raid series. Spinning off in its own direction for a unique take on the history of Dalmasca, it explores how the Garlean Empire brutally colonized the region. It also involves ancient powers of a bygone era.
You enter an instance of the Bozjan Southern Front with a maximum of 72 players active in the zone. You can hop in as any combat Job that’s level 71 or above (granted you have another at level 80). In this expansive zone, you take on FATE-like battles called Skirmishes and queue up for random public events called Critical Engagements (which are fairly tough boss fights). It’s all in an effort for Mettle (a separate form of XP for Bozja) to raise your Resistance Rank and unlock more Save the Queen story quests.
Any Job you use between levels 71 and 79 gets synced up to level 80, so you get access to its full skillset while in Bozja. You also gain hefty chunks of normal XP as you complete Skirmishes and Critical Engagements, making it one of the best ways of leveling alternate Jobs. Then, there are special raid-like instances such as Castrum Lacus Litore and Delubrum Reginae, which feature some of FFXIV‘s most intricate non-Savage mechanics and a spectacle fitting of an all-out war. They’re free of role restrictions, which means that groups have to think a bit harder about how they use Lost Actions, a separate set of items and buffs that help players cover the abilities of any missing roles.
There are so many reasons to give The Bozjan Southern Front a shot, and I haven’t even gotten into the second expansive zone called Zadnor. Some folks do it for the relic weapons, but I’d highly suggest Bozja for the storyline, fast leveling for alternate Jobs, and sheer fun of its most intense battles and boss fights.
Sorrow of Werlyt Quests
You ever wish FFXIV had Gundam or Evangelion energy with bad dads and dark storylines? I present to you the Sorrow of Werlyt. Remember that old Garlean commander, Gaius van Baelsar, who pops up every now and then to talk about such devastation and how it was not his intention? Well, there’s more to him than that.
That dude did some bad shit under the Garlean banner. In the wake of him leaving the empire, he is never left unattended by those whose duty it is to keep a sharp eye on him even as he now tries to aid the Eorzean Alliance. While this questline may seem like a kind of redemption arc for Gaius, Sorrow of Werlyt has more to do with the tragedy of the found-family of orphans he raised being left to the mercy of a fascist empire.
You travel to a new coastal zone. You fight Ruby, Sapphire, Emerald, and Diamond Weapons (all from Final Fantasy VII) in some exciting boss fights. You pilot a whole ass mech, which has its own moveset. Ruby, Emerald, and Diamond Weapons are imposing bosses in their respective eight-player Trials with genuinely fun mechanics and grand spectacles. Sapphire Weapon, on the other hand, is your opportunity to go head-to-head using your own mech. When it’s all said and done, you’re left rather sad because this story is pretty grim.
I have a feeling the things we learn in the Sorrow of Werlyt quests will come back around in some form in the future, too.
The Warring Triad Quests
Taking things back to Heavensward for a bit, you can easily miss one of the expansion’s best side stories and set of boss fights. The Warring Triad represents Primals from a bygone era, specifically when the Allagan Empire ruled the realm during the Third Astral Era. In this questline, you have to square up against Sephirot, Sophia, and Zurvan, all of whom you may recognize from Final Fantasy VI.
It’s fascinating because of how deep the lore goes as you try to unpack what the Allagan Empire was doing with aetherochemical research and Azys Lla, the massive Heavensward zone that was home to the Allagan’s technological advancements. You’ll learn more about the origins of King Thordan’s power — but more importantly, you’ll be introduced to Unukalhai, a kid whose own deep backstory ties into both the Ascians and the Scions of the Seventh Dawn. Seeing this questline all the way through will also lead to extra bits of story in Shadowbringers, particularly after completing MSQ through Patch 5.3.
In the fight against Sophia, you’ll get to hear one of FFXIV‘s top-tier boss battle themes in “Equilibrium,” which writer Nadia Oxford analyzed in great detail to give us insight into the song’s lore implications.
Hildibrand Manderville Quests
Are you looking to experience some pure, silly, unadulterated bullshit? I cannot emphasize enough just how goofy and genuinely hilarious the Hildibrand questline can be. This is the peak of the FFXIV team having unfiltered fun with optional content, providing some much-needed levity to a realm constantly fighting for its survival.
It’s wild to think about how this goofball Hildibrand Manderville has a legacy dating back to FFXIV 1.0 during the fall of Dalamud, but that only makes his place in the world all the more intriguing. Following these quests will lead you down a hole of absurdist humor, family drama, and the inexplicable god-like powers of Hildibrand and his father Godbert (who also owns the Manderville Gold Saucer) as you help him chase down some sort of phantom thief. It’s so dumb. I love it. And you meet Nashu Mhakaracca, who’s a wonderful catgirl. She’s great. I love her.
If you’re looking for easy-going content as opposed to a gauntlet of intense boss fights, the Hildibrand quests should be at the top of your list. You can see how the FFXIV team got a bit experimental with how it put together cutscenes in this questline, and Hildibrand is much better for it. You can kick back, get a few laughs, and enjoy the silliness of it all!
Beast Tribe Questlines
There are a ton of Beast Tribes to do quests for throughout FFXIV, but not everyone has the time or will to do all of them. So we’ll direct you to a couple of our favorite ones that we think are worth doing.
Starting Quest: Something Fishy This Way Comes (from Floundering Namazu)
Location: Azim Steppe, Othard (x: 17.4, y: 37.5)
- Finish the questline starting with Courage the Cowardly Lupin
- Location: Yanxia (x: 30.9, y: 17.8)
- Finish the questline starting with Perchance the Hanami
- Location: Yanxia (x: 30.3, y: 18.3)
- After complete the two previous questlines, finish the quest Kurobana vs. Gyorin
- Location: Yanxia (x: 29.3, y: 17.5)
- Must have a a Job from Disciples of Hand (DoH) or Disciples of Land (DoL) at level 60
It’ll take quite a bit of work to get the Namazu Beast Tribe quests going since you need to have at least a level 60 crafter Job and complete two, albeit short, questlines beforehand. Like other Beast Tribes, you cycle through daily quests to build your reputation with the group in an effort to gain rewards and see the Tribe thrive.
The reason why I chose the Namazu is because they’re cute and they deserve to be happy, so it’s your duty to help them. Don’t let their impression in Stormblood‘s MSQ fool you! You won’t want to skip the cutscenes for reputation quests; they’re so adorable and wholesome. Their theme song will lift your spirits and bring a tear to your eye from sheer happiness (listen closely for their squishy footsteps that follow the beat of the song). And you can get one of the best mounts in the entire game, I’m not kidding.
Starting Quest: It’s Dwarfin’ Time (from Affable Townsdwarf)
Location: Kholusia, Norvrandt (x: 15.7, y: 30.3)
- Disciples of Hand (crafting) Job at Level 70, finish Shadowbringers
- Finish the questline that starts with Village of Woe and ends with Ronitt to the Rescue
- Starting Location: Kholusia (x: 15.3, y: 28.6)
- Finish the questline that starts with A Disagreeable Dwarf and ends with Learning the Lali-ho
- Starting Location: Kholusia (x: 12.4, y: 9.2)
The Dwarven Beast Tribe questline requires you have a crafting Job at level 70, which would make this inaccessible to a lot of players. However, if you meet that requirement, you’ll definitely want to do it. It’s a more efficient way to get a crafting Job to level 80, but also, the Dwarves of Norvrandt are adorable little goofballs who deserve to live their best lives. You can get another one of the game’s great mounts: the cutest tank you can imagine.
Given that the Pixies are one of the newer groups in FFXIV, it’s a more refined Beast Tribe questline. As your reputation grows with the Pixies, so too does their imaginary land of Lyhe Mheg, which will turn into a big playground that bursts of loud ass color. You can earn a Porxie mount in the process, but more importantly, there’s a deeper backstory for Titania explained through these quests.
If you found the Fae folk of Il Mheg annoying and rather be done with them (even though you should be thankful for Feo Ul), then you may want to skip this one for now. Otherwise, it’s a good time.
Starting Quest: Way of the Fisher (from N’nmulika)
Location: Limsa Lominsa Lower Decks (x: 7.0, y: 14.0)
If you haven’t taken up fishing yet, then you’re probably not aware of the things underneath the vast oceans across Eorzea and the stories they tell. As one of the few gathering Jobs (aka Disciples of Land), taking on the role of Fisher comes with a robust set of features like its own unique skillset, enticing story quests, and the chill-hype vibes of fishing raids.
Fishing starts out simple, having you cast a line into a body of water and hitting the Reel action when something bites. However, catching specific fish for certain quests (or filling out your fishing log) will require you to smartly wield the skills you gain as you level up. It makes you look at FFXIV‘s regions with a fresh perspective, taking you to areas of zones you wouldn’t have ventured to otherwise. And the questline that accompanies the Job shows you a different side of a few groups of people you only passed by in previous quests.
It’s a very fast Job to level up to 80 because of Ocean Fishing, the 24-player raid-like instances you can queue into every two hours. Here, take a boat from Limsa Lominsa and across the open seas in three separate phases to catch as many fish as you can, and rack up points and a whole lot of XP (especially when the oceans start bursting with rare spectral fish).
Even though you’re subject to the RNG gods for the most part, being a Fisher is a great way to relax.