There was a time when Final Fantasy 14's free trial was not very generous. Back when I started playing in August 2014, it was a measly two-week tryout with a cap of level 20. That changed to a level 35 cap with no time restrictions soon after, and then three years ago we were treated to the endlessly memed trial that was the entirety of A Realm Reborn plus its first expansion Heavensward, up to level 60. That's already a good couple-hundred hours for absolutely free, but now that pot is about to get a hell of a lot sweeter.
As revealed during this weekend's Las Vegas Fan Festival, Final Fantasy 14's next patch will fold the game's second expansion, Stormblood, into the free trial. With that comes an increased free trial level cap of 70, plus the playable jobs that were added with the expansion: Red Mage and Samurai.
That's… a hell of a lot of game for zero financial investment. It's easily somewhere around 200 to 300 hours just to plough through all the story, dungeons, and raids. Significantly less if you're skipping every cutscene, but I believe half of Final Fantasy 14's charm is in its occasionally stiff but ever-improving storyline and dialogue. You can easily squeeze even more hours for free by levelling all the available jobs up to level 70, if you're so inclined.
Stormblood isn't my favourite expansion of the series—it has the weakest story in my humble opinion—but it's home to some of the best dungeons and raids in the entire game. If you're into Final Fantasy 12 then you'll love its 24-player Ivalice alliance raids, and dungeons really begin to have a better cohesive vision from this expansion onwards. Steven gave the expansion of 92 in his Stormblood review, so it's still a very worthwhile time.
Even if you're not a huge MMO player, it's still worth giving Final Fantasy 14 a shot. A lot has been done over the last couple of years to make the game more accessible to solo players who may be a little shy or reluctant to team up with others. A lot of the dungeons in A Realm Reborn can be completed with NPCs, though it'll take a fair bit longer and I always recommend trying to get through your worries and play with real people. There are tons of different ways to play though, and it's always worth a shot.
There are some restrictions to bare in mind though, considering it is a free trial and all:
- You can only carry up to 300,000 gil, which isn't a whole lot these days
- You can't use the shout, yell, or tell chat options—being unable to whisper other players is the biggest annoyance here
- You can't use the market board—no buying, selling or using retainers to store excess items
- You're unable to join a Free Company, this game's version of a guild
- You can't create linkshells (essentially group chats) but you can join them.
- You can't use the Party Finder to recruit party members, but you can be invited to one and you can use the Duty Finder to automatically party up with others for dungeons and raids.
- No PvP for you utter sadists.
- You can't access jobs or races that were introduced in Shadowbringers or Endwalker.
They're definitely some pretty hefty restrictions, ones that can become incredibly frustrating if you end up super invested in the game and the community. If you just want to get your feet wet and give things a go though, they're mostly issues that you can bypass for your first couple hundred hours in the game.
Patch 6.5 is due to land sometime in early October, which is when the extra-expanded free trial will go into effect. Us Final Fantasy 14 regulars will be over here updating the copypasta ready for when the time comes.