Final Fantasy XIV: Should You Buy The Starter Edition Or Play The Free Trial?

Image: Square Enix
Image: Square Enix

With the release of Final Fantasy XIV’s newest expansion, Dawntrail, many new players are sure to be interested in joining Square Enix’s long running MMORPG. But this curiosity may turn to confusion when trying to decide between the extremely generous, no-cost Free Trial and the paid Starter Edition, which will run you $20. The Free Trial and Starter Edition of FF14 are two different products with several distinctions. And while the Starter Edition is the full version of the game with zero restrictions, there is one major drawback to purchasing it: The Starter Edition requires a subscription to play after 30 days. Notably, the Free Trial does not.

This guide will help you weigh the pros and cons of each version and will discuss why the Free Trial is the way to go for brand new players.

What comes with the $20 FF14 Starter Edition?

For $19.99, Final Fantasy 14: Starter Edition includes the base game, 2013’s A Realm Reborn, and the first two expansions, 2015’s Heavensward and 2017’s Stormblood. This version lets you level your character up to level 70. That might seem like a no-brainer, but there is a major caveat: The Starter Edition only allows 30 days of play time. Once that time is up, you will need to purchase a new time card or subscribe to continue playing through everything in the Starter Edition.

The Free Trial includes all the same content as the Starter Edition and does not require a subscription

Given that each expansion will take most people roughly 40 hours to play through, a month will hardly be enough time for the majority of players to work through everything this version has to offer. And with subscriptions starting at $12.99 per month, you may end up spending much more than you anticipated when purchasing the Starter Edition. Simply put: While $19.99 may seem like a deal for over a hundred hours of content, you’re restricted to how much time you can invest in the game within a month.

Read More: How To Get The Most Out Of Final Fantasy XIV In One Month

As a way more affordable alternative, you should consider jumping into the Free

Trial. This is simple on Steam: Select “Download Final Fantasy XIV Online Free Trial” option from the Steam page. The Xbox version is similarly as simple: Select Free+ and add the Free Trial to your account.

Screenshot: Sony / Square Enix / Kotaku
Screenshot: Sony / Square Enix / Kotaku

Things are a little trickier on on PlayStation. On a PS4 or PS5,navigate to the product page and then select the ellipsis (...) which will bring up the download option for the Free Trial.

Here’s why FF14’s Free Trial is better for newcomers

The Free Trial includes all the same content as the Starter Edition and does not require a subscription. So, whether it takes you one month or one year, you won’t have to spend anything until you complete the 2017 Stormblood expansion or hit the level cap of 70. Given the beefy content provided, you stand to save quite a bit of money going this route, all to play through the same game. Once you purchase the Starter Edition your account is locked out of the free trial, and into a subscription.

And if you’re on Xbox, you have an additional cost-saving benefit to choosing the free trial. Game Pass Core, which Xbox requires to play online, is needed for the paid version of Final Fantasy XIV. However, those on the Free Trial bypass the Game Pass requirement and do not need any service or subscription. Since Game Pass Core starts at a monthly rate of $9.99, Free Trial users on Xbox are potentially saving almost $25 per month.

Read More: A Final Fantasy XIV Beginner’s Guide For Xbox

The Free Trial does have some limitations, however. These mostly concern social aspects of the game. Free Trial players can not join Free Companies,FFXIV’s versions of guilds. They also can not create a party, but are able to join one if they are sent an invite from a player who is on a paid version. The Free Trial also restricts trading with other players as well as sending in-game letters or participating in PVP or Ultimate Raids. A full-list of restrictions can be found on Square Enix’s site here, but these are the ones of most concern.

So…what’s the Starter Edition good for?

You might be wondering: Who should buy the Starter Edition of the game? Well, if you have completed everything the Free Trial has to offer, and are ready to move on to the Shadowbringers expansion, you will need a paid version of the game (ie: the Starter Edition) and the newDawntrail expansion. Every FFXIV expansion includes all the previous releases. With Shadowbringers and Endwalker now removed from digital storefronts, purchasing Dawntrail is the correct (and only way) to get caught up on the game.

Final Fantasy 14 is one of the most popular MMOs of all time, and for good reason. Between its engrossing story, rewarding character building, and challenging dungeons, there is plenty of content to sink your teeth into. The heart of this experience is available for free as long as you avoid purchasing the Starter Edition. New users need to be aware of this before they even download the game. Once an account gets linked to a paid version like the Starter Edition, it is locked out of the free trial forever (much like this poor writer’s account).

FFXIV players will have plenty of months where they will be paying to fuel their new and exciting hobby. So the longer those payments can be delayed, the better.


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