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Final Fantasy 14 - Sprout's Guide To Gear And Item Levels

Victoria Rose Posted:
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It’s always a joy in RPGs to progress out of your starter adventurer gear into something more substantial and hefty. But every RPG has its own systems and nuances for gear, and those in the hit MMORPG Final Fantasy XIV is no exception. Thankfully, the game’s gear system is relatively straightforward, with a straightforward item level system and stats. 

But with all the numbers involved, it’s not uncommon to run into issues with, say, item level or questions about melding early on as you attempt to navigate your new gear. So we’re here to help you gear up in FFXIV! Below are some of the most basic topics about keeping your gear up to date — and a little bit of advanced knowledge so you know what up-to-date players are chatting about. 

If you have questions about other concepts in the game, check out our newcomers’ guide and frequently asked questions! Or, leave a comment if you’re stuck on an item about items. 

Gear Basics 

Everything you need to know about Gear is in your Character window! 

Here are many of the concepts we’ll be talking about: 

FFXIV Gear Item Diagram

You can access gear items themselves in the Armory window. 

Functionally, the most important slots in your inventory are your Weapon and your Job Stone. No matter what job you take up, your character will take up that job based on your equipped Weapon, even if it’s not really a weapon in the case of Crafting and Gathering. (Although I’d argue you can hit someone good with a good fishing rod.) Once you hit level 30 on combat jobs, your Job Stone will grant you additional abilities. In addition to these two, there is an off-hand for shields, or extra tools for crafting and gathering. 

There are eleven other slots that all classes utilize, which are essentially clothes and accessories: Head, Body, Arms, Waist, Legs, Feet, Earrings, Necklace, Bracelets, and two slots for two different Rings. Past level 10, all the clothing-like items should be used; past 20 or so, you should fill in the accessories. 

Beyond a certain level, items will become exclusive to your class. That’s to say, you cannot wear Samurai gear on a White Mage, for example.  

Until you hit endgame, your best bet is to use the “Recommended Gear” button above your character’s image. The exception would be if you have an item with a quirk such as EXP boost,  in which case chances are that the difference in stats for such is negligible. In this case, you should equip all the Recommended Gear, then swap in the appropriate item. 

If you aren’t sure if your gear is up-to-date, there are typically vendors around Eorzea that will sell gear up to par for the area’s levels. 

Item levels 

Aside from the required level for equipping items, “item level” is likely the only number you’ll be keeping an eye on as you progress through the main scenario of the game. Also known as “iLvl,” item level is a number that acts as an indicator of relative item power, namely compared to other items theoretically at the same required level. 

Item level becomes more important and apparent at levels 50, 60, 70, and 80 at the moment — or, in short, at the end of each story arc. At level 50, for instance, you’ll receive iLvl 55 gear from doing your job quests. However, you can receive up to iLvl 135 loot from a specific raid, or from a very grind-y series of weapon-building quests (in this case, Zodiac Weapon Zeta). 

FFXIV Gear Guide

You should prioritize item level over equipped level when possible. In fact, it’s very possible that good dungeon loot gear will last you for several more job levels than other gear at the equipped level, just because of item level power. 

If you’re unsure, you should just use the Recommended Gear button. Again, the exception here is if you’re using an EXP boost item.  

Gear stats — Attributes and Properties, Crafting and Gathering 

While item level is the most important part of your gear, you’ll notice that there are some stats attached to each item, such as Skill Speed, Determination, Piety, Tenacity, and more. These are your “Attributes” and “Properties,” but we’ll call them “stats” as that’s what they’re more commonly called. 

When it comes to combat, if you’re just leveling up in the game, I recommend you don’t fret about this too much. If you want to see big crits as a DPS player, it’s fun to chase, but basic completion of Main Scenario Quests don’t require such heavy scrutiny. However, stat decisions are a major part of the endgame! There’s a lot of theorycrafting about the most effective ways to utilize one’s stats. 

Until then, if you’re curious about what stats are useful to you, FFXIV kind of gives away what stats are attached to your character’s power for each class. If you review the items you utilize at higher levels, you’ll start seeing the stats narrow down. For instance, I’m a Black Mage main, so I noticed my stats became narrowed down to Critical Hit, Determination, Spell Speed, and Direct Hit Rate. As a White Mage, I’ll be using Piety instead of Direct Hit Rate. If you’re interested in learning to Meld down the line, learn these for your class — we’ll get into this later. 

You should be more concerned about such stats in crafting and gathering. In this case, your items will only have three stats. Crafting utilizes Craftsmanship, Control, and CP, while Gathering has equivalents in the forms of Gathering, Perception and GP. Respectively, these oversee progression/success, quality rating/progression, and a “mana pool” available for ability usage. Given many quests and activities require high quality items, you’ll be scrambling fast to figure out how to optimize your items as much as your actual job actions. 

Materia, melding, and Spiritbond 

When it comes to combat jobs, you aren’t going to worry too much about Materia until you decide to do endgame content (to be discussed). Unmelded items will get you through content perfectly fine, if a little more slowly. However, chances are you’ll have a ton of Materia to meld anyway, and they make it relatively easy to meld, so it can be fun to play around a feel a little more invincible. 

On the other hand, as mentioned before, stats are important throughout progression for FFXIV’s non-combat jobs, the Disciple of Hand and Disciple of Land jobs (such as blacksmithing and mining, respectively). The margin of error in attempting to make or retrieve high quality items is actually quite small as you attempt to progress. Therefore, melding will absolutely be of use to you. You’ll be wanting to meld on your endurance bar, which are CP and GP, as well as the high quality stat, Control or Perception. 

If you find a need, or just really like big numbers there are a few ways to meld. You can either contact a Materia Melder NPC, which costs a small fee, or you can get a crafter to do it for you — including yourself. As a level 19 crafter, simply complete the quest “Waking the Spirit,” and you should be able to meld your own stuff. Or, if you need someone else to do it, simply Request Meld by using the player menu when you select them. 

Want to rearrange your Materia configuration? Most of the time, you can simply “Retrieve Materia” by pulling up the item menu and selecting that option. However, all of the most currently powerful Materia at the current item level has a 40% chance it’ll be destroyed in the process. It’s higher for lower-level Materia, but still there. So exercise caution! 

There’s an easy way to get new Materia — right from your own items. As you use the gear, it gains a stat called “Spiritbond.” When you see an item is at 100% Spiritbond by reviewing its information, you simply click the “Extract Materia” option from the item menu. It’ll give you a Materia that aligns with the item’s level and attributes. 

Last tip - it’s easy for new players (and old ones) to confuse Retrieve and Extract in the item menu, so be careful! 

Swapping classes quickly using Gear Sets 

The best way to swap classes is actually through the Gear Sets feature. As mentioned before, your class is set by the current weapon held. But once you swap weapons alone, it… basically strips you into nothing. So you might as well use a Gear Set to organize things and not sort through awkward nudity. 

To make a new Gear Set, click the “Gear Sets” button as shown in the diagram above, then click the plus button in the upper left hand corner of the new window. To equip them, select one and click “Equip Set.” You can rename these sets, check out what’s in them, change their order of appearance, and more by right-clicking them. 

FFXIV Gear Guide

If your gear for your class changes and you want to keep the shortcut, simply change into the gear set you want to change, then hit the “Update Gear Set” button in the main Character window. 

As a bonus, you can drag Gear Sets onto a Hotbar in your UI. This means you can have all your leveled classes easily available to swap between, if you’d really like! (Personally, I use this to swap among my crafting and gathering classes.) 

Gear durability 

As in many modern RPGs, items have a “durability” level. Your gear will slowly wear down over time, especially as you die, which means that you’ll need to get them repaired. As of recent updates, when doing duties such as dungeons and trials, these durability changes only take place upon the end of a duty. For crafting and gathering, this also goes down during regular activities. 

Most, even endgame players, simply opt to get their gear repaired at a Mender, found well throughout the game. A trickier way is to use Dark Matter; at certain crafting levels, you can repair certain items based on their type. However, it’s somewhat of a hassle, given each item requires its own class. Therefore, again, most opt to repair their gear. 

If it breaks, all the stats on it become zero, including item level. Repair it again to bring things back to normal. 

Endgame and late-game gear and melding 

Once you hit the current level cap, especially if you opt to join raids or do high-end crafting, a lot of the concepts discussed but brushed off become truly relevant. 

At level 80, you may have to do some grinding in order to reach certain post-expansion content, including later dungeons and trials. The game doesn’t hand you sufficient material on a silver platter anymore, and the level cap means that you can’t just get higher-leveled items by progressing. You’ll at least need to throw on your Weathered Armor from finishing the role quest lines, then do some grinding of level 80 dungeons such as The Twinning, The Grand Cosmos and Amaurot. From there, through other endgame content, the output of item levels only increases.  

When it comes to high-end raids, your stats in the endgame do matter quite a bit more, as they determine what will help you toughen up in your role. Some healers and DPS choose high crit builds, while many BLMs opt for high-speed builds due to the length of cast times. Tanks will often focus on Vitality, then Direct Hit Rate. But with each cycle of new items in each patch comes a new set of challenges, and the general goals may change over time. It’s up to you, depending on what you learn in-game and from other players! 

Melding of Materia is also an infamous endgame struggle. Some items, namely those crafted by other players, can accept more Materia than there are slots. This is called “Overmelding.” However, there is a flat 17% chance that it’ll go in - meaning an 83% chance you’ll break the Materia and loe it. Similarly, all of the most currently powerful Materia at the current item level still has a 40% chance you can lose it. For non-combat, this is a pretty infamous struggle, provided crafted items allow up to five Materia. 

The general advice, by the way, is to prioritize item level over intermediate stats. How your gear benefits you is… well, up to you. 


Have more questions? MMORPG.com also has a guide about the very basics of the game, as well as a comprehensive list of common beginner questions. Learn away, and enjoy the game! 


Victoria Rose

Victoria is a FFXIV player who's been writing about games for over five years, including formerly regularly for Polygon and Fanbyte, and also spent some time in The Secret World, mostly roleplaying. You can find her head-deep in roleplay campaigns on Balmung, or on the ground after hyperfocusing on her Black Mage rotation. Come visit her estate: Diabolos (Crystal DC), Goblet, Ward 4, Plot 28.