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Start by doing all the quests in the town of your starting area (both new and old areas for example New Gridania and old Gridania). Join the guild of the class you chose at character screen. Always keep up with these guild quests for new armor, weapons and skills.
Soon you will be directed towards your very first area outside the starting city. From this point on till lvl 15 you will be pretty much led by hand from one quest to another. This will get you accustomed with lot of basic features with the game. Consider lvl 1 to 15 as your tutorial.
You will come across small outposts, checkpoints, chocobo keeps (unlock these for smoother and cheaper travelling) and Atheryte Crystals (you can bind yourself to these and can also set it as your favorite spots for 50% off on cost as well as point of return using return spell).
While you are questing you will come across F.A.T.E (dynamic events). They give very good xp and coin in rewards. Do as many as you can along with the side quests.
Its important to remember here. Even if later on you are above the level of F.A.T.E. it is still worth doing so don't be shy and sync yourself to appropriate levels. However i advice against doing high level ones as it puts penality on XP. Even if the F.A.T.E is lvl 21 and you are 20 you will be still penalized (stupid i know). So if you want more XP simply do all F.A.T.E's below your levels.
At lvl 5 you get access to HUNTING LOGS. Very important feature for the game as it gives very nice XP for leveling. Always keep up to date with it. At higher levels hunting log is tied up with grand companies which makes it even more crucial to get nice armor and weapons. In order to advance to next level you have to completely unlock the previous objectives which give bonus xpl, Hence its very important that you start right away at low lvls. Saves lots of back tracking later on and you won't miss the godly XP that it gives.
Continue doing your main scenario and class guild quests. At lvl 10 you get access to Levequests & Guildhests.
Levequests (battlecrafts leves) are times events and although don't give as good xp as F.A.T.E does offer decent armor, weapons and jewellery and can be done multiple times based on your daily allowance which stacks up on daily basis.
Guildhests are group dungeons (more like arena) where you fight monsters in a group and are fairly quick and good source of XP and gil. You can join these through DUTY FINDER. You will gain access to two new Guildhests every 5 levels starting from level 10.
It is very important to remember that players shouldn't rely too much on side quests as you will also need those for you alt classes. You won't have help from main scenario for your new jobs. So avoid doing too many side quests. When you go to other two main cities and their respective zones avoid the quests which are below your level and stick doing to quests only which match your levels.
Right now if you take a quest which is even one level higher than your level, you won't be able to turn it in. I know it is silly that game allows you to take higher level quest but not let you turn it in. So avoid this. If you are lvl 20 doing lvl 18 or lvl 19 is OK but don't touch those lvl 10 or lvl 15 quests. Quests have large level gaps in the game so leveling can be difficult if you rely too much on side quests.
If you followed previous steps. You should be travelling to other two main cities now. Ignore all the quests in the new city and starting areas as you will need those for your other jobs.
Your main scenario will lead you to your first 3 dungeons. I recommend to repeat these multiple times if you are bored with F.A.T.E, Guildhests and leves. Starter dungeons are pretty easy and give decent xp and equipment. For first time you will need to talk to NPC but later on you can join these dungeons through duty finder. If you are new to dungeon or other members are doing it for first time. Group will get bonus xp.
As you level to 20 and above more dungeons will open up. if you want to advance your main storyline you have to complete these dungeons or you won't get access to important things like RETAINER and your very first MOUNT. Even if you have a mount from CE or legacy you still need to complete main scenario in order to ride those.
Completing BOWLES OF EMBERS gives access to mounts.
level from 15 to 20 by mixing up level appropriate side quests, F.A.T.E, Guildhests, leves, hunting logs, dungeons along with your main scenario and guild class quests.
Try avoid doing too many leves and side quests and save those for your alt classes / jobs.
Now the Main Scenario will lead you to the Grand Companies. I recommend to do some research as different grand companies give different items that suit different classes.
You will get access to new set of Hunting Logs specific to your Company and new quests become available.
By choosing a Grand Company, you unlock the ability to purchase your very own Chocobo. You can also train them to fight alongside you reach lvl 30.
SEALS are required to buy your chocobo or anything else from your grand company. F.A.T.E.S, Grand Company quests and Hunter Logs all give good amount of seals.
At level 23 a new instance unlocks. The only instance between 21-29, so stick to the same formula you used in the earlier levels, F.A.T.E.s, Levequests, Guildhests, Hunting Logs and some side quests.
Continue leveling with mix of everything and open another instance at lvl 29. The dungeons will start to get challenging now, will give better xp, equipment and jewelry peices.
At Lvl 30, you will be able to obtain an enhanced version of your main class. To obtain your Job, you first must complete your lvl 30 Class quest, which unlocks the Job quest and then you must have leveled an alt class.
For more info on jobs go here..
You can swap between your class and jobs by using your soul crystal. Remember, your main class and job level together.
As suggested before keep up with your class quests. At lvl 32 you unlock another dungeon. You can pretty much lvl all the way to 35 doing this dungeon if you enjoy dungeon grind.
At this point i will recommend to start making F.A.T.E groups and you will be able to fly through levels in no time. Currently the way F.A.T.E.S work is that more mobs you tag more xp you get.
If you have been following earlier tips you should be sitting comfortably at lvl 35. Lvl 35 to 40 F.A.T.E grind slows down a bit. So keep up with rest of the main class and main scenario quests. At this point it is better to rely more on dungeons and hunting log along with some side quests.
LVL 35 new dungeon isn't tied into main storyline so get grinding on that one.
At lvl 38 another dungeon becomes available called Cutter’s Cry. If you are aligned with Ul’dah Grand Company the mobs for your hunting log can be found only in here.
Both your Main Scenario and Hunting Log will lead you to Certhas which will be your home from lvl 40- 45.
Its time to get back to grinding of F.A.T.E.'s. Your F.A.T.E grind will take place in Coerthas, grinding is less consistent compared to other areas but since F.A.T.E's are chained xp is quite good.
LVL 41 gives access to new dungeon. Do it multiple times if you can.
Once you hit 44, you will be able to pick up a quest from your Grand Company that will allow you to start advancing your final ranks, which until now was capped. This quest will lead you to the second and last dungeon before the final grind to 50 begins called Dzemael Darkhold.
At lvl 44 (better to attempt this at lvl 45) your Main Scenario will lead you to your next big fight in THE HOWLING EYE.
Make sure to do F.A.T.E. “Dark Devices”. This is a four part F.A.T.E. which gives very good xp. I recommend doing this in group and tag as many mobs as possible.
As you get closer to the end of the Main Scenario you will need to complete 3 new 8 man dungeons before being able to get the final pieces of your Artefact Armor.
The first dungeon is classed as a trial and is called Cape Westwind at lvl 49.
The second dungeon is called Castrum Meridianum and you will obtain entry when your move through your Main Scenario when you reach lvl 50. This dungeon is considerably more difficult.
The last dungeon in this chain, and the final component of your Main Scenario is The Petorium, which is also available at lvl 50. This dungeon is a combination of the last two dungeons and 4 consecutive bosses. PUGS can complete this but more suited for organised groups.
Once this dungeon is complete, you will be able to obtain the rest of your Artefact Armor.
Some things to remember ;
1.) Make sure you pick up some food (relative to your class) as they give a 3% xp boost
2.) Don't spend any gil on armor and weapons for first 15 levels as you will fly through these levels. Rely on merchants in outposts for your armor and weapons and only go to MARKET if you are unable to find what you need through quest rewards and merchants. These merchants also repair armor and are easily avilable in all outposts.
3.) Keep up to date with your Main Scenario (main quest lines). This is the only way you will be able to leave you starting city and get access to other two cities.
4.) Keep up to date with your Class quests for Weapons and Armor every 5 levels. This involves doing solo instances sometimes also provides you with permanent new skills and upgrades.
5.) When you get access to atheryte crystal in outposts make sure to set it as your return point. It solves the hassle of teleporting back all the way to your very first bind point say GRIDANIA for example when you die. In case you are unable to get someone to rezz, you can get back into fight faster. Very handy especially when doing F.A.T.E.S.