There’s a growing trend in gaming these days, especially MMOs; to rush as quickly as possible to reach the endgame and start what some people even refer to as the “real” game. It’s the sort of mentality that drives powerleveling and job boost/story skip sales. I’m not criticizing, as I’ve spent my fair share of time as a part of the zerg-rush to the level cap; the lure of fun new MSQ, challenging encounters, and shiny loot is a powerful incentive.
But it’s a shame to see so many sidequests regulated to leveling alt jobs or, more often than not, passed over entirely for more efficient XP-per-hour activities such as Deep Dungeons or Daily Roulettes. Sometimes, gamers really should slow down a little and smell the roses. Especially in a game like Final Fantasy XIV which has well over 1,200 sidequests so far. They are well worth doing, as not only do the majority of them live up to Final Fantasy’s long tradition of great storytelling, but many of the unassuming little gold exclamation points actually hide unique rewards that are not available from any other source.
These hidden gems can take the form of amazing glamour gear, emotes, orchestrion rolls, pets, or housing items; and, unless you are like me and spend inordinate amounts of time shifting through databases to root out the special rewards, you’ll never know they are there if you just stick to the Main Scenario Quests.
One such bundle of quests that rewards you well for stepping off the beaten path of the MSQ is the Scholasticate quest chain. The first quest merely offers you the choice of rather unassuming level 56 helms as a reward, but if you commit and stick out the entire series the final two will reward you with two glamour pieces and an exclusive emote.
The emote is a short but extremely cute motion where your character adjusts his or her spectacles while changing expression; the exact gesture and face they make is exclusive to each race and gender combo but all of them are sure to make your character look smart and more than a little sassy.
Pairing nicely with the emote, one of the two glamour items is your very own Inspector’s Eyeglasses; a very classy pair of halfrim glasses that might not raise your intelligence attribute, but certainly look like they should. The final reward is the aptly named Scholasticate Coat; a very professional-looking (and dyeable!) chest piece that just oozes sophistication. There is only a minor difference in the look of the coat between genders- female characters get a bow at the collar while males get something closer to a cravat. In addition to the ‘physical’ rewards, you’ll also get three achievements and two titles thrown into the bargain.
The full chain is 12 quests long, which might seem drawn out, but they were originally doled out slowly between patches 3.0 and 3.5. There is also quite the level jump in the requirements between the first and second quests, so while the chain technically starts at level 56, if you want to do them all in one go you should really wait until you are level 60. At that level or higher, you can blow through them fairly quickly if you don’t mind skipping dialog or cutscenes, but if you are like me and want to take your time to enjoy the story, it shouldn’t take you much more than a couple of hours to complete.
The whole thing starts in the Holy See of Ishgard with the quest “Keeping the Ledger” from Mathye, who you will find loitering near the far end of the Jeweled Crozier. Don’t be discouraged if you don’t see a quest marker with this name on your map; the quest giver offers multiples quests and as long as you’ve completed the MSQ “He Who Would Not Be Denied” and meet the level requirement, he’ll have this one for you. It’s a fairly simple quest that takes place entirely in the Holy See. You’ll just need to talk to several people and search some bookshelves, but pay attention to the dialog! Once you return to Mathye, he’ll ask you a question with several answers to choose from, the correct answer being based on the information you gathered.
The next part also starts at Mathye but, as I mentioned before, the second quest “Contradicting Convictions” – has steeper requirements. You need to be level 60 and have completed the MSQ titled “Heavensward” (the final quest of the original 3.0 MSQ) as well as the side quest “Her Last Vow” (the final quest of the 2.0 Hildibrand quest chain). The entirety of this quest also takes place in the Holy See and merely involves talking to certain people at various locations. There is also a cutscene which starts the ball rolling on the story of the chain. At the end you return once more to Mathye at the same location, but he’ll have a friend with him this time and she and her quest will act as a bridge to the next leg of the chain.
Gaetelle is located right next to where you turn in the second quest, and as soon as you do, she’ll be waiting to hand you the third, “The Benefits of Consultation”. This is where the story starts to really take off. You’ll meet a familiar face and be introduced to most of the principal players in the quest chain’s plot. Most of you will also start noticing a trend at this point- almost all the quests take place in the Holy See. There’s quite a bit of running around, talking to different people, and watching several (highly amusing, in this writer’s opinion) cutscenes. However there is very little combat over the course of the entire thing.
The previous quest ends right in front of Bruvagnon (hurray for all these unpronounceable elezen/French names), the NPC who will offer you the next quest “Balancing the Spear”. More running, more talking, more cut scenes; I’ll spare you the details. However the next quest, “More than Meets Her Eye” started by Briardien, is the first one in the chain that ventures outside of the city and has a bit of combat involved.
Completing this one will finish up the first batch of quests that came out in 3.15 and award you with an achievement and the title “Special Advisor.”
The next part of the chain did not appear until patch 3.4 and picked up again at the same place it left off, with Briardien offering the quest, “Divine Reckoning”. After quite a bit of talking, it once again takes you out of the city and into Western Coerthas Highlands (of course, as far as possible from the only aetheryte in the zone). Unfortunately, there’s no combat to spice things up this time. For that, you’ll have to wait until after “Through the Grapevine” and “A Familial Resemblance” which are both simple errand quests, though they do both have juicy bits of story development for those who enjoy that facet of questing. “Finding Ulaa” from Briardien ends the 3.4 part of the chain and does offer a bit of combat in addition to the story. The achievement for the end of this leg doesn’t offer any title; I’m afraid you’ll have to wait for the conclusion for the second of those.
Speaking of which, the final arc was released in patch 3.5 and commenced with “The Student Body’s Revenge”, available from Briardien who is right where you left him in Saint Reymanaud’s Cathedral. It’s a fun quest that’ll give your emote menu some use. After that comes “The Whipping Boy” which is just a short quest involving speaking to two NPCs. The quest after it, “Letters from No One” which is given to you by Theomocent, is the second-to-last of the chain and the first one where you’ll start to hit paydirt. After that, Briardien will offer you the last quest, “The Life and Lies of Father Saturnois”. It’s a wonderfully written finale to the chain and includes several cutscenes. From it you get the glamour coat as well as the third achievement and second title, “Of the Holy Body”.
All-in-all, it’s not a bad way to spend a few hours. If you’re at all like me, I recommend taking your time and enjoying it simply for the story; a lot of effort went in to making it an engaging, entertaining activity. Even if you don’t rank storytelling very highly on your priorities when gaming, you’re still rewarded for your time and effort. I also can’t help but hope that seeing such a wonderfully told tale (and the unexpected incentives offered from it) will inspire you to step outside the MSQ and the endgame grind. After completing the Scholasticate quests, you’ll have 12 sidequests down but another 1,200 to go!