I can’t remember the first time I realized that there were different instances in FFXIV, however, I can recall plenty of times when I was reminded of their existence.
As I’m sure you already know by now, I’m a massive fan of farming Hunt Marks and have been making huge progress on the achievements for hunting A Ranks and S Ranks. Lately, due to the number of new players in the game and new MSQs that require players to head to certain areas, our server is seeing a lot more instanced zones again. Quite frankly, in true ADHD fashion, I forgot these were a thing yet again.
Generally, players only witness instanced zones during expansion launches as this is when thousands of players return to the game to blast through the story. These instanced zones tend to last for a few months, but inevitably fizzle out again since the majority of players will take a break from the game after they complete the content for the first time. I must admit I was surprised that was the case when I first started playing FFXIV as I rarely take breaks and am frequently found logged in and farming some sort of side content, but alas not everyone can be a be a no-lifer like me and people have plenty of games they want to get through… Baldur’s Gate 3 I’m looking at you for stealing all my friends away.
Luckily for players who don’t take extended breaks during patches, you won’t usually feel the dip in the player base as there will always be enough players queuing for content, however, sometimes it is harder to find parties for niche or side content.
Now, the reason I bring this up is simply because you will quickly be able to tell that players have returned to the game when you see more and more instanced zones appear. The highest number of instanced zones I’ve ever seen has been 3 thus far, though as FFXIV grows in popularity who knows if we’re going to see more instances popup?
For the most part, players will not need to worry about what instance they are in though the system can sometimes feel like a blessing and a curse. Though I will be covering the basics of what instances are, what causes them and how to change what instance you are in, I’m going to also give you tips on how to use them to your advantage since they tend to be the best time to run specific types of Overworld content.
Note: If you have any questions about FFXIV that you want me to cover feel free to leave them in a comment below, you can also ask me while I am streaming on Twitch, YouTube or in our community discord.
WHAT IS AN INSTANCE IN FFXIV?
Due to limitations in the game when there are too many players in a Zone the game will automatically create a new instance. Instances function completely independently even if they are in the same area. This allows for a great deal of min-max farming which I will cover later in this post.
Upon teleporting to an area, sometimes players will be asked if they have a particular instance they would like to join. This is not always the case, however, players will always be able to change what instance they are in as long as another one is available and there is space in the preferred instance.
I tried to figure out what the current thresholds are for the game to create a new instance, unfortunately, this information has not been posted publicly to my knowledge. From what I can see, it seems like instances are more of an on/off switch that automatically segregates players into smaller groups if enough players have been playing on the server during a set time frame. The reason I believe this is because there have been an overwhelming number of occurrences where 1 or 2 players are in their own instances, which of course makes no sense in the grand scheme of things.
Whatever the reason for odd occurrences like this, these are perfect opportunities to take advantage of and more often than not are a blessing, not a curse.
It should be noted that multiple instances can spawn in any location in the Overworld. This includes major cities and regular combat zones. The same is true for instanced zones such as Bozja or Eureka, though, in regards to this, there is no way to select what instance you want to be a part of. I will give you tips on this in the section below.
HOW DO I CHECK WHAT INSTANCE I AM IN?
To check what instance you are in players will simply need to type /instance in their chat. This can be useful if Hunts have been shouted in a particular instance or if players are trying to locate their friends.
Now, speaking of friends, players should note that when they place a Flag in a zone that has multiple instances the co-ordinates will include the instance number the player is in with a small i1, i2, or i3. This is important to keep track of during times of high congestion as it is easy to miss timed events like Hunts if players are too quick to pull.
HOW DO I CHANGE INSTANCES IN FFXIV?
Regarding instanced zones in the Overworld, players can select what instance they are in by heading to any Aetheryte in the area and right-clicking it. Players will be able to change instances as often as they’d like as there is no cooldown for changing.
There is no chat command or faster way to change instances so it’s best to make sure you’re in the right instance before you leave the Aetheryte.
Now in regards to instanced zones such as Eureka, Bozja or the Diadem, players will not have the option to choose which instance they join. This makes hanging out with friends a bit more difficult, especially if a friend wants to join you after you’ve already entered the instance. There are two ways to solve this problem. The first is to always make sure you meet up before you enter a zone to form a party and the second is to simply leave and re-enter the instance.
Special instanced zones like these have hidden timers that have nothing to do with the number of players in the instance. Typically a new instance is generated every 30 minutes, though it is hard to tell how long an instance has been active without asking players how long they have been in the zone.
As instances like this have timers that are not bound to the number of players inside of them they can often become “dead instances.” This means that events that are to take place in the instance will no longer happen for two reasons: there aren’t currently enough players to trigger the events or the instance has been open for a very long time and to encourage players to play with others events have stopped spawning.
The second tends to happen more often when content is new to try to ensure that instances have the most players possible in them, though when content becomes less popular the first tends to be more of an issue.
WHAT ARE SOME LIMITATIONS WITH INSTANCES IN FFXIV?
To my knowledge, a zone can only have 200 players inside of it, though players have reported that it is possible to have a maximum of 750. My assumption comes from the player search and although it is probable that this only shows the nearest 200 players even though there may be more, I cannot currently confirm this and will have to wait until Dawntrail.
Nonetheless, there is a limit to how many players can be in an instance and players will see a notification that says there is no more room. In my experience, this is most common when there is an S Rank in the area and if you are in this position and really want to get into the instance you can keep spamming the instance in hopes that a player leaves.
Unlike world hopping, there is no queue to enter an instance, so it’s somewhat of a first-click-first-get situation.
In my experience spamming to enter an instance is typically not worth it as the likelihood that players are purposefully there is generally quite high.
HOW CAN I USE INSTANCES TO MY ADVANTAGE IN FFXIV?
Having access to multiple instances is extremely useful for players who are farming FATEs or are trying to spawn S Ranks. Though you can’t guarantee that multiple instances will be up on any particular day, players tend to share when they are aware of the going ons of their server.
This is particularly true for those who spawn S Ranks as getting 2 or 3 in the same zone really helps put a dent in the achievements players are trying to farm. If you are not aware, players can only spawn each S Rank every 3 days and since instances are considered independent, players can essentially guarantee that they will be able to spawn an S Rank in these zones.
That being said, instances are great for A Ranks as their timers are unique to the instance. While players will still need to locate/scout the A-Ranks they can farm more at once and get a lot more Tomestones or hunt currency in one go.
As for FATE farming, when players are trying to get Bicolour Gemstones they will typically instance hop to make the most use of their time. FATEs spawn at a rate that is based on how many players are currently in that area, so instance hopping would make it so you get 2 or 3 times the number of FATEs. This is most helpful when fewer players are playing together since there tends to be a good amount of downtime between FATEs spawning, however even in large groups as long as everyone stays together you will be able to blast through FATEs with higher reward outputs.
I try to schedule our community Bicolour Gemstone farming for these days, since at the moment there aren’t too many players who are regularly farming them. This helps make sure that we get the most out of our time together since I can’t always guarantee weekend hangouts. That being said it also makes it a bit easier to decide what content we’re going to run together as many of us can never make up our minds on what we want to do.
I can’t lie, instances just make the game better for farming and though it sucks to be locked out of a zone because there are too many players, the benefits you can receive significantly outweigh the cons.