FFXIV Raids vs. Trials (What’s The Difference?)

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Final Fantasy XIV offers players a range of different challenges. Raids and trials both require a party of eight players, but the content is different. Trials are one-off boss fights, typically against massive creatures, and raids are more long-form with environmental challenges and other enemies to overcome.

If you’ve just gotten started in your XIV adventure, then it’s fair to not really understand the difference between the two.

It’s nothing too complicated, but raids and trials both offer different levels of challenge and reward.


What’s More Important: Trials or Raids?

Well, from a purely MSQ perspective, most of the trials you’ll encounter are essential to progressing the game’s main story.

Raids, however, tend to be tucked away out of sight unless you actually want to complete them.

The one exception to this is the Crystal Tower series, which was made mandatory in 2020.

The reasoning for this is likely down to the different challenge levels.

Trials can be extremely challenging, sure. They can have similar mechanics to raid encounters, but it’s just a one-off fight. Much easier to learn and repeat if necessary.

So trials require much less of a time investment.

They’re (mostly) unlocked as you play through the game, they’ll be included in Duty Roulettes, and it’s really just XIV’s equivalent of a typical boss fight you’d encounter in any other RPG.

You’ll have a bigger party, sure. But they don’t tend to get complex until you get to the higher difficulty levels (which are optional).

This isn’t really the case with raids.

Although some raids can simply be cleared with brute force now, clearing them with your level synced is still a challenge.

There are punishing mechanics that require cooperation and education to overcome, and it’s really easy for mistakes to result in party wipes.

Where trials are singular boss fights, usually with an entire storyline building up to them, raids are collections of bosses linked together by a story.

Completing a raid is a much bigger investment, since a raid will usually have multiple wings to clear before you see the end.

Raid/Trial Overview / FFXIV Screenshot
Image via Laurie Douglas/FandomSpot / © SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved.

What Gives Me The Best Rewards?

It’s not really a case of “best” either way.

In my opinion, the rewards are pretty fair across trials and raids for the amount of challenge involved.

Completing standard difficulty trials won’t drop you any special rewards, but you will earn some Tomestones which can then be used to purchase gear.

Completing trials at higher difficulty levels can reward you with unique weapons and special mounts – some of which will reward you further once you complete the set.

Raids can provide you with exclusive gear sets. If you’re completing endgame raids, you’ll be rewarded with appropriately top tier gear.

Collecting the full set will require multiple clears, as everyone will be competing for the drops.

And if this sounds like a lengthy process, it can be.

But you’ll also earn Tomestone currency as you complete raids, which can be traded in for guaranteed gear upgrades at regular intervals.


Do I Have To Raid?

Technically – no, not at all.

There’s only one such encounter that is essential to progress beyond A Realm Reborn, and that’s The Crystal Tower, which is an Alliance Raid.

Alliance Raids follow the same format as standard raids, but require a party of 24 players.

Completing The Crystal Tower is not a challenge these days.

Many of the players you’ll do it with have already cleared it a bunch of times, and it’s mostly just a case of keeping up with them. None of the eight player Raids are necessary to advance the story, so if you don’t feel like doing them, you don’t have to.

Boss Fight Trial Battle / FFXIV Screenshot
Image via Laurie Douglas/FandomSpot / © SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved.

Trials, however, are baked heavily into XIV’s Main Scenario.

You’ll need to clear the bulk of the game’s trial duties if you want to progress.

If you’re struggling with a certain trial or raid, read up on the encounter before queuing for it. Watch a YouTube video of the fight or two. Understand your role and what you have to watch out for in the fight.

And one last thing: don’t be afraid of raids.

I know many players who avoid them because they think the difficulty level may be too high, or they’ll underperform and get bullied by toxic players.

I’m not saying that there isn’t that element to XIV, but raids can be incredibly rewarding and satisfying to clear.

It’s also generally an easier & smoother process (especially for new raiders) if you join raids through your Free Company.

Free Companies will often have static raiding teams pushing hardcore progression, but lots of them take a more casual approach too. It’s just about finding the right team for your play style.

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