FFXIV: What Are Crystals/Shards Used For?

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Crystals, also known as shards or clusters depending on their value, are items used as catalysts in the crafting process we call synthesis in Final Fantasy XIV.

Basically, if you’re crafting something in XIV, you’re gonna need some shards to do it.

These tiny little vessels of elemental energy form the groundwork for every crafting recipe in the game. They come in six varieties, corresponding to vital elemental forces:

Fire, Ice, Wind, Earth, Lightning, and Water.

Alongside those varieties, they also come in three different sizes – Shard, Crystal, and Cluster.

You’ll acquire a ton of crystals naturally just by playing the game.

But unless you partake in crafting through Disciple of the Hand jobs, you may never see a use for them.


Why Do We Need Shards To Craft?

From a story perspective, elemental shards provide the spark that begins the process.

Take the Culinarian job, for example:

Preparing dishes often requires a Fire Shard.

Maybe it’s just a really convenient way of flash-cooking the food.

In terms of gameplay, this sort of paces out the crafting process and adds another layer of complexity to it.

From experience though, if you just want to craft casually, you’ll rarely want for crystals. Especially if you’re leveling up a gatherer at the same time.

They’re easy enough to come by, but if you want to make an in-game living from crafting, you’ll probably need to sort out a reliable source for them.

Farming fire shards at mineral deposit in FFXIV
Image source / © SQUARE ENIX CO., LTD. All Rights Reserved.

Why Are There Different Sizes of Crystal?

As crafting recipes become more complicated, they require a bigger elemental catalyst to get started.

It’s as simple as that, really.

Obviously the larger crystals are more difficult to come by, and once again the crafting process has been paced out a little.

All it really means for the player is some extra grinding here and there.

You also can’t break crystals down into shards, or combine shards into crystals/clusters. Alchemists used to be able to break them down, but this is no longer the case.

They’re now just used for higher level crafting recipes.


How Do I Get More Crystals?

The good news is they’re easy to come by, at least at first.

At times it feels like simply sneezing in Eorzea will reward you with handfuls of crystals.

They can be obtained by completing certain quests, defeating monsters, desynthesizing items, or by completing ventures and airship voyages.

You’ll also be able to obtain Shards/Crystals/Clusters through Botany and Mining nodes.

So if you’re leveling a gatherer too, you’ll be able to find your own crystals.

This is particularly handy since you can basically target the element you want based on the area you’re farming them in, allowing a little more precision than some of the other methods.

XIV is fairly generous with the amount of crystals it hands out.

You won’t have to do too much extra work, and you won’t ever face a serious crystal shortage while crafting if you know where to find more.


Do I Need To Carry All Of Them Around With Me?

It sounds like a lot, right?

Six different elements, three different sizes.

You’re probably looking quite nervously at your inventory space about now. Well don’t fear – you have a separate inventory tab just for your crystals!

You can store up to 9999 of each in this tab, with no impact on your normal carrying capacity.

I don’t want to know where your character is actually stashing these crystals… but the point is you don’t have to worry about your crystal storage.


I Don’t Want To Craft, Do I Still Need Crystals?

No. There is no use for them outside of crafting.

And since they have their own separate inventory, you can safely ignore them without any negative impact on your own gameplay experience.

Just forget that they’re there.

Then if you do decide you’d like to craft one day, you know you’ll have a decent reservoir of crystals to get started with.

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