FFXIV confronts you with a decision relatively early on in the game that can give some new players a bit of choice paralysis. You need to choose a Grand Company to align yourself with in order to progress the story, but what does this mean? It sounds important, and people are afraid of making the ‘wrong’ choice.
Well it’s actually not that big of a deal at all. Here I’ll tell you what your choice affects, and what you should consider when picking between the three Grand Companies.
What’s the Difference Between the Grand Companies?
Functionally, all three of the Adders, Flames, and Maelstrom are the same. The differences are in the flavour of their stories, quests, and glamours, and of course the different cities where they are located. You’ll also have the option to fight for your Grand Company when you play in the Frontlines PvP mode, and be teamed only with others of your faction (or freelancers placed in your faction).
Can I Switch Grand Companies?
If you want to change it up later, you absolutely can switch (once every 15 days) by speaking to the personnel officer of the faction you wish to join. Your first transfer is free, but if you want to transfer again after that it will cost 50,000 gil per transfer.
This can be a lot of gil early on in the game, so before making a second switch I recommend ranking up with your Grand Company. Also keep in mind that you’ll retain any squadron progress but have to unlock them by ranking up again with your new faction. PvP ranks for each faction are remembered separately, but you only earn progress towards your current Grand Company.
Probably the most important factor in choosing your Grand Company is how convenient it is to get to their headquarters when you need to. You’ll be visiting this place a lot, so if it’s a little out of the way and takes you an extra 5-10 seconds that’s going to add up over time.
It takes about 12 seconds to sprint to the Adder’s Nest in Gridania from the main aetheryte.
The Hall of Flames is only about 9 seconds away from the main aetheryte of Ul’dah if you jump up from the flowerbed at the side of the building.
The Maelstrom Barracks does not have a great location to be honest. Once you get to Limsa you still need to use the aethernet to take you to the aftcastle, and then sprint across a bridge. With my loading screen time that takes me about 18 seconds altogether.
Of course, if you’ve decided on one of these three cities for your home aetheryte and you’re spending time there anyway, that may sway you in one direction. For example, many people make Limsa their rest stop of choice because of the easy access to a marketboard and summoning bell. For those people it may make more sense to have Maelstrom as their Grand Company.
If you’ve been lucky enough to buy a housing plot that happens to be in the Lavender Beds, then maybe your home point is set to Gridania and you like to take advantage of the free travel to your ward from the main aetheryte.
It also depends on where you enjoy being. Maybe you really love the aesthetic of Ul’dah. The music and the environment could be pleasant for your to immerse yourself in.
These are all things to consider, but it revolves around where in the world you find yourself spending the most time. Having a Grand Company there could be another small perk.
One of the most noticeable differences between the Grand Companies is what sort of gear or clothing you can buy from the vendor there. Of course, this is not all available from the very start, but as you rank up you’ll have access to more pieces of gear with signature styles for their company.
These outfits are undyeable so their colours are representative of those officer NPCs you see throughout the game. The Adders wear yellows, greens, and browns. The Flames wear more muted blues and greys. The Maelstrom have red and black featured heavily in their uniforms.
They all have one signature level 50 body piece available at the highest rank. If you absolutely love that particular glamour, then that may be reason enough for you to join the Grand Company. Keep in mind you must be currently a member in order to use the glamour, even if you bought it before and then switched companies.
You can check the vendor wares of each Grand Company even if you’re not a member. You won’t be able to buy anything, but you can still try items on in the fitting room window. Take a look at their fanciest offerings and see if they suit you.
This is a much more heated aspect of Grand Companies, and not a concern to anyone except those really invested in PvP. You can opt to always queue for Frontline PvP matches as a member of your current Grand Company. If you wish, you can also tick the Frontline Freelancer option in the duty finder and be placed in a random company as needed. This can reduce your queue time a bit, but may result in less success overall depending on your data centre.
There used to be a bit of a stereotype that the Maelstrom always wins. In my experience this has not been true for a while, at least on the Light data centre. It’s more the psychological phenomenon of ‘the grass is always greener’. As soon as you switch Grand Companies, the one you left seems to start winning.
You hardly notice when you win, but if you see another faction stomp a match twice within a week, that sticks out to you because our negative experiences tend to have more impact on us. It’s likely that they’re all generally close in skill.
I say don’t worry too much about which Grand Company you’re in for PvP, but maybe do spend some time without being a freelancer to see how you like your faction on your data centre. You could also search for your data centre’s PvP discord group and see how active they are to get a sense of how big an advantage one company has over the others.
My advice is to take a look at the vendor in each Grand Company headquarters and see if you fall in love with any weapon or body glamours. If not, then I suggest matching your allegiance with the city you’ve designated as your home point.
Personally I chose Limsa and the Maelstrom because I began my FFXIV journey there and I love the atmosphere. I also take advantage of the marketboard close at hand, so I don’t mind the extra time going through the aethernet if I need to get to my Grand Company.
What made you choose your Grand Company? What do you like about them, and how are they doing in PvP on your data centre? Sound off in the comments.