Basic rules of leveling fast
1. Get as many EXP bonuses as you can.
2. Always try to get the highest dungeon rank (SS). If you're in a party, additionally try to reach the highest position at the end of the dungeon.
3. Always accept all side quests in town.
4. If you can, always do the dungeon that has a story quest to complete.
5. Complete and deliver all side quests that you can do while doing story quests.
6. Don't backtrack to previous dungeons to finish old side quests if you can proceed forwards with the next story quest.
7. If you're too low level to enter the dungeon that has the next story quest, then you'll have to consider what's the best next step to take. Usually, this means going into the highest level dungeon on Episode 4 normal mode, killing all mobs, then dying to boss and clicking Forfeit. This is usually the best way to level up until you're able to enter the dungeon with your next story quest.
Sometimes it might be better to choose a different Episode than Episode 4, if that different Episode has some side quests you can complete without clearing the dungeon and still be able to save FP by dying to boss and clicking forfeit. The experience from finishing those quests might be high enough to make the trip more profitable than doing an Episode 4 and forfeiting to boss.
There might be some situations where you have a lot of side quests that can only be completed by finishing a dungeon. In some rare cases, the experience from those quests might be high enough that finishing a dungeon would be more profitable, in terms of EXP/FP, than dying at boss.
In some cases, you might want to complete a certain side quest in order to unlock another side quest for the next dungeon that you'll do once you reach a higher level, if in the end it allows you to get more experience for the FP you spent during the day.
It all comes down to calculating what gives you the most favorable EXP/FP ratio. Keep a calculator nearby and note down experience you get from each dungeons' mobs and each dungeons' Clear EXP. Also keep an eye on how much EXP each side quest gives. Remember that some side quests can be completed before you finish a dungeon, while other will require a full complete dungeon run. Put all the information together and calculate if it's worth finishing a dungeon, or if it's better to die at the boss and save some FP.
Basics about experience
Experience in this game comes from 3 sources:
1. Killing enemies in dungeons,
2. Completing a dungeon ("Clear EXP"),
3. Completing quests (main quests, side quests and repeatable quests).
It's important to know that your EXP bonuses (from gear, titles, events, etc.) only apply to experience obtained from killing mobs. They do not increase experience gained from completing a dungeon or completing any quests.
Clear EXP can be increased by getting a better rank at the end of a dungeon. SS rank will give you 100% of the Clear EXP for your dungeon, S rank will give you 70%, A rank will give you 50%. The lower ranks (B, C, F) give you even less, but you won't have to worry about getting them (unless you're absolutely atrocious at dodging mobs and take forever to finish a dungeon).
Rank at the end of the dungeon is tied with how many points you obtain on the ending screen. To gain more points (and therefore increase your dungeon rank), follow those rules:
- clear the dungeon as fast as you can (below a certain time you don't get extra points anymore),
- avoid getting hit (taking a few dozen hits usually means your chances of getting SS rank will be very low),
- make a lot of high combos,
- deal more damage than other party members (does not apply if you're playing solo).
You also get a very small increase in Clear EXP (ranging from +2% to +10%) if you're playing in party. To reach +10% bonus from Clear EXP, you must be in a 4-man party, and you must place 1st among your party members at the ending screen. Lower party size and lower ranking among party members means you get less bonus to your Clear EXP.
Being in a party also slightly increases experience you get from killing mobs. Each party member gives +2% experience for killing mobs, up to +6% max if you're in a 4-man party.
You might think it's worth it to level up in a party, considering the small bonuses mentioned above. The answer might be suprising, but it's not always worth it. Due to the fact that there's many people in a party, not everyone will receive the same experience after finishing the dungeon. Not everyone might get SS rank, which will translate into some party members being higher level than others. Also, even if everyone gets SS rank, people will get different Clear EXP bonus due to the fact that people in higher finishing place (1st/2nd/3rd/4th) will get more of Clear EXP bonus than people in lower places.
You might find yourself not getting SS ranks in a party as often as you would get them by playing solo. This alone outweights all the potential party bonuses to your experience. Also, sooner or later, one person in your party will be too low level to enter a dungeon, while the rest are 1 level higher and could enter said dungeon, which creates a necessity for higher-level party members to repeat doing a previous dungeon, while they wouldn't have had to do that if they played alone.
Another thing you need to know is that usually, later Episodes of a dungeon have more mobs, therefore you get more experience from the later Episodes. However, those later Episodes also consume more FP. You'll have to note down how much experience you get from each Episode and calculate which Episode gives you the most EXP/FP ratio.
As for the Difficulty of your dungeon: on higher difficulties, you receive more Clear EXP compared to lower difficulties (assuming you get the same rank at the end of the dungeon). It is, however, difficult to get SS on those higher difficulties due to it taking more time and you getting hit more. If you cannot get SS on a higher difficulty, then you'll get less Clear EXP than if you got SS on normal difficulty.
However, most of the time the amount of experience from killing mobs is the same on all difficulties, or minimally higher. The biggest difference (5~10% on average, sometimes up to 15%) is generally on Episodes 1 and 2. Episodes 3 and 4 usually have smaller jumps in terms of mob experience across difficulties, so the increased FP cost (usually over 10% more FP) on higher difficulties means it's usually not worth it to do higher difficulties of Episode 3 or 4 dungeons if you're planning on dying at boss. Normal difficulty of Episodes 3 and 4 usually gives better EXP/FP ratio.
If you're planning on doing full dungeon runs on higher difficulties, then first of all, make sure you're able to get SS rank on the higher difficulty, and secondly calculate the total amount of EXP/FP ratio. Only consider doing a higher difficulty if the ratio is better than on lower difficulty (which most of the time isn't, apart from some situations where you have quests that can only be completed on higher difficulties). If you're planning on doing the suicide method described later on in the guide, then most of the time it's not worth to do it on the higher difficulties, as the experience from mobs is usually the same or only slightly higher, while the FP cost is higher than on lower difficulties, so the EXP/FP ratio is usually better on the lower difficulty.
Sources of experience bonuses
You can get many experience bonuses in the game. I'll try to list the most common ones:
1. Experience bonuses from green stats on your gear - you might be lucky to obtain a piece of gear that has a random stat with experience bonus attached to it. You can find those random stats on:
a) all 4 pieces of armors
2. Experience bonuses from equipped titles - the best title you can get while leveling is obtained by spending 300k Zenny on equipment repairs. You can either get this title naturally by playing, or you can die over and over to District 6 mobs and keep repairing your equipment. It's boring but doesn't use any FP.
3. Experience bonuses from using EXP books - you can buy them from Booker TV in District 6 or obtain them from random in-game RNG boxes, from events etc. There's 3 tiers of those books, and you can activate all 3 of them at the same time if you want (their effects will add up).
4. Experience bonuses from events - those change over time and are server-specific.
5. Experience bonus from daily District 6 Raid bonus - after District 6 raid is finished, every day everyone on the server receives an experience buff for one hour.
6. Experience bonuses from special gear and set bonuses - there is one piece of level 16 unique weapon that gives a +10% EXP bonus; you can drop recipe for that weapon in the first Candus City dungeon (very low chance), and you can craft the weapon later at Zenith in any town. There's also one accessory set that gives you a +10% EXP bonus from set effect. Those accessories drop in N-102 dungeon.
7. Experience bonus from having a high Account Rank - you increase your Account Rank by gaining experience on a character that has reached level 55. Higher Account Rank gives more experience bonuses to characters that still haven't reached level 55.
8. Experience from random dungeon bonus - some of the dungeons will randomly give you a buff. You can see what kind of buff each dungeon/episode gives by looking on the icons at dungeon select window. The EXP increase is pretty insignificant (5% if I remember correctly) so you shouldn't pay too much attention to it.
Basics and in-depth analysis of FP (Fatigue Points)
FP (Fatigue Points) are required to enter dungeons. You get 200 FP per day, and you can get additional +150 FP from using 3x Vitamins that give +50 FP each. Don't use the Vitamins that give you +20 or +30 FP, as you can only use a total of 3 Vitamin-type items per day. If you use, for example, one +20 FP and one +30 FP Vitamin, then you can only use one +50 FP Vitamin for the rest of the day.
You can get +50 FP Vitamins from S-Coin machines in Grace City, Ruin Fortress and Grasscover Camp. You can also get them randomly by using 3 Bonus Keys at the end of a dungeon, or randomly from in-game RNG boxes. You also get them from daily attendance calendar and in-game events.
Please be aware that a Vitamin can only restore your FP up to 200, so don't use a Vitamin if you have more than 150 FP.
There's also a rare Vitamin that restores 100 FP per use. It usually only comes from events. There is no usage limit on that Vitamin.
There's a few Mat social items in the game that you can use to sit on them in town. Up to 4 additional people (apart from the person who casted the Mat) can sit on it to recover FP. If the owner of the Mat logs out or stands up, the Mat will disappear.
Mats recover 1 FP per minute, but your FP needs to be lower than 200. Some of the special Mats increase more FP per minute, or let you sit on them longer. All of the Mats are event-only and probably won't be available at launch. so most likely you won't have to worry about them
If you want to level up as fast as possible, you need to understand how FP system works. Let's say a dungeon requires 14 FP to enter. Half of that value (7 FP) will be consumed upon entering the dungeon. The second half will be consumed when you do any of the following:
- complete the dungeon,
- leave the dungeon by pressing escape and selecting the option to leave or close the game
- forcefully close the game process or unintentionally crash the game.
There's, however, one scenario when the second half of the FP is not consumed. That's if you die inside the dungeon and while dead, click on the "Forfeit dungeon" button. You will exit the dungeon without consuming the second half of the FP.
You might ask, what's the point of knowing that? It's a very important point. Let's say that killing mobs in a dungeon gives you 300k EXP, and completing the dungeon gives you additional 200k EXP, and the dungeon requires 14 FP to enter. If you complete the dungeon normally, you would have used 14 FP to gain a total of 500k EXP, which gives about 35.7K EXP per each FP consumed. But, however, if you die to the final boss of the dungeon, then click forfeit, you'll only use 7 FP, but gain about 295k EXP (bosses give a very small amount of EXP, let's just assume it was 5k EXP in our scenario). This means you have obtained about 42k EXP per each FP consumed. That's more than 35.7k EXP per FP if you completed the dungeon normally.
It's important to always calculate which option would give you the best EXP/FP ratio, as your daily FP are limited and you cannot simply grind all day to reach the level cap super fast. You'll be limited by how much you can play daily, so you should always consider what actions will get you the furthest before you run out of FP.
This is important in the later levels, where you'll find yourself too low level to continue with the next story quest. This will force you to re-do some of the dungeons you already cleared. And this is where the big min-maxing of EXP per FP comes into play.