So you want to play the best MMO around, here is what you need to know first.
Pay to Win?
Before we get going, you need to understand the cash shop, this is a 100% convenience shop, no matter what anyone else tells you. Now let's define convenience. Convenience (per Daum/Kakao) is anything that saves you time. Combat EXP bonus = saving time, not having to run back and forth between places = saving time, not having to manually pick up loot = saving time, having additional storage space = saving time. I hope I made my point there, you may also notice the examples give also show a MASSIVE benefit to someone who employs all of them, vs. someone who has none, or only a few of the above.
Cash shop recommendations:
First things first, buy the game (I am expecting it to be free to play early 2017, or as late as March 2017 for the 1 year anniversary), then you need to go all in with the following as it will make a massive difference in how you play and whether or not you enjoy it enough to keep playing. You'll just have to trust me on this one, but I'll try to explain the why as much as I can, you can of course play the game without buying any in game cash shop items, but I would venture a guess that 60% of players that free play this game quit within 3-6 months and except for some of the moral issues that have occurred lately, not less than 85% of everyone who spent money early on is still playing now, 10 months later and are planning to continue playing. Pearls are 1 per penny spent, plus a very light bonus for buying in larger quantities, due to this, you should always purchase in $100 increments, even if you only plan on spending $30 worth in game right now.
Pearls - Put in not less than $300 in Daum cash/Pearls, before you even create a character. (57,130 - 65,830 total pearls listed below, so a $600 purchase, after the bonus pearls would get all the below), note you can increment this and start out with the $300 previously mentioned, by cutting down the inventory expansions and weight limits, and removing worker lodging and stable expansions.
This is just to get you up and running, between holiday events and other purchases, you will spend more, but this may be delayed several months after you start playing)Costume - 2900 pearls - read the below section to pick your starting class and then buy a full on weapon outfit for that class, you will end up buying another one you get the following with this
jump height increasecombat exp bonusvision bonus
affects how far away things show on your mini mapalso affects how far you can see objects in the ocean (like fishing hotspots and whales), supposedlyweapon durability reduction
Decreases the rate that your weapon durability is reduced (equals less silver spent repairing)death exp loss reductionCostume additions - (1700 total pearls) - note you will most likely need to repurchase these for your main toon once you decide on that one, as it will be the only one leveling up to the highest levels and therefore the only one seeing certain mobs)
Underwear - 700 pearls
the luck bonus is for item drops during combat only, but makes a differenceglasses - 500 pearls
increases chance of gaining monster knowledge
equals more energyequals more titles
equals combat EXP bonusequals luck bonusEarring - 500 pearls - arguable, some say this functionality is "non-functioning" in game
increases the chance of getting "better" knowledge of a monster
equal better item drop ratesPets - 900 pearls each (3600 total) - (note: pets only gain EXP from eating, if you don't feed them, they don't gain EXP)
1x Cat1x Dog1x Hawk1X your choice
as right now you can have 4 active pets at a timeYou'll be buying more to upgrade them (breeding 2 pets destroys the parents)Inventory expansions - always buy in packs of 16 slots for personal and 8 slots for towns, unless the smaller packs are on sale
personal - 1450 pearls each (14500 - 23200 total pearls for one character - you will need to buy about 80 slots worth (or 10 x 8 slot) minimum, I'd say 128 slots as an upper limit (due to the number of freebies you get)
two things to note here, remember your first toon is not likely to be your main, don't go overboard on this one, but you will need quite a fewyou can expect that at least three toons will require purchased slots, 40-80 slots should be a starting point on any character you think you will play past level 50 (you will know this when you reach 50 with that character, but not likely before then)also, it may be that you want the most slots on a non-main character depending on your particular play style, something only you can tell yourself, this would be if you want a secondary character to be your main life skill toon)town storage - 720 pearls each (24,480 total pearls to bring all three areas up in storage) always buy the multi town packs in 8 slot increments
Balenos - purchase not less than 80 slots (7200 pearls)
this is the 2nd most popular location in game, expect to visit her regularly. this makes it a good place to have room to store things.Serendia - purchase not less than 80 slots (7200 pearls)
this is the most popular location in the game (non-combat), it is the most "central" location (pre valencia, which you will not even visit before level 50 and should not worry about going to until 55-57 range, most of the mobs there are designed for parties of 3 or more to combat, not solo)Calpheon - purchase not less than 112 slots (10,080 pearls)
this is the largest NPC area in the game, you will spend a lot of time here, there are the most player houses here, you will perform LOTS of crafting here if you do anyValue Pack 30 days - 1500 Pearls each (3000 total every 45 days)
best to buy these at least 2 at a time, every 45 days, so you build up extra or have leeway in case you forget or are late buying itthe best benefit of this is the market place fee reimbursement
when you collect your silver for selling something, it adds an extra 30%
this is to offset the 35% sales fees incurrednext best is the 10% EXP bonusWeight Limit Increase - (4050 total Pearls) - buy these on your first character and your primary, no others, unless you are spreading your crafting out amongst multiple toons (not recommended) each is 1x per toon
200LT (1700 pearls each)150LT (1350 pearls each)100LT (1000 pearls each)Extra Worker Lodging - 200 pearls each (400 pearls per region, 800 pearls total)
Calpheon - buy at least 2Balenos - buy at least 2Stable Expansion - 300 pearls each (600 pearls total)
Serendia - buy at least 2
this can actually wait, as it is for horse breeding, something you won't be doing right awayPermanent Horse Flute (1500 Pearls)
it is just plain stupid how realistically close you have to be to your horse to whistle for them without this)
Getting started in the Game:
First things first, you need to start with a class that can level well early on, get some cash, then buy the gear you need to start another class. It doesn't matter if the first or even second class you play is what you really want to play in the game, if you are just feeling out the play style of a few classes, or even if you have no clue. Eventually you will have 7+ toons and all will be level 45+ while you figure out what to play as your main toon, and gather the resources you need to be able to do so. Additionally, plan on deleting at least one character if not 2 on a regular repeating basis. This is because the first 45 levels are the easiest and fastest ways to gain account based (non-character specific) points. I'll explain as we go, but these are your Energy and Contribution points.
Recommended starting classes for first toon, in order. (note you can select all of them, as you want to have every available character slot filled at all times)
Ninja/Kunoichi - Very similar play style, although there will be differences, when I refer to this class grouping, I'll always be talking about the ninja, so first thing, if I say "Shuriken" that is for the Ninja, you will need to substitute "Kunai" for the Kuonichi. While either class can use either secondary weapon, their supporting skills are "aligned" with the play style for this equipment selection and using the other secondary weapon will put you at a disadvantage. You will be tapping HP potions quickly at certain stages of play.
Witch/Wizard - no difference at all, until awakenings. Listed second only as the first 20 levels are lower damage output compared to the ninja and you will need mana potions constantly until after level 15 or 20 when you can learn the skill that is a free to cast (F2C) mana potion, after that you will be all about HP potions, in low quantities until after level 52.
Sorceress - extremely powerful after level 40, but you will be heavy hitting MP and HP potions early on and relying on only 2 skills to level until then as well (very boring low level game play and somewhat costly due to potion consumption).
Now go research a guild, join one that has plenty of perks as soon as you can in game (level 5 I think) as you can get combat EXP bonuses from the right guilds, amongst other things. No need to be loyal, you can swap another one later if you choose. Just make sure they are cool with you being new. During this entire guide you will want to play solo, there is no reason to group up at all during this and it can actually slow you down. There is no benefit to getting power leveled, you lose EXP when in a group, unless the group can kill mobs 2x as fast as you, then you break even and lose loot divided amongst all the members of the group.
Leveling from 1 to 45 quickly
Create your character and log in with them, if you feel like it, you can create characters until all the slots are filled, and then log in with the one that will be your "first toon" order is not important, but know that the character selection screen from within the game shows only 4 at a time, starting with the first slot and then scrolls one by one, so it would be best to start with the first slot as either your primary or "first toon". Please note you only need the weapons and armor you get from these quests or from mob drops to complete this starter guide. Sell any junk item (A vendor would buy this at a cheap price), and stash everything else in the storage, if you bought enough, you won't lack for places to put them and can spend time sorting your storages later. Always keep your pets out once you get them, and make sure to equip your costume! As soon as you get to Heidel, buy "Good Feed" form the Auction House (AH), if there is none available, get pet feed from the stable master to keep your pets fed. At any time after level 24 if you run into competition for the grinding areas, just channel swap to another channel, very few people are leveling low level characters at this time, so it is unlikely it will be very busy.
Note, if a section is marked with *** this means it is a place you can use the 30 minute daily grind buff if this event is still going on. Anywhere else, and you are likely to waste it as you will move on in less than 30 minutes
As soon as you have a weapon equipped, try pressing F3 (function 3 key at the top of the KB) if this opens up the Cash Shop, purchase your pearls and start buying stuff! Getting not less than the costume set and the value pack will make this go a LOT faster with an automatic 35% EXP bonus to start with.
Along the way, make sure to accept any and ALL Black Spirit Quests until otherwise noted and skip most other quests for now, you will level up much faster than the quests will appear, so performing them means spending more time getting less EXP. (you will always be able to go back and do any skipped quests)
Now, start attacking the grass beetles and parasitic bees next to the starting area, there are large numbers of them close together, stand in the center and use a ranged attack to kill them quickly. do this until their name changes to light green (mob difficulty, purple > red > light red > white > dark green > light green > grey), you should be level 4 or 5 at this point, maybe reaching 6.
now follow the quests the Black Spirit (BS) gives you, don't bother talking to people or looking around, learn to use the mini-map and full map to find your quest targets, do as little as possible to complete those quests, and FREQUENTLY check the black spirit for more quests, accept them all immediately!!!
when you get to the steel imps black spirit (BS) quest, these guys should be a piece of cake and be either white or already starting to turn green for you (as long as you followed step #1 !!!), once you finish this BS quest you should get directed to the Western Guard Camp, go there and follow the talk to me, no talk to me quest chain until you get directed to go to the ancient stone chamber to meet Edan. Don't bother doing anything else in this area either. Somewhere in this part your inventory will fill up, so make sure to sell everything that isn't a potion, or gear you can wear. Don't worry if you sell something and a warning pops up telling you that it is worth more on the auction house, just sell it! Anything you find at this level range is worthless to a higher level player (unless your character jumps for joy when you get it)
once that is done the BS will direct you to kill tree spirits, do the bare minimum to finish this quest too. Hopefully at this point you should be somewhere between level 13 and 16 (if you are much farther along than that, then you may have worked too hard to get here!)
as soon as the trees are dead, follow the road east, stay east and don't go north like you are supposed to, but instead go south. you should pass through the following nodes on your way:
toscani farm, marino farm, balenos forest (may show up multiple times), heidel pass (this is once the road turns south), northern heidel quarry, northern guard camp
although you may see Heidel to the south, don't bother going there at this time. Instead enter the quarry, it is to your right as you come out of the heidel pass and down the hill towards the northern guard camp. note, you will not have quests through here, as you will not be the right level to get them yet. get in the quarry and kill everything you can until you are seeing green names again. (it will be possible that while in here the BS will give you a quest to kill them, if you see it, take it, if not, don't worry)
once all of those turn green, leave the quarry by the road, head north/West, you will be on the southern side of the mountain range that you just came through from the ancient stone chamber. To your right (north) you will see weird looking birds (kuku), head up there and kill everything in sight! if you go far enough up the mountain, there are DOZENS of sheep and mountain goats, these should be red or white at this point, and don't fight back. Kill em all!!!!
somewhere around this point you should be level 19 or 20, if you didn't dilly dally or wander around aimlessly getting here, it should have taken you somewhere between 30 and 60 minutes (depending on how quickly you picked up combat in the game, how good my directions are, and how good you were at following them. So, head farther west and find the imps over there (you hopefully will get a BS quest for this area, or 5) and kill everything.
At this point, I recommend doing the running back and forth quests in Heidel, you can skip it if you want and do them later.
now head to The Eastern Gateway, take all the quests there and go over to Moretti Plantation and clean up the quests there as well, Remember to get all the Black Spirit quests as many double up and you can complete more than one quest while killing the same mobs. you probably will reach the level to leave before completing all of the quests here, just forfeit the others and move on to save time, or complete them if you wish.
Once you have those quests complete, you should be around level 24, now head South West and kill Fogans and Nagas until you reach level 27, you may or may not get quests for them from the Black Spirit, do not worry about it.
*** At 26 stop by Glish to add it to your map, drop off INV at the storage keeper and then you can head to the Bloody Monastery and grind the snot out of some cultists there, these guys are good until level 32 and drop tons of items! (you should be good as long as you bought your INV space increases and weight limit increases, else you'll need to make at least one trip back to Glish to drop items off.) On your way, there are 3 NPCs wandering around the road that runs East/West south of Glish, they each have a quest for you in the Bloody Monastery area. don't worry if you miss them.
*** (If you stay till 36) At level 32, you will want to run over to Keplan and drop off anything that didn't fit in Glish Storage, then head north to find Calpheon, then move North by North East to the Northern Wheat Plantation (NWP). Don't bother getting any quests from either. From NWP head east and a tiny bit north to find Old Dandelion and the Khuruto Caves, our next target for extermination. If you feel like it, to the north and a bit east of the caves is a group of soldiers that might give you quests for this area. If they are not handing out quests, you can follow the road they are on to the East and there is a camp there that might give quests (I am not sure of the minimum level to get the quests, so they may or may not be offered at this time. I personally skip them, you can fight outside if you want, but the best bang for your buck is in the caves. Stay here until all but the big guys turn green (level 36, although you can leave at 34, it would be faster if you stay until 36), then head off for the abandoned lands slightly NW of Calpheon.
*** (ONLY if you get here at level 34, and even then you'll be ready to leave in the first 20 minutes, if you are planning on moving directly on to the next area after this one without waiting until another day, save the daily grind Buff until you get to Chimeras) On your way to The Abandoned Lands you (hopefully) will run into St. Pious on the road just outside the Contaminated farm. Make sure to talk to him, he doesn't have much to say, but if you do not, then you will be unable to turn in the items from The Refugee Camps as the NPC won't talk to you. Now, enter Calpheon and dump in the Storage everything you have on you and sell any junk, then head on to The Refugee Camp.
Once there, you will find a nice short circle you can work your way around on the far East side of the camp. It is possible someone is here, and you can either swap channels, or head NW up the hill to more "zombies" most of the quests here start showing up at 37/38 and are good for you to complete, but will slow down your leveling a tiny bit as you are targeting specific mobs instead of just slaughtering everything and we are not sticking around very long anyway (leaving at 39). Once you hit 39.5 you can leave, stop by the node manager "Elionian Priest Bipache" and turn in one of the two main items you picked up while here, another turn in is the human guard in armor on the NW corner of the wagon the node manager is standing on. Now head back to Calpheon and dump your INV and all money.
*** (Definitely use the daily grind here, you will stay a good 60 minutes here, so you can use any EXP buff items you want while here) At this Point you can run to Keplan, open that node up, now on the SW exit from town, head barely 5 seconds north along the road, and it will fork left towards marni's lab. Grind the Chimera and Horned Chimera mobs at the bottom of the mountain until you hit 40, don't go too far up as everything here is purple to you right now, and respawns VERY fast. Once you hit 40 they turn dark red. You may have competition here. Once you are level 40 you can head up the path, but don't go in the gates. Once you can see the gates, head left, there will be 1 mad Saunil in the area just left of the gates, behind him is a path that leads to heaven. down here are bunches of Chimeras for your slaughtering goodness. Watch out for the two "violent" mobs down there (one at each end) until you are level 42+ and do not bother going through the cave/natural bridge. There is more likely to be competiton over there and there will be fewer mobs anyway. Once you get into the flow, you can easily get 5+ levels in 45 minutes to an hour down here. While you can easily hit 46 here, you should stop at 45 (everything will be green/light green at this point anyway). Head to town, there will be one item you can trade in in town, it is to the giant standing on top of the NE gateway into the city, the rest just put in storage. Do not try to turn in the Marni's Lab items, you will most likely die trying until you are a few levels higher or in a group.