Gear progression on Nocturnal Souls works something like this:
Equip and use gear dropped from enemies, bought off the auction house, or acquired through quests. You should have plenty of gil to keep yourself outfitted (remember to sell back what you’re not using). At level 50, you can begin acquiring your full set of artifact gear (main hand, head, body, gloves, pants, and feet) from the Artifact Vendor.
This does not prevent you from doing the Artifact Quests (AF1); however, keep in mind that not all quests may be working and they are not a focus on our server to fix as they are considered dead content.
At level 60, you should not only have your artifact gear, but can invest in a few tier 1 and 2 augments to give it a boost. Once augmented, this gear should hold you until 75.
The augments for these pieces tend to come from various NMs or collectible items. The Augment Vendor, Yefafa can assist you with the augmentation process.
Here you have your pick of two sets: your artifact +1 and your relic +1. In addition to your armor, the base version of your relic weapons become available at level 75.
Here you gain access to your relic armor +2 and empyrean +2 armor (and accessories), again from the vendors within Western Adoulin. Once acquired, the relic augment process begins again with rare/ex drops from Abyssea zones.
Congratulations, you made it! Here you begin reforging your prior relic, artifact, and empyrean gear into their final forms as well as build out multiple other sets.
Once players reach level 99, gear starts having “ilevel” or item levels associated to them. The current maximum item level is 119. The normal progression for players is “non-item level” > i104 > i109 > i119; however, there’s nothing preventing players from jumping directly to i119 if they build or find the gear.
This is where gearing gets a bit more confusing compared to other games. Unlike most modern games, as content gets more and more complex and challenging, the item level on gear doesn’t go any higher or get incrementally more powerful. However, the uniqueness of item modifiers, the overall stats of some gear pieces, and the combination of stats change. Final Fantasy XI is a horizontal progression game and aimed at the min/maxer at heart.
Many players find themselves with multiple gear sets–a weaponskill set, a TP/melee set, a fast cast set, a nuking/elemental magic set, etc. Leveraging plugins like Ashitacast or the built-in
/equipsets command allows players to build gearsets for individual purposes and that’s where much of the item growth lies in the game.