FFXI: Return to Vana’diel – Aywren vs. Locked Treasure Chests

I return to Vana’diel after not having played FFXI for over a decade. Here are my adventures!


Once I got the game looking and playing well through configurations, it was time to finally check out the character that I left deactivated on the Asura server over 10 years ago. Now, I know that I never leveled any of my characters past 20, mostly due to the grouping nature of the game. However, I do remember having left at least one character at about level 20, fully geared up for that level, and with subjobs unlocked.

As I stated before, I had two different accounts with two different characters, and I didn’t know what was on either of them. I chose to reactivate the character on Asura since that is the most active server based on the information I’ve been reading.

Character Disappointment

Needless to say, I was a bit disappointed when I finally logged in.

Aywren@Asura was a level 4 Red Mage.

Hmm… that can’t be right. I’m sure I left her with more than that.

I struggled to figure out the controls and menu system (more on that later), and finally figure out I need to select Status from the Main Menu to see all of my stats. Sure enough, I only ever leveled Red Mage to 4 on this character.

Still in starter gear. Nothing else.


Well, crud.

I pondered starting the character over, but decided she’d been around for so long that it would be a shame to delete her. I mean, level 4 is practically a new character, right? Plus, at level 5, I knew that I could check out the new Trust system, so I may as well keep going.

Funny enough, when I checked the time played, it said 8 hours for this character. I know it used to take a long time to level in FFXI, but I’m sure I could have been further along than 4 levels in 8 hours.

Vs. Controls

So, the first thing I decide to do, since I’m standing out in the forest anyhow, is go ahead and level to 5 so I can figure out what the Trust system is about. This requires me to figure out the targeting system and the menu system and controls as a whole.

It took me about 30 mins to realize my mouse was absolutely useless in most situations. I don’t remember ever having a problem playing it back in the day, and it slowly dawned on me why…

FFXI controls like an oldskool menu-based Final Fantasy single player game. 

No hotbars. No “M” for map. No “C” for character. No “I” for inventory. Take all these more modern MMO conventions and toss them out the window.

Once I wrapped my head around the fact I needed to think of this as a Final Fantasy game and not an MMO, things got easier. The menus started to make sense. Using the arrow keys to navigate menus made sense. Even using arrow keys to move the camera made sense.

Later on, I went in and made a bunch of other tweaks that helped out a lot, such as making the camera “chase” me and not locking my character in on enemies during a fight. It took a while, but I think I’m getting the hang of controls now.

This thing, though…

IT'S RIGHT THERE! And kicking your butt...
IT’S RIGHT THERE! And kicking your butt…

Vs. Treasure Chests

So, once I figured out how to select and attack an enemy, I chose the nearby innocent bunny (which I remembered could kick your butt flat), and Check it to make sure it wouldn’t kill me. That’s right. This is old skool MUD style. There’s no name colors or indicators to tell you how difficult something is. You have to inspect enemies to tell if it is going to promptly roflstomp you or not.

My first fight went well! And… wait… what’s this? It dropped a treasure chest?


Took me some fiddling to figure out how to select the chest, and when I did, it said the chest was locked. Well, darn. I don’t have a key or… oh… I can Examine the Lock.

And, thus, the locked chest minigame begins.

So, I’ve learned that common enemies drop two types of chests — locked and unlocked — and they do so pretty regularly. Unlocked chests usually offer temporary items (yes, I know, temporary? — I’ll get back that in a moment), while the locked chests seem to drop some pretty relevant stuff, including gear.

This is a significant upgrade to the loot system, from what I remember, back when rabbits only dropped meat and hide. But the trick is, you have to put the time and effort into opening the lock combination.

The lock combination is a number of two digits between 10 and 99. You have between 4-6 chances total to unlock the chest in which you can choose to examine the lock or enter a combination.

Examining the lock gives you hints about what the two numbers can be.


Successfully entering the combination gives you a choice of what’s in the chest. Usually this is pretty relevant stuff. I’ve gotten all sorts of low level gear, which I could either use, bank or sell to a vendor. The downside to this is that locked chests take time and patience to figure out, and even then, you’re not promised the loot if you fail to enter the combination correctly. It’s kinda a little brain teaser, and when I did put the effort into it, I felt pretty good about winning!

My first chest, I was scribbling notes frantically (not realizing this was going to be something I’d be doing quite often), and I did succeed in unlocking the chest. I just didn’t realize that I then needed to select the chest again to loot it, and was puzzled why I didn’t get anything. XD

Sweet, sweet success!
Sweet, sweet success!

Temporary Loot

Now, about temporary loot. I think this is a pretty awesome idea, to be honest! Do you know how many useless potions and ethers I ended up tossing out by the time I was level 50 in FFXIV?

Temporary loot is cool because when these chests open, you get a choice of what kind of loot you want – stuff like potions, eye drops, ethers, etc. They are temporary, and vanish when you leave the area. They also don’t take up inventory space!

I’m not sure why, but I feel more inclined to use these things because they are temporary. They give buffs, restore health and magic, and then, when I’m done fighting for the day, they vanish. When I’m out fighting, they drop again for me to use.

Pretty nifty concept that I haven’t seen in other MMOs before.

So, after practicing a few fights, I reached level 5! I was ready to learn about Trusts…

Ding! Level 5! 😀


  1. Man you are giving me the ffxi itch with these post. The nostalgia is killing me. I also thing you should keep her she is cute.

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