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Final Fantasy 14 Desynthesis Explained

While crafting and gathering might sound like an idyllic and relaxing side component of the "Final Fantasy 14" experience, the reality is anything but. Unlike most other fantasy adventure MMORPGs, the non-combat trades of "FF14" require the player to do much more than acquire the recipes, ingredients, and levels for any given item. Crafters and gatherers have a different skill set of their own, with specialized traits and actions that can be used just like combat abilities. Each crafting attempt unfolds not unlike a combat encounter, where losing the battle means the destruction of all the ingredients— not to mention the humiliating sound effect that accompanies failure heard by every single player in your vicinity.

As if that wasn't complicated or intimidating enough, all eight crafter classes have a secondary mechanic to manage on top of their actual progression: Desynthesis. Tucked away behind an easily missed side quest and not mentioned in any crafting tutorial, Desynthesis might come off as a strange but unimportant vestigial feature like Guildhests and Battlecraft Leves — but, once again, nothing could be farther from the truth. Here's a full explanation of Desynthesis in "Final Fantasy 14," including how it works, where to unlock it, why it's important, and what the best leveling methods are.

What is Desynthesis?

In the most basic terms, Desynthesis is a process that does exactly what it says on the tin: It breaks down a given item into one of its components as well as a variety of possible byproducts. With the exception of cheap and low-level gear, every desynthesized item gives a random number of crafting crystals in addition to one randomly chosen item from its individual list of possible rewards. These individual lists also contain fixed percentages for each possible reward that scale according to the player's Desynthesis level of the applicable crafting job.

Each crafting discipline has an individual Desynthesis experience bar that can only be filled by desynthesizing items. All desynthesizable items are marked as such in their pop-up info card, in addition to being labeled with the crafting discipline required for successful desynthesis. That's not to say it's possible to fail a Desynthesis attempt: As of Patch 5.1, players will always be able to break down an eligible item so long as they have unlocked the Desynthesis action and are at least level 30 in the relevant discipline.

In addition, the amount of Desynthesis experience gained from the process scales based on the disparity between the player's level and the item's "Optimal Skill Rating for Desynthesis." The lower the player's Desynthesis level in comparison, the more experience they gain, and vice versa — with the caveat that there is an upper threshold where an item no longer awards experience at all.

How do you unlock Desynthesis?

To access the relevant side quest, you must complete the level 19 main story quest "Life, Materia and Everything" and also have reached at least level 30 in any of the eight crafting disciplines. Geared as your eligible crafter of choice, head to the Steps of Thal in Ul'dah to find the merchant Syntgoht offering a blue side quest titled "Gone to Pieces." After some of the usual small talk about his personal problems, he'll ask you to go and retrieve his missing shipment from someone at the Bonfire — the very same settlement where you found Mutamix in the requisite main story quest.

Hopefully you've already progressed a few more quests in the main story and unlocked your first mount, as it'll save you another trek to the far-flung corner of Central Thanalan on foot. Once you arrive, speak to Nesting Heron to get a monologue on her groundbreaking new discovery that she promptly hands you the instructions for. You will then unlock the Desynthesis action and receive a short tutorial on its most basic workings. You won't have to unlock it again for the other crafting classes— so long as they're above level 30, you will automatically gain the ability to Desynthesize the applicable items.

Why is Desynthesis important for crafters?

The simple truth is that leveling a crafter class is a disproportionately expensive endeavor. Gathering your own materials can mitigate the costs somewhat, but then you would have to appropriately gear your gatherer classes — which is also an expensive endeavor without crafting your own tools, and so on and so forth. Hence why Desynthesis is so important for crafters to understand and invest in: When correctly applied, it can net the player a great deal of money. 

A player's Desynthesis skill affects the drop rate of certain rewards — the higher the skill, the higher the chance of getting rare and valuable items. On the most trivial level, you can obtain different kinds of rare Demimateria from spiritbonded gear, which can be sold to NPC vendors at a profitable rate. However, what really makes Desynthesis lucrative is the fact that weapons dropped from Extreme Trials can be desynthesized for a chance of receiving that particular Trial's unique crafting material — for example, the ever-popular Scarlet Tailfeather from "Hell's Kier (Extreme)," or Hades' Auracite from "The Minstrel's Ballad: Hades' Elegy." These components can then be used to craft cosmetically upgraded versions of those weapons, which sell for very high amounts on the marketboard. Even if you don't have the requisite crafting recipes, selling the unique component alone can net you upwards of 3 million gil depending on that weapon set's popularity at the time of sale.

What's the best way to level Desynthesis?

While some suspiciously wealthy players buy bulk amounts of gear from levels 1-90 and burn through them one by one, the more practical and common method is to be diligent in desynthesizing as much as possible. The vast majority of gearpieces— excluding the highest level sets released in the most recent patches — can be desynthesized. This includes gear dropped from Trials as well as Dungeons, despite the fact that they aren't crafted. Considering that fact that all Leveling Dungeons — that is, all dungeons that aren't level 50, 60, 70, 80, or 90 — have a guaranteed drop for every individual player upon completion, recycling the byproducts of leveling a combat class alone can grant a great deal of Desynthesis experience.

Recycling alone is disproportionately ineffective for the Alchemist and Culinarian disciplines, as their Desynthesis items aren't as common. A good way to buttress your Alchemist Desynthesis skill is to purchase tomestone weapons — specifically, the Scholar and Summoner arms — of the appropriate level from one of the exchange hubs in order to break them down.

The Culinarian Desynthesis skill, on the other hand, can largely be ignored. There are a few exorbitantly high-value items obtained exclusively by desynthesizing rare fish — but with the variable drop rates, it's simply not a worthwhile venture without unlocking the Fisher class and gathering said rare fish yourself.